The book Number the Stars is a wonderful masterpiece written by Lois Lowry in 1988. After you read this book, a fantastically told historical fiction on World War II, you will think it is a great story. “According to Lowery, the Danish people were the only entire nation of people in the world who heard the splash and the cry and did not… turn away from the disaster.” Number the Stars was published by Bantam Doubleday Dell Publishing. This Newberry award winner, which demonstrates friendship and courage from the characters in it, is a must read. This story takes place in Copenhagen, Denmark. The Germans have taken over. Although the Nazi regime during World War II had taken all of their resources, the people of Denmark were not giving up easily. Rebelling, a clan of youths tries to secretly resist the German demands. Secretly these people help the Jews escape, while Germans are chasing after them.
There are many characters in this story: Mr. Johansen, Mrs. Johansen, Lise Johansen, Mr. Rosen, Mrs. Rosen, Mr. Hirsch, Mrs. Hirsch, Mrs. Hirsch’s son, Peter Neilsen, Uncle Henrik, King Christian X, German soldiers, and Thor the cat. The three main characters are Kirsti Johansen, who is a young brat with a mouth of a bullhorn, Ellen Rosen, and most importantly, Annemarie Johansen. Ruthlessly, the Germans had ordered that all the Jews be taken to concentration camps. Having the Johansens as friends and neighbors, the Rosens, being Jewish, would have to be protected. Although living in the occupied town of Copenhagen, Denmark, would be hard, now they had to try to escape with their Jewish friends. This story is very suspenseful. After the first chapter the book starts to take off into an exciting adventure. As the storyline progresses, we meet some very interesting characters.
Once the law has been passed by the Germans, the Rosens leave town with Peter Neilsen (a part of the Danish resistant), and leave their daughter Ellen with the Johansens. It was like a sleepover to the girls–until the Germans came and searched the Johansens’ apartment. Luckily Mr. Johansen had pictures of his deceased daughter, Lise, when she had black hair. When the Germans questioned why Ellen (the Jew pretending to be the Johansen’s daughter) had black hair, Mr. Johansen acted as though she were his daughter, Lise. After the Germans left, Mrs. Johansen decided that it was too dangerous for the girls to go to school, so they left town to visit Annemarie’s Uncle Henrik, the fisherman in Gilleleje. Nearing their destination, they passed the Klampenborg station, where German soldiers boarded the train. While on the train ride, Kirsti, who almost gave away that Ellen was Jewish to the German soldiers, talked on about her shoes. After Mrs. Johansen told the soldiers their business of seeing her brother, the soldiers were on their way. Finally, they reached Gilleleje. Walking to Henrik’s house, they were astonished by the beauty of the wonderful water and the wildflowers. As soon as they got there they were told by Uncle Henrik that there has been a death in the family; Annemarie’s great Aunt Bertie had died. Annemarie soon found out that there really was no Aunt Bertie. The funeral was an excuse for the escaping Jews to gather at the house. After people came, the German soldiers arrived. They questioned about the coffin and left. After that Mr. and Mrs. Rosen were reunited with their daughter, Ellen. Quickly Peter slipped Mr. Rosen a package to take to Henrik and took the first few people to his boat and hid them there. When it was Mrs. Johansen’s turn to take the Rosens to the boat, Mr. Rosen slipped on the steps and unknowingly dropped the package. Ellen, who had given Annemarie a quick hug and left, was sad and wondering if she would ever find her friend again. The next morning Annemarie noticed her mother on the ground in front of the house. Her mother had broken her ankle, and there, next to her mother, Annemarie found the package that Peter had given to Mr. Rosen. Annemarie got a basket, put the package at the bottom, and put a napkin and some food over it. Then she ran toward Henrik’s boat with his “lunch.” Running to the boat, she met up with German soldiers and their dogs. The Germans took the food and ruined it. Then they discovered the hidden package and opened it! There was only a hankerchief. What could it mean? The dogs smelled it and were suddenly not interested. The soldiers left. Annemarie delivered the packet. The Jews had been saved!
Reading this suspenseful story, one can’t wait to find out what happens next. The best thing about this book is that Annemarie and her family amazingly find ways to outsmart the Germans. Although the Germans came to the apartment, the Johansens outsmarted them with the pictures which had been taken out of the scrap book. After that, the Germans were outsmarted with the fake funeral. Would you have been able to do what Annemarie had done? The Resistance saved over seven thousand Jews. Flawlessly Lois Lowery makes the characters as if they were real. Number the Stars is a real masterpiece!