Name of Book: Number the Stars
Author: Lois Lowry
Publisher: Laurel Leaf
Audience: Ages 12 and up
Summary: This is a story about a ten year old Danish girl, Annemarie, trying to help her Jewish friend, Ellen, in the middle of World War II. Annemarie’s family takes Ellen to be apart of their own in hopes of hiding her from the Nazi soldiers who are just beginning to search out Jewish family in their small Danish town of Copenhagen. Annemarie makes a daring journey to save her friend and her uncle from potential capture from the Nazis and shows that anyone with love for their friends can be a hero.
Literary elements at work in the story: The setting is in Copenhagen in the early 1940’s after Nazi Germany had occupied Denmark. The characters move around some and eventually end up close to the border of Sweden. Suspense also plays a key role in this story. From time to time the main characters encounter Nazi soldiers and it is unclear in the moment if they will go untouched.
(How) does the perspective on gender/race/culture/economics/ability make a difference to the story? The main character, Annemarie, is a ten year old girl who is faced with growing up much to fast. She is stuck between being a child who is carefree and more concerned with winning footraces than anything else, and a young woman who must face the Nazis in the midst of an overtaken country. She must also face the threat her friend Ellen has on her life simply because she is Jewish. Annemarie comes of age in this story and becomes a hero. It is uplifting to have a female child as the hero as this story would appeal to many experienced readers.
Theological conversation partners: Matthew 22:34 -40 When the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together, and one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him. ‘Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?’ He said to him, ‘ “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.” This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” On these two comandments hang all the law and the prophets.’
Annemarie and her family show unconditional love of their neighbors the Rosens. During the time of World War II they could have been easily killed for supporting their Jewish friends, but they give a great example of our calling as Christians to love our neighbors as we love ourselves.
Faith Talk Questions
1. Do you know people of other religions?
2. We live in a country with freedom of religion, but often times people outside of Christianity can be viewed differently because of their beliefs. How should we treat others that believe differently than we do?
3. Have you ever lied to protect someone? Explain the story.
4. How would God view that type of lie?
5. What would you say to the Nazi soldiers?
6. How would you comfort a friend who is scared?
7. Who would you consider to be your neighbor?
8. What can we do to better love our neighbor?
This review was written by Union Presbyterian Seminary student Russ Pearson.