The Role of Reality in Children’s Literature
Historical Realism attempts to recreate a reality of the past, to capture the milieu of a time gone by and must be set at least a generation before the writing of the book. It has the power to broaden our horizons, to learn more about the people and places of our world by reading about the past—where we all came from (Russell, 2009). One such powerful story, one of the inhumanity and sacrilege of World War II and a family’s journey through it all is Lois Lowry’s Number the Stars.
Family and Social Values
Number the Stars is an excellent example of historical fiction which deals directly with the Nazi regime. Here and there is a bit of violence, suspense and fear of the soldiers, but it is mostly a story of bravery, courage, friendship and hope. A young girl named Annemarie Johanson grows up in occupied Denmark during the Second World War. She learns first-hand about the plight of the Jews in her country when she and her family help her best friend Ellen Rosen and her family escape to Sweden. A soldier appears when the Johanson’s take Ellen in for one night while Ellen’s mother and father are taken to a safe place. Annemarie helps Ellen by hiding her Star of David necklace so the soldiers do not see it. Ellen pretends to be Annemarie’s dead sister Lise and is hopeful that the soldiers do not find out. The next day Annemarie, her mother, Annemarie’s Uncle Henrik and Brother-in-law Peter help Ellen and her family flee to Sweden. During the most intense parts of the book, the two families (Johanson’s and Rosen’s) are often put face to face with the enemy. At one point, the family is gathered around a coffin along with other families in hopes to meet to discuss future events that will aid in their safe departure from the country. But when a soldier enters and demands the coffin be opened, the family...