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The Book Thief Paperback – September 11, 2007


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Product Details

  • Age Range: 12 and up
  • Grade Level: 7 and up
  • Lexile Measure: 730L (What's this?)
  • Paperback: 576 pages
  • Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf; Reprint edition (September 11, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0375842209
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375842207
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 1.2 x 8.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13,540 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #50 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Starred Review. Grade 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 Gravediggers Handbook, to lull her to sleep when shes roused by regular nightmares about her younger brothers 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 mayors 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 Liesels story all the nuances of chance, folly, and fulfilled expectation that it deserves. An extraordinary narrative.–Francisca Goldsmith, Berkeley Public Library, CA
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Bookmarks Magazine

Zusak, author of I Am the Messenger,took a risk with his second book by making Death an omniscient narrator—and it largely paid off. Originally published in Australia and marketed for ages 12 and up, The Book Thief will appeal both to sophisticated teens and adults with its engaging characters and heartbreaking story. The Philadelphia Inquirer compared the book's power to that of a graphic novel, with its "bold blocks of action." If Zusak's postmodern insertions (Death's commentary, for example) didn't please everyone, the only serious criticism came from Janet Maslin, who faulted the book's "Vonnegut whimsy" and Lemony Snicket-like manipulation. Yet even she admitted that The Book Thief "will be widely read and admired because it tells a story in which books become treasures." And, as we all know, "there's no arguing with a sentiment like that."<BR>Copyright © 2004 Phillips & Nelson Media, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
5 star
10,236
4 star
2,223
3 star
593
2 star
254
1 star
237
See all 13,543 customer reviews
A truly moving book, the characters were wonderful, a Very well written story.
Kylie N Bailey
I just started reading this book and I am having a very hard time putting it down.
Gretchen Sorden
Zusak uses a very creative writing style with death as the narrator of the story.
Brendi Kaplan

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

1,263 of 1,306 people found the following review helpful By Tamela Mccann TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on June 12, 2006
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Liesel Meminger is a Book Thief, living with a foster family in Germany during World War Two. Torn from everything she's known, her foster father shows her the power of words as the two of them share late night reading sessions of The Grave Digger's Handbook. Her love of books ties her to others, including the mayor's wife and Max, the Jew the family hides in the basement.

My own words escape me as I try to recount the beauty of this book in a short review. Rarely have I read a book as moving, as profound, as this one. Narrated by Death, this story is one that crawls under your skin and reverberates your soul with its images of Nazi Germany, friendship, and loss. The images stirred through Death's telling are so vivid, so wonderful, so tragic. Zusak has a masterful command of language and I was astounded by the way his words brought Liesel and her world to life. We follow Liesel over the years as she learns the true meaning of family through her caring new Papa and her friendships with Max and Rudy, the boy next door who idolizes Jesse Owens.

Just a small list of images that will stay with me forever:

+Liesel reading to the neighbors sitting terrified in a basement waiting for the bombs to fall around them

+A snowball fight in a basement

+Mama arriving at school to "yell" at Liesel

+A boy with candlelit hair standing up to a Nazi Youth Leader

+Death gathering up the souls of children softly

+The story of a Word Shaker

+An accordian player accepting a cigarette as payment

There are not enough words within me to express the beauty of this book. It will move you to laughter and tears, often at the same time. This one is a keeper that I will revisit frequently in the future. It has changed my soul. Highly, highly, highly recommended.
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1,199 of 1,262 people found the following review helpful By N. Gargano VINE VOICE on March 23, 2006
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I am not going to tell the plot of this book yet again, Amazon and some other reviewers have done it quite well...I will tell you that this is an astounding book, a beautiful book, and a book that I know I will read again and again......

I read a lot, two to three books a week, my family makes fun that I "love" so many that I read...but in the past few years there have only been a handful of books that when I finish reading the book I sit and try to think of who I can send a copy to, who can I share this wonderful experience with. A book that when I finish, I want to go back to the beginning and start over.

I am a little sorry it is listed as a young adult book, I feel that if the bookstores put it in the young adult section, so many people will be missing out on a wonderful experience. Yet it is important that younger readers, high school readers, read this book too. When I was growing up, I remember reading Diary of Anne Frank, and the feelings I had when I read it...and understanding the importance of everyone reading that book. Well, this book is that important, this book is a must read.

I am going to go back and read this author's other book, I don't know how it can measure up to this one, but if it is half as good, I am in for a treat.
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962 of 1,031 people found the following review helpful By Lesley West on February 16, 2006
Format: Library Binding
This is a story told by Death. An interesting point of view perhaps, but as it is set in Germany during World War II, perhaps it is entirely appropriate. It is also a story of a young girl, who in spite of having a life that no one would wish on anyone, still manages to have glimpses of pleasure through many small things, including the few books that she manages to acquire (or shall we say, steal).

It is interesting to see that it appears to be targeted to young adult readers - please don't be put off by this - it is very much an adult story about children who are doing their best to live a normal life in times of unspeakable horror. It would also be a good way to introduce more mature readers to the history of the times. But be warned, it is quite confrontational at times, and considering who the narrator is, very sad.

To add extra punch to the story, it appears that it is the true story of the author's grandmother. When you consider this, you realise how truly resilient we humans are, and how occasionally, and with a bit of luck, we can hold off death for a time.
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527 of 569 people found the following review helpful By B. L. Medford on March 17, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Very rarely a book comes out that steals my breath away. The Book Thief, by Markus Zusak is a revelation. Narrated by Death, this story follows Leisel as she steals books in Nazi Germany while she and her best friend Rudy discover the power of words, language and friendship. Zusak's writing is mesmerizing; it's sarcastic, emotional, sophisticated and wondrous.

If you only read one book this year, read this one. Share it with your friends and family. I don't expect to read anything better this year, or next year either.
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143 of 153 people found the following review helpful By Good Brother Cadfael on December 21, 2006
Format: Hardcover
I just finished this book last night and said to myself, "I should really read it again before I try to make comment" but, no, I want to share my reactions as spontaneously as possible.

There are hundreds of books in my house, but there is one bookshelf upstairs in a back bedroom which holds those special books: you know, the ones that have made such a profound impact on who you are and how you see the world that they are put aside in a place of honor. This will be one of those books for me.

This book is for adults, but it is also for teenagers. I think it is doing younger people a dis-service to think they could not relate to this book because the narrative style is challenging, the subject matter is doleful and/or because there are too many pages (oh, for heaven's sake!). Young people who like to read and like to think and like to feel will love this book as much as older folks like me. There is no need to dummy things down or sugarcoat them, especially when there is such a compelling story to be told.

One of the most powerful aspects of the book for me was the number of surprises. The book was not what I thought it would be and I was constantly astonished by:

1. the amazing stories that Max told and were re-created with tender illustrations inserted into the body of the book

2. the treatment of the German people as human beings, rather than "nasty Nazis" a la 1940's Hollywood. Although I like to see a "nasty Nazi" get his comeuppance as much as the next person, I found the lack of stereotypes in this book quite refreshing.

3. the imaginative use of language - it's just plain poetical at times. You get stopped short and have to read bits out loud because they are so darned beautiful and/or original.

4.
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