The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

There was a day and age when a nine year old girl was not permanently fixated upon her smartphone. This was a time when you could be separated from the gizmo for more than five minutes without plunging into the severe anxiety which is now being reported (

Such an age was the Second World War for the simple reason that the wretched gadgets had not been invented. What, you might ask, substituted for the richly stimulating intellectual experience that a smartphone delivers? It was a series of wood pulp leaves, inked and bound together. It was called… a ‘book’. Impossible to believe, but people would go to extraordinary lengths to get hold of one of these ‘books’. This was especially the case if the ideas they contained were prohibited by bigger, hairier mammals determined to control your life. Such is the power, beauty and value of ideas in books that a nine year old girl would risk her life to get one.

Australian author Markus Zusak ( gives us the story of Liesel Meminger, adopted by Hans and Rosa Hubermann, and living in a small town in Germany near Munich during WWII. After her brother’s death, Liesel had arrived in a distraught state at the home of her new foster parents. During her time there, she is exposed to the horror of the Nazi regime and struggles to find a way to preserve the innocence of her childhood in the midst of her destructive surroundings. As the political situation in Germany deteriorates, her foster parents hide a Jewish man named Max, putting the family in danger. Hans, who has developed a close relationship with Liesel, teaches her to read in secret. Recognizing the power of writing and sharing the written word, Liesel begins to not only steal books the Nazis prefer to destroy, but also write her own stories and share the power of language with Max. As Liesel copes with the trauma of her past and the violent horrors of the war-torn world around her, she embarks on a journey of self-discovery, the formation of a new family, and mostly, her life as a book thief.

This tale was brought to the screen in 2013. ( It was directed by Brian Percival, Michael Petroni having written the script. Geoffrey Rush and Emily Watson portray the Hubermanns, Ben Schnetzer plays Max Vandenburg, Nico Liersch plays Rudy Steiner, and Sophie Nélisse plays Liesel Meminger. The music soundtrack was written by John Williams. Available on DVD at

Enquire at your local library or consult  for full bibliographic detail.

560 pages in Black Swan

First published 2005

ISBN  978-0552773898

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Markus Zusak

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