by Lois Lowry
Interests: history, war, Denmark, WWII, Jewish history, Holocaust, intolerance, spies, adventure
Dell Publishing: 1989
137 pages, 17 chapters
Next: other WWII books – The Diary of Anne Frank, War Boy: A Country Childhood,
Also by this author: The Giver (and related books as The Giver Quartet), Anastasia Krupnik series, Gooney Bird series, The Silent Boy, Gossamer, A Summer to Die, Autumn Street
It’s 1943, Denmark is occupied by the Nazis, and ten-year-old Annemarie Johansen’s best friend and neighbour Ellen is Jewish. When rumours start to spread that the Nazis are about to round up the Jews, the Johansens help smuggle Ellen’s family out of the country to Sweden and safety. A fictional story about true events – on the eve of the planned crackdown the Danish resistance and general citizenry managed to send a flotilla of small boats containing 7,000 Jews to neutral Sweden.
How do you even begin to tell children about the Holocaust? This truthful but gentle novel is a good start. It doesn’t backpedal on the tragedy and desperate danger, but has a bittersweet, happy ending. There are scenes of great suspense as Annemarie and her family play a deadly game with the German soldiers. At the end Annemarie shows her nerve as she bluffs her way past Nazi guards to deliver an important envelope to her uncle’s fishing boat. At the end of the book there is a moving account of the young Danes who lost their lives doing Resistance work, including Annemarie’s older sister Lise and Lise’s fiance Peter. The story finishes with war’s end, as Annemarie awaits the return of Ellen and her family.
Based on true events, this is a gripping tale of friendship and daring in wartime.