Number the Stars by Lois Lowry is a young adult novel that takes place in
during World War II. Lowry tells a
simple story about a very dramatic time, focusing on the friendship of two
young girls—one Jewish and the other not.
When Ellen’s family learns that the Germans are going to start rounding
up the Jews of the community, Annemarie and her family are called upon to help. Copenhagen
Lowry wastes no detail and although the exposition is occasionally contrived as are a couple of the more climactic moments towards the end of the novel, each event leads into the next, some hearkening back to earlier events in perfect foreshadowing. But Lowry does not oversimplify a complicated situation and there is a back story that is told throughout the novel. She’s always mindful of her audience while never compromising the integrity of the historical context. While there are no details about the horrors which occurred in this time, there are enough indications of the dangers of the time and an obvious respect for the young adult reader to ensure this novel a permanent place in any library and on the personal bookshelves of young readers.