Book Review: The Book Thief

by Melissa on January 13, 2010 · 0 comments

in 14-17, ATOS 5.0-5.9, Historical Fiction, Lexile 700-799

Title: The Book Thief
Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf
Author:Markus Zusak
Lexile: [?] 730L
ATOS Level: [?] 5.1
Parent Rating:
VN:F [1.9.7_1111]
Rating: 5.0/5 (1 vote cast)
GO For Ages: 14-17


Trying to make sense of the horrors of World War II, Death relates the story of Liesel-a young German girl whose book-stealing and story-telling talents help sustain her family and the Jewish man they are hiding, as well as their neighbors.


For the time in history the book covers, the content is very mild.  And not particularly morbid or dark, especially considering that the narrator is Death.  Appropriate for the age-range.


Level 1, 2, 3 [?]

Sexual Content

A boy continually asks a girl for a kiss, but she doesn’t kiss him until he dies unexpectedly.


Grownups smoke and cigarettes are used as money. Grownups drink champagne and a girl tries some.  Men ‘drank themselves into oblivion.”


The narrator of the story is Death, who recounts various times and circumstances he collects the souls of people.  A man is beaten for helping a Jewish prisoner who had fallen.  A family who hides a Jewish man is constantly afraid of being discovered.  A solider who has returned from the war hangs himself, and there is some description of how he does it.


Anti-Jewish sentiment is pervasive to the culture of the time the book is set in.  Word usage: anti-Semitism.  ‘Any thing’s better then being a Jew.’  Kids steal food on multiple occasions.  Liesel steals books.  There is a cartoon drawing in the book that depicts a couple walking over a pile of dead bodies, oblivious to them.  Death tells of collecting the souls of many Jewish people ‘minute after minute, shower after shower’.  Mention of several of the concentration camps.


‘Jesus’, ‘Christ’ used as swear words.  Use of ‘Jesus, Mary and Joseph’ as an exclamation.

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Book Review: The Book Thief, 5.0 out of 5 based on 1 rating

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