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The Book Thief

Zusak, Markus

(Book - 2007)
Average Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5.
The Book Thief
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Trying to make sense of the horrors of World War II, Death relates the story of Liesel - a young German girl whose book-stealing and story-telling talents help sustain her family and the Jewish man they are hiding, as well as their neighbors. Includes readers' guide.
Publisher: New York : Alfred A. Knopf, 2007
Edition: 1st Knopf trade pbk. ed
ISBN: 0375842209
Branch Call Number: YA ZUSAK
Characteristics: 552, 15 p. : ill. ; 21 cm


From Library Staff

Liesel steals books while growing up in Nazi Germany and shares them with her foster parents and the Jewish man they keep hidden in the basement. MS

From the critics

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Nov 26, 2014
  • jrnav rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

The book is amazing. It's written in a very interesting way. To me, the most interesting part of the story was that the narrator was Death. This story was engaging all through out! I loved it!

Oct 14, 2014
  • Septemberly rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

This book is written in a peculiar prose. At first, it was off putting, but by the end of the book, I loved it, and admired the author's unique style.

I enjoyed this sad novel, but I find it hard to believe it is youth fiction. The content matter is heavy, and I fully enjoyed it as an adult.

Oct 08, 2014
  • glennamac rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

I don't hand out 5 stars easily. This book warrants top honours for skillful writing, Zusak has incredible uniqueness with words and phrasing. This soulful story told through the eyes of death latches on to your heart and soul, releasing with an ache at storys end. Zusak is a masterful storyteller....a true word thief!

The Book Thief is a book that surpassed my expectations completely. From start to finish, Markus Zusak tells a captivating story set in 1939, Nazi Germany. This novel features young Liesel Meminger, a girl recently turned orphan and only-child by the tragic loss of her family. After moving in with her new foster parents, Liesel’s foster father teaches her to read a book she had stolen from her brother’s graveside. And so, begins Liesel’s infatuation with books and her adventures of stealing books from book-burnings and houses. But everything changes when Liesel’s foster father has to hide a Jew in their basement because of something that happened years before. Liesel has to learn to trust the strange man in her house, to protect herself and her new family from being caught.
This book is very unique, and one of the very interesting features is that the book is narrated by “Death.” This is a very hard “character” to portay, but Zusak uses dark humor and wise words to fit the part perfectly. The Book Thief is a wonderful historical fiction novel, somewhat similar to The Boy in the Striped Pajamas. The writing almost makes you feel like you are right there in Himmel Street with Liesel and her friends. It gives a very different perspective, because it is not shown through the eyes of a Jew, but merely a young girl confused by the nature of the times. I would recommend this book to anyone who wants to read a book that will make them look back on life before our time and change their perspective on the life that’s still to come.

Sep 01, 2014
  • chogs rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

I was totally overwhelmed by this book.
Felt sad and happy at the same time..
All I can say is Wow!

The Book Thief is a well-known, profound book that will exceed far beyond the reader’s expectations. The story begins with nine year-old Liesel Meminger. She has lost her mom and brother and has been adopted by Hans and Rosa Hubbermann. They are a lovely couple whose kids have grown up and moved out. When Liesel first arrives she feel almost an instant bond with Hans the first time he speaks to her. Unfortunately, with Rosa she finds it much more difficult to form a relationship. Liesel unwilling goes to school and is put into a younger grade because of her inability to read. One night as Hans, now known as Papa, is tucking Liesel into bed he comes across a book she stole from her brother’s graveside. Papa asks Liesel if she would like to learn to read. As the first book is finished, Liesel almost constantly feels the urgency to be reading. That is when the evolution of the Book Thief begins.
In this book Mark Zusak has chosen none other than “Death” to narrate the story. The reader will enjoy Zusak writing as “death” and appreciate how he interprets the character.
The Book Thief is similar to the book "Number the stars" by Lowis Lowry. A book about a girl named Annemarie, who lives in Denmark. She is forced to protect her friend Ellen from the Nazi's. Another book similar to this one is, Boy in the Striped Pajamas by John Boyne. This novel is about Bruno, a 9 year-old German, who unknowingly lives beside a concentration camp. While in his yard he meets a Jewish boy, named Shemul, who lives on the other side of the fence. They form a friendship without the understanding of their supposed hatred.
I recommend The Book Thief to readers over the age of 12.
-Arianna Dossa

Jul 28, 2014
  • goodcooker rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

Thought provoking book.

Jul 28, 2014
  • kindrabirss rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

This book was so interesting and was more about the journey than the destination. It played with the ideas of humanity being both disgusting and beautiful. I loved the narration by Death who was not creepy or dark. The characters were so easy to fall in love with. A great read and something a bit different.

Jul 28, 2014
  • edcorrie rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

This is such a great book about friendship and family. The ending though is very sad.

Jul 25, 2014
  • red_crocodile_191 rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

Very good book! Loved the story and characters. Flowed very nicely about 100+ pages. However, the only thing preventing a 5 star is the writing. I personally didn't like the style, it was very good. But not for me. Sorry. It was also a bit confusing, especially at first.

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Sep 13, 2014
  • princessgracetan rated this: 4.5 stars out of 5.

princessgracetan thinks this title is suitable for 14 years and over

blue_weasel_36 thinks this title is suitable for 13 years and over

Jul 25, 2014
  • red_crocodile_191 rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

red_crocodile_191 thinks this title is suitable for 12 years and over

Jul 23, 2014
  • geniusgirl613 rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

geniusgirl613 thinks this title is suitable for between the ages of 15 and 99

Jul 01, 2014
  • cheddarinorawr rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

cheddarinorawr thinks this title is suitable for between the ages of 13 and 17

Jun 29, 2014
  • 22950008513780 rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

22950008513780 thinks this title is suitable for between the ages of 12 and 99

Jun 27, 2014
  • violet_coyote_92 rated this: 4.5 stars out of 5.

violet_coyote_92 thinks this title is suitable for 12 years and over

DragonflyEwa23 thinks this title is suitable for 9 years and over

Jun 22, 2014
  • KatiaY rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

KatiaY thinks this title is suitable for 12 years and over

jennyzhao88 thinks this title is suitable for 11 years and over

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Jul 23, 2014
  • geniusgirl613 rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

There are so many amazing quotes, I'm just going to make a list (in no real order.
1: I am haunted by humans.
2: "Is it off your cheek that I took the seed?"
3: The laundry was warm, the rafters were firm, and Michael Holtzpfafel jumped from the chair as if it were a cliff.... He killed himself for wanting to live.
4: Here is a small fact: You are going to die.
5: "Can I?" The two words stood across acres and acres of vacant, wooden-floored land. The books were miles away.
6: Two giant words: I'm sorry.

Jul 19, 2014
  • TheMazeRunner13 rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

*****FROM THE MOVIE*****:
(knock knock knock)
Rosa: *whisper* who is that? *shouts* WHO IS IT?
Rudy: Rudy Steiner!
Rosa: What do you want?
Rudy: My Mama told me you have a new daughter.
Rosa: And what business is it of yours?
Rudy: I'm going to take her to school!
Rosa: And what makes you think you are good enough for my daughter
Rudy: I'm almost 12.
Rosa: Liesel, eat your soup.
Rudy: *tries to see what she looks like*
Rosa: Stay outside you filthy Saukerl.

Jul 19, 2014
  • TheMazeRunner13 rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

Death: I am haunted by humans.

Jul 14, 2014
  • Jaklinetobe rated this: 3.5 stars out of 5.


Jul 02, 2014
  • martinreads rated this: 4.5 stars out of 5.

"The girl simply didn't care anymore" (510)

Jun 29, 2014
  • 22950008513780 rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

" There were stars" he said. "They burned my eyes"-Max Vandenburg

Jun 29, 2014
  • 22950008513780 rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

"Because he isn't Jesse Owens"

Jun 29, 2014
  • 22950008513780 rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

"The sky is blue today Max, and there is a big cloud, and it's stretched out, like a rope. At the end of it, the sun is like a yellow hole"

Jun 22, 2014
  • KatiaY rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

"Among them, lit like lanterns, were Hans and Rosa Hubermann, her brother, and the boy whose hair remained the color of lemons forever."

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Add a Notice

Jul 25, 2014
  • red_crocodile_191 rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

Other: Not enough violence to put under violence. But some.

Jul 25, 2014
  • red_crocodile_191 rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

Coarse Language: Sl*t, b*tch, sh*t

Jun 29, 2014
  • 22950008513780 rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

Frightening or Intense Scenes: The book talks about some very disturbing topics, like the treatment of the Jews in Nazi Germany. Younger readers might not be ready to read about that type of stuff yet

Jun 29, 2014
  • 22950008513780 rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

Violence: There is some bombing and whipping and fist fighting but none is very graphic.

Jun 29, 2014
  • 22950008513780 rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

Coarse Language: There is some English and German swearing but not too bad

Jan 03, 2014
  • GreenElephantGirl rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

Other: Film is released in New Zealand 9th January.

Frightening or Intense Scenes: They get bombed several times. You can't see alot, but it may frighten younger children. And like i stated above, some fist fights.

Violence: Just alot of fighting. There are some fist fights and Germans beating people. There are also dead bodies shown.

Sep 23, 2013
  • mariednguyen rated this: 4.5 stars out of 5.

Other: Release date November 15, 2013 (USA)

Sep 02, 2011
  • lukeooo2 rated this: 3.5 stars out of 5.

Coarse Language: german and english swearing but not to bad.

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Add a Summary

Jul 23, 2014
  • geniusgirl613 rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

The story of a young girl under Nazi Germany. When her family hides a Jew in the basement, her life changes forever. Her thirst for books begins when she was illiterate. Slowly, books play an enormous part in her story.

Jul 14, 2014
  • Jaklinetobe rated this: 3.5 stars out of 5.

About a Germany girl during WWII who is living with a foster family hiding a Jew.

Jun 29, 2014
  • 22950008513780 rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

Liesel Meminger, an illiterate girl in Nazi Germany loves books. At her brothers funeral she finds her first book, the Grave Diggers Handbook. With the help of her foster father, Hans Hubermann she learns to read and desires more books. However with World War 2 her family is sinking deeper into poverty and cannot afford to buy her books. So she resorts to stealing them. She takes them wherever she can find them, but only what she needs never more. But Liesel's life gets even more dangerous when her foster father repays a debt by taking in a Jew on the run. Liesel then realizes some unsettling facts about Nazi Germany and Hitler. This book is Liesel Meminger's story, told by Death.

In brief, I will say a few things about this book (I am on my mothers library page) 1. It is amazing
2. Always look at the pictures they feature very intensely in the story.
The Book Thief
the book thief is about young girl, living in Nazi Germany, who, as the title suggests, is a book thief. Or a collector of second hand books, however you wish to put it. Narrated by death, it will guide you through great joys and great sorrows. (A note, death loves colours, Also, I have noticed the colour patterns in a few other books) Liesel steals her first book at her brothers funeral. That was the last time she ever saw her mother. Along her "illustrious career" her foster parents take an old, dead, acordian playing, jewish friends son into the custody of their basement. A basement that will save her alone, well, along with a story. The basement doesn't save her best friend, Rudy Stiener. I'm not telling any more, otherwise I'll spoil it for you.

Jun 22, 2014
  • KatiaY rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

"It is 1939. Nazi Germany. The country is holding its breath. Death has never been busier, and will become busier still.

By her brother's graveside, Liesel Meminger's life is changed when she picks up a single object, partially hidden in the snow. It is The Grave Digger's Handbook, left there by accident, and it is her first act of thievery. So begins a love affair with books and words, as Liesel, with the help of her accordion-playing foster father, learns to read. Soon she is stealing books from Nazi book-burnings, the mayor's wife's library, wherever there are books to be found.
But these are dangerous times. When Liesel's foster family hides a Jew in their basement, Liesel's world is both opened up and closed down.
In a superbly crafted writing that burns with intensity, award-winning author Markus Zusak has given us one of the most enduring stories of our time." -from the back cover

Jul 19, 2013
  • Draw rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

"It’s just a small story really, about among other things: a girl, some words, an accordionist, some fanatical Germans, a Jewish fist-fighter, and quite a lot of thievery. . . .

Set during World War II in Germany, Markus Zusak’s groundbreaking new novel is the story of Liesel Meminger, a foster girl living outside of Munich. Liesel scratches out a meager existence for herself by stealing when she encounters something she can’t resist–books. With the help of her accordion-playing foster father, she learns to read and shares her stolen books with her neighbors during bombing raids as well as with the Jewish man hidden in her basement before he is marched to Dachau.

This is an unforgettable story about the ability of books to feed the soul."

Jul 05, 2012
  • pojo6865 rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

Introduction: During WWII in 1939, Liesel and her brother are being taken to Molching, Germany with her mother, to live with foster parents. Sadly, her little brother dies on the train and is buried along the way there. This is when Liesel steals her first book, (Gravedigger’s Handbook- marks brother’s death). Entering her new home, Liesel finds most comfort and love with her new father- Hans Hubermann. Stealing books becomes somewhat of a hobby now, as it motivates her to learn to read and write. An important aspect of the introduction is the hint at Liesel’s background. She learns more about why, how, and what actually happened to her real parents. As of right now, all we know is that Hans is gentle/welcoming, and that Rosa may need anger-management classes.
Rising Action: After the book-burning celebration for Hitler’s birthday, Liesel realizes that the Nazis are responsible for all of her losses. At this point, she steals another book (the Shoulder Shrug- marks hatred for Hitler). Along with her friendship with Rudy Steiner, good friend from school, she forms a relationship with the mayor’s wife, who lets Liesel in her library every time she comes by for laundry (as she saw Liesel’s interest in stealing the Shoulder Shrug). But when the wife, Ilsa, ends the laundry service, Liesel is infuriated and begins stealing her books. Eventually though, forgiveness awakes due to a complicated friendship that was always present. Back to Rudy, he’s a fearless boy with lemon hair, and he wants Liesel’s lips. Remember that. Meanwhile, there’s the story of Hans Hubermann and his great friend during WWI who saved Hans’s life and died in consequence. This friend happens to be a Jew, and his son is now seeking help with Hans, in hiding from the Nazis. Expectedly, the family is worried about the potential situation, since the act of housing a Jew in WWII was life-jeopardising. But they do, and Max turns out to be very friendly. So does Rosa. Especially Hans.
Climax: A series of little events tagged along for the journey to the climax. But, everything explodes when Max leaves for safety. Liesel is…she’s devastated. But, there is worse to come. He’s seen in a hoard of Jews on their way to Dachau, and this just tears the girl apart. Soon after, Ilsa gave Liesel a blank book. This saves the girl’s life, keeping her busy writing in the basement in an unexpected bombing. Sadly, all of Liesel’s loved ones die in their sleep. Death takes his time picking up Rosa, Hans, Kurt... Oh yeah, Rudy dies too, but at least he gets his long-awaited kiss from Liesel. Too bad it happens like this.
Falling Action: Well, the climax occurs late in the book, and in consequence, there’s not much to be said in this section. But, it is notable that Liesel drops her book in shock of everybody’s death (book = her life-story painted on the beloved blank pages from Ilsa). Death picks it up. The book is to be remembered. The mayor’s wife takes her in. Liesel talks with Alex Steiner. About Rudy. I’m sorry, am I being too specific?
It’s...well...just that......I love this part.
Resolution: In the epilogue, Liesel dies. But, she has lived a happy life with a husband and offspring. We also see Liesel being reunited with Max, having miraculously survived his sentence at Dachau. The book ends under a fulfilling atmosphere as Death gives back her book and takes her soul away. “I am haunted by humans.”

Jan 20, 2012
  • SharonWarren rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

I started this book and it just didn't keep my attention, so gave it up, for a time. It had been so highly recommended I knew it would come back on my list. When next I picked it up I was ready for it and absolutely loved it. An engrossing, warm, and thoughtful read about a very difficult time.

Aug 11, 2010
  • FrostyViolette rated this: 4.5 stars out of 5.

An amazing story that takes place during World War II in Nazi Germany. Death narrates the story of a young girl named Liesel and her life living with her foster parents, the Hubermanns.


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Extended Clip

Extended scene called "Why would I want to kiss you"

May 18, 2011
  • Harriet_the_Spy rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

Interview with Markus Susak about The Book Thief

Find it at SPL


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