A Literary Coincidence

A few weeks ago, I caught up on some children’s books that I’d missed. Briefly, here they are:

  • Esperanza Rising by Pam Muñoz Ryan, the story of a young girl who learns to live with her families changes of fortune, as her family moves from the comfort of a beautiful, servant-filled home in Mexico to a farm worker camp in California during the Great Depression.
  • Holes by Louis Sachar, the story of Stanley Yelnats, who is living under a century-old curse and unfairly ends up in a boys’ detention camp, where things definitely aren’t what they seem.
  • Because of Winn-Dixie by Kate DiCamillo, the story of a young girl who learns to make friends in a new town after she goes to the supermarket for groceries and comes home with a dog.
  • Maniac Magee by Jerry Spinelli, the story of an orphan who doesn’t understand the boundaries that society in a racially divided town tried to impose on who he was supposed to be friends with and where he was supposed to live.
  • Number the Stars by Lois Lowry, the story of a young girl who experiences the Nazi takeover of Denmark during World War II and decides to be a bodyguard for the Jewish people.

Now, in Number the Stars, some of the key action revolves around a crackdown on the Jewish people by the German occupying forces. The Nazi soldiers close Jewish stores and arrest Jewish Danes. And one of the ways the Danes figured out to deal with this was using their fishing boats to take Jews across the water to Sweden, which was free, hiding them under the deck.

Well, by the next week, my focus had changed, and I was reading “Beowulf”—both Heaney’s translation and Tolkien’s—in order to write some essays about it for Study.com. You may remember that Beowulf, a Geat, goes to the aid of Hrothgar, whose great hall Heorot has become a target for the monster Grendel. The Geats lived somewhere near south-central Sweden. And Heorot was in Denmark.

Hence the coincidence:

  • Crossing the water between Denmark and Sweden to bring Danish Jews to safety;
  • Crossing the water between Sweden and Denmark to save the Danes from Grendel.

Just one of those odd things . .



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