Book Review: Number the Stars by Lois Lowry
Genre: Childrenís Historical Fiction
Reading and Audience:
Reading Level: 5.8 Interest Level 4-9
Accelerated Reader Reading Level: 4.5
Reading Counts Reading Level: 5.2
Lexile Measure: 670
Reviews and Awards:
Newbery Medal/Honor 01/01/90
Book Links (A.L.A.) 01/01/07
Notable/Best Books (A.L.A.)
Child Study Children's Book Committee
School Library Journal 09/01/97
Elementary School Library Collection 06/01/00
Annemarie Johansen - Annemarie is a 10 year old girl who lives in Copenhagen, Denmark with her parents and younger sister. She had an older sister who is dead from an accident. Her best friend is Ellen who lives next door.
Ellen Rosen - Ellen Rosen is a Jewish girl who goes to school with Annemarie. They are best friends. Ellen is creative and imaginative and wants to be an actress when she grows up.
Mrs. Johansen - Annemarie's mother. She is a kind, brave, and strong mother who loves her children.
Peter Neilsen - He was the fiancť of Ellenís oldest sister who died in an accident. He is a brave leader and is like a brother to AnneMarie. He is part of the Resistance movement and is the one who comes up with the plan to help the Rosen's escape
Kirsten Johansen - Annemarie's five year old sister. She is an imaginative and very energetic girl who loves fairy tales. She is very innocent and oblivious to the dangers of the war.
Uncle Henrik - Mrs. Johansen's younger and unmarried brother. He is a fisherman.
Mr. Johansen - Annemarieís father. He is a strong and loving father who is very patriotic. He teaches Annmarie about Denmark and the war.
Lise Johansen - Annmarieís older sister who died at the beginning of the story. She was a member of the Resistance.
The Rosen's - Mrs. Rosen is Ellenís mother and Mr. Rosen is Ellenís father. Her mother is best friends with Mrs. Johansen and her father is a teacher.
Mrs. Hirsch - She is a Jewish woman who owns a corner shop in Copenhagen.
Great-aunt Birte - She is a character that is made up in a plan to help Ellen and her family escape.
Blossom - A milk cow that belongs to Uncle Henrik.
Thor - Kirstiís kitten. .
The Nazi regime
Demark during World War II, from 1943 to 1945.
This story is based on the true story of the little known evacuation of Jews from Nazi-held Denmark to Sweden during World War II. It is about two girls who are best friends and their difficulty of growing up during this time during World War II. The story gives details of a young Danish girl helping her Jewish friend and her family escape to Sweden from the Nazi regime when her parents ask Annmarieís parents to take care of her when they leave. This begins a story of true friendship, voyage, and transformation. Annemarieís sisterís fiancť loses his life to help the cause and the Rosenís are able to escape.
This book was banned from a school by Turkish Department of Education. An American teacher at the school has protested the ban because she says the inspectors did not read the book or offer a written analysis of the objectionable parts.
Strengths and Weaknesses
This can be used to teach older children about World War II and also to bring up the subject of lying and whether it was okay or not for Uncle Henrik to lie to Annemarie and for Annemarie to lie to the soldiers to protect herself and her family and friends. The book is not too violent and Annemarie is a positive role model for older children.
The background details in the story are authentic and accurate in this period in Demark during World War II, from 1943 to 1945. The author provides background information in an afterword in order to connect the story to the historical reality of WW II. The author gives credit to the sources of her inspiration and shows respect for the people who actually experienced events similar to the characters in Number the Stars.
The dialogue conveys a feeling of the period and the characters and setting seem realistic. This is a great Newberry Award book. It is a gripping story that entertains and also teaches children about World War II and the Nazi regime without being too violent.
Note: This copy of Number the Stars was purchased by me with my own funds and is part of my personal library.