Wednesday, February 28, 2007

The Book Thief (copy)

Chunkster Challenge #1

I would like to introduce you to my newest friend. Her name is Liesel Meminger, and she is nine-years-old. Liesel lives in a little town called Molching outside of Munich, Germany. She stays at 33 Himmel Street, which is the home of Hans and Rosa Hubermann. Himmel is German for heaven, but her conditions are anything but.

When I first meet Liesel she is traveling with her mother and little brother. It is very sad. The little family is forced to leave their home because the missing father is known to be Kommunist. The whole trip is to ensure the children’s safety by placing them with foster parents until trouble dies down.

The only thing, trouble is just beginning, and it will be years before safety is felt. I didn’t tell you my new friend lives in Hitler’s 1930s Germany.

Tragedy strikes the family early in the story. Liesel’s little brother doesn’t make the trip. He actually dies during the night and has to be buried in Munich.

It is at this point in Liesel's life that she obtains a nickname. During the funeral she discovers a little book on the ground. It’s a silly little book, not necessarily a page turner, describing a 12 step program to dig graves. It obviously belongs to the gravedigger, but all Liesel sees is shiny gold lettering. She cannot read. So, the title means nothing to her; it is just an object that symbolizes her brother’s last day. She becomes the book thief.

The book thief, like many a thief, strikes at the most opportune time. Her second opportunity arrives when the town gathers for a book burning event. As a Hitler Youth she sticks around to clean up after the fire. To her amazement five books don’t burn, and she procures one when no one is looking. Unfortunately, in Nazi Germany someone is always looking.

I met the book thief during a recent bout with a nasty virus. She is the main character of Markus Zusak’s book, The Book Thief. It was nice to have such an engaging book during an awful sickness. Books mean so much more when a person is ill.

Listen to the Prologue as told to us by the narrator, Death: “It’s just a small story really, about, among other things: a girl, some words, an accordionist, some fanatical Germans, a Jewish fist fighter, and quite a lot of thievery.” This “small story,” written for young adults, will move anyone with a pulse.

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