The Book Thief


  1. Lit circles day #1
    During class we talked about how the book was very depressing. We thought that some sentences do not correspond with the previous sentence. We thought the irony that the book is called the Book Thief and that she can't read. We talked about that in between paragraphs Death would introduce a few facts off subject. We quoted that instead of Death saying after a few seconds he says “After a collection of seconds” we thought that Deaths way of speaking and narration of the book is so different and interesting in comparison to other books. We talked about how Death compared the moods of the day to the colors of the sky. We like the dad character and the fact that he is always there the main character. The author describes bonds very well. For example Rudy and Liesel and Liesel and her Dad. Her nightmares had very nice metaphors for example: “She would wake up swimming in her bed, screaming, and drowning in the flood of sheets. On the others side of the room, the bed that was meant for her brother floated boat like in the darkness.” We talked about how racism has already made it's way into the book.

    Auriane Vacher, Max Wintroub and Lucile Henderson

    1. I agree with your statement that Death's narration is unique from the common form of books. Often, books are written from the perspective of a person, or as an objective outlook on events. Seldom do they explore the perspective of something that is not even necessarily human, but something completely alien and intangible, such as Death. Why do you think that the author chose to write the book from Death's perspective, rather than from the POV of one of the characters in the book, or in 3rd person? Why is that significant in the context of the storyline and themes explored throughout the book?

  2. In the second day of lit circles, we talked about various incidents. One of which is when Liesel aggressed another student in the recess yard, for belittling her. We discussed the relationship between Sister Maria and Liesel and how the relationship between Rudy and Liesel is growing. We discussed how the bond between the dad and Liesel and how he is teaching her how to read. “She imagined the smell of it, mapped out on her papas clothes. More than anything, it was the smell of friendship, and she could find it on herself, too. Liesel loved that smell.” The smell of her father is a metaphor for the dad's love for Liesel. When the war announcement newspaper ink imprinted on the dad's skin illustrates that war is in all of them. Another interesting quote would be “One opportunity leads directly to another, just as risk leads to more risk, life to more life, and death to more death.” Hitler took the opportunity to take over Germany, he then took the risk to invade Poland which was thought to result in a better lifestyle but actually ended up causing many deaths.

    Auriane Vacher, Max Wintroub, and Lucile Henderson

    1. The Book Thief is one of my favorite books and you describe the events that took place in a very detailed way. I also appreciated the inclusion of quotes; it really brings me into your post and makes me interested. Perhaps next time you could add little transitions to your sentences so that they flow more cohesively. And I'd also like to hear about your personal interpretation of the book! How do you connect with the characters? Why do you think the author writes a certain part in a particular way? How does the narration of the book add to it's overall meaning?

  3. Lit Circle #3- Book Thief-Auriane, Lucile, Max W.

    In our Lit Circle #3, we came up with several essential questions. “Why is Liesel so interested in books even though she can't read?” The first book symbolized her brother and the last time she saw him. She had perhaps wanted to be able to read and to own more books so that she felt closer to her brother, words are the only connection to him she has left. Another question we came up was; “Why is Death narrating the book?” We thought that it was an interesting and original point of view chosen by the author and that maybe he chose it because Death was invisible and therefore he couldn't affect the story at all. Also, when you think of Death, dark images and horrible incidents but in this book, we see another side of Death, a more compassionate and sensible side of him. We also found another quote, “is there cowardice in the acknowledgment of fear? Is there cowardice in being glad that you lived?” We thought that, no there isn't cowardice in the acknowledgment of fear, in fact recognizing your feelings and emotions can actually make you stronger and more aware. However there is cowardice in being glad that you lived if you ran away from an honorable fight.

  4. Ally, Brianna, and Erin 8B

    In our past couple lit circles, we came up with lots of essential questions, metaphors, and good points. We found it interesting how it was narrated by Death, which rose the question why. We thought that he was trying to show how the holocaust was for him, and trying to show that there were a huge amount of deaths. For example when Death said that his job was getting harder. A few essential questions we thought of were: how come the author decided to have Liesel find The Grave Digger's Handbook instead of a different one? Would she be using this book herself? What happened to the Jewish people who lived in the road of yellow broken stars? And why did he decide to foreshadow so much?

    We were interested on why on the cover Markus Zusak decided to put dominoes. Brianna brought the idea that he could have been trying to personify the domino effect: "And it would show me, once again, that one opportunity leads directly to another, just as risk leads to more risk, life to more life, and death to more death." We noticed also that it seems like death has a bit of "OCD" and likes to be precise. "Duration between said stolen books: 463 days." It seems like he's tracking her or following her.

    We discussed what the colors symbolized. White being the snow, red being death (a.k.a. Death), and black being smoke. We also discussed how Death foreshadowed A LOT and at one point at the beginning of the book Death points out that the time he took Liesel's brother's "soul", it would be 1 of 3 times he'd encounter her - therefore we predict, that possibly, the third time it will be Liesel.

    Some more essentials we came up with were:
    Why does she want to read so much? Does she find refuge in her books?
    How does the Jewish fist-fighter know Hans Hubermann? What is the relationship?
    Why is the mayor's wife's description greatly related to pain and death?
    Why does the mayor's wife let Liesel in again and again to read her books even though she knows she's a thief?

  5. Discussion of Quotes:
    “In years to come he would be a giver of bread, not a stealer-proof again of the contradictory human being”.
    We discussed this quote and in the end we came up with the idea that the contradictory human being is a mix between good and evil.
    “I have seen so many young men over the years who thing they're running at other young men. They are not. They are running at me.”
    Our group came to the conclusion that this quote symbolized that the soldiers fighting their enemies were in fact granting death access to their souls, which would soon be released from their bodies and into death's grasp.
    “Imagine smiling after a slap to the face, then think of doing it 24 hours a day.”
    Our group thought this quote was a metaphor about how difficult it was to harbor a Jew during the Nazi uprising.
    “In the morning he would return to the basement a voiceless human, the Jewish rat back to his hole”.
    Our Lit circle discussed this metaphor and we decided that it expressed that the Nazi's considered the Jewish race as pest, one that the German's were determined to annihilate.

    Essential Questions:
    Why is the price of living, guilt and shame?
    The price of living is guilt and shame ( For Jewish people) for to live, a Jewish person must find shelter and put an innocent family at risk of death.
    Why do you think the author uses foreshadowing?
    The author uses foreshadowing to give the reader a sense of what will happen in the future and to attract their interest.
    Why does Hans take in Max?
    We think Hans gives sanctuary to max because he owes his family a repayment due to the fact that Max's father saved him when he was in world war I.
    What does Liesel think of Max.
    Liesel's curiosity is sparked when Max enters the house.

    Max W., Auriane and Lucile

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  7. Ally, Erin and Brianna
    8B English


    Today, after having read about a hundred pages over the weekend, we did our best to cover as much of our reading as we could. In the long chunk that we read, we were introduced to a new character, Max Vandenburg, a Jew. To give a brief summary, the Hubermann’s and Liesel are living their lives as they normally have been for a year, in hardship, until Max goes to their house seeking refuge. The backstory, which is learned after the author sends Max to the Hubermann’s (another way to add suspense), is that Max’s father and Hans Hubermann fought in WWI together, and after Max’s father died, Hans decided that he wants to help Max, even though he is a Jew. This dangerous decision to keep Max in the house, throws Liesel off at first, but she and Max soon begin to bond over little things they have in common, like their nightmares.

    An idea we discussed in this lit circle was how the narrator, Death, has a way of getting the reader to go along with the ease of the story, but then will totally surprise them with sometimes even less than three suspenseful words. Death, as a narrator, has a way of using fluency in the series of events and he will take the reader away from the hardcore conflict of the book’s setting, and make them distracted by smaller stories. Suddenly, Death will drop a change in the story (primarily reminding the reader of the hardship of the time period and setting) and it makes the reader off guard and makes them think of the story in different ways, especially considering what the next series of events will be. It makes the reader have a whole new perspective on the story and definitely keeps the reader engaged, because a great part of the narrator’s switchups is foreshadowing.

    Another note we found when reading was the divide between Germans and Jews and how no one could be both anymore. Many Jews no longer considered themselves German since Hitler was emphasizing his desire for a civilization that was not Jewish. A quote demonstrating this was when Liesel and Max were together, “They breathed. German and Jewish lungs.” (p. 238). This quote makes us look at the story in more of a global view, instead of just a close-third person. Death reminds us that that Jews and Germans are separate people, and that even though Liesel is having a tough time, there is still much more suffering for the Jews. The author wrote this book focused more on a non-Jewish family, he wanted to remind us that the concentration camps are still happening, and this is a time where life for Jews is worst way of living.

    Finally, we thought up a couple essential questions:
    •Is Death trying to build up the suspense with the overwhelming amount of foreshadowing, or trying to annoy them?
    •What effects does having Death as a narrator have on the book’s plot?

  8. Ally, Erin and Brianna
    8B English


    After having skipped the previous day due to other requirements, we ended up discussing several hundred pages today. In the sixth part of the book, we see a real bond blossom between Liesel and Max, despite their odd circumstance. Max, still hiding in the basement, has decided to make a book for Liesel. This book represents Max and his journey through life. Liesel reads this book (thanks to her reading lessons from Hans and her persistence in finishing the books she has stolen) and discovers a whole new side of Max. But the second time Max makes a book for her, she does not see a light of his words, but the darkness. His book illustrates the struggle of the Jews with the Nazis, an unknown struggle to Liesel. After this chapter of the book, the author turns our attention back to Rudy and Liesel’s relationship. After Arthur, the previous leader of the gang of food thieves, leaves, there is no recognition of that group. But, when Rudy and Liesel find a hunger for thievery, they turn to Viktor, the new leader of the gang. But Viktor, unlike Arthur, finds no trouble in stealing, lying and leaving people behind. After a harsh meeting with Viktor, Rudy and Liesel leave, after having retrieved Liesel’s book which was thrown into the river by Viktor.

    One of the ideas we discussed was the weather and it’s significance to Max. One day, Max, after having stuck in the basement for the past few months, is curious to know what the weather is like outside, so he asks Liesel to give him a weather report. She comes back saying that the sky is blue, except for a rope-like cloud, where the sun rests at the end. Max immediately decides to draw this sky on the wall. “It was Monday, and they walked on a tightrope to the sun.” (p. 249) This is a metaphor to the Hubermann’s and Max’s struggle. They are all trying to get to a better place, a more heavenly place (which is represented by the sun). The tightrope represents the great difficulty that is upon them though, as Germany is cruel to the Hubermann’s and deathly for Max.

    A few of our Essential Questions were the following:
    How does Max's life give Liesel's a purpose?
    How does Germany's invasion of Russia affect the people on Himmel Street so much?
    Why does Ilsa elicit so much anger from Liesel?

  9. Lit Circle #5- Auriane, Lucile, Max


    - “The last thing I wanted was to look at the stranded face of my teenager. A pretty girl. Her whole death was now ahead of her.” We thought that this quote was neatly written, especially the “her whole death was now ahead of her” instead of “her whole life was ahead of her” and how sad was it was that instead of having their life ahead of them, they had their whole death left. At the same time though, living a tortured and discriminated against life is maybe worse than dying.

    Essential Questions:

    - Why does Max's Standover man story signify?
    The story signifies that Max has always a subordinate, always having someone over him. Although the stand over man changed frequently, he didn't. When he came to 33 Himmel Street, he realized that stand over mans were not always men and that sometimes, they could also be women.

    -What does the boxing day-dream of Max represent?
    We thought that Max's daily day-dreams of himself fighting the Fuhrer in a boxing rings represented the constant fight of Jews against the discrimination of Nazi Germany under the lead of Adolf Hitler.

    - What do Max's two sketches signify? p. 279-280
    The first sketch could perhaps means that Hitler's words are so liked by the majority Germans that it is almost like an orchestra responding to their conductor. In the sketch number 2 on page 280, the sun is replaced by the swastica and Leisel and Max are standing over a mound of dead bodies. Leisel is saying “Isn't it a lovely day?”. That sketch could mean and represent a lot of different things with hidden meanings. For example, the sun shines over us like the swastica shines over Germany and the Jews.

  10. Lit Circle #6- Auriane, Lucile, Max

    - “He made three separate formation that led to the same tower of dominoes in the middle. Together, they would watch everything that was so carefully planned collapse, and they would all smile at the beauty of destruction” p.408 “They look like dead bodies” p. 410
    We thought that the dominoes represented Jews, and when the dominoes were standing up perfectly, it represented that their happiness was delicate and that it could easily turn into chaos and destruction at the touch of a finger, or in this case, the interference of Hitler. Also, the mass of dominoes on the floor is compared to the mass of Jews that died during the horrible years of the Holocaust.

    Essential Questions:
    - Why does Ilsa let Liesel steal book from her library?
    We thought that perhaps Ilsa felt extremely bad after she made Liesel lose her job and she thought that by letting Liesel steal books it would in a way make up for what she had done. But by doing so it gave Leisel the wrong impression. She thought that when Ilsa gave her books would make her look weak but by stealing them it would make more satisfied and eager for revenge.

    - What do the stars p. 378 represent?
    “I could see outside. I watch for a few seconds... There were stars”, he said “They burned my eyes” We thought that the stars burning Max's could perhaps be related to the stars of David, which is often associated with Jews. By “they burned my eyes” Max could maybe mean that the sight and apprehension that Jews were being persecuted everywhere tortured him.

  11. Lit Circle #7 Auriane, Lucile, and Max


    - “Make them come back alive,” she repeated. “Please, Lord, please. All of them.” Even the wrinkles around her eyes were joining hands” In this quote we could see that Rosa has changed personalities since the beginning. At first it was as if he didn't even like Hans and it was a bother to live with him. Now though, we see her praying and begging for him to come back alive, loving him. Even her wrinkles were holding hands, praying for him.

    - “A human heart is a line, whereas my [Death] own is a circle” This quote means that eventually human hearts, as lines do, have to end, to die. However, Death's heart, as said in the quote, is a circle, therefore it doesn't end, it keeps on going around and around, Death's doesn't die, despite the irony.

    Essential Question:

    - Why does Liesel's brother keep on appearing (in her imagination) around Ilsa's house?
    We thought that perhaps her brother kept on appearing in her imagination because, in her mind, he never really died, the thought of him is still alive though not growing any more (“she realized that her brother would be six forever” p.473). Also, the reason that he only appears near or around Ilsa's house might be because of the books. Ilsa has a library full of books and the book “The Grave Digger's Handbook” is the only real connection Liesel has left with her brother.

  12. Lit Circle #8:

    “A framed photo of a very serious Fuhrer was bashed and beaten on the shattered floor. Yet he smiled, in that serious way of his. He knew something we all didn't know. But I knew something ˆheˆdidn't know. All while people slept.” This quote signifies how Hitler knows that he is loosing the war. We determined that because of Micheal dying

    “She was still clutching the book. She was holding desperately on to the words who had saved her life.” It is hard to tell how words can save a persons life. Ilsa told her once that food would save your life, words wont. Yet, when she took the ritual to write in her basement every night and the booms came that is was saved her.

    Rudy has bad intentions but always comes out with good ones. When he stole the bread and apples, instead of eating the food, he gave it to hungry Jews. When he wanted to steal something from someones house and brought a teddy bear just in case a child comes by and needs something to calm down. He gave the teddy bear to the dying english pilot.

    Lucile, Auriane, Max W. 8B

  13. Erin, Ally and Brianna
    8B English


    This reading session was a longer assignment than the others, therefore we had more of a general discussion. In this reading, we read about Max. Max and Liesel’s relationship is very strong, and they form more and more bonds. Liesel now bases her life and activities on Max and his welfare. But, as the bombings continue, Max realizes how incredibly dangerous it is with Liesel and the Hubermanns to be keeping Max in their basement. Liesel, after attempting to persuade him to stay, decides to leave the house. He doesn’t say where he goes, or what he will do, all he says is “THE LAST WORDS OF MAX VANDENBURG: You’ve done enough” (page 398).
    We had more essential questions than usual, and only had time to deeply discuss a few of them. One of the questions we discussed was: Why was it a shame that Liesel didn’t tell Rosa that she loved her? Does something happen to Rosa? The part of the book that inspired this essential question was “Liesel held it with soft hands. She stared. ‘Thanks, Mama.’ She embraced her. There was also a great longing to tell Rosa Hubermann that she loved her. It’s a shame she didn’t say it.” (p.443). We decided that it was Death’s way of a foreshadowing, meaning that he was giving us a bit of information on the future of Rosa. And, reviewing past discussion notes, we noticed that Liesel had a rough start with Rosa, and didn’t seem to enjoy her presence. What Death is telling us is that when Liesel is finally accepting and liking Rosa, which is a very rare occurrence, she doesn’t say that she loves her and therefore before Liesel has a moment where she loves Rosa again, Rosa will leave or die. We also noticed that Liesel wanted to say that she loves her “There was also a great longing to tell Rosa Hubermann that she loved her.” We discussed why Liesel didn’t tell her that she loved her, and we concluded that Liesel was afraid that it would ruin their relationship because Rosa might not want such a close bond with her.

    Some Essential Questions:

    What is it about The Whistler that makes Liesel shiver when she reads it?

    How does Liesel know all of a sudden where Max is? Where is Max? (from quote p.441)
    How does Death portray the different opinions of the tragedies of this time period without personally having an opinion?

  14. Erin, Ally and Brianna
    8B English


    We continued on with our reading, and now have discovered that as the war progresses, bombs have been dropped much more often on Molching, therefore Liesel has to spend a lot of her time in the basement of a neighbor, waiting. To spend her time wisely, Liesel decides to read books, and when a particularly large bombing happens one night and everyone is afraid, Liesel reads to everyone. This sparks the attention of a neighbor, and Liesel is soon payed to read to her in her free time in exchange for flour. Death’s description of Liesel’s reaction to doing this made it seem as if Liesel was not particularly happy to be reading in exchange for rations.
    We discussed how Liesel was unhappy with reading to her neighbor for food. We noticed how in the past, this neighbor and Rosa Hubermann have had a rough relationship, and Liesel might feels uncomfortable around her foster mother’s previous enemy. We also noticed how Liesel has a special way with words, and doesn’t feel like they’re something you can buy. Liesel had to learn through her foster parents, and through Death. The beautiful sound of words read by someone is a privilege, and you have to deserve this miracle, not pay for it.
    Another topic we thought about was Liesel’s change now that Max is gone. Obviously Max meant a lot to Liesel, and she was devastated when he left, but we talked about the small changes in her, ones that are hard to notice. A small detail of Liesel’s life is weather. With Max there would be a constant hovering of the weather, from building inside snowmen or just giving a descriptive weather report. Now that Max is gone, Liesel no longer talks about the weather or how it affects her. The author stops describing the weather and whether it has any impact on the story or characters.

    Essential Questions:

    How does Death portray the different opinions of the tragedies of this time period without telling the story through a totally subjective opinion?

  15. I really like the analysis of the imagery in this book and the questions asked like "Why does Death narrate the book?" Maybe it was to show that Death is not just a haunting, looming figure of darkness and despair, but something that should not be as feared. There seems to be this obsession over escaping death, but this might show that even Death feels things. I might go as far to say that Death does have feelings, and that the author uses Death's narration as a way to explain that people should be less afraid of death and embrace it.

  16. Today, our group decided that the book was very morbid, with all the deaths and such. We thought this book should not be read by children under the age of 10, due to its mature content (language) and its depressing events. We also talked about how several of the incidents in this book actually help build important relationships to the story. For example, the fact that Liesel chose to steal a burning book from the fire during Hitler's birthday eventually led her to visiting the mayor's wife every few or every day and reading to her content in her library. We also discussed about Death's narration in this story. We thought that it was an original and creative idea to use him as the character who tells the story. We like his occasional irony, and his way of explaining situations and incidents. FInally, we also discussed about Max Vandenburg, how his arrival complicated the life in Liesel's househould, but also how we saw hints that a potential important relationship could be built between Liesel and Max.