Friday, November 15th 7:00 PM
Meg Wiviott, author of Benno and the Night of Broken Glass, will join Or Chadash on Friday, November 15th at 7PM. Everyone is welcome to attend.
Benno and the Night of Broken Glass is a gentle introduction to the beginning of the Holocaust. Through the eyes of an orange and white neighborhood cat named Benno, we learn of the astute observations and changes in German and Jewish families in Benno’s town during the time leading up to Kristallnacht, known as the Night of Broken Glass. Benno receives fresh milk each day from Hans the Hausmeister, he finds a sunny spot to nap at Mitzi Stein’s dress shop, and he walks to school with Inge and Sophie. Benno spends Friday nights with the Adler family as they light the Sabbath candles, and on Sundays after church he visits the Schmidt’s for lunch.
But gradually things change. People are not so friendly. “Men in brown uniforms” build bonfires to burn books. Some people cheer. Benno notices
the girls no longer play or walk to school together. The tension builds until “a night like no other” — Kristallnacht. The Adler’s apartment is destroyed while the Schmidt’s remain untouched. Hans still leaves milk for Benno, but life for Benno has forever changed.
Meg Wiviott’s choice to tell the this story from the perspective of a cat is a unique way to introduce young children to one of history’s darkest times. This is not a watered down view of the Night of Broken Glass but rather an alternate, impartial view, similar to what a child or innocent observer might have seen and felt. The images and attention to detail demonstrate the research that has gone into the creation of this book. Useful for introducing Kristallnacht, prejudice, and racism, the author has also presented an example of narrative through the eyes of another whom one might not normally expect to hear or see.
The illustrator, Josee Bisaillon, provides cut paper and mixed media illustrations to enrich the text with her striking multimedia artwork composed of paper, fabric, and drawn images in hues of olive, brown, and red. The spreads depict a normal city neighborhood from a cat’s-eye view, which is eventually upended by dark shadowy figures with big black boots. Wiviott has included a bibliography and afterword with further information about Kristallnacht.
In addition to reading her book on Friday, November 15 at 7PM, Meg Wiviott will talk about the process of creating a character and developing a story to publication. Everyone will have the opportunity to create an individual or collective art project using Josee Bisaillon’s techniques.
Or Chadash welcomes the entire community to this program. Meg Wiviott’s presentation will follow an abbreviated Shabbat service to which the entire community is welcome. The evening will conclude with a reception. Books will be available for purchase and signing.