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The Book Thief
by Markus Zusak
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1.Who do you think are the most important characters in "The Book Thief" and what makes them important?
2.Markus Zusak has a unique style of writing. He often uses adjectives and descriptive phrases in unusual ways, e.g., "Rosa 'looked like a small wardrobe with a coat thrown over it,'" or "There were no people on the street anymore. They were rumours carrying bags." Did you notice any particularly evocative phrases that you'd like to share?
3.Death, the omniscient narrator, often foreshadows future events or even acts as a spoiler by telling what actually happens in the future. Do you feel that using a Death as a narrator made this story more compelling? What did it add to the story? Where there any aspects of Death as narrator that did not work or weakened the story?
4.Rosa Hubermann comes across as angry and mean. How did she show her love for Liesel, Max and Hans? Is there someone you know who is like Rosa Hubermann?
5.If you lived in Nazi Germany or a similar war situation, which character in the book do you think you'd be like? Why?
6.Rosa, Hans and Liesel, in sheltering Max, are taking a terrific risk. It seems that Liesel doesn't fully understand the risk at first, and Rosa and Hans threaten her with punishments or the loss of her books. Do you think you would have understood the risk at Liesel's age? If you were a parent, would you agree to hide a refugee if it meant that you or your family members might be hurt or killed?
7.Why are books so important to Liesel? Why was the burning of books so important to the Nazi government? What is the relationship between these two themes in the book?
8.In talking about why he wrote this book, the author says it is based on the experiences of his parents in World War II Europe and the story of an actual "book thief" in his native Australia. These two ideas kept rolling around in his mind, and then he decided to write a fictional story about a girl in Germany. He tried writing it using different character's points of view, but it never seemed to work. Finally, he thought of using "Death" as the narrator. At first that didn't work, but then "it hit me that death should actually be afraid& of us. The irony of this was exciting, and it made perfect sense. Death is on hand to see the greatest crimes and miseries of human life, and I though, What if he tells this story as a way of proving to himself that humans are actually worthwhile?" Do you think the author succeeded? What in the story proves his point?
9.This reading guide was adapted from "Picador Australia: Notes for Reading Groups" by Robyn Sheahan-Bright which can be found at
Author Website:
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