The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
This story is written from the perspective of Death in Nazi, Germany in 1939. It is about a young girl, named Liesel Meminger who is orphaned and sent to live with foster parents, Hans and Rosa Hubermann, near Munich, Germany. The Hubermann’s were expecting a boy and a girl, but on the way there, Liesel’s brother dies, causing her much grief for many years. In the town of Himmel, Liesel and her foster parents work for adequate food and shelter for survival. Throughout the course of the book, Liesel steals several books, some of them from Nazi book burnings and others from understanding an understanding book loving friend, because she loves books so much and cannot resist. With the help of her foster father, Liesel learns to read, and she loves to share the stories with others. For example, she is able to share them when at one point in the story, the Hubermann’s and Liesel hide a Jew in their basement, and during several bombing raids, many people hide in their basement, hoping everything will be alright.
This is a well written book, with the interesting take of being written from the point of view of Death. It is engaging, touching, and informative. It gives the reader a feel of Nazi, Germany without getting too graphic. This book is recommended for mature teens or even adults who enjoy history and learning about Nazi Germany and Jews but don’t necessarily want all the graphic details of all that was going on during that time period with concentration camps. The emotional attachment to the characters who enduring unthinkable events tugs at the heart strings of readers.
Genre: historical fiction
Literary awards: National Jewish Book Award for Children’s and Young Adult Literature (2006), Book Sense Book of the Year Award for Children’s Literature (2007), Buxtehuder Bulle (2008), Prijs van de Kinder- en Juegdjury Viaanderen (2009), Printz Honor (2007), Exclusive Books Boeke Prize (2007), The Quill Award Nominee for Young Adult/Teen (2006), Zilveren Zoen (2008), Teen Read Award Nominee for Best All-Time-Fave (2010), Deutscher Jugenditeraturpreis for Preis der Jugendjury (2009), Association of Jewish Libraries New and Notable Book for Teen Book Award (2006), Abraham Lincoln Award Nominee (2010), Kathleen Mitchell Award, Margaret A. Edwards Award (2014)
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
Publication date: March 14, 2006
Number of pages: 550
Grade Level: 7th+
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