Newbery Book Review

Number the Stars

Getting to this blog today has been somewhat of a trial.  Still is, in fact.  I am currently nursing an awful headache that is the result of caffeine not entering my system early enough and not enough water.  I’m trying to hydrate, and with the help of the water and three aspirin and the coffee from earlier I’m hoping the ache leaves my head soon.  It’s also almost six o’clock on Saturday night, which is the latest I’ve written since starting my new challenge of a book and post a week.  The reason for the lateness of the hour (it feels later because it’s pitch black outside) is because my day started early.  I’ll back up so that makes sense: so I had a hair appointment at the Aveda Institute at 9 am and I was going to pick up Laura at 8 so we could park, take the MAX and not have to pay for parking.  When I went outside this morning though I realized my car was covered in frost.  The kind of frost that made it impossible to open my door.  I’m serious.  I had to get Forrest to come yank on the door to get it open.  Then more time was lost by chipping away at the layer on my windshield.  I got to Laura’s late and we decided to just drive and find parking downtown.  Thankfully, we got a free spot and to the appointment early.  The Aveda Institute is where beauty school trainees not only get trained but get to practice on suckers like myself.  I was supposed to have a “junior” but got a “sophomore” instead.  She did a great job.  She also took almost three hours to do that great job.  It was almost three hours of keeping my head at weird angles and being left alone so she could track down her teacher.  I am thankful for her cautious nature but, seriously?  Three hours for a hair cut?  I am being difficult about it because I had assumed it would only take an hour at the most so I waited to get coffee.  Now, I am a creature of habit and every morning when I head to work at 7 I drink the coffee that Forrest has so sweetly made for me.  Every morning.  Even on weekends I have a cup by at least 8 or 9.  So waiting until almost noon is the reason for the pounding in my skull.  (That and no water.  Will I ever learn?)  I didn’t get home until almost three this afternoon because Laura and hung out downtown and then I met another friend for coffee.  I loved doing all of that and I’m not complaining and wouldn’t do it differently, but tonight Forrest and I are going to a fundraising banquet at 7 so I’m feeling the pressure to crank this out.  Here we go.


I can’t think of a better way to close out the 90’s than with Lois Lowry’s first Newbery winner, Number the Stars.  When I closed the book I looked at Forrest and said, “I know why teachers would have their students read this book.”  The book is set in Denmark in 1943 and focuses on two best friends: one Jewish, one not.  Yep, this is a Holocaust book.  Actually, when I looked at my Newbery calendar and saw what book was this week I thought about Laura and had to smile.  She was pretty fascinated (obsessed, Laura?) with books, movies, etc on the Holocaust so I knew she must have loved this book.  I was also pretty fascinated with this time period in history as a kid and even remember playing make-believe games with my friend Nicole where we were on the run in Nazi infested country.  Anyway, once again I felt certain that one of the friends in this story was going to be captured and killed, but once again my pessimistic assumptions were disappointed.  And by disappointed I mean I breathed a sigh of relief at the end of the story.

Since the last few books all seemed to have some kind of moral they were espousing I’m usually on the lookout for one during my current read.  Here I would have to say it’s about bravery and/or courage.  The non-Jewish friend, Annemarie doesn’t think she is brave or could do anything courageous, and even after she basically saves the lives of not only her best friend, Ellen but Ellen’s parents and a few other individuals fleeing the country she doesn’t realize her own bravery because of how much fear she felt.  It’s in a conversation after the fact with her Uncle Henrik that she begins to better understand what it means to be brave:

“Brave?” Annemarie asked, surprised.  “No, I wasn’t.  I was very frightened.”

“You risked your life.”

“But I didn’t even think about that!  I was only thinking of –”

He interrupted her, smiling.  “That’s all that brave means — not thinking about the dangers.  Just thinking about what you must do.  Of course you were frightened.  I was too, today.  But you kept your mind on what you had to do.  So did I.  Now let me tell you about the Rosens.” (pg. 122-23)

In closing I’d like to leave with you a list of the books from the 90’s that won.  I would have to say that out of all ten my favorite was Walk Two Moons.  What was yours?

1999: Holes; 1998: Out of the Dust; 1997: The View from Saturday; 1996: The Midwife’s Apprentice; 1995: Walk Two Moons; 1994: The Giver; 1993: Missing May; 1992: Shiloh; 1991: Maniac Magee; 1990: Number the Stars.

Till next time…



2 thoughts on “Number the Stars

  1. Poor bunny…(every time we use that phrase we keep Mimi in our hearts) hope the coffee, aspirin and water worked. I can’t imagine that much frost but the we live in Arizona…sigh.

    Thank you for highlighting the value of bravery and courage. I needed that today. Not thinking about the dangers but doing what you have to do. I never thought of that as being brave and courageous. Hmmm.

    Oh and hi to the one we call Missy…..

  2. Three hours for a haircut IS ridiculous, but good job taking it all with a sense of humor – if not till after the fact, once you’ve hit up the aspirin and coffee.

    Good job on the 90s! WOOT! WAY TO GO! 80s, here we come? And hi, Mom :)

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