Now more than 20 years old, Number The Stars shares the bravery – and compassion – of the Danish people during the Second World War

It took me a long time to digest the ending, and the sadness, of The Silent Boy by Lois Lowry ($10.99, Raincoast Books, Hougton Mifflin Harcourt).

Set in the early 1900s, The Silent Boy is told from the perspective Katy Thatcher, who joins her doctor father on his rounds, and has an interest in the people she meets. She is especially interested in Jacob, a gentle, silent boy who has a special sensitivity toward animals. The townspeople dismiss Jacob as an imbecile, while Katy thinks of him as someone who has a unique way of communicating with the animals.

And only Katy comes to realize what the boy did for his family.

I love that Lowry created the story from old photographs found in antique stores and provided by those she knew.

I like that some of those photographs start each chapter of this book. I also loved the look into the past, and how the characters and the time came alive in the story. Katy is an amazing character as is her father, who is honest, straightforward, patient and encouraging, particularly of his daughter, and who doesn’t shy away from “embarrassing” questions such as where babies really come from. I also love the kindness, patience and explanations he provides to help Katy understand more about Jacob.

A beautiful book. It was sad and awful, but a great story.

Lois Lowry's Number the Stars is now more than 20 years old.
Lois Lowry’s Number the Stars
Number The Stars

Despite being more than 20 years old, I have never read Lois Lowry’s Number The Stars ($10.99, Raincoast Books, Hougton Mifflin Harcourt).

The story, told through 10-year-old Annemarie Johansen, is fiction, however, the bravery and integrity of the Danish citizens is not.

As the German troops begin their campaign to relocate all the Jews of Denmark during the Second World War, Annemarie’s family takes in her best friend, Ellen Rosen, and conceals her as part of the family.
We learn about the Danish Resistance and their success of smuggling almost the entire Jewish population of Denmark, or nearly 7,000 people, across the sea to Sweden.

In the afterward, Lowry said the story was inspired by her friend Annelise Platt, a child in Copenhagen during the German occupation.

Details of the story are true, including how King Christian X surrendered to the Germans, but before he did so, he sunk his own navy so the Germans couldn’t take over the fleet. It is also true the Danish Jews were warned by their rabbi that the Germans were going to be relocated them.

“The rabbi knew because a high German official told the Danish government, which passed the information to the leaders of the Jewish community. The name of that German was GF Duckwitz, and I hope that even today, so many years later, there are flowers on his grave because he was a man of compassion and courage.”

There are other truths as well, but which I won’t spoil here, but they are truly amazing.

I never heard this story about the Holocaust before, but I am glad I have now. What the people of Denmark did was truly inspiring, and makes me feel better knowing an entire nation stepped up and helped their fellow man.

A copy of this book was provided by Raincoast Books for an honest review. The opinions are my own.