Number the Stars by Lois Lowry

No Series

As the German troops begin their campaign to "relocate" all the Jews of Denmark, Annemarie Johansen’s family takes in Annemarie’s best friend, Ellen Rosen, and conceals her as part of the family.

Through the eyes of ten-year-old Annemarie, we watch as the Danish Resistance smuggles almost the entire Jewish population of Denmark, nearly seven thousand people, across the sea to Sweden. The heroism of an entire nation reminds us that there was pride and human decency in the world even during a time of terror and war.

Winner of the 1990 Newbery Medal.

“She fell asleep, and it was a sleep as thin as the night clouds, dotted with dreams that came and went like the stars.”

I had to read this one to fit a challenge I was taking part in – had to find a book set in Denmark, and my options for that were slim. I’m happy I chose this classic children’s story – it left a positive and lasting impression on many for a good reason. It mainly focuses on Annemarie Johnansen and her parents helping another family during the dreadful Nazi period in 1943. Apparently her uncle is part of an underground support group for Jews in the area as well. Despite it being such a dark period in history, reading about the experiences – especially with people who make a difference – are interesting.

The author keeps it relatively short due to the age group, but a full fledged story happens in the 137 pages. The beauty of the title is tied into scripture verses relating to the stars, as the main character sits in wonder and asks herself how it would be possible for someone to be able to number the stars. The drugged handkerchief helping throw off the scents from hunting dogs was a new one by me.

The simplistic writing style fits well with children’s fiction but the author has a healthy hand with foreshadowing and putting a lot of hope into the words. Not everything is realistic but that’s not unusual with Historical children’s fiction either.

It may inspire blurry eyes a time or two, but it’s not overly depressing - there’s a redeeming hope. It would be a good introduction for children who aren’t quite ready for the excellent but little dryer Diary of Anne Frank or older, more explicit holocaust fiction and non-fiction they may not be fully mentally ready for.

   Book Quotes:

“The whole world had changed. Only the fairy tales remained the same. "And they lived happily ever after,”

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