The Boy at the Top of the Mountain by John Boyne, the author of The Boy in the Striped Pajamas, is another extraordinary historical fiction about World War II and innocence in the face of evil.
When Pierrot becomes an orphan, he must leave his home in Paris for a new life with his aunt Beatrix, a servant in a wealthy Austrian household. But this is no ordinary time, for it is 1935 and the Second World War is fast approaching; and this is no ordinary house, for this is the Berghof, the home of Adolf Hitler.
Pierrot is quickly taken under Hitler's wing and thrown into an increasingly dangerous new world: a world of terror, secrets, and betrayal from which he may never be able to escape. This title has Common Core connections.
Boyne returns to a WWII setting for this novel about Pierrot Fischer, a Parisian of German heritage whose best friend, Anshel, is Jewish and deaf. Orphaned at age seven, Pierrot goes to live with his Aunt Beatrix, a housekeeper at a mountaintop estate near Salzburg. Many readers will suspect the estate owner's identity before the big reveal, but unlike the staff, Pierrot now renamed Pieter is not terrified but charmed by Herr Hitler, who makes him his pet. A small boy once bullied at school, Pierrot turns into a bully himself once he falls under the spell of Nazi pageantry and propaganda, eventually instigating a horrifying betrayal. Cameos from filmmaker Leni Riefenstahl, the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, and members of the Nazi hierarchy introduce facts into the fictional Pierrot's narrative. Though his transformation from sympathetic orphan to callous antihero doesn't give readers much to root for, the story is redeemed by a powerful epilogue. As he did in The Boy in the Striped Pajamas, Boyne crafts an unexpected ending that packs a tremendous emotional wallop. Ages 10 14.