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Number the Stars Hardcover – April 24, 1989

4.7 out of 5 stars 1,909 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

The evacuation of Jews from Nazi-held Denmark is one of the great untold stories of World War II. On September 29, 1943, word got out in Denmark that Jews were to be detained and then sent to the death camps. Within hours the Danish resistance, population and police arranged a small flotilla to herd 7,000 Jews to Sweden. Lois Lowry fictionalizes a true-story account to bring this courageous tale to life. She brings the experience to life through the eyes of 10-year-old Annemarie Johannesen, whose family harbors her best friend, Ellen Rosen, on the eve of the round-up and helps smuggles Ellen's family out of the country. Number the Stars won the 1990 Newbery Medal.

From Publishers Weekly

Set in Nazi-occupied Denmark in 1943, this 1990 Newbery winner tells of a 10-year-old girl who undertakes a dangerous mission to save her best friend. Ages 10-14.
Copyright 1990 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Product Details

  • Age Range: 10 - 12 years
  • Grade Level: 5 - 7
  • Lexile Measure: 670 (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 144 pages
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin; First Printing edition (April 24, 1989)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0395510600
  • ISBN-13: 978-0395510605
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.7 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1,909 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #57,277 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Lois Lowry is known for her versatility and invention as a writer. She was born in Hawaii and grew up in New York, Pennsylvania, and Japan. After several years at Brown University, she turned to her family and to writing. She is the author of more than thirty books for young adults, including the popular Anastasia Krupnik series. She has received countless honors, among them the Boston Globe-Horn Book Award, the Dorothy Canfield Fisher Award, the California Young Reader.s Medal, and the Mark Twain Award. She received Newbery Medals for two of her novels, NUMBER THE STARS and THE GIVER. Her first novel, A SUMMER TO DIE, was awarded the International Reading Association.s Children.s Book Award. Ms. Lowry now divides her time between Cambridge and an 1840s farmhouse in Maine. To learn more about Lois Lowry, see her website at www.loislowry.com

author interview

Q. When did you know you wanted to become a writer?

A. I cannot remember ever not wanting to be a writer.

Q. What inspired you to write The Giver?

A. Kids always ask what inspired me to write a particular book or how did I get an idea for a particular book, and often it's very easy to answer that because books like the Anastasia books come from a specific thing; some little event triggers an idea. But a book like The Giver is a much more complicated book, and therefore it comes from much more complicated places--and many of them are probably things that I don't even recognize myself anymore, if I ever did. So it's not an easy question to answer.

I will say that the whole concept of memory is one that interests me a great deal. I'm not sure why that is, but I've always been fascinated by the thought of what memory is and what it does and how it works and what we learn from it. And so I think probably that interest of my own and that particular subject was the origin, one of many, of The Giver.

Q. How did you decide what Jonas should take on his journey?

A. Why does Jonas take what he does on his journey? He doesn't have much time when he sets out. He originally plans to make the trip farther along in time, and he plans to prepare for it better. But then, because of circumstances, he has to set out in a very hasty fashion. So what he chooses is out of necessity. He takes food because he needs to survive. He takes the bicycle because he needs to hurry and the bike is faster than legs. And he takes the baby because he is going out to create a future. And babies always represent the future in the same way children represent the future to adults. And so Jonas takes the baby so the baby's life will be saved, but he takes the baby also in order to begin again with a new life.

Q. When you wrote the ending, were you afraid some readers would want more details or did you want to leave the ending open to individual interpretation?

A. Many kids want a more specific ending to The Giver. Some write, or ask me when they see me, to spell it out exactly. And I don't do that. And the reason is because The Giver is many things to many different people. People bring to it their own complicated beliefs and hopes and dreams and fears and all of that. So I don't want to put my own feelings into it, my own beliefs, and ruin that for people who create their own endings in their minds.

Q. Is it an optimistic ending? Does Jonas survive?

A. I will say that I find it an optimistic ending. How could it not be an optimistic ending, a happy ending, when that house is there with its lights on and music is playing? So I'm always kind of surprised and disappointed when some people tell me that they think the boy and the baby just die. I don't think they die. What form their new life takes is something I like people to figure out for themselves. And each person will give it a different ending. I think they're out there somewhere and I think that their life has changed and their life is happy, and I would like to think that's true for the people they left behind as well.

Q. In what way is your book Gathering Blue a companion to The Giver?

A. Gathering Blue postulates a world of the future, as The Giver does. I simply created a different kind of world, one that had regressed instead of leaping forward technologically as the world of The Giver has. It was fascinating to explore the savagery of such a world. I began to feel that maybe it coexisted with Jonas's world . . . and that therefore Jonas could be a part of it in a tangential way. So there is a reference to a boy with light eyes at the end of Gathering Blue. He can be Jonas or not, as you wish.

Amazon Author Rankbeta 

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#21 in Books > Teens
#21 in Books > Teens

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Mass Market Paperback
First I should say that I work in a bookstore. Since I hadn't read a young adult book in nearly 30 years, I decided to read a few to learn what to recommend to customers. The first one I picked up was `Number the Stars.' It blew me away.
Lowry has written an incredibly moving account of the Jews in World War II Denmark. Annemarie Johansen worries what might happen to her Jewish friend Ellen Rosen as the Nazis capture and "relocate" all Jews. During this time, Annemarie learns about the power of evil, the strength of family, and the unbreakable bonds of friendship. Lowry does a masterful job of showing how Annemarie grows up before our very eyes in the way she interacts with her little sister Kirsti, her friend Ellen, and the ever present Nazi officers. Annemarie learns several lessons throughout the book that she'll never forget. We won't forget them either.
This is an incredibly moving book. There are very few books that absolutely everyone should read. This is one of them.
137 pages
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Format: Paperback
This story is set in Denmark in 1943, during World War II. During that time Denmark was under Nazi occupation. The story tells about the life of two very close friends, Annemarie Johansen and Ellen Rosen, and their families. Living in Denmark during that time was very difficult. Nazi soldiers were on every street corner. There were food shortages and they were required to darken their windows every evening. One day, the Jewish families received word that the Germans were going to relocate all the Jews in Denmark. Since the Rosens were Jewish, Mr. and Mrs. Rosen were takin into hinding. Ellen went to live with the Johansens and pretended to be a part of the Johansen family. A few days later, Mrs. Johansen took her two daughters and Ellen to visit Uncle Henrik. The rest of the story is about the tremendous courage of Annemarie, Mrs. Johansen, Uncle Henrik, and Peter Neilsen and the trouble they endured to help their friends. I really enjoyed this book. It was very moving, suspenseful, and sad. Once I started reading it, I could not put it down. I highly recommend reading this book.
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By A Customer on December 11, 2002
Format: Mass Market Paperback
This book provides a wonderful opportunity for both kids and parents to read a good story together and study history from a children's perspective.
I always enjoyed reading historical novels, even as a kid, and my daughter, who isn't real crazy about reading, is beginning to change her mind because this story speaks to her. That it takes place in a country she never heard of before isn't relevant.
This is no fairy tale-it's the story of two Danish families, friends before the war, one Jewish and one Christian, who fight the effects of the German invasion of their country and the subsequent attempt to eliminate the Jewish population.
Through the pages of this book, we are given the story of the Rosens and the Johansens, who, on the eve of the Jewish New Year in 1943, wisely act to avert tragedy. The Rosens are blessed by the knowledge that the Nazis are beginning to move in and not paralyzed by fear into inaction. The Johansens are blessed by the knowledge that, as Danes, they could do nothing less but protect their friends and fellow Danes.
There are some scary moments, certainly, but not so frightening that children should avoid this book. Some books can be read without parents nearby; this one I recommend be read either by or with parents because some explanation of history is helpful.
One of the aspects of this book that I particularly liked was how it helps children to think and spot upcoming events.
At one point, for example, there's a reference to the Star of David necklace worn by one of the children. As the German soldiers barge into the Johansen home where the Jewish girl is hiding in plain sight, my daughter exclaimed that someone should hide the necklace before the soldiers find it.
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Format: Paperback
I am studying to be an elementary teacher, and I read this book for a children's literature class. This book was very well written because it vividly shares the reality of life during the Holocaust while protecting young children from many of the details that might be too frightening for them. This book is unique because it gives a child's perspective of the Holocaust, detailing how living circumstances changed and how friends were taken away. I think that every child should read this book because children need to understand that the Holocaust was real and was not just some event in history. We should never forget the tragedy it was.
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Though I was a child when this book was first published, somehow I managed to avoid reading any Lois Lowry until 2003 (much to the shock of my friends). It was worth the wait. This story departs from the usual World War Two fiction genre by placing the story in a unique setting with a different perspective. Everything occurs in Denmark, and we see the story unfold through the eyes of young Annemarie Johansen. Though she is not directly threatened by the actions of the Nazis that have invaded her peaceful country, her best friend Ellen Rosen is. Annemarie must use her head to save her friend from the concentration camps while endangering herself. I was impressed with the fact that the threat presented by the Germans in this book was made real without relying on gory details. In this way, Lowry has created a book about the Holocaust that is appropriate for juvenile readers. Be warned: There is no perfectly happy ending at the end of this story (the reader is not absolutely certain that the Rosenbergs have escaped and are coming back) but it should satisfy most children. Well worth a read.
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