Not even the homeland of Hans Christian Andersen was untouched by tragedy, including tragedy perpetrated by the Nazis.
Even before 10-year-old Annemarie Johansen, her little sister Kirsti, and their friend Ellen Rosen are stopped by street-corner soldiers, they've had to deal with the loss of luxuries and sweets. The Johansens have also suffered the loss of their beloved big sister Lise, who was hit by a car one rainy night shortly after she got engaged to Peter Neilsen. Peter is still around, and still the closest thing the Johansens have to a big brother, but his visits have been different lately--more like secrets.
The soldiers give Annemarie, Ellen, and Kirsti a little trouble before letting them go; the girls tell their parents, who tell them to take a different way home from school from now on; life goes on.
Kirsti needs new shoes but is less than thrilled with the ones she gets until Ellen has an idea for improving them. Next, Kirsti needs a new button for her coat, but when Annemarie takes her to Mrs. Hirsch's shop, it's closed and Mrs. Hirsch is gone! Ellen's parents are suddenly called away too, and Ellen stays with Annemarie's family for a night, then Mrs. Johansen takes the three girls to visit her brother Henrik, a bachelor fisherman. That night, company comes to offer condolences to Mrs. Johansen on the death of "Great-Aunt Birte"...
...WHO? Something's going on, and Uncle Henrik has to tell Annemarie just enough to get her to do something brave. Back when she was only 7 years old, Papa told her a true story about Denmark's King Christian; when he said that he and Mama and any Danish citizen would die to protect their king, Annemarie said she would too. Now, 3 years later, Annemarie can do something to help her friends and neighbors.
I like the way Lowry has Annemarie parallel her journey to the story of LITTLE RED RIDING HOOD. The section that reveals the source of the book's title is absolutely lovely. And the chapter titles are inspired! Don't miss this Newbery winner--5 isn't a big enough number of stars!
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