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The Book Thief
Cover of The Book Thief
The Book Thief
#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • ONE OF TIME MAGAZINE’S 100 BEST YA BOOKS OF ALL TIME
The extraordinary, beloved novel about the ability of books to feed the soul even in the darkest of times.

When Death has a story to tell, you listen.
It is 1939. Nazi Germany. The country is holding its breath. Death has never been busier, and will become busier still.
Liesel Meminger is a foster girl living outside of Munich, who 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. 
In superbly crafted writing that burns with intensity, award-winning author Markus Zusak, author of I Am the Messenger, has given us one of the most enduring stories of our time.
 
“The kind of book that can be life-changing.” —The New York Times
 
“Deserves a place on the same shelf with The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank.” —USA Today
DON’T MISS BRIDGE OF CLAY, MARKUS ZUSAK’S FIRST NOVEL SINCE THE BOOK THIEF.
#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • ONE OF TIME MAGAZINE’S 100 BEST YA BOOKS OF ALL TIME
The extraordinary, beloved novel about the ability of books to feed the soul even in the darkest of times.

When Death has a story to tell, you listen.
It is 1939. Nazi Germany. The country is holding its breath. Death has never been busier, and will become busier still.
Liesel Meminger is a foster girl living outside of Munich, who 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. 
In superbly crafted writing that burns with intensity, award-winning author Markus Zusak, author of I Am the Messenger, has given us one of the most enduring stories of our time.
 
“The kind of book that can be life-changing.” —The New York Times
 
“Deserves a place on the same shelf with The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank.” —USA Today
DON’T MISS BRIDGE OF CLAY, MARKUS ZUSAK’S FIRST NOVEL SINCE THE BOOK THIEF.
Available formats-
  • OverDrive Read
Languages:-
Copies-
  • Available:
    0
  • Library copies:
    1
Levels-
  • ATOS:
    5.1
  • Lexile:
    730
  • Interest Level:
    UG
  • Text Difficulty:
    3 - 4

Recommended for you

 
Awards-
Excerpts-
  • From the book DEATH AND CHOCOLATE


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


    ***HERE IS A SMALL FACT  ***
    You are going to die.


    I am in all truthfulness attempting to be cheerful about this whole topic, though most people find themselves hindered in believing me, no matter my protestations. Please, trust me. I most definitely can be cheerful. I can be amiable. Agreeable. Affable. And that's only the A's. Just don't ask me to be nice. Nice has nothing to do with me.


    ***Reaction to the  ***
    AFOREMENTIONED fact
    Does this worry you?
    I urge you—don't be afraid.
    I'm nothing if not fair.


    —Of course, an introduction.
    A beginning.
    Where are my manners?
    I could introduce myself properly, but it's not really necessary. You will know me well enough and soon enough, depending on a diverse range of variables. It suffices to say that at some point in time, I will be standing over you, as genially as possible. Your soul will be in my arms. A color will be perched on my shoulder. I will carry you gently away.
    At that moment, you will be lying there (I rarely find people standing up). You will be caked in your own body. There might be a discovery; a scream will dribble down the air. The only sound I'll hear after that will be my own breathing, and the sound of the smell, of my footsteps.
    The question is, what color will everything be at that moment when I come for you? What will the sky be saying?
    Personally, I like a chocolate-colored sky. Dark, dark chocolate. People say it suits me. I do, however, try to enjoy every color I see—the whole spectrum. A billion or so flavors, none of them quite the same, and a sky to slowly suck on. It takes the edge off the stress. It helps me relax.


    ***A SMALL THEORY  ***
    People observe the colors of a day only at its beginnings and ends, but to me it's quite clear that a day merges through a multitude of shades and intonations, with each passing moment.
    A single hour can consist of thousands of different colors.
    Waxy yellows, cloud-spat blues. Murky darknesses.
    In my line of work, I make it a point to notice them.


    As I've been alluding to, my one saving grace is distraction. It keeps me sane. It helps me cope, considering the length of time I've been performing this job. The trouble is, who could ever replace me? Who could step in while I take a break in your stock-standard resort-style vacation destination, whether it be tropical or of the ski trip variety? The answer, of course, is nobody, which has prompted me to make a conscious, deliberate decision—to make distraction my vacation. Needless to say, I vacation in increments. In colors.
    Still, it's possible that you might be asking, why does he even need a vacation? What does he need distraction from?
    Which brings me to my next point.
    It's the leftover humans.
    The survivors.
    They're the ones I can't stand to look at, although on many occasions I still fail. I deliberately seek out the colors to keep my mind off them, but now and then, I witness the ones who are left behind, crumbling among the jigsaw puzzle of realization, despair, and surprise. They have punctured hearts. They have beaten lungs.
    Which in turn brings me to the subject I am telling you about tonight, or today, or whatever the hour and color. It's the story of one of those perpetual survivors—an expert at being left behind.
    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


    I saw the book...
About the Author-
  • Markus Zusak is the international bestselling author of six novels, including The Book Thief and most recently, Bridge of Clay. His work is translated into more than forty languages, and has spent more than a decade on the New York Times bestseller list, establishing Zusak as one of the most successful authors to come out of Australia.
    All of Zusak’s books – including earlier titles, The UnderdogFighting Ruben WolfeWhen Dogs Cry (also titled Getting the Girl), and The Messenger (or I am the Messenger) – have been awarded numerous honors around the world, ranging from literary prizes to readers choice awards to prizes voted on by booksellers.
    In 2013, The Book Thief was made into a major motion picture, and in 2018 was voted one of America’s all-time favorite books, achieving the 14th position on the PBS Great American Read. Also in 2018, Bridge of Clay was selected as a best book of the year in publications ranging from Entertainment Weekly to the Wall Street Journal. 
    Markus Zusak grew up in Sydney, Australia, and still lives there with his wife and two children.
Reviews-
  • Publisher's Weekly

    Starred review from January 30, 2006
    This hefty volume is an achievement—a challenging book in both length and subject, and best suited to sophisticated older readers. The narrator is Death himself, a companionable if sarcastic fellow, who travels the globe "handing souls to the conveyor belt of eternity." Death keeps plenty busy during the course of this WWII tale, even though Zusak (I Am the Messenger
    ) works in miniature, focusing on the lives of ordinary Germans in a small town outside Munich. Liesel Meminger, the book thief, is nine when she pockets The Gravedigger's Handbook
    , found in a snowy cemetery after her little brother's funeral. Liesel's father—a "Kommunist"—is already missing when her mother hands her into the care of the Hubermanns. Rosa Hubermann has a sharp tongue, but Hans has eyes "made of kindness." He helps Liesel overcome her nightmares by teaching her to read late at night. Hans is haunted himself, by the Jewish soldier who saved his life during WWI. His promise to repay that debt comes due when the man's son, Max, shows up on his doorstep. This "small story," as Death calls it, threads together gem-like scenes of the fates of families in this tight community, and is punctuated by Max's affecting, primitive artwork rendered on painted-over pages from Mein Kampf
    . Death also directly addresses readers in frequent asides; Zusak's playfulness with language leavens the horror and makes the theme even more resonant—words can save your life. As a storyteller, Death has a bad habit of forecasting ("I'm spoiling the ending," he admits halfway through his tale). It's a measure of how successfully Zusak has humanized these characters that even though we know they are doomed, it's no less devastating when Death finally reaches them. Ages 12-up.

  • School Library Journal

    Starred review from March 1, 2006
    Gr 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 Gravedigger -s Handbook", to lull her to sleep when she -s roused by regular nightmares about her younger brother -s 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 mayor -s 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 Liesel -s story all the nuances of chance, folly, and fulfilled expectation that it deserves. An extraordinary narrative." -Francisca Goldsmith, Berkeley Public Library, CA"

    Copyright 2006 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

  • Booklist

    January 1, 2006
    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.(Reprinted with permission of Booklist, copyright 2006, American Library Association.)

  • Publisher's Weekly

    Starred review from November 13, 2006
    Corduner uses considerable zeal and a talent for accents to navigate Zusak's compelling, challenging novel set in Nazi Germany. Death serves as knowing narrator for the tale, which is framed much like a lengthy flashback. The storytelling aspects of this structure include asides to the listener, and lots of foreshadowing about what eventually happens to the various lead characters—appealing features for listeners. But Corduner seems to most enjoy embracing the heart of things here—the rather small and ordinary saga of 10-year-old Liesel Meminger, who has been given over to a foster family following her mother's branding as a "Kommunist" and the death of her younger brother. Under her foster parents' care, she learns how to read, how to keep terrifying secrets and how to hone her skills as a book thief, a practice that keeps her sane and feeds her newfound love of words. With quick vocal strokes, Corduner paints vivid, provocative portraits of Germans and Jews under unfathomable duress and the ripple effect such circumstances have on their lives. Ages 12-up.

  • The Horn Book

    Starred review from March 1, 2006
    Death itself narrates this deeply affecting tale of "a girl, some words, an accordionist, some fanatical Germans, a Jewish fist fighter, and quite a lot of thievery." It is 1939 when nine-year-old Liesel, on her way to a foster home in Molching, Germany, steals a book -- the first she's ever owned -- from a graveyard. From then through 1943, her life is chronicled in books stolen (from Nazi book burnings; from the mayor's wife), books given (by her foster parents, irascible Rosa and kindly Hans Hubermann; by Max Vandenburg, the Jew hiding in their basement), and books written (her own story, finished in that basement during a devastating air raid). As her relationships and beliefs deepen, Liesel grows into a tough, earnest heroine, convincingly ordinary yet with an extraordinary capacity for caring. The small, poor town of Molching proves an effective microcosm for exploring the double-edged dangers faced by everyday Germans, and Zusak's gift for detail brings its streets and citizens richly to life. As a narrator, Death is startlingly, wrenchingly compassionate, struggling to turn away from the survivors left behind to live with "punctured hearts" and "beaten lungs" yet immeasurably moved by the tenderness they wring from despair -- Liesel building a snowman in the basement with Max; her best friend Rudy placing a teddy bear on the chest of a dying Allied pilot. Exquisitely written and memorably populated, Zusak's poignant tribute to words, survival, and their curiously inevitable entwinement is a tour de force to be not just read but inhabited.

    (Copyright 2006 by The Horn Book, Incorporated, Boston. All rights reserved.)

  • The Horn Book

    July 1, 2006
    Death itself narrates this deeply affecting tale of young book lover Liesel, her loving foster parents, and the Jew hiding in their basement. They struggle, with their small, poor community, to endure the double-edged dangers of Nazi Germany. Zusak's poignant tribute to words, survival, and their inevitable entwinement is a tour de force to be not just read but inhabited.

    (Copyright 2006 by The Horn Book, Incorporated, Boston. All rights reserved.)

  • The Wall Street Journal "One of the most highly anticipated young-adult books in years."
  • The Horn Book Magazine, Starred "Exquisitely written and memorably populated, Zusak's poignant tribute to words, survival, and their curiously inevitable entwinement is a tour de force to be not just read but inhabited."
  • SLJ, Starred "An extraordinary narrative."
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    Random House Children's Books
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