Call Across the Sea is a story that parallels Lois Lowry’s classic Number the Stars in many ways. Both books tell the story of courageous Danish people who helped save Jews during World War II. What makes this story particularly exciting is the discovery that Call Across the Sea is based on the life of an actual person, young Henny Sindig, although the author informs us that she adjusted Henny’s age within the story.
Sixteen-year-old Henny is not a particularly good student, as her real love is being out on the sea with her father, the head of the Lighthouse and Buoy Service. He is responsible for bringing supplies to the lighthouse, which is situated between Denmark and Sweden. Henny has a close relationship with her Jewish neighbors and friends, the Rubin family. As she learns about the Nazis’ plan to round up Denmark’s Jews, her friend Lukas and she decide that they must join the Resistance and fight the Nazis to the best of their abilities. At first, Henny and Lukas attend Resistance meetings and hang up anti-Nazi flyers, but, later, Henny devises a plan to ferry Denmark’s Jews to safety in Sweden. Her experience in captaining her father’s boat and following his seafaring route make it possible for Henny to succeed in this vital life-saving mission.
It is remarkable to read about the bravery of real-life young people who helped the Jews of Denmark survive. Kacer’s prose is accessible and allows today’s readers to understand and appreciate the dangers faced both by the Jewish community and their heroic rescuers. Although fictionalized, the story of Henny Sindig is very much worth reading, and her name should be more well known. Reading Call Across the Sea is one good way to teach children about this historic event and will help keep Henny’s memory alive.
This book is the fourth in a series, The Heroes Quartet, about brave young people who stood up to Nazi terror and risked their lives to save Jews in ways both noteworthy and courageous.
Cindy Wiesel is an English teacher in Israel and leads a weekly book club for adults. She has edited teacher resource materials and served as a collection advisor to school libraries.