Number the Stars
by Lois Lowry
Analysis: Plot Analysis
Most good stories start with a fundamental list of ingredients: the initial situation, conflict, complication, climax, suspense, denouement, and conclusion. Great writers sometimes shake up the recipe and add some spice.
Just Two Normal Girls
Annemarie and Ellen are ordinary girls living in extraordinary times (1940s Nazi-occupied Denmark). They don't have many luxuries, and they can't even run down the street without running into soldiers. Nothing is majorly getting in the way of their Gone With the Wind fun quite yet, but there's trouble a-brewin'.
The Nazis are starting to do their thing: they are planning to round up all the Jews in Denmark and take them away. Bottom, scary line: the Rosens aren't safe in Denmark anymore.
Nowhere to Run, Nowhere to Hide
The Rosens have to hide—but where? The Johansens step up to take care of Ellen, but the Nazis come looking for her right away. Clearly this isn't a secure enough solution, and they'll have to head for safer waters (literally).
Annemarie Steps Up
Against the odds (and complications), the Johansens get the Rosens and some other Jewish people safely out of the city and into the countryside, where fisherman Henrik has committed to smuggling them across the sea to Sweden. The smuggling plan rests on a very important small package, which is supposed to be taken to Henrik. But the delivery plan goes up in flames. Annemarie is the only person left who can try to get the package to Henrik. When she steps up—without hesitation—to deliver the package, we see a turning point for her character. She becomes a true hero.
Who Let the Dogs Out?
Annemarie has to make it from Henrik's house to Henrik's boat all by herself. After a nail-biting trip through the woods, she runs into a bunch of Nazi soldiers—and their dogs. Will they stop her in her tracks? Will the package ever get to Henrik? Will Ellen be safe?
Finally everyone can relax a little now that Annemarie and Henrik have both made it home safely. And most importantly, Ellen and her family made it to Sweden (that was the whole point to begin with!). As with any good denouement, there's some major explanation going on here. In this case, Henrik explains to Annemarie what was in the package and why she was so majorly heroic for delivering it.
The end of World War II is also the end of the story. The bad guys have finally been beaten and are retreating from Copenhagen. Soon, Denmark will be safe for the Jews and Ellen and her family will be able to come back. We know life will never be the same for our characters, but let's be honest: anything's better than what they all just lived through.