Genre: YA historical fiction
Length: 137 pages
Setting: Denmark, 1943
Interest: Mr. Curiosity has been playing Memoir 44, a board game that re-enacts WWII battles. To put it into context a bit more, I decided to read a book set in WWII. I chose this one because it was a Newbery Award winner, so I figured it was quality writing.
Summary: Annemarie Johansen and Ellen Rosen are both 10 and best friends with one big difference – Ellen is Jewish and Annemarie is not. When the Jewish population of Denmark is warned that the Germans plan to round them all up for “relocation” on the Jewish New Year, Ellen’s parents go into hiding and Ellen goes to live with the Johansens. After a few days pretending Ellen is part of the family, the Johansen’s head to Mrs. Johansen’s brother Henrik’s cottage. Henrik is a fisherman and part of the underground movement smuggling Jews over to Sweden. Ellen is reunited with her parents, and with a bit of excitement, they hide in Henrik’s fishing boat to get to Sweden.
Final thoughts: A great introduction to the moral issues of WWII without any violence. It definitely captivated Mr. Curiosity. There were several times we stopped reading for the night that he would beg for just a bit more. I think the book would be appropriate for most school-aged children since there is tension, but no violence, and Annemarie is a great role model for other kids, since she shows courage in the face of danger (from the soldiers).
I appreciated the fact that it was set in Denmark. Being from the U.S., Denmark doesn’t really get talked about much in terms of WWII, but the whole population made an effort to protect the Jewish members of their society. I like an uplifting tale as much as a kid. I really appreciated the afterword that described what was fact and what was fabricated (quick summary – the plot was fact, the families involved were fabricated).
Title comes from: A reference to Psalm 147, read in the book.
Awards won: Newbery Award in 1990.