Modern Classic: Number the Stars

Newberry Medal winner Number the Stars (©1989) by Lois Lowry tells a story that centers on Annemarie Johansen, a ten-year-old living in Copenhagen, Denmark in 1943.  Denmark is under Nazi occupation, and Annemarie and her Jewish best friend, Ellen Rosen, have spent the past three years with the constant intimidation of Nazi soldiers on every street corner. Late one night, the Rosens must flee the city to avoid arrest, leaving Ellen behind with Annemarie’s family. Ellen must take on the identity of Lise Johansen, the Johansen’s eldest daughter, who died years earlier. It is soon revealed to Annemarie that the life of her best friend may be at stake and she has an important role to play in a perilous mission. The story develops into a compelling mystery when young Annemarie realizes that the adults whom she trusts are keeping a secret from her.

Lois Lowry’s gift for storytelling shines through in this suspenseful drama.  The terror of World War II told through the voice of a child makes this a great read for children and adults alike. At a brief 132 pages, this book is a quick read that is sure to hold the reader’s interest from beginning to end. Number the Stars is based on the true story of the Danish resistance, which smuggled nearly 7,000 Jews safely from Denmark to Sweden.

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