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The Book Thief Paperback – Sep 11 2007

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 576 pages
  • Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers; Reprint edition (Sept. 11 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0375842209
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375842207
  • Product Dimensions: 13.3 x 3.2 x 20.3 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 386 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (172 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #204 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

From School Library Journal

Starred Review. Grade 9 Up–Zusak has created a work that deserves the attention of sophisticated teen and adult readers. Death himself narrates the World War II-era story of Liesel Meminger from the time she is taken, at age nine, to live in Molching, Germany, with a foster family in a working-class neighborhood of tough kids, acid-tongued mothers, and loving fathers who earn their living by the work of their hands. The child arrives having just stolen her first book–although she has not yet learned how to read–and her foster father uses it, The Gravediggers Handbook, to lull her to sleep when shes roused by regular nightmares about her younger brothers death. Across the ensuing years of the late 1930s and into the 1940s, Liesel collects more stolen books as well as a peculiar set of friends: the boy Rudy, the Jewish refugee Max, the mayors reclusive wife (who has a whole library from which she allows Liesel to steal), and especially her foster parents. Zusak not only creates a mesmerizing and original story but also writes with poetic syntax, causing readers to deliberate over phrases and lines, even as the action impels them forward. Death is not a sentimental storyteller, but he does attend to an array of satisfying details, giving Liesels story all the nuances of chance, folly, and fulfilled expectation that it deserves. An extraordinary narrative.–Francisca Goldsmith, Berkeley Public Library, CA
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Booklist

Gr. 10-12. Death is the narrator of this lengthy, powerful story of a town in Nazi Germany. He is a kindly, caring Death, overwhelmed by the souls he has to collect from people in the gas chambers, from soldiers on the battlefields, and from civilians killed in bombings. Death focuses on a young orphan, Liesl; her loving foster parents; the Jewish fugitive they are hiding; and a wild but gentle teen neighbor, Rudy, who defies the Hitler Youth and convinces Liesl to steal for fun. After Liesl learns to read, she steals books from everywhere. When she reads a book in the bomb shelter, even a Nazi woman is enthralled. Then the book thief writes her own story. There's too much commentary at the outset, and too much switching from past to present time, but as in Zusak's enthralling I Am the Messenger (2004), the astonishing characters, drawn without sentimentality, will grab readers. More than the overt message about the power of words, it's Liesl's confrontation with horrifying cruelty and her discovery of kindness in unexpected places that tell the heartbreaking truth. Hazel Rochman
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars

Most helpful customer reviews

23 of 23 people found the following review helpful By TeensReadToo on Nov. 29 2007
Format: Paperback
THE BOOK THIEF is on of the most memorable books I've read in a long time. It takes place during World War II in Molching, Germany. It's the writing, the unusual narrator (death), and the characters sketched in vivid colors that make this novel so difficult to put down.

Meet Leisel, the book thief, whose first encounter with death occurs on a train with her mama and brother - on their way to meet her foster parents.

Meet Rosa Hubermann, Leisel's new mama, whose rough, crude exterior can't hide the heart inside.

Meet Hans Hubermann, Leisel's firm foundation. The man who stays up with her after her nightmares, who teaches her to read her first stolen book, who finds empathy in a slice of stale bread.

Meet Max, a Jew, the shadow in the basement, a skeleton later seen marching, or more aptly, stumbling, down the road.

Meet Rudy, the lemon-haired Jesse Owens, Leisel's partner in crime and best friend, the one who yearns for Leisel's kiss.

Meet the Führer, the invisible, potent master of words.

Meet death, in a metal cockpit, on a snow-covered field mottled in red, hanging from a rafter at the end of a rope, sitting at a simple kitchen table, under a pile of rubble that used to be a home.

Markus Zusak fills the reader with vivid images of humans at war, humans led to the unthinkable by a force they cannot control. Some go willingly, others have no choice. Those left behind are merely attempting to survive each day as life crumbles around them. Leisel survives by stealing books.

As I read the final chapters of THE BOOK THIEF, I literally had to close the book to get my emotions under control before reading on to meet death. It was inevitable -- he would meet me at the end of the book.
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45 of 47 people found the following review helpful By R. Nicholson TOP 500 REVIEWER on Aug. 12 2006
Format: Hardcover
An incredibly beautiful book!

This is a story of a young German girl abandoned in the late 1930's and her ordeal of survival over the war years in Nazi Germany.

The story is told by the personified spirit of Death; a sympathetic Death who is so worn out and so tired from the countless millenniums of collecting souls. A Death so discouraged by man's inhumanity to man that when is sees something special in our heroine (the book thief) he decides to follow her story over the next few years.

Deeply, deeply moving, insightful and, as is often the case in periods of dire circumstance, occasionally humorous. There were moments of profound revelation, moments of quiet discovery that took my breath away; moments when it was difficult not to stop reading and reflect on what one has just read.

Reading this book reminded me somewhat of "The Diary of Anne Franck" and although the stories were completely different there was a connection because of the era involved and the wonderful, emotional impact of the written word on the page.

All in all, a beautiful, compelling story. Highly recommended! 5 Stars, more if I could.

P.S. surprisingly enough this book is found in the young adult section of most book stores; this I feel is a inappropriate classification. This novel really is an adult book and should be placed as such.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Toni Osborne TOP 100 REVIEWER on Sept. 6 2008
Format: Paperback
Molching Germany 1939, Liesel Meminger is taken in by a foster family Hans and Rosa Huberman when her mother is forced to abandon her. She arrives with very little possessions; one of them is a book she had stolen from her brother's burial place "The Digger's Handbook".

Hans, a kind man, spends his nights keeping Leisel's nightmares at bay by teaching her to read. She falls in love with words and reading becomes an obsession, books are a luxury for a poor family. During this time, Hitler gains more power and decides that he would rule the world with words, Germany becomes a dangerous place and the people live in constant fear. During a book burning session Liesel rescues a smouldering book from the pile and later on becomes a full-fledge book thief when she steals a book from the library of the mayor.

This is a gripping story told from DEATH'S POINT OF VIEW, a very unique method of storytelling. A book about many things: a girl, some words, an accordionist, some fanatical Germans, Jewish misery and a lot of thievery. I have to share with those saying that the brilliance of this book is not in the plot but in the narrative. Death is personified and narrates the story in a tone mixed with sadness and cynicism involving Nazis and Jews. The tale is surprisingly gentle while effectively portraying the atrocities and the horrors of World War11.

Regrettably some adults may miss the experience of this book, as it is marketed for young adults and teenagers. Some passages are profound and the subtle nuances could be missed by younger teens. It is a fantastic read with an emotional impact.
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43 of 46 people found the following review helpful By Dave and Joe TOP 100 REVIEWER on Nov. 3 2007
Format: Paperback
I am 54 years old by my figuring I haven't been a teen for 35 years. Ouch. I picked this book up and almost didn't buy it because of it's designation that it was for young readers. But something about it interested me and it ended up in my shopping cart. An incredible read from start to finish. I like historical fiction, I like having other times and other places illuminated for me - put into a context that I can understand. This book does that for me, it allows me to hold souls in my hands. I never felt manipulated by the author, never felt that cheap tricks were used, instead I had the sense of having my hand taken by a gentle guide who walked me down Himmel Street during the time of war.
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