08 April 2014

Number the Stars: 1990 Newbery Award Winner

The beginning of March 2014 I started a new undertaking: reading every single Newbery Medal Winner book. A number of them I have read in the past, but I am reading them with fresh eyes,and reviewing them for others. I am not reading them in order, as some will require some effort on my part to find them all. Want to keep track of which books I read?  Check them out at Confessions of a Wannabe Reader!

Number the Stars book cover.jpeg
Cover of the book - The image is used for identification purposes only under the fair use clause.

Annemarie Johansen: The Girl Who Was Brave

"That's all that brave means - not thinking about the dangers.  Just thinking about what you must do."

In Denmark in 1943, ten-year-old Annemarie Johansen and her Jewish best friend Ellen Rosen can remember a time when the Germans were not in charge of their country, even though Annemarie's little sister Kirsti cannot.   Annemarie also can remember her older sister, Lise, who died in an accident at the start of the war.  When the Nazis insist on rounding up all of the Danish Jews for relocation, Annemarie and her family protect Ellen by taking her into their home.  Soon after, Annemarie risks her life to save Ellen's and learns that being brave does not always mean one loses all fear.

Number the Stars is the first of two books by Lois Lowry to win the Newbery Award (The Giver was the second).  It is also a book that I have owned for years.  I read it first as a sixth grader and can remember then the power the story had for me.  I fell in love with it and I believe this story helped nurture my then budding love of history.  In college, I purchased the book to read again, and I used it when I tutored a young girl who was having trouble with reading, but enjoyed stories about heroines her own age.  She loved it too.

Number the Stars is a story that is based on true events, though they have been fictionalized.  There were things that happened in Denmark during World War II.  This book is the story of German occupation and the Danish Resistance that helped to bring about an end of the war and saved the lives of thousands of Danish Jews.  The author does an excellent job in her afterword explaining her inspiration for the events in the story.

The theme of this story is bravery.  Many people in the story were brave, including Annemarie.  She thinks that being brave means that one in not fearful, but learns that it means being able to do what needs to be done despite any fears that may be had.  Having read this again after a number of years, I can say that this book touched a spark in me that was dormant.  Lately, I have been fearful of a number of things, and this story reminds me that I can be brave too.

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