The Book Thief
Knopf Books for Young Readers
Published March 14, 2006 (Orig. published 2005)
A mysterious narrator gives an account of a young girl who has an unusual vice: she steals books. Death comes for the girl’s brother as she and her mother wait for a train to take them to a foster home where the children will be safe. It is he, the collector of souls, who is the only witness to the girl’s first thievery, and he begins to follow her story.
Life in Liesel’s new home is a difficult adjustment, plagued with nightmares, but through them, she and her foster father form a bond through reading the book Liesel has stolen: a grave-digger’s manual. As Liesel grows, over and over written words touch her life: a book stolen from the embers of a Nazi bonfire, from the mayor’s library, written to her by a man in hiding.
Death follows her story as a foreigner in her world, relaying the sequences of events with raw imagery and striking language, often creating the feel of a black-and-white picture with one color highlighted through it. Liesel’s journey is both joyful and heart-rending, harsh and beautiful. This is the most unusual World War II story I’ve ever read.
Okay. Honestly, the above is kind of an understatement. The Book Thief claims the top spot as my favorite book. I loved it so much that I called friends and family members, like listen. Then I made them listen to me read a passage of the book. The language, the use of metaphors totally blew me away. The characters and the emotions between them absolutely leapt straight off the page. I loved them all. Rudy. Oh, gosh, Rudy.
Seriously. Trust me. Read this. And call me when you find those passages that demand to be read out loud. I’ll be right there with you.
Update 2017: Check out this costume with book pages from The Book Thief as the skirt! You know you’re jealous….
Very mild. A boy kisses a girl.
The story is told from the viewpoint of a spirit-being who collects the souls of the dead.
Some war violence – not hugely graphic or explicit.
Watch the trailer that won the 2006 Teen Book Video Award below…