Number the Stars by Lois Lowry

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In the book Number the Stars by Lois Lowry, the most memorable moment for me was when Annemarie successfully brought the permeated handkerchief past the Nazi soldiers to her Uncle Henrik, saving the Jewish people. It had been Annemarie’s greatest act of bravery in the entire story, even if she did not know exactly what she was doing. When Annemarie encountered the Nazis, she had been brave and relied on the other time when she met soldiers. She had remembered how one of the soldiers thought her little sister Kirsti was cute and let them pass.

Annemarie kept on thinking: “What would Kirsti do?” and did that. It was because of her ingenuity that she could bring the handkerchief onto the boat. “‘That’s all that brave means–not thinking about the dangers. Just thinking about what you must do. Of course you were frightened . . . But you kept your mind on what you had to do’” (Lowry, 123).

The definition of being brave is to face obvious danger and/or pain courageously.

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Annemarie had become braver that morning because she had understood the importance of the situation and how she must get the packet as fast as she could to Uncle Henrik’s boat. Therefore, a person may not be brave if they know too many facts, but instead when their mind is free to think and make unique, “out-of-the-box” decisions. That particular event was memorable for me because it was the most exciting part of the story with the most suspense.

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Both the reader (me) and Annemarie did not know what was in the packet but it was easy and natural to feel the anticipation while reading or being in the story.

During this time of the Holocaust (that Number the Stars is centered in), the reader given basic knowledge can understand how important bravery is. Annemarie, knowing that she was put in a difficult yet crucial situation, brought the permeated handkerchief to Henrik. Keeping her mind on what she had to do and nothing else, she succeeded. This short moment that can be also considered as the climax was very memorable for me because of this.

In The Tao of Pooh, Winnie-the-Pooh was always calm, open-minded and focused on current events only. During this memorable moment, Annemarie acted and thought the same way–which lead her to success. “‘But there are twelve pots of honey in my cupboard, and they’ve been calling to me for hours. I couldn’t hear them properly before, because Rabbit would talk, but if nobody says anything except those twelve pots, I think, Piglet, I shall know where they’re calling from” (Hoff, 14). In this quote, Pooh, Rabbit and Piglet were trying to find their home. They were continuously being unsuccessful, returning to the same sand-pit again and again. Eventually, Pooh decided that they must use a different strategy to find home. He used this strategy when talkative Rabbit left them. In this short story, Rabbit would represent a “Bisy Backson” attitude: always too busy, distracted and time-wasting. Therefore, the moral–you are able to accomplish more when you are focused and quiet.

Going back to Annemarie in the memorable moment, think about what she did. She quieted her mind, allowing it to make new ideas. Annemarie had observed how Kirsti led her family and friends out of trouble, therefore helping herself out of a similar but much more stressful situation. This moral also exists in real people’s lives. For example, when I do something such as homework, if I am focused and quiet I get it done. If I am distracted, tired, loud, etc. I will not get it done. Also, when Thomas Edison was inventing the light bulb, there was a time when he would work day and night, not return home and only sleep several hours on a bench. At that time, Edison was focused and worked extremely hard, which led him to successfully inventing the light bulb.At the beginning of the story (or the exposition), Annemarie meets the two Nazi soldiers standing on the corner. She had been racing with her Jewish friend Ellen and her sister Kirsti. The Nazis had told them to halt, but the three eventually passed without being harmed. Later, when they arrived home, their mothers grew nervous and warned the girls to be more careful.

After about a month later, the Johansens and the Rosens realized that more and more of Denmark’s Jewish people were being captured. They had seen Mrs. Hirsch’s button shop closed, a German sign (with a swastika) hung on its door. That shop had been closed because Mrs. Hirsch was Jewish, like the Rosens. Ellen Rosen’s parents went to a secret place to hide while Ellen moved into the Johansens’ house, pretending to be part of the family. Here, the exposition ends and Annemarie’s life becomes more serious than before. The German soldiers also searched the Johansens’ house once they realized that the Rosens had vanished. Ellen was unharmed, but both she and Annemarie would never forget how frightened they were then.

“Ellen swallowed. ‘Lise,’ she said, and cleared her throat. ‘Lise Johansen.’

‘Where did you get the dark-haired one?’ He twisted the lock of Ellen’s hair . . . ‘Or maybe you got her someplace else . . . From the Rosens?’” (Lowry, 47)

Later, the Johansens found that they were forced to move the Rosens to Sweden since it was too dangerous for them in Denmark. They were questioned by soldiers on the train. Annemarie’s sister Kirsti had said they were going to visit their uncle while she was wearing her black shoes. The soldiers had laughed and moved on, yet again leaving them alone because of Kirsti.

When they arrived at Annemarie’s uncle Henrik’s house, they had planned to smuggle the Jewish people on onto the fishing boat. There was a special handkerchief in a packet used to prevent the Nazi dogs from finding the people. Annemarie’s mother, Inge, had found that Henrik had forgotten the packet. Therefore, the climax was when Annemarie was forced to bring Henrik the packet during the night while her mother stayed at home with a broken ankle. After Annemarie successfully saved the Rosens (and the rest of the Jewish people), falling action began. Eventually, the war ended and Denmark was peaceful yet again while people celebrated. Annemarie had also asked her father to fix Ellen’s necklace that has the Star of David on it (she was forced to break it when the soldiers searched the Johansens’ house) in wait of the Rosens’ return.

A motive is a special reason a person or animal has for doing something. There are also many circumstances when a character’s motive is hidden, making the reader search for it. During the very beginning (or exposition) of the story, the protagonist (Annemarie Johansen) does not seem to have a motive at all except to stay happy and safe. Later on, Ellen Rosen moved in to pretend she was part of the family. At that time, a basic motive found in Annemarie was to keep Ellen and everyone else safe from the Nazi soldiers. When she had been taking the permeated handkerchief to her uncle Henrik, she clearly hoped to complete her given task and stay as safe as possible.

Annemarie also used to be more cheerful and carefree, much like average children nowadays. Throughout the story, she developed to be more serious, protective, understanding and appreciative. Many different types of obstacles and situations had caused her to understand when to be serious and when to let herself relax more. She also became more mature and appreciative of the family she was born into. This change is found in many different books and many different characters. The process of growing to be mature can also be seen in people and some animals over time.

I personally think that Annemarie developed much more in a short amount of time than average children today develop in many years. That is a logical inference because Annemarie lived during the Holocaust–which was much more difficult and required more in a person to succeed. Newer generations have been softened by the careful upbringing of their parents and their friendlier living environment. This may be one of the reasons why today’s children develop slower than Annemarie did. It is also possible that the author exaggerated the story, shrinking its time frame. In the book Number the Stars by Lois Lowry, the main theme is protecting the people that you care about. “Protecting” is to keep someone or something safe from harm or injury. If you “care,” you love and feel affection for someone or something. Examples of this theme can be found throughout the book since Annemarie and the rest of the Johansens have a strong will to protect their family and friends throughout the story.

This theme is vital to Number the Stars because of the Holocaust. If nobody in the story protected their loved ones, all the Jews would be caught and placed in concentration camps, letting the Nazis win. Lowry had written this story so that the will to protect the people they care about can be found in every character in Number the Stars. The Johansens want to protect their daughters, all of the Rosens and Peter from harm. Annemarie herself strives to keep Ellen and the rest of the Jewish people (who were being smuggled) safe. Even the Nazi soldiers wish to keep their entire country of Germany prosperous and safe.

If people do not wish to protect anyone they care about, they also technically do not care about anyone or anything. “So now I, too, am lying, she thought, and to my very best friend. I could tell Ellen that isn’t true . . . But she didn’t. She understood that she was protecting Ellen the way her mother had protected her” (Lowry, 78). In the above quote, Annemarie is thinking about how she was lying to Ellen about her great-aunt Birte–a fictional, non-existent family member who had “passed away.” Annemarie wished that Ellen could know what was actually happening instead of being kept in the dark. But she understands that sometimes when fewer people know the truth, the whole group can be kept safer. Her mother (Inge) had done the same thing to try and protect Annemarie, but she had figured out the truth and therefore had the burden of it on her shoulders.Highlighted are my ratings for the book Number the Stars by Lois Lowry.

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Number the Stars by Lois Lowry. (2022, Jan 13). Retrieved from

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