Alisha's Reviews > Number the Stars

Number the Stars by Lois Lowry
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Jun 15, 2010

bookshelves: eng-353
Read in June, 2010

Number the Stars, written by Lois Lowry, tells the story of two young Jewish girls living in Copenhagen, Denmark. The story takes place during World War II in September, 1943. Their town is filled with German soldiers, and in the first chapter of the book, Annemarie, her younger sister Kristi, and Ellen have their first, personal, contact with two of the German soldiers(3). As soon as the girl’s parents find out, they are told to take a new route to school in the morning (8).
While thinking about the soldiers, Annemarie remembers what her father has taught her and looks back on the death of her older sister, Lise. Lise had died a few years before the war started. Times are rough, there are shortages of food, and Jewish businesses are even closing down.
Ellen’s family is forced to flee one day, leaving Ellen to live with the Johansens (38). In the night, the German soldiers come to find out where the other family has gone. While searching the apartment, they refuse to believe that Ellen is actually a daughter, because of her dark hair. However, Lise had dark hair and Mr. Johansen shows them a baby picture of Lise and the soldier is convinced (48).
After the night encounter, Mrs. Johansen takes the girls, Annemarie, Ellen, and Kristi to her brothers house (54). While spending the day there, Henrick announces that an aunt (whom Annemarie has never heard of) has died and the service will be that night (72). Annemarie does not believe them. Later that night the coffin arrives and several people show up (79), including Ellen’s parents. But, the amount of people draws the attention of the soldiers who demand the coffin be opened. Thinking quickly, Mrs. Johansen says her Aunt has died of typhus, very contagious, and the soldier believes her. With that the soldiers leave (86).
Once the coffin in opened, all that it contains is old warm clothes. Annamarie watches as the Rosens, even Ellen, put on the old, worn coats and she finally understands. Uncle Henrick has been taking people in his boat to Sweden (94).
That was the last time Annemarie ever saw Ellen, but to remember her and while waiting for her to return, as promised, she took Ellen’s Star of David necklace, asked her father if he could fix the broken clasp, and once he said yes, Annemarie said she would wear it until Ellen returns (132).
Overall, Number the Stars is a nice story showing the difficulty of growing up. Because the book is set in World War II, someone could say that is a much more trying time than currently, but each person’s own life can have diversity and hardship, no matter what. The book falls into the category of realistic fiction, and the author does a great job telling the story. He shows how troubling life was like in 1943, while German soldiers were after the Jewish people all over Europe. It is nice that the story is told from the child’s point of view, and that helps a child reader understand and follow the story. A child reading this book will see the importance of family, friendship, and the lasting impression a person can have on another. History is an important part of any culture, and even though this book is fiction, it reflects a great deal of history. They history given is not too much to overwhelm a child, but enough to help them understand that during World War II, things were rough and even scary at times. This story is appropriate for children ages nine to twelve, but even an adult would enjoy this easy to read book.

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