The Book Thief Paperback – Sep 11 2007
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From School Library Journal
Grade 9 Up—With Death as narrator, Markus Zusak's haunting novel (Knopf, 2003) follows Liesel Meminger, The Book Thief, through the fear-filled years of Nazi Germany. The story opens as the ten-year-old girl takes her first book shortly after her younger brother's death. Both children were en route to the foster home of Hans and Rosa Hubermann in a Munich suburb. Despite Rosa's sharp tongue and Hans's lack of work, their home is a loving refuge for the nightmare-ridden girl. It also becomes a hideout for Max, a young Jewish man whose father saved Hans's life. Liesel finds solace with her neighbor Rudy and her creative partnership with Max. Accompanied by Rudy, the girl copes by stealing food from farmers and books from the mayor's wife. There are also good moments as she learns to read and plays soccer, but Hans's ill-advised act of kindness to a Jewish prisoner forces Max to leave their safe house. The failing war effort and bombing by the Allies lead to more sacrifices, a local suicide and, eventually, to great losses. Reading books and writing down her experiences save Liesel, but this novel clearly depicts the devastating effects of war. Narrator Allan Corduner defines each character with perfect timing. He's deliberate as the voice of Death, softly strong as Liesel, and impatient, but not unkind, as Rosa. With richly evocative imagery and compelling characters, Zusak explores behind-the-lines life in World War II Germany, showing the day-to-day heroism of ordinary people. Relevant for class discussions on wars both past and present.—Barbara Wysocki, Cora J. Belden Library, Rocky Hill, CT
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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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Top Customer Reviews
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.Read more ›
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.
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.
Most recent customer reviews
Great story. I couldn't wait to turn each page to find out more. Will look for more of Mr. Zusak's books in the future.Published 1 day ago by Bernbaby
This was a very thought provoking and informative book about what is was like living during the 2nd world war. I would highly recommend this book.Published 3 days ago by Amazon Customer
I bought this book on sale at a local store, and... wow.
This is not an easy afternoon read.
It requires some commitment, and some investment. Read more
Firstly, nothing that I write in my review will do this book justice, it is truly awe-inspiring. Markus Zusak has rendered me speechless, however, every book deserves a... Read morePublished 20 days ago by I taylor
I loved the movie but the book was so much better!!! This is one of the best books I have ever read!!!Published 20 days ago by B. D
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