Book Review: Tony Kushner’s Brundibar

Posted January 9, 2016 by Kathy Davie in Book Reviews

I received this book for free from the library in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Book Review: Tony Kushner’s Brundibar



Tony Kushner

fiction, picture book that was published by Walker Books Ltd on August 2, 2004 and has 56 pages.

Explore it on Goodreads or Amazon.

A picture book for children based on a Czech opera which was performed by the children at Terezin, a Nazi concentration camp.

In 2005, Brundibar was nominated for the Deutscher Jugendliteraturpreis for Bilderbuch. And my guess is that German guilt over the concentration camps was a deciding factor.

My Take

I’ll give it a “3” simply for the gorgeous illustrations, but the rest of the story? No. God knows I always seem to dislike prize-winning books.

When the doctor comes prancing in with that yellow star stitched onto his coat, you wonder how the Nazis will fit into the picture, but there aren’t any. It’s simply two children who need to raise money. And in such a hurry they are.

It claims that the hurdy-gurdy grinder is the bully, but it appears to me that the children are the bullies. Sure they do need to raise money, but that doesn’t mean they can pick on people. I have to say I am not impressed with this story. I’d find it hard to sell that it’s Brundibar who’s the bully. I also wish that the animals had been named. How hard would it be to come up with three names?

There are some cute songs in here that kids will adore because they’re so rude.

The illustrations are amazing, and yes they all appear to be done with a crayon; you will be shocked by how incredibly gorgeous they are! They’re bright, cheerful, and very busy.

The Story

Aninku and Pepicek go to town for milk to make their sick mother better but their attempts to earn money by singing are thwarted by a hurdy-gurdy grinder.

The Characters

A brother and sister — Pepicek and Aninku — need to help their mother.

Cat, dog, and sparrow make suggestions.

Brundibar is a hurdy-gurdy grinder and his monkey with terrible songs.

The Cover and Title

The cover looks like someone used a crayon for the picture with Pepicek and Aninku rushing along, carrying a pail of milk across a grassy lawn with a yellow rail fence behind them, behind which is a blooming garden of pink flowers, rolling countryside and a purple flowered tree and a village of odd roofs behind that. It’s also a full moon back there.

The title is the seeming bully, Brundibar, who is simply trying to make a living.