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This book won the 1990 Newbery Medal for its moving, and at times agonizingly suspenseful, account of the courage of a family in Nazi-occupied Denmark, 1943. Though the details of the story, and its main characters, are fictional, Lowry points out in her Afterword that it is also historically accurate including both frightening and fantastic bits which might seem too much to believe.
The central figure is a golden-haired, ten-year-old Danish girl named Annemarie. Through her eyes you see the fear of shiny-booted German soldiers guarding every street corner in Copenhagen; the deprivation of a city where sugar, butter, and shoe leather are distant memories; the pride of a country whose king rides the streets unguarded every day because all of Denmark is his bodyguard; and the desperate bravery of ordinary people to save their Jewish friends when they are warned that all Jews are about to be relocated.
I am surprised that I have never heard anything about this impressive chapter in the grim history of World War II. This story, though fictional, is also a rare record of a moment that shall forever reflect both shame and pride on the human race. But it does not preach, condemn, or bubble over with sentiment either. It is, first and foremost, a gripping story.
After a tense night of holding her breath in fear of discovery, counting the minutes until her friends can be safe, Annemarie is thrust into the role of a heroine in a last-minute rush into danger. That is only the climax of a book that combines warmth, sadness, hope, and nerve-jangling fear like few pieces of historical fiction. Young readers or old will have no trouble turning these pages!