Powerful and Teen Recommended


Death (a character) narrates this story about Liesel Meminger (11), the book thief. The first time Death saw Liesel it was on the train to Munich, Germany, where she watched her brother die. While people were busy burying her brother, Liesel stole her first book. When the train reached Munich, she meets her foster parents, Hans and Rosa Huberman. Liesel soon got comfortable living with her adoptive parents through their warm care. Then came the day of celebrating Hitler's birthday with burning books. Liesel stole her second book from the remaining ashes of the burned books. As the war situation got more severe, Liesel got a job. She delivered laundry to the Mayor's wife, Ilsa Hermann, who let her read books in the Mayor's library. Ilsa even gave Liesel a blank notebook and suggested Liesel write her own story.

The Hubermans hid Max Vandenburg, a Jew, and a friendship began. Liesel and Max would read each other books. When it got too dangerous, Max had to leave Munich. The war was becoming more intense with daily air raids and bombs in Germany. Liesel was confused and angry about the power of words that caused the war. One night, when Liesel was working on her books down in the basement, the town got bombed without warning. Almost everyone died, but not Liesel. She cried over the dead bodies of her foster parents. Then, about 70 years later, Death came to collect Liesel's soul and tells us that Liesel had a fulfilling ending for her life, as she continued writing books.

Teen Reader (16):
The Book Thief is one of my favorite books because it is interesting to see the events in the world as Death's perspective. It also made me think about life, death, love, and literature. The tragic deaths of everyone but the main character is something I like, but also don't like. I think the author put that sad ending in to show how war can take numerous lives away in one blow, including your own family.

This is a really great book to help readers improve reading skills and also broaden their perspective of the world. The main characters  may seem to be more plan and simple (compared to characters in other books), but they draw you in. Readers will find themselves deeply in love with Munich and its people, cheering them on and encouraging their development. I recommend buying this book because it has everything people need to think about in their lives.


Reader Enjoyment Factors:

Readers who like powerful stories and historical fiction will be spell-bound by this novel about a young girl in 1940s Munich, Germany.

Content Awareness Factors:

It may take a longer time to finish this book because it is total 608 pages long. And a tragic ending can make the readers feel emotional. The subjects shown in the book such as death and love can take some time to understand the book.

Type of Book:
This is an historical fiction novel that will appeal to teens and adults.
Educational Themes:

There are many themes within this story. Although Liesel's story is fictional, the details about World War II are not, and may encourage readers to better understand what life was like within Germany itself. Exploring Liesel's life - foster care, losing her only family, trying to understand the world - offer lots of avenues for discussion.

From a literary (or meta) perspective, Liesel naturally starts a conversation about the power of words. How they are used, what they intend. Ask your reader for parallels today. Do they see how words influence choices, actions, and reactions? Did this story open or change their minds about how words are used to forge relationships?

Reading Level:
Recommended Age To Read By Yourself:
13 and Up
Recommended Age To Read Together:
15 and Up
Age of child:
Read by Student Volunteer at St. Croix Lutheran Academyr. Reviewer age: 16
Purchase Recommendation:
Buy. The Book Thief contains many themes for readers to carefully think about.
book cover

Title The Book Thief
Author Markus Zusak
Publisher Knopf Books for Young Readers, Imprint Knopf Doubleday © 2007 (Reprint Edition)
ISBN 9780375842207
Material Paperback
Cost $14.99
Genres Family, Historical Fiction, War, Social Issues
Reminder: Cover images, amazon.com and indiebound.org links are affiliate links. The Reading Tub can earn income via purchases made via these links. 100% of any income goes directly to our literacy mission.

You May Also Like...

Check out these books you may also like


Gloria Whelan


Ruta Sepetys
Philomel Books, Imprint Penguin Young Readers Group © 2016
be the star you are Cybils


Lois Lowry
HMH Books for Young Readers © 2011 (Reissue Edition)


John Boyne
David Fickling Books © 2007 (Reprint Edition)
be the star you are Cybils