"Number the Stars," Vocabulary from Chapters 1-4

September 14, 2013
A little girl shows bravery and ingenuity in "Number the Stars" by Lois Lowry, a fictional account of the rescue of the Danish Jews from the fate of the Holocaust.

Learn these word lists for the novel: Chapters 1-4, Chapters 5-8, Chapters 9-13, Chapters 14-17, Introduction and Afterword
"Lanky" is an antonym of "stocky" ("having a short and solid form or stature"). In addition to this physical contrast, Annemarie has silvery blond hair while Ellen has dark pigtails; Annemarie is Christian while Ellen is Jewish; Annemarie excels in running while Ellen excels in drama. But as ten-year-old Danish girls who live in the same apartment building, Ellen and Annemarie are best friends whose differences strengthen their relationship.
She was a stocky ten-year-old, unlike lanky Annemarie.
Because the adjective "stern" is describing the voice in which the soldier shouts the German word for "Halt" the chosen definition is the best fit. But "stern" also means "of a strict bearing or demeanor; forbidding in aspect" (which is how the soldiers look) and "not to be moved by entreaty" (which is how most of the German soldiers are supposed to act, but the street soldiers are less experienced, so one is softened by Kirsti's babyish behavior and prettiness).
“Halte!” the soldier ordered in a stern voice.
That meant two helmets, two sets of cold eyes glaring at her, and four tall shiny boots planted firmly on the sidewalk, blocking her path to home.
“Are you a good student?” the soldier asked. He seemed to be sneering.
She reached down for Kirsti’s hand, but Kirsti, always stubborn, refused it and put her hands on her hips defiantly.
"Obstinate" also means "resistant to guidance or discipline"--both definitions fit Kirsti at the moment, because she is unwilling to yield to the authority of the soldiers and she is resistant to Annemarie's attempt to take her hand to keep her still and quiet.
Stand still, Kirsti, Annemarie ordered silently, praying that somehow the obstinate five-year-old would receive the message.
"Incident" also means "a public disturbance"--while Annemarie is connecting to the chosen definition in order to reassure the worried mothers that their encounter with the soldiers is a single distinct event that would not happen again, the soldiers saw their running as a public disturbance that made them look like "hoodlums" ("aggressive and violent young criminal").
She told her mother and Mrs. Rosen of the incident, trying to make it sound humorous and unimportant.
But Annemarie heard Mama and Papa talk, sometimes at night, about the news they received that way: news of sabotage against the Nazis, bombs hidden and exploded in the factories that produced war materials, and industrial railroad lines damaged so that the goods couldn’t be transported.
She glanced through the window, down to the street corner where the soldiers stood, their faces impassive beneath the metal helmets.
He was not like fairy tale kings, who seemed to stand on balconies giving orders to subjects, or who sat on golden thrones demanding to be entertained and looking for suitable husbands for their daughters.
Because King Christian continues his morning ride during the German occupation of Denmark, the name of his horse takes on both an ironic and symbolic meaning: while there are few reasons and resources to celebrate at the moment, King Christian and his horse Jubilee (especially after the old king survives a fall off the horse) remind the people to remain hopeful and strong for the day when jubilees will be a part of their lives again.
Each morning, he had come from the palace on his horse, Jubilee, and ridden alone through the streets of Copenhagen, greeting his people.
Her fingers moved rapidly, turning the thin white thread into an intricate narrow border.
Like the other families in their building, the Johansens had opened the old chimney and installed a little stove to use for heat when they could find coal to burn. Mama used it too, sometimes, for cooking, because electricity was rationed now.
Then she hesitated and glanced at her mother, fearful that she had said the wrong thing, the thing that would bring the pained look to her mother’s face.
“I did not!” Kirsti said haughtily from the bedroom doorway. “I never, ever did that!”
He was a tall teenager with thick glasses, stooped shoulders, and unruly hair.
“And I suppose they took a big basket of pink-frosted cupcakes with them,” Annemarie said sarcastically to her sister.
“We can find another button someplace,” Annemarie reassured her. “Or we can take one from the bottom of the jacket and move it up. It won’t show very much.”
It is their way of tormenting. For some reason, they want to torment Jewish people.
“All right, Scarlett, I’m coming,” Ellen replied in a sophisticated voice.
The door opened and Kirsti stomped in, her face tear-stained and glowering.
“All right, then,” she said. “But you mustn’t tell anyone that they’re fish. I don’t want anyone to know.” She took her new shoes, holding them disdainfully, and put them on a chair.
“Silly,” Annemarie scoffed. “You never saw the fireworks.”
“I did too,” she said belligerently.
It had made Annemarie feel sad and proud, too, to picture the tall, aging king, perhaps with tears in his blue eyes, as he looked at the remains of his small navy, which now lay submerged and broken in the harbor.

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