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Thursday, October 02, 2014

Number the Stars A Touching, Triumphant Tale of Courage

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

It's the Fall of 1943 and Copenhagen is overrun with Nazi soldiers.  Annemarie Johansen pays little attention to them.  They've been controlling the city since Denmark surrendered to Germany in 1940.  Although the 10-year-old still feels uncomfortable with the soldiers' menacing presence, they have become a familiar sight.  It's only when the soldiers begin "relocating" Copenhagen's Jewish residents that Annemarie feels truly frightened.

When the parents of Annemarie's best friend are taken by the Nazis, the Johansen's know it's up to them to keep young Ellen Rosen safe.  They shelter her in their home, telling anyone who asks that she is their daughter.  But Ellen doesn't look like Annemarie and her younger sister—if anyone guesses her true identity, it will mean trouble for all of them.  As the soldiers become increasingly aggressive and violent, protecting Ellen becomes more and more risky.  Annemarie's parents have a desperate plan to smuggle the young Jewish girl into Sweden, but if it goes wrong—and there are a million ways it could go wrong—it could lead them all to their deaths.  

Annemarie longs to be as brave as the heroines of her favorite fairy tales, but she's terrified.  What will happen to her best friend?  And what will become of the Johansens if they're discovered helping a Jew escape?  Annemarie knows she must have courage, but how can she when the world around her is so frightening?  

Number the Stars, Lois Lowry's Newbery Award-winning middle grade novel, tells a memorable story about a little girl who's forced to face her worst fears in order to save her friend.  Through Annemarie, Lowry shows—and applauds—the incredible courage shown by the Danish Resistance as it secretly ferried almost all of the country's Jews (around 7,000 people) to safety in Sweden.  It's a touching, triumphant story that reminds us that good exists even in the most despairing of situations.  And that a decent world, devoid of hate and prejudice, is always—always—worth fighting for. 

(Readalikes:  Reminds me of other children's books about the Holocaust, including The Devil's Arithmetic by Jane Yolen, The Diary of Anne Frank, Hidden Like Anne Frank by Marcel Prins and Peter Steenhuis)


If this were a movie, it would be rated:

for brief, mild language and scary/intense situations

To the FTC, with love:  Another library fine find

1 comment:

  1. I vividly remember reading this book when I was in school but for the life of me I could never remember the actual title of it. Thanks for solving that mystery! Thanks for sharing!


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