October 06, 2011

Number the Stars by Lois Lowry

What a sad triumphant story. I've not read too much on the holocaust (something I intend to remedy) and to start out with this children's novel was probably the perfect introduction to the subject. Even though it is for a younger crowd, it does give a nice easy start to what essentially is a horrifying point in history. It helps prepare for the harder things to come.

Annemarie is a Danish girl who lives with her parents and her younger sister. It is several years into the war and the Nazis have occupied the city and are in control. They terrorize everyone, Jewish or not, and aren't above scaring young girls on the street. Annemarie learns this firsthand when she is reprimanded for practicing a footrace on the street and a soldier yells at her. With her, is her Jewish friend Ellen, who is also yelled at for racing.

When the Nazi's start clearing the Jewish out of the city, Annemarie's family takes Ellen in and disguises her as Lise, an older sister of Annemarie's that died a few years back. They have some close calls harboring Ellen but manage to keep her safe. However, life in the city becomes too dangerous for even this and they flee to the country where there are relatives near the coast. With the help of this relative and other brave heroes, they help Ellen and her family escape persecution.

The writing in this, is of course, juvenile. It is after all, a children's book. But despite this, it is very elegantly told and easy to get lost in the story. I would have liked to see a bit more description on events and people, but I can see where it should be left out in order to appeal to a younger crowd. Its written in the third person and mostly follows Annemarie as a character. Since it is a fairly short book, it moves quickly and not a lot of time is spent on developing the characters or storyline beyond the basic plot and this may account for the lack of description as well.

Such a sad story, even despite having happy moments. To think that such things were done in real life and all the atrocities committed is very depressing. I can only hope that human kind has learned from its mistakes and it will not be repeated. This is the perfect introduction to the horrors of the holocaust for the younger crowd. It has enough in it to be realistic but not enough to completely scare a younger reader. There are some violent aspects to the book, but really, in perspective it is no worse than some of the violence in cartoons.

I enjoyed the book for its information but it did make me want to go read something a little more positive. But sometimes that's a good balance, once you read something sad it gives you an excuse to read something happy as well (at least for me it does!). It is important to read though and I wish I would have had the opportunity to read it when younger.

Number the Stars
Copyright 1989
132 page

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