After finishing the Four Lindas series, last night it was time to dive into a new book. Somehow I found myself looking at some young adult fiction online. After coming across Number the Stars and seeing the overwhelmingly positive reviews for it, I decided to read it. Only $1.99 for the Kindle version and a mere 160 pages, I was done two hours later, satisfied and awash in the author’s marvelous prose.
The story is a fictionalized account of a true story told to the author by a Jewish friend who was hidden during WWII. It centers around a ten year old girl named Annemarie Johannesen who lives in Denmark at the time of the German occupation. She is the middle child of 3 girls, with a mysteriously deceased older sister. Annemarie’s best friend is Ellen Rosen, a Jewish girl who lives with her mother and father in the same apartment building.
Lois Lowry has a gift for character development, suspense, and driving the story forward. She writes efficiently, which I wish more writers did. There is nothing superfluous about the dialogue or events.
Within a few pages, as Jews in the neighborhood are disappearing, Annemarie is thrust into an adult situation. Her parents make the decision to take in her friend, Ellen, and hide her. I learned they were like many Danish families who successfully hid and helped their Jewish friends, many of whom made their way to safety in Sweden.
And here is where the adventure begins. I will say no more about the plot except that it is excellently crafted. Seeing everything through the eyes of Annemarie, who soon starts to make sense of the cat-and-mouse game her family is involved in, makes the story develop at just the right pace. She matures quickly, keenly observing the adults, and discovers her own role during this dangerous time.
I highly recommend this book. This is a Newbery Award-winner (the highest honor for children’s literature.) There is nothing scary or inappropriate. Everything is explained at a child’s emotional level of about 10 years and up. At no time does it seem like the author is talking down to her readers. This book is a treasure, and I wish I had known of it when I was in the classroom.
An enthusiastic 10/10 Stars.