Book 13 of my 2014 Reading Challenge
Book 1 of our Newbery Challenge. My 10 year old daughter Alison and I have set a hefty goal - to read every Newbery Medal winning book together. At this time there are 92 winners spanning from 1922 - 2013.
Number the Stars by Lois Lowry
1990 Newbery Medal Winner
Summary (via the book jacket)
It is 1943, and for Annemarie Johansen, life in Copenhagen is a complicated mix of ordinary home and school time, food shortages, and the constant presence of Nazi soldiers. Bravery seems a vague virtue - one possessed by dragon-slaying knights in the bedtime stories she tells her younger sister, Kristi [sic - she is referred to as Kirsti throughout the book but Kristi on the book jacket].
As the German troops begin their campaign to "relocate" all the Jews in Denmark, the Johansens take in Annemarie's best friend, Ellen Rosen, and pretend she is part of the family. The girls live like sisters, until it becomes clear something more needs to be done to save Ellen, her family, and the Jews of Denmark.
In this tale of an entire nation's heroism, the story of the Danish Resistance and their plan to smuggle the entire Jewish population of Denmark - nearly seven thousand people - across the sea to Sweden is told with pride and hope through one young girl's eyes.
Reading a WWII book that didn't take place in Germany or the United States gave us something new to talk about. The afterword by the author where she explained her research was especially fascinating.
Something new I learned: almost all the Jews in Denmark were able to be smuggled by boat to Sweden. To fool the German dogs sniffing the boats for stowaways, scientists developed a combination of rabbit's blood and cocaine and each boat captain carried a handkerchief doused in it. The dogs would be attracted by the blood and smell the handkerchief, the cocaine would temporarily numb their sense of smell, and the Jews would remain undetected.
I really liked it and it reminded me of another book I read called Yellow Star. My favorite character in the book was Annemarie and how she came to be brave and courageous. I agree with Mom about the handkerchief - it was pretty cool. My favorite part was when the mom was all sarcastic with the soldier about the coffin and Great Aunt Berte and then they had the soldiers fooled and then they left and the coffin was opened and what was really in it was warm clothes for them to wear. And I liked how her research in the end talked about a real person in the Resistance.
Quote from the Book
"That's all that brave means - not thinking about the dangers. Just thinking about what you must do."