Annemarie is a ten-year-old girl living in Copenhagen, Denmark with her family in 1943. Annemarie enjoys running, fairy tales, and spending time with her best friend, Ellen Rosen. Although her younger sister Kirsti sometimes bothers her, Annemarie does her best to be a good older sister. When Ellen, who is Jewish, finds herself in danger from the Nazis, Annemarie must help her escape to safety.
Ellen is Annemarie's best friend. She is talented great actress and dedicated student - she has to be, because her father is a teacher. Ellen is kind to everybody and is like a sister to Annemarie and Kirsti. However, her life changes after the Germans occupy Denmark because Ellen and her family are Jewish. They must escape to Sweden to avoid persecution, and are able to do so with the help of their longterm friends, the Johansens.
Kirsti (short for Kirsten) is Annemarie's five-year-old sister. Kirsti does not always understand the severity of the events going on around her. However, her childlike innocence and tendency to chatter endear her to everyone--even some German soldiers.
A young, tall, German soldier who patrols the street corner near Annemarie's school. He is stern but not violent.
Mrs. Rosen is Ellen's mother. She is good friends with Mrs. Johansen and they have coffee together almost every day.
Mrs. Johansen, or "Mama", is Annemarie and Kirsti's mother. She is warm and kind, but also extremely brave when she must face danger to save the Rosens' lives.
Lise Johansen was Annemarie's older sister. She would have been twenty-one in 1943, but she died in a car accident at the age of 18. At the time of her death, Lise was engaged to Peter Neilsen, who is still like family to the Johansens. At the end of the novel, Annemarie learns that Lise was run over by German soldiers after attending a Resistance meeting.
He was Lise's fun-loving fiancé. He is a member of the Danish Resistance and regularly risks his life to fight the Germans and rescue the Jews. Even after Lise's death, he stays close to the Johansens and even helps them rescue the Rosens.
Mr. Johansen ("Papa") is Annemarie and Kirsti's father. Like Mama, he is a kind and compassionate parent, but he is also a patriotic Dane and is willing to make sacrifices to stand up to the Germans.
Annemarie's uncle and Mama's brother. An unmarried fisherman, Henrik lives alone in the fishing village of Gilleleje. He is very close to his sister, and has even named his boat after her. He is involved in the effort to smuggle Jews across the sea to Sweden. He helps the Rosens escape in a secret compartment on his boat.
The owner of a button-and-thread shop near Annemarie's house. The Germans close her shop because she is Jewish; her family is forced to flee Copenhagen.
Mama claims to have a aunt who passes away in Chapter 8. However, Great-Aunt Birte does not really exist. Mama and Uncle Henrik make her up so that they can hold a funeral, which is really an excuse for Uncle Henrik to collect all the Jewish refugees at his home before smuggling them to Sweden.
Number the Stars Questions and Answers
The Question and Answer section for Number the Stars is a great
resource to ask questions, find answers, and discuss the novel.
At the end of the novel, the Uncle Henrik delivers the Rosens (including Ellen) and the other refugees to Sweden. The packet that Annemarie delivered to her uncle contained a handkerchief soaked in a chemical that eliminated the soldiers' dogs'...
Ellen begins to understand just how brave her parents are. Ellen is also more aware of the fact that her parents could be in mortal danger. When she goes to sleep, she is not worried about her own safety, but that of her family.