The Yellow Star: The Legend of King Christian X of Denmark

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Although it is billed as "legend," Deedy's (The Library Dragon) WWII story raises disturbing questions regarding the importance of historical accuracy. Here Denmark's courageous King Christian responds to the Nazi edict that all Jews must wear a yellow star by wearing a yellow star himself, and his act inspires his subjects to do likewise. Deedy's writing is vivid and lyrical--but in an afterword she acknowledges that her story is "unauthenticated" and that no Danish Jews were "forced" to wear the yellow star. As Ellen Levine points out in her recent Darkness Over Denmark (Children's Forecasts, June 26), the order about the star was never issued in Denmark. Where Levine cited the false story of the king's yellow star to explore the facts about Danish resistance to the Nazis, this book, in perpetuating a myth, clouds history; it also deflects from the country's most famous act of resistance in rescuing the overwhelming majority of its Jews (the afterword reports that Danes smuggled over 7,000 Jews to Sweden in fishing boats). Ultimately, despite the graceful prose, the insight offered into a dark era and Danish artist Sorensen's magnificent oil paintings, the book's fundamental flaw is difficult to overlook. Ages 8-12. (Sept.) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.
From The Critics
This delightful book by Carmen Agra Deedy, professional storyteller and author of a librarian favorite, The Library Dragon (Peachtree, 1994), is a perfect introduction for young readers to the difficult story of the Holocaust. The Yellow Star retells a well-known story of the good people of Denmark during the Nazi occupation of their country. When the Jews of Denmark were forced to wear yellow stars upon their clothing, King Christian, the legend tells us, was so outraged that he began to wear a star upon his own clothing. The Danish population quietly followed suit and took part in the only recorded state-sponsored act of communal defiance. The story is surprisingly moving because it is told so simply. It would be suitable for a child as young as second or third grade, with a willing adult nearby to answer the many questions that it would surely elicit. The pictures are large and realistic with one page especially charming in its depiction of the different types of Danes living happily in Denmark, including, of course, canine Great Danes. The way the author chooses to reveal the agonizing of the King and his eventual moral decision is suspenseful and inspiring. This book held a group of fourth graders spellbound as I read it to them last month. It would be an excellent addition to the many recent books on tolerance and human rights. Although this legend is not known to be based in truth, the reason the story has persisted in Holocaust lore is precisely because, among Nazi-occupied countries, only Denmark succeeded in rescuing the overwhelming majority of its Jews. (A total of only 60 Danish Jews were killed during this time period.) The author tells us, in her author's note, that thislegend persists because it provides for us a symbol of unity and hope. "What if it had happened? What if every Dane, from shoemaker to priest, had worn the yellow Star of David? And what if we could follow that example today against violations of human rights? What if the good and strong people of the world stood shoulder to shoulder, crowding the streets and filling the squares, saying, 'You cannot do this injustice to our sisters and brothers, or you must do it to us as well.' What if?" 2000, Peachtree, $16.95. Ages 9 to 12. Reviewer: Lisa Handelman — The Five Owls, November/December 2000 (Vol. 15 No. 2)
Children's Literature - Children's Literature
King Christian X of Denmark was a much beloved monarch who mixed easily among his countrymen. He knew he was trusted and respected by them and shunned bodyguards or any other royal barriers between himself and his people. Stories are told of his daily rides through the city of Copenhagen and of his stalwart resistance to Nazi oppression and criminality. The legend retold here, is one in which the King risks everything--his identity, his monarchy, and his very life in an attempt to stop the Nazis from tearing apart his country and harming his people. As a model of righteousness, as a clever strategist, and as a devoted leader, King Christian X sets the standard. He deserves a legendary place in history and this elegant picture book places him there, front and center among the heroes of our times. The spare text tells the simple story with splendor and bronze-tinged full-page paintings quietly underscore the heartbreak and the majesty of the man and this legend. 2000, Peachtree Publishers, Ages 6 up, $16.95. Reviewer: Judy Katsh—Children's Literature
School Library Journal
Gr 2-4-Blending fact with legend, Deedy tells of Denmark's King Christian X's simple act of rebellion and courage, which served to unite his people against the Nazis. It is the king's custom to ride through the streets of Copenhagen unguarded, counting on the love of his people to protect him. When the Nazis circulate the order that all Jews must wear yellow stars on their clothing, the king devises a way to protect them. He makes his morning rounds as is his custom, but wears a yellow Star of David on his finest suit. The final illustrations depict shopkeepers, policemen, and others, all following their monarch's lead. "And, once again, in the country of Denmark, there were only Danes." Deedy's language is simple and rhythmic, relating what she calls in the notes "a story that should be told." Sirensen's period paintings serve almost as formal portraits of individual Danes living their lives in the face of the looming Nazi occupation. This is an interesting and thought-provoking piece of work, but readers are sure to be disappointed to find out that it is legend, and not verified history.-Martha Link, Louisville Free Public Library, KY Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.|
ForeWord Magazine
While the persecution of Jews during Nazi rule is not a subject normally associated with young children, there comes a time when this distasteful period in world history must be broached. While we might prefer to shield our children from awful truths, we cannot risk ignorance. This book, which tells a legend associated with the Nazi occupation of on is provided.

The interaction between the art and text is seamless and attractive. The text is set in a framed rectangular box that runs vertically down one quarter of the open page. The art smoothly envelops the rest of the double page spread. The art sets a sober and dignified tone. Two pages show generalized monochromatic scenes of how damaging war can be, the rest of the art remains focused in Denmark. Sorensen, an accomplished illustrator, is a native of Denmark. The respect he has for his fellow Danes is clearly expressed through the many group and individual portraits. He is able to capture the austerity of the times while creating a strong sense of place.

The thoughtful story and heartfelt illustrations will involve elementary age children in this legend while exposing them to harsh truths.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781561452088
  • Publisher: Peachtree Publishers, Ltd.
  • Publication date: 9/28/2000
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 32
  • Sales rank: 110,331
  • Age range: 8 - 12 Years
  • Product dimensions: 9.76 (w) x 11.24 (h) x 0.35 (d)

Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing all of 4 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 18, 2001

    Proudly Show the Courage of Your Convictions!

    Children's books normally focus on events far removed from real life. While that is fine and appropriate for stimulating imagination, children should also be given a chance to connect to situations closer to reality to stimulate character. This book does a marvelous job of commenting on the Holocaust from the perspective of some things that a non-Jewish person could have done. As such, it makes a wonderful bridge to understanding how we all must be our brothers' keepers. The story here is built around the widely reported, but undocumented, history of King Christian X of Denmark during World War II. Here are the basics of the story as described in the book. The Nazis occupied the country in 1940. The King showed his courage in many ways on behalf of all Danes. He rode down the streets each morning without a guard or any weapons. When the Nazis put their flag on the palace, he ordered it taken down and it came down. The Nazi commander said that he would put another one up. The King said that he would order it taken down, as well. When the Nazi commander then threatened to kill the next person to do this, the King said that the commander should be prepared to kill him because he, the King, would be performing this task. Then, the order came down that all Jews must wear a yellow star (reflective of the Star of David) on their clothing at all times. The King rode out the next morning wearing a yellow star, and many citizens followed his example. The story concludes with posing the question about what would happen if everyone stood up against injustice. Very nice! In the Author's note, Ms. Deedy shares the historically documented facts: (1) The King did ride unescorted daily in the streets. (2) There were stories throughout Europe in 1943 that the King had shown support for Danish Jews and had threatened to wear a yellow star. (3) No Danish Jews were forced to wear the yellow star. (4) Denmark was the only Nazi-occupied country where the overwhelming majority of Jews survived. (5) 7,000 Jews were smuggled successfully from Denmark to neighboring Sweden. (6) Over 500 Jews were deported to Theresienstadt. All but 51 survived, in part because of continuing intervention by the Danish government. This historical note is helpful for opening the door for a child to learn more about the Holocaust and the important role that non-Jews could play at that time . . . when they stood up to be counted by taking helpful actions. Some people did this openly with defiance while others helped clandestinely. At a time when some want to argue that the Holocaust never happened, it is important to open bridges back into the lessons of these awful events -- to help prevent their recurrence and to honor the victims and heroes of those days. The book is also greatly enhanced by the illustrations which remind one of Norman Rockwell's work, except with a Danish feeling. The colors are chosen to emphasize the moral conflict between the Nazis and the Danes, and give an emotional tension to the story that makes it stronger. To me, whether King Christian X actually wore the

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 7, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    The Danes had a highly - esteemed king ruling over them during t

    The Danes had a highly - esteemed king ruling over them during the 1940's. They had no idea how much they might need his wisdom during this era of wickedness.

    In the land of Denmark, different religions were respected, as well as different people groups. Everyone living in Denmark was simply...Danish! Tall Danes, stout Danes, cranky Danes, even Great Danes! They were all loyal subjects of their beloved King Christian. He rode daily along the streets, mingling with his people. He would do anything for them and they would do anything for him!

    When Nazi soldiers gathered at the border of their country, a feeling of foreboding spread like a storm cloud upon their land. One morning their flag was replaced by a Nazi flag flying at the palace. The king ordered a soldier to take it down. The next day, a Nazi captain came to ask who had done that and threatened to hang a flag the next morning. He claimed he would have anyone shot who removed it. King Christian bravely stated that he himself would be the next soldier who removed the Nazi flag. "Then be prepared to shoot the king - for I will be that soldier." The Nazi flag never appeared there again!

    The next threat was more specific. All Jewish Danes were ordered to wear a yellow star representing the Star of David, the symbol of their faith. This star would identify them to the Nazi soldiers and probably lead to terrible treatment, maybe even death. The King of Denmark was greatly disturbed and spent sleepless nights considering what he might do to protect the Jewish Danes. Early one morning, the King called for his tailor and asked him to make him a yellow star that he might wear to show his support for his people. He had gotten the idea while studying the starry sky, wondering how he could hide his Jewish friends among the rest of the Danes. When he rode through the streets the next morning wearing a yellow star, other citizens followed suit, had stars made and wore them. Soon almost everyone was wearing a yellow star, hiding the true Jews among the non-Jews. This is a story of bravery and compassion, unity and hope.

    The book was written for elementary students as an introduction to the Nazi occupation of Denmark during World War II. The book is based on a legend, but more interesting are the true facts about Denmark during the war. Be sure to read the Author's Note at the end of the book. The beloved king of Denmark did indeed ride unescorted through the streets. No Jews within Denmark were forced to wear the yellow star. Also, among the Nazi-occupied countries, only Denmark rescued the overwhelming majority of its Jews. (rev. C. Karns)

    DISCLOSURE: A complimentary copy of The Yellow Star was provided by PeachTree Publishers in exchange for our honest review. Opinions expressed are solely those of the reviewer.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 11, 2012

    Wonderful story...I definitely recommend it.

    Especially great if you are of Danish ancestry.

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  • Posted October 12, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    Loyalty and Heroic Justice

    The Legend of The of King Christian X of Denmark has been researched in hope of finding facts to prove it truthful. But none has proven as fact.

    In 1940 when King Christian X was reigning King of Denmark he was seen daily, riding his horse through the streets without need of a bodyguard. He kindly greeted his fellow Danes. There was no prejudice among the people of Denmark all were Danes.

    Then came the Nazis trying to force division of the Jews from the Danes ordering the Jews to wear a yellow star which would set them apart from others. This did not set well with their King. He would not let his people be humiliated in such a way.

    This month of October is No Bullying Month. So what a great book to read about bullying in a most extreme way. The Nazis were the apedemy of bullying. They showed prejudice and cruelty towards all Jews.

    The Yellow Star is an excellent book for teachers, librarians and children to add to their bookshelf.

    It is educational in many ways, such as World War II, prejudice, loyalty, heroic justice and more.

    The illustrations are very surreal as to capturing the timeline of 1940 Denmark and it's people. This illustrations are a good fit with the author's writing.

    I highly recommend this book.

    Disclosure
    I received a free copy of this book from Peachtree for review. I was in no way compensated for this review. It is my own opinion.

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