Great Middle Grade Reads discussion

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ARCHIVE - BOTM discussions > February BOTM: NUMBER THE STARS

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message 1: by M.G. (new)

M.G. King (mgking) | 728 comments Several great choices this month, on our BOTM poll. As usual, I had a hard time picking one, but I'm looking forward to reading the group choice Number the Stars. Number the Stars by Lois Lowry

Here is the GoodReads description:
Ten-year-old Annemarie Johansen and her best friend Ellen Rosen often think of life before the war. It's now 1943 and their life in Copenhagen is filled with school, food shortages, and the Nazi soldiers marching through town. When the Jews of Denmark are "relocated," Ellen moves in with the Johansens and pretends to be one of the family. Soon Annemarie is asked to go on a dangerous mission to save Ellen's life.


Cheryl has hopes her life will calm down soonish (cherylllr) I read this years ago, looking forward to a reread.


message 3: by Rebecca (new)

Rebecca Douglass (rdouglass) | 1673 comments Mod
Me too, Cheryl!


message 4: by Rebecca (new)

Rebecca Douglass (rdouglass) | 1673 comments Mod
Beth, as I recall, there is little that is light about this one. Intense is what we are getting.


message 5: by Cheryl has hopes her life will calm down soonish (last edited Feb 02, 2015 10:20AM) (new)

Cheryl has hopes her life will calm down soonish (cherylllr) I think this is the only book I've read that talked about Denmark.
edit: re' the Holocaust, WWII era


message 6: by J.S. (new)

J.S. Jaeger (jsjaeger) | 174 comments Thank you to everyone who takes the time to nominate and vote on the monthly book choice. I love learning about new books I wouldn't normally stumble across.

I downloaded this book and read it in a couple of hours. I couldn't put it down. I love historical fiction and loved seeing this resistance movement through the eyes


message 7: by J.S. (new)

J.S. Jaeger (jsjaeger) | 174 comments (Typing this from my phone and can't figure out how to edit the entry I posted too soon.)

I loved seeing it through the eyes of a ten-year-old girl. What a terrifying time for the countries in Europe. Books such as this one help children see the reality of history without overwhelming them with graphic details.


message 8: by Beverly (new)

Beverly McClure (beverlysmcclure) | 25 comments I've just started rereading Number the Stars. Years ago, when I was still teaching, our 5th grade students read the book as our class read. For two weeks before we started reading, the students researched the war and then reported what they learned about it. They had some amazing reports. Two of my girls went to the local nursing home and interviewed a man that had been in the war and a woman that told them what it was like for the people at home. The rationed gasoline, no nylon stockings, etc. When we started reading, the kids had a better idea of what the war was about, even though the story takes place in another country. I'm looking forward to reading it again.


message 9: by M.G. (new)

M.G. King (mgking) | 728 comments Beverly wrote: "I've just started rereading Number the Stars. Years ago, when I was still teaching, our 5th grade students read the book as our class read. For two weeks before we started reading, the students re..."

That WWII generation is an amazing group of people -- I'm afraid that the time is slipping by when kids will be able to get first hand accounts of that important piece of history. It must have made the story feel so much more immediate, to have met people who lived through it.


message 10: by M.G. (new)

M.G. King (mgking) | 728 comments I really thought I had this one on the shelves, but I must have loaned it out or given it away. Hope to find a copy at the library tomorrow so I can join in the discussion!


message 11: by Beverly (new)

Beverly McClure (beverlysmcclure) | 25 comments M.G. wrote: "Beverly wrote: "I've just started rereading Number the Stars. Years ago, when I was still teaching, our 5th grade students read the book as our class read. For two weeks before we started reading,..."

I think they kids understood the story better. One little boy brought his grandfather's scrapbook which had mementoes from his service. Just so much interesting things they found out.


message 12: by Evelyne (new)

Evelyne Holingue (evelyne_holingue) | 26 comments Number the Stars is probably the only book written for young readers about Denmark saving its Jewish people from the Holocaust by sending them to neutral Sweden. Lois Lowry is an extraordinary talented writer who writes with such simplicity that she makes it look easy. One of my very favorite books of all times. Great title too.


message 13: by Gretchen (new)

Gretchen I just finished reading Number the Stars. Turns out I'd read it a couple of years ago as well. Thought it looked familiar. Very engrossing, easy to read, and heartbreaking, The notes by the author at the end were inspiring. Good choice for our BOTM club.


message 14: by Megan (new)

Megan | 48 comments This is one of the favourite books in my class library. It is always a surprise to the kids who pick it out how much they end up loving it and trying to get others to read it. I have one student who made me hundreds of origami stars to hang in the classroom as part of her book report on this amazing book. Is it terrible to say I like it at least as much as The Giver?


message 15: by M.G. (last edited Feb 11, 2015 06:09AM) (new)

M.G. King (mgking) | 728 comments Wow! Just finished reading Number the Stars, and can't believe I haven't read it before. As others mentioned before, this story puts you in the middle of the Danish struggle against Nazism, a people who chose to bravely hide and smuggle nearly their entire Jewish population out of the country.

Lois Lowry is masterful at telling this true-to-life story about people who act with courage in the face of real evil and real danger. It is gripping and intense, but Lowry remains mindful of her middle grade audience. In case you are wondering, there are no concentration camp scenes in this story.

It's hard to discuss without spoilers, but if you and your kids haven't read it yet, this is one you don't want to miss. Surprisingly, this story is only 137 pages long -- Lowry's writing is tight, but beautifully nuanced.

My boys are probably too old to pick up a thin book with the picture of a young girl on the cover, but I'm going to find the audio version for our next road trip.


Cheryl has hopes her life will calm down soonish (cherylllr) I reread it today. Even more intense than I remember. I'm glad it's going to be a while before we read it for the Newbery Club in the Children's Books group. There's so much history and family story in here - as you say, "tight."


message 17: by Jim (new)

Jim Maher | 28 comments This is such a lame thing to admit, but I've never read any Lois Lowry. I've heard nothing but amazing things about her stories. Would this be something appropriate for an advanced seven-year-old?


Cheryl has hopes her life will calm down soonish (cherylllr) Maybe. I recommend you read it first, just to be sure.


message 19: by Jim (new)

Jim Maher | 28 comments Cheryl wrote: "Maybe. I recommend you read it first, just to be sure."

Always a good call, Cheryl. He could probably read War & Peace right now if I let him. This kid cries whenever he hears 'I Will Wait' by Mumford and Sons, and I don't want to set him up for trouble. I'll definitely read it first.


message 20: by Rebecca (new)

Rebecca Douglass (rdouglass) | 1673 comments Mod
I read it yesterday...intense, and with some moments that were very frightening, but never violent, really. I wonder if it isn't more frightening for us adults, wih our greater knowledge of what the Nazis did.


message 21: by M.G. (new)

M.G. King (mgking) | 728 comments Rebecca wrote: "I read it yesterday...intense, and with some moments that were very frightening, but never violent, really. I wonder if it isn't more frightening for us adults, wih our greater knowledge of what th..."

I thought the same thing, when Jim was asking about reading it to his seven year old. For younger children who don't understand the danger the Jews were facing and the horrors of the concentration camps, it would not have the same intensity.


message 22: by Jim (new)

Jim Maher | 28 comments It's a good point, but wouldn't it open the doors for some potentially intense discussions? My wife and I have a pretty decent 'ask and ye shall receive the truth to the best of our knowledge, child' policy, and he has a general idea of WWII and all that occurred, but this would be too much for him. I think we'll wait on this one for a day down the road.


Cheryl has hopes her life will calm down soonish (cherylllr) I'm with you, Jim. If a child is likely to ask 'what does this mean' and is not ready to hear the answer, it's probably better if the book is not offered to them in the first place.

Otoh, if a child picks up the book himself, I'd be reluctant to discourage him from reading it. (Censorship, forbidden fruit, and other concerns.)


message 24: by Jim (new)

Jim Maher | 28 comments Cheryl wrote: "I'm with you, Jim. If a child is likely to ask 'what does this mean' and is not ready to hear the answer, it's probably better if the book is not offered to them in the first place.

Otoh, if a ch..."


I think you nailed it, Cheryl. I like to read most things beforehand, but there are those times at the library when they grab something new that I've never heard of and it's come to the 'what does this mean' a few times. I don't want to censor either, but I also like to keep myself as informed as possible.


message 25: by Rebecca (new)

Rebecca Douglass (rdouglass) | 1673 comments Mod
That's a good approach, Jim. I read a lot that was over my head when I was a kid, and it never scarred me. I don't think :o


message 26: by M.G. (new)

M.G. King (mgking) | 728 comments We listened to the audiobook on our car trip, and we all enjoyed it, even though my boys are older -- I think they related to the character of Peter who was working for the resistance. The publishers picked a good reader for this.


message 27: by Madeline (new)

Madeline Reynolds | 43 comments I recently finished Number the Stars, and was very taken by the plot and structure. The idea of the story was very interesting and filled with suspense and surprises. Even though Annemarie and Ellen poses different personalities they are very loyal friends and are determined to keep one another same from harm.


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