Number the Stars

Number the Stars Study Guide

Number the Stars is a historical fiction novel. It follows the journey of 10-year-old Annemarie Johansen after the Nazi invasion of Denmark in 1943. Annemarie must help her Jewish best friend, Ellen Rosen, escape the country. Lowry got the idea for Number the Stars from her friend Annelise, who grew up in Denmark during the German occupation. Certain parts of Number the Stars, such as the description of the Germans’ dark, shiny boots, come directly from true stories that Annelise told her friend (Glencoe).

Before writing the novel, Lowry extensively studied the history of World War II. Some of the characters and events in Number the Stars are inspired by the things she learned. For example, the character Peter is based on a real member of the Danish Resistance named Kim Malthe-Brunn. In addition, Lowry visited Denmark and spoke with real people who had helped to rescue Jews from the Holocaust. While she was there, she also visited farms and fishing villages to learn what they would have been like for the scenes that take place at Uncle Henrik's house (“Interview Transcript”).

Number the Stars was published in 1989. It won the prestigious Newbery Medal the following year. Today, it remains popular and is on the required reading list in many American and European schools.