Number the Stars - Summary

Lois Lowry

Number the Stars Book Cover


“Number the Stars” is a captivating historical fiction novel written by Lois Lowry. Set during World War II in Nazi-occupied Denmark, the story follows the courageous journey of a young girl named Annemarie Johansen. This book summary will provide an overview of the plot, delve into the main characters, and highlight the significant themes and messages conveyed throughout the narrative.

Plot Summary

The novel begins in Copenhagen, Denmark, in 1943, where ten-year-old Annemarie Johansen lives with her family. Annemarie’s best friend, Ellen Rosen, is Jewish, and as the persecution of Jews intensifies under Nazi rule, Annemarie’s family risks their lives to protect Ellen. The Johansens are aided by their brave and resourceful neighbor, Peter Neilsen, who is part of the Danish Resistance.

When Ellen’s parents are forced to flee to Sweden to avoid capture, Annemarie’s family takes in Ellen and pretends she is their daughter. To ensure Ellen’s safety, Annemarie’s family must convince the Nazis that Ellen is not Jewish. They create a false identity for Ellen, renaming her Lise and forging documents to support their story.

As the tension escalates, the Nazis increase their efforts to capture and deport the remaining Jews in Denmark. Annemarie’s family becomes involved in a dangerous mission to smuggle Ellen and other Jewish citizens to safety in Sweden. The journey is fraught with risks, but their determination to save lives drives them forward.


Annemarie Johansen

Annemarie Johansen is the protagonist of the story. She is a brave and compassionate young girl who demonstrates remarkable courage throughout the novel. Annemarie’s character develops as she confronts the harsh realities of war and learns the importance of sacrifice and standing up against injustice.

Ellen Rosen

Ellen Rosen is Annemarie’s best friend and a Jewish girl. She faces immense danger and uncertainty as the Nazis target Jews for deportation. Ellen’s character represents the countless Jewish individuals who suffered persecution during World War II. Her friendship with Annemarie highlights the power of loyalty and solidarity during challenging times.

Peter Neilsen

Peter Neilsen is a key character in the novel, serving as a member of the Danish Resistance. He plays a crucial role in orchestrating the escape of Ellen and other Jews to Sweden. Peter’s bravery and determination inspire Annemarie and demonstrate the impact that individuals can have in resisting oppression.

Themes and Messages

Bravery and Resistance

One of the central themes in “Number the Stars” is bravery and resistance against injustice. The characters in the novel, particularly Annemarie, Ellen, and Peter, exhibit immense courage in the face of danger. Their actions serve as a reminder of the importance of standing up for what is right, even when it is difficult or risky.

Friendship and Loyalty

The strong bond between Annemarie and Ellen emphasizes the significance of friendship and loyalty. Despite the risks involved, Annemarie’s family risks their lives to protect Ellen, demonstrating the unwavering support and love they have for each other. Their friendship serves as a source of strength and hope throughout the narrative.

Identity and Sacrifice

The novel explores the themes of identity and sacrifice as Annemarie’s family assumes false identities to protect Ellen. They risk their own safety and well-being to save the lives of others, highlighting the selflessness and compassion that can arise in times of crisis. The characters’ sacrifices underscore the importance of valuing human life above all else.


Lois Lowry’s “Number the Stars” offers a poignant and gripping account of bravery, friendship, and sacrifice during World War II. Through the experiences of Annemarie Johansen, Ellen Rosen, and their families, the novel sheds light on the atrocities committed by the Nazis and the resilience of those who fought against them.

The book serves as a powerful reminder of the importance of standing up against injustice, even in the face of great danger. It encourages readers to reflect on the themes of bravery, friendship, and sacrifice, and to consider the impact that individuals can have in shaping a better world. “Number the Stars” is a timeless and compelling story that continues to resonate with readers of all ages.

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