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, firstname.lastname@example.org,
Middle/High School Media Specialist, Benton Community Schools, Van Horne,
"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, email@example.com, college
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
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
“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,
firstname.lastname@example.org, college student)