The Book Thief

The Book Thief

Large Print - 2006
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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.
Publisher: Waterville, Me. : Thorndike Press, 2006
Edition: Large print edition
ISBN: 9780786290215
Branch Call Number: YA ZUSAK
Characteristics: 757 pages (large print) ; 23 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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Oct 12, 2019

I can definitely see why The Book Thief is such a crowd pleaser. It was such a brilliant idea to think “outside the box” and have Death himself narrate. Death provides wonderful humour and helps make the book a bit more interesting to read. This book accurately demonstrates how life was during World War Two and the struggles everyone had gone through. Liesel is just a little girl when she has to face the whole world on her own. As readers, we grow up with Liesel and experience her daily life alongside her. This book was beautifully written and I would rate it 4.5 out of 5 stars. Definitely a must read for those who haven’t and I highly recommend it!
@SpookyCat of The Hamilton Public Library's Teen Review Board

Oct 12, 2019

And others by him...particularly the trilogy underdogs...

Sep 01, 2019

So good. The book has a unique formatting. It gives you details and hides details. Definitely a must read.


The Book Thief is a highly acclaimed historical fiction; I can see why. It tells the story of Liesel Memminger, a girl living in Nazi Germany. The tone and writing style are incredibly unique because it is narrated by death, causing it to have a very refreshing perspective. Death the narrator would very often “spoil” what is going to happen, but it is done so cleverly that it does not diminish our interest at all, in fact it elevates it. Throughout the book, we get to see Liesel grow up; as her understanding of the world matures, we the readers also get a more comprehensive view on all the aspects, mainly the political state, of her time. Although this book is pretty long, its pacing is still very balanced. The plot and the characters are so real and all the emotions and atmosphere are depicted wonderfully. A friend told me about this book and I’m so happy that I took the time to read it. I would recommend it to anyone searching for a great read. 4.5/5. Cathy, grade 10, of the Yorba Linda Teen Book Bloggers

Jul 26, 2019


Jul 24, 2019

Quietly thoughtful, infinitely profound.

Jun 08, 2019

Excellent writing, lovely story. Markus Zusak's brilliant move having the 'Grim Reaper' narrate the book knocks this one out of the park. My eyes were misty by the end.

Groszerita May 26, 2019

Death is the narrator. Enough said.

May 04, 2019

loc 3038

Apr 02, 2019

Solid read, not sure about the message
A young girl uses stolen books to distract herself from the reality of living in Nazi Germany in WWII while hiding a Jewish man in her basement.
It is incredibly difficult to know how to review this book. The second half moves along at a much quicker pace and with much higher stakes. The book is narrated by Death / Grim Reaper, and the chapter headings give glimpses of what is to come. There are some red herrings near the end, implying one ending while leading to another, but overall it is pretty solid. The characters are lively, the girl is outstanding, and there are glimpses of her family that offer rare moments of joy and love. And it moved me to tears at the end.
It is hard to accept the implied message that "most Germans were good / nice", it was just the Nazis that were bad people. And even the storyline written by the Jewish man in the basement is that it is all because of the Fuhrer, that Hitler is the only truly evil one. There are parts of it that read like almost an apology for Nazism rather than a sense of accountability for the nation's deeds. The extra materials at the end tell how the author was inspired by his grandparents' accounts of the ordinariness (in some ways) of the war in Germany for Germans - something that happened around them, or to them, not committed by them. In terms of the writing, the first half is a bit slow and dull, and the constant foreshadowing is repetitive and annoying at the start, less so at the end. The caricature of the mother is ridiculous; she only becomes human near the end. Finally, and this is a bit of a spoiler, the story ends rather abruptly, leaving out a huge opportunity to tell some more story. I know this book is aimed at teens and is hugely popular, but I would not wants someone relying on this book as their only source of history.
I received no compensation, not even a free copy, in exchange for this review. I am not personal friends with the author, nor do I follow him on social media.

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Jun 01, 2019

ikokwu thinks this title is suitable for 11 years and over

Apr 01, 2019

indigo_bird_126 thinks this title is suitable for 12 years and over

Jan 29, 2019

pink_panda_2739 thinks this title is suitable for between the ages of 8 and 8

Jul 10, 2018

green_cat_5616 thinks this title is suitable for 12 years and over

Jun 14, 2018

swilson1975 thinks this title is suitable for 14 years and over

Apr 28, 2018

green_panda_1079 thinks this title is suitable for 11 years and over

Feb 16, 2018

sijohnson0706 thinks this title is suitable for 13 years and over

Feb 12, 2018

BudgiesNbooks thinks this title is suitable for 12 years and over

Nov 25, 2017

Boekwurm_1 thinks this title is suitable for 13 years and over

Nov 14, 2017

blue_dove_464 thinks this title is suitable for 13 years and over

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Add a Quote
Jun 14, 2018

"I carried them in my fingers, like suitcases. Or I'd throw them over my shoulder. It was only the children I carried in my arms."

Aug 26, 2017

I am haunted by humans.

susanbayridge69 Oct 04, 2016

First the colors.
Then the humans.
That's usually how I see things.
Or at least, how I try.

Jan 05, 2016

"It was a Monday, and they walked on a tightrope to the sun."

Aug 05, 2015

Imagine smiling after a slap in the face. Then think of doing it twenty-four hours a day.

Jul 28, 2015

A small announcement about Rudy Steiner. He didn't deserve to die that way.

Jul 28, 2015

How about a kiss, Saumensch?

Jul 28, 2015

Even death has a heart.

Jul 03, 2015

" How about a kiss, saumensch ? "

Jun 28, 2015

“If only she could be so oblivious again, to feel such love without knowing it, mistaking it for laughter. ”
― Markus Zusak

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Add Notices
Apr 04, 2017


susanbayridge69 Oct 04, 2016

Coarse Language: Some curse words

Jul 28, 2015

Violence: Some whipping.

Jul 28, 2015

Frightening or Intense Scenes: a few gruesome deaths, bombings, lifeless bodies.

Jul 28, 2015

Coarse Language: The bad language is in German, but Death translates it to English. Nothing serious, but certainly not for younger readers.

Jul 01, 2015

Frightening or Intense Scenes: The "parade" of Jews was a bit frightening, and the whipping and war.

Jul 01, 2015

Violence: Some whipping, fights, and other violence related to war.

Jul 01, 2015

Coarse Language: Quite a bit of German swearing and some English translations, too.

Jul 25, 2014

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

Jul 25, 2014

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

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Add a Summary
Jan 03, 2018

Liesel Meminger is only nine years old when she is taken to live with the Hubermanns, a foster family, on Himmel Street in Molching, Germany, in the late 1930s. She arrives with few possessions, but among them is The /Grave Digger's Handbook/, a book she stole from her brother's burial place. During the years that Liesel lives with the Hubermanns, Hitler becomes more powerful, life on Himmel Street becomes more fearful, and Liesel becomes a full-fledged book thief. She rescues books from Nazie book-burnings and steals from the library of the mayor. Liesel is illiterate when she steals her first book, but Hans Hubermann uses her prized books to teach her to read. This is a story of courage, friendship, love, survival, death, and grief. This is Liesel's life on Himmel Street, told from Death's point of view.
(Summary in back of book.)

geniusgirl613 Jul 23, 2014

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

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

Jun 29, 2014

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.

Jun 25, 2014

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.

Jul 19, 2013

"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

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.”

SharonWarren Jan 20, 2012

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.

Dec 15, 2009

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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