Book Review: Number the Stars

Reviewed by Alexandra Kukoff, age 13, from CA

By Lois Lowry
Published by: Laurel-Leaf Publishing Co. and Sterling Publishing
Recommended for ages 10 and up

It can be hard to find age-appropriate yet challenging historical fiction works. Number the Stars, by Lois Lowry, provides an age-appropriate and mature look at the effects of the Holocaust on two friends living in Denmark: Ellen Rosen, who is eventually forced to go into hiding as her family faces persecution from the Nazis for their religion, and Annemarie Johansen, a non-Jew whose family offers to take Ellen in when she has no one.

Throughout the book, the reader uncovers the mystery of Annemarie’s older sister, Lise (who was killed on impact when hit by a car), sees the bond of Annemarie and Ellen’s friendship strengthen as the Rosens suffer at the Nazis’ hands, explores the world of the Danish Resistance, and watches Annemarie and Ellen’s world unravel with the devastating sweep of the Holocaust.

Number the Stars is tragic––Ellen is separated from her parents when they go into hiding and when she is forced to move in with the Johansens––but it also has sweet moments, like in the beginning of the novel, when Annemarie and Ellen are in Copenhagen, having a street race on the way home from school, or when Annemarie and Ellen relax (temporarily) in Annemarie’s uncle’s residence when the Johansens have decided to transfer Ellen to a different hideout.

Number the Stars also has its suspense, like when Ellen is almost discovered in hiding with the Johansens by a Nazi officer, or when Mrs. Johansen tells Annemarie to deliver an important Resistance package to her uncle (hidden under food in a basket) and Annemarie is stopped by German soldiers.

Overall, this is a wonderful, historical fiction account of friendship and shattered innocence during the Holocaust, and the reader really ends up bonding with the characters while also learning about the time period. You’ll ace your next Social Studies test and  enjoy a great story!  Enjoy!