Review: Number the Stars

Your eyes do not deceive…. I’m writing a review for a Children’s Novel.  While some people help others with their homework by getting a reading assignment done and moving on, a Hoarder glances at a few pages, gets sucked in, and winds up reading the entire novel.  They just have to know what happens next. 

Firstly, if you’re a parent, please encourage your child to read this book (appropriate for Middle School or older).  It’s beautifully written, poignant, and it only takes moments to get attached to the characters.  It’s also a bold reminder of Jewish persecution during WWII.  The story needs to be heard, and the history needs to be studied.

This historical fiction book is set in 1943, during the German occupation of Denmark.  More importantly, it’s about the Danish Resistance during WWII.  The story revolves around a 10-year old girl, Annemarie, and her family.  You will see the war through her eyes.  The Nazi occupation is something that this child has learned to tolerate, including seeing armed soldiers on street corners, following curfews, not having butter with her bread (because such luxuries are reserved only for Germans)……   and helping her best friend Ellen keep a low profile, because she is Jewish.

The story quickly escalates into a cat and mouse struggle, as Annemarie’s family takes Ellen in as their own daughter to save her from the Nazis, while Ellen’s parents go into hiding.  Will they save Ellen?  Will they reunite her with her parents?  And will they help get this family, and others, safely to Sweden?

From the moment Annemarie rips the Star of David necklace from Ellen’s neck when Nazi soldiers burst into her room, to her promise to keep her best friend safe at all costs, you will be holding your breath regardless of your age.

What you will also learn as you read this book, is while Annemarie and her family sheltered beloved friends from the Nazis, the heartbeat of national heroism was getting louder.  Their collective bravery and defiance was nothing short of extraordinary.  King Christian X destroyed his own Naval fleet so the Nazis could not use Denmark’s ships.  Friends hid their friends.  Neighbors kept the apartments of their Jewish neighbors clean, while they waited for them to come home. 

History shows that the Danish Resistance smuggled almost the entire Jewish population of Denmark across the sea to Sweden.  They saved 7,000 people. 

Read it.  Read it with you child.  It’s important.  Lois Lowry’s classic won the Newberry Award for a reason: her book is nothing short of marvelous. 

5 heartfelt stars.