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Lowry, Lois

New York : Dell, 1990.
IL 5-8 RL 4.9
ISBN 0395510600

(3 booktalks)

Booktalk #1

Annemarie and Ellen are friends growing up in Copenhagen during World War II. On the eve of Jewish New Year, most of the Jewish people, including Ellen's parents, flee the city. Ellen hides with Annemarie's family in the city and later goes with them to Uncle Henrik's farm near the sea. Here they become part of an elaborate plan to smuggle the Jews to Sweden, where they will be safe. The children are told little of what is going on in order to protect them, but Annemarie perceives some of the lies that are being told. She knows there is no Great-Aunt Birte, whose death the family is mourning, and she wonders why they keep talking about the weather for fishing. Annemarie's mother and uncle bravely escort several people to Henrik's boat, where they are hidden below, but in the commotion an important package is left behind. Annemarie must run to deliver it to her uncle before the boat leaves. On the way, she runs into German soldiers and must talk her way out of the situation, a task that is much easier because she knows so little of what is going on. When the war is over, Annemarie's mother and father explain that the package she was carrying was a drugged handkerchief that numbed the smell of the soldiers' dogs and that her sister was killed because she was part of the Danish Resistance to the war. It is only after the war is over and many lives have been saved that the secrets can be told.
(Linda Wolfgram,, Middle/High School Media Specialist, Benton Community Schools, Van Horne, IA)

Booktalk #2

"It is much easier to be brave if you do not know everything. And so your mama does not know everything. Neither do I. We know only what we need to know."

Bravery is in order for the whole Johansen family in Lois Lowry's historical fiction novel Number the Stars. Annemarie and her family have taken on the task of hiding her best friend Ellen and her family when the Nazis come to take the Jews. Not only does the Johansen family try to help Ellen and her family, but many other Jews as well. If caught it could mean the death of everyone involved. Will Ellen and the other Jews escape Nazi capture? Will bravery shine through in the Johansen family? Will they get Caught? Pick up a copy of Number the Stars and find out! (Jennifer Powell,, college student)

Booktalk #3

In 1943, during the German occupation of Denmark, ten-year-old Annemarie learns what it means to be brave when her family helps shelter her Jewish friend, Ellen from the Nazis.  The German occupation began in 1940 and it slowly complicated life in Copenhagen, with the constant presence of Nazi soldiers on every corner, interrogating civilians as they wished.  Life becomes increasingly difficult as the Germans force families to ration food and electricity.  One frightful day, families at the Jewish synagogue were told that the German troops were going to “relocate” the Jews of Denmark.  The Johansen’s take in Annemarie’s best friend, Ellen and pretend that she is one of their children, as Ellen’s parents make a plan to flee for safety.  Annemarie tells the story of the German occupation and how the Danish Resistance help the Jewish population cross the sea to Sweden- to freedom.
Here is an excerpt from the book: p. 46-47
“Your names?”  the officer barked.
“Annemarie Johansen.  And this is my sister-”
“Quiet!  Let her speak for herself.  Your name?”  He was glaring at Ellen.
Ellen swallowed.  “Lise,” she said, and cleared her throat.  “Lise Johansen.”
The officer stared at them grimly.
“Now”, Mama said in a strong voice, “you have seen that we are not hiding anything.  May my children go back to bed?”
The officer ignored her.  Suddenly he grabbed a handful of Ellen’s hair.  Ellen winced.
He laughed scornfully.  “You have a blond child sleeping in the other room.  And you have this blond daughter-” He gestured toward Annemarie with his head.  “Where did you get the dark-haired one?”  He twisted the lock of Ellen’s hair. “From a different father?  From the milkman?”
Papa stepped forward.  “Don’t speak to my wife in such a way.  Let go of my daughter or I will report you for such treatment.”
“Or maybe you got her someplace else?”  the officer continued with a sneer.  “From the Rosens?”
 Number the Stars has been the recipient of the John Newbery Medal for the most distinguished contribution to American Literature for children.  Number the Stars will invoke a multitude of feelings as you read it: curiosity, sadness, worry, anxiety, and hope in the human spirit.   (Carie Greer,, college student)

SUBJECTS:     World War, 1939-1945 -- Denmark -- Fiction
                        World War, 1939-1945 -- Jews -- Fiction
                        Friendship -- Fiction
                        Denmark -- Fiction


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