Number the Stars

Book review by
Cindy Kane, Common Sense Media
Number the Stars Book Poster Image
Parents recommendPopular with kids
Stirring tale of girl who smuggles Jews to safety in WWII.

Parents say

age 10+
Based on 11 reviews

Kids say

age 10+
Based on 96 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

A snapshot of life during the German occupation of Denmark. Readers learn of King Christian X and his rides through Copenhagen; of the food, leather, and fuel rations; and of the deliberate sinking of the Danish navy so that the Nazis can't take the ships. They also learn that Norway, France, and Belgium are all occupied by the Nazis, but not Sweden -- and just how close the safe-haven of Sweden is to the Danish Jews. They also learn how Danish scientists came up with a way to confuse the noses of German dogs. An Afterward explains what else in this story is based in fact.

Positive Messages

Bravery, perseverance, and empathy are all important here. Activism, in the mobilization of people and important information, helps keep people safe. So does scientific discovery.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Annemarie doesn't see herself as brave at first, but then she performs a selfless act and uses her wits to save others. The Christian Danes possess a sense of community that includes their Jewish neighbors and work to save them from the Nazis.

Violence

Tense moments between kids and Nazi soldiers, once on the street, other times in their homes, and another time a girl is alone in the country with soldiers who have two large dogs. A broken ankle, a slap to the face. A Jewish neighbor goes missing. Mentions of a sister hit by a car and killed before her wedding. The last chapter mentions the execution of a beloved character that takes place during the war, after the main action of the story.

Sex
Language
Consumerism

The girls play Gone with the Wind with paper dolls.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Beers offered to adults as a gift. Mention that Papa misses his cigarettes and that the men in his office will smoke anything -- weeds, paper -- because they can no longer get the real thing in wartime. A baby drugged to keep her quiet on a dangerous night.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Number the Stars, by Lois Lowry (The Giver), is a poignant read about the Nazi occupation of Denmark that won the Newbery Medal, the highest honor in children's literature, in 1990. Expect some tense moments between kids and Nazi soldiers, once on the street, other times in their homes, and another time a girl is alone in the country with soldiers who have two large dogs. Nazis slap the main character's mother. There are mentions of deaths and disappearances, too, including the death of the main character's sister, who was hit by a car before the story begins. Beers are offered to adults and a baby is drugged to keep her quiet on a dangerous night. The main character, 10-year-old Annemarie, doesn't see herself as brave at first, but then she performs a selfless act and uses her wits to save others. The Christian Danes possess a sense of community that includes their Jewish neighbors and work to save them from the Nazis.

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User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byYuri_ChanOMEGA November 3, 2018

Great

It's a good book for kids to learn about what happened during the holocaust. Some parts are very sad, but it's good for kids to know about history.
Adult Written byflamingflint2003 May 3, 2015

It is a great 4th grade start book

It tells a story of someone who fights for their believes...normal people just like us...fighting for liberty of believe.
Teen, 16 years old Written byFhaksbs db January 25, 2018

Best book ever!!!!

This book is amazing and wonderful. It is one of my favorite books of all time! It has lots of positive messages and great role models. It is a great book to re... Continue reading
Kid, 10 years old June 11, 2016

Bravory, kindness and innocence

There is no bad parts. Just reminding you how people suffered during world war 2. We should always be aware of what they did and endured. This story is nothing... Continue reading

What's the story?

NUMBER THE STARS is a stirring World War II novel that personalizes the story of Denmark's heroic rescue of its Jews from the Nazis. It follows a brave 10-year-old Danish girl who helps her family smuggle her Jewish friends to safety in Sweden.

 

Is it any good?

Author Lois Lowry doesn't waste a word in Number the Stars, starting with Annemarie and Ellen's frightening run-in with German soldiers in the opening chapter. In quick strokes, Lowry establishes the setting and characters and foreshadows Annemarie's subsequent encounters with soldiers, each of which increases the tension. The symbol of stars weaves in and out: When the crowd of escaping Jews gathers, they are comforted with the words of Psalm 147: "O praise the Lord ... he who numbers the stars one by one." "How can anyone number the stars?" Annemarie wonders.

But she is one of the brave Danes who save their Jewish neighbors, one by one. The moving Afterword is crafted as carefully as the novel, making the point that these fictional characters represent real people whose idealism was a gift to the world.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about lying in Number the Stars. What does Uncle Henrik mean when he says to Annemarie that it's easier for her to be brave if she doesn't know everything?

  • What did you learn about Denmark and World War II from this book?

  • What does the title of the book mean? (It's a bit hard to decipher, so look to the chapter titled "Let Us Open the Casket," and to Annmarie's reaction to the Bible passage there.)

Book details

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