Number the Stars. Finished 9-26-18, 5/5 stars, YA, 137 pages, pub. 1989
Ten-year-old Annemarie Johansen and her best friend Ellen Rosen often think of life before the war. It’s now 1943 and their life in Copenhagen is filled with school, food shortages, and the Nazi soldiers marching through town. When the Jews of Denmark are “relocated,” Ellen moves in with the Johansens and pretends to be one of the family. Soon Annemarie is asked to go on a dangerous mission to save Ellen’s life. from Goodreads
I adored this 1990 Newbery Medal winner. I really had no idea what this was about and I’m not sure why I added it to my Classics Club reading list (must have been one of you bloggers gushing about it!). What a joy it was to discover a children’s book that could entertain, engage and educate. I was hooked from the get go.
Ann-Marie and her best friend Ellen are making the best of growing up with Nazis on every corner of their town, until one night the unthinkable happens at the local Jewish synagogue and now the Nazis have a list of Jews. Ellen’s parents leave her with Ann-Marie’s family as they flee and what happens next is so emotional and horrifying that I became attached very quickly. Ann-Marie and her family take extraordinary risks to do the right thing.
I didn’t know anything about the Danish Resistance that smuggled almost their entire Jewish population (7,000) across the sea to Sweden under the noses of the Nazis. I was fascinated and in awe of the great things that ordinary people did to fight the good fight, even if the fight wasn’t theirs. After this week’s shooting in the Jewish synagogue in Pittsburgh I was struck with the parallels when I sat down to write my thoughts about this book. We must all stand up to hate. This is a perfect example of ordinary people doing the best that they can to do the right thing. If you have a child in your life and you are struggling to explain what happened, reading this book together might be a good starting point. And as a bonus you’ll probably learn something new.
This was my 23rd selection for the Classics Club challenge. I have until January 1, 2020 to get to 50.