Lois Lowry’s Number the Stars

The copy of Lois Lowry’s Number the Stars that I own is a used 1989 copy from Thrift Books. I managed to keep the cover together with the help of some clear tape. Somehow I missed out on reading this book as a child, but I decided to give it a try as an adult. By the end, it was obvious why it’s on primary education reading lists all over the world. 

It was an odd word: pride (93).

In 1943, during the German occupation of Denmark, ten-year-old Annamarie Johansen learns about bravery and courage when she helps her Jewish friend Ellen Rosen evade the Nazis. When a narrative is accessible and the speaking voice simple, it can easily engage younger audiences. The reader slips into Annamarie’s world and navigates a really complex world in which children are not spared the harsh realities of war, racism, discrimination, and loss. 

All those things, those sources of pride – the candlesticks, the books, the daydreams of theatre – had been left behind in Copenhagen (93-94).

One of the most touching moments of the book is Annamarie’s guardianship over Ellen’s Star-of-David necklace. Ellen’s separated from her parents for a long time, and Annamarie’s Uncle Henrik joins the family’s discrete resistance of the Nazis. After a series of emotional ups-and-downs, the entire Rosen family is reunited and successfully smuggled out of Denmark. When the war is over, Annamarie, who had the necklace hidden inside the faded yellow wedding dress of her late-sister Lise, returns it to her friend. I think my heart broke just a little after reading about her gesture. Sometimes the most genuine kindness can be found in the simplest of actions. 

So there were other sources, too, of pride, and they had not left everything behind (94). 

Lois Lowry’s Number the Stars won the John Newbery Medal for most distinguished contribution to American Literature. It’s really well-deserved. When I first began to read it, I was skeptical because it’s labeled as a children’s book and it’s rather short in length. One of my pet peeves is reading a good book and feeling left unsatisfied because the plot was underdeveloped, but I definitely did not feel that way with this book. This is a book for everyone.

Works Cited

Lowry, Lois. Number the Stars. Houghton Mifflin Company, 1989. 

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