Title: Number the Stars
Author: Lois Lowry
Main Character: Annemarie Johansen, Ten Year Old Girl
Awards: John Newbery Medal
Number the Stars takes place in Copenhagen. The year is 1943. Nazi soldiers stand on every corner. Annmarie Johansen’s best friend, Ellen Rosen, is Jewish and the German troops are beginning their campaign to “relocate” all the Jews of Denmark.
The Johansen family take in Ellen. She pretends to be Annemarie’s sister, who passed away several years prior. When it becomes obvious to the family that it is no longer safe to keep Ellen in Copenhagen they devise a plan. Annmarie, her mother and her younger sister Kirsti take Ellen by train to stay with Annmarie’s uncle.
Once at her Uncle’s it becomes quickly apparent to Annmarie that things aren’t exactly as she thought. Her Uncle Henrik is part of the Resistance. He and many others like him smuggle nearly 7,000 families out of Denmark and into the safety of Sweden via boat.
In this book, Lois Lowry tackles history, fear, bravery and much more. The topic is heavy but the writing and the details are perfect for girls ages 9-11.
It was an odd word: pride. Annemarie looked at the Rosens, sitting here, wearing the misshapen, ill fitting clothing, holding ragged blankets folded in their arms, their faces drawn and tired. She remembered the earlier, happier times: Mrs. Rosen, her hair neatly combed and covered, lighting the Sabbath candles, saying the ancient prayer. And Mr. Rosen, sitting in the big chair in their living room, studying his thick books, correcting papers, adjusting his glasses, looking up now and then to complain good-naturedly about the lack of decent light. She remembered Ellen in the school play, moving confidently across the stage, her gestures sure, her voice clear.
All of those things, those sources of pride – the candlesticks, the books, the daydreams of theater – had been left behind in Copenhagen They had nothing with them now; there was only the clothing of unknown people for warmth, the food from Henrik’s farm for survival, and the dark path ahead, through the woods, to freedom.
But their shoulders were as straight as they had been in the past: in the classroom, on the stage, at the Sabbath table. So there were other sources, too, of pride, and they had not left everything behind.