The Book Thief Summer Profile Project

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The Book Thief Summer Profile Project

The message behind this image is similar to a theme in Zusak’s novel; words are powerful. The water spewing from the two people’s mouths could be a metaphor for the dual purposes behind words. The darker water represents the negative, darker purposes humans use words such as the way Hitler and the Nazi’s used propaganda. The clear water represents the positive purposes humans use words such as creating friendships and comforting others. The image gives rise to a few questions. Is one more powerful than the other? Can the darker stream be cleaned away with the clear stream? Can the clear stream be tainted by coming into contact with the darker stream? The image gives us a concrete way to image our words and think about their effect before we spew…err…speak them.

Main Genre: Historical FictionCharacteristics: Based on true events in history (Holocaust/WWII), but fictionalized because 1) Death is narrating and 2) invented charactersSub-Genre: Holocaust Literature#strong_female #orphan #power_of_words #tear-jerker #death_speaks

Zusak, Markus. The Book Thief. New York: Knopf, 2005. Print.

Facts About the Author 1. From Down-Under (Australia)and has published 5 books2. Zusak's mother was originally from Germany during the Holocaust, and her stories about her childhood often served as an inspiration in The Book Thief3. His book I Am the Messenger was originally published as The Messenger in the Australia, but Zusak was forced to change the title during publication in the U.S. because Lois Lowry (of The Giver) was publishing a book by the same title at the same time4. Keeps a regular routine when writing - set work hours, room in a set order, etc.5. Favorite young adult books include The Outsiders and Rumble Fish by S.E Hinton, What’s Eating Gilbert Grape by Peter Hedges and Catch-22 by Joseph Heller6. The Book Thief is classified as Young Adult in the U.S. but Adult in Australia

The Book Thief

Blurb All About It!Knock-Knock. "Who’s there?" Death, and he’s talking! Get the exclusive, insider scoop as Death recounts his front-row seat to the tragedy and the beauty he witnessed during the Holocaust. Death narrates the story of Liesel Meminger, a young orphan girl who befriends a Jewish young man hiding in her adopted family’s basement. Through Liesel’s story, Death relates a powerful coming-of-age story full of tragic life truths, beautiful human interactions, and a few surprises along the way. There’s bread-eating, book-stealing, and accordion-playing, all while highlighting the duality of mankind, the true cost of destruction and war, and the power of words.

Word Studyaffable – adj. friendly, good-natured, or easy to talk to “I most definitely can be cheerful. I can be amiable. Agreeable. Affable.” p. 3Saumensch – n. German profanity roughly translated to mean a filthy female pig.“Before we make it to any of that, we first need to tour Liesel Meminger’s beginnings on Himmel Street and the art of saumensching.” p. 30spurt – n. a sudden, intense action or gushing (as in a stream)“There was an intense spurt of coughing.” p. 20Frau – n. title for a married German woman“The foster care lady, Frau Heinrich, turned around and smiled.” p.21vehement – adj. showing strong and often angry feelings : very emotional“In the beginning, it was the profanity that made an immediate impact. It was so vehement and prolific.” p. 32prolific – adj. producing a large amount of something“In the beginning, it was the profanity that made an immediate impact. It was so vehement and prolific.” p. 32Saukerl – n. German profanity roughly translated to mean a filthy male pig.“STOP THAT NOISE, SAUKERL!” p. 37spillage – n. an occurrence in which something is spilled accidentally“Usually it was like spillage – cold and heave, slippery and gray – but once in a while some stars had the nerve to rise and float, if only for a few minutes.” p. 44flippant – adj. lacking proper respect or seriousness“If you were being flippant about it, you’d say that all it took was a little fire, really, and some human shouting to go with it.” p. 83pensive – adj. quietly sad or thoughtful“Andy Schmeikl walked across and studied her, up and down, his face pensive before breaking into a gaping smile.” p. 151conglomerate – adj./n. made up of parts from various sources or of various kinds“Names were called out to apartments from the streets below, and soon, the whole conglomerate of Arthur Berg’s fruit-stealing troop was on its way to the Amper.” p. 163proffer – v. to offer or give (something) to someone “After informing them of his departure, he managed to proffer a last pimply smile and to cuff each of them on the forehead.” p. 166paradox – n. a statement or situation that seems to say two opposite things but that may be true“He was the second snowman to be melting away before her eyes, only this was one was different. It was a paradox.” p. 317lankier – adj. (form of lanky) tall and thin with usually an awkward quality“Liesel walked hurriedly to remain in step with the lankier stride of her neighbor.” p. 453bereaved – adj./ n. sad because a family member or friend has recently died“Michael Holtzapfel was buried and the book thief read to the bereaved.” p. 506END List

Awards & Honors2006 Sydney Morning Herald’s Young Australian Novelist of the Year Award2006 National Jewish Book Award for Children’s and Young Adult Literature2006 Commonwealth Writers Prize for Best Book2006 Bulletin Blue Ribbon Book2006 Horn Book Fanfare2006 Kirkus Reviews Editor Choice Award2006 School Library Journal Best Book of the Year2006 IRA Notable Books for a Global Society2007 Book Sense Children's Pick List2007 ALA Best Books for Young Adults2007 Publishers Weekly Best Children's Book of the Year2007 New York Public Library Books for the Teen Age2007 Michael L. Printz Honor Book2007 Book Sense Book of the Year2010 Teen Read Award Nominee for Best All-Time-Fave2010 Abraham Lincoln Award Nominee 2014 Kathleen Mitchell Award, Margaret A. Edwards AwardTranslated into more than forty languages375 weeks on the New York Times bestseller listTop five bestsellers in the UK 2013 film adaptation (directed by Emmy Award-winning Brian Percival of Downton Abbey)2013 film honors include:AACTA International Awards nominee for Best Supporting ActorAcadamy Awards nominee Best Original ScoreBritish Academy Film Awards Nominee Best Film MusicCritics' Choice Movie Awards nominee Best Young Actor/ActressGolden Globe Awards nominee Best Original ScoreSatelllite Awards nominee Best Supporting Actress & Best Original ScoreSatellite Awards winner NewcomerHollywood Film Awards Spotlight WinnerPhoenix Film Critics Society winner Best Performance by a Female Youth in a Lead or Supporting RoleYoung Artist Awards winner Best Leading Actress in a Feature Film

You May Also Like...(click on titles for more info)Maus by Art Spiegelman(Biography/Autobiography/Holocaust Literature/Graphic Novel)#Holocaust #interesting_POVMilkweed by Jerry Spinelli(Historical Fiction/Holocaust Literature)#Holocaust #orphan #power_of_wordsFahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury(Science Fiction/Dystopian/Classics)#book_burning #book_stealing #power_of_wordsA Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini (Historical Fiction/Contemporary Literature/Adult Literature)#strong_female #survival_story #tear-jerkerThe Color of Magic/Discworld Series by Terry Pratchett(Fantasy/Science Fiction/Humor/Children's Literature)#death_speaks #literary_elements

Theme:Words are powerful; they can destroy, heal, and empower.

Point of View:Death is personified in the novel and serves as the novel's narrator. This choice of an immortal and mystical entity as a narrator allows the point of view to shift, from first-person omniscient to the 3rd person limited. This shifting allows the reader to observe some scenes with empathy for the characters and other scenes with emotional distance. This unique perspective also allows Zusak to create a humanistic version of Death who inserts humor, wit, and irony into the novel. The narrator’s immortality often creates an ironic and melancholy view of humanity and emphasizes the mortality of humankind. Zusak consistently uses an emphasis on mortality throughout the novel to highlight the destructive and pointless consequences of violence, war, and cruelty.

Significant Quotes 1. “HERE IS A SMALL FACT: You are going to die.” p. 3 This quote, spoken by Death, reflects Zusak’s emphasis on the mortality of man. It also illustrates irony only achievable by choosing Death as a narrator. He refers to death as a “small” fact.2. “I’ve seen so many young men over the years who think they’re running at other young men. They are not. They’re running at me.” p. 174-175 In this quote, Death points out that men cause death. This goes back to Zusak’s characterization of Death as a person who is simply fulfilling the demands of a job. It also points to Zusak’s emphasis on the consequences of violence and war.3. “The words. Why did they have to exist? Without them, there wouldn't be any of this. Without words, the Führer was nothing.” p. 521 This quote speaks to the book’s theme of the power of words. Specifically, the quote points out the way Hitler used their persuasive powers for destruction and propaganda.


My ReactionThe novel revived my belief that Holocaust literature can be interesting. After a string of powerful-yet-lackluster Holocaust novels from my 8th and 9th grade experiences, my reluctance towards Holocaust literature caused me to delay The Book Thief towards the end of my summer reading. However, the novel was refreshing from page one. It made my English-teacher-heart sing with its interesting point of view, emphasis on the power of words, use of color symbolism, and its timeless conflicts. At first, the bold headings drove me crazy, but as I continued to read, it grew on me. While Liesel is arguably the protagonist of Zusak's novel, Zusak's brilliance as a writer ensures that each character is dynamic, fully-developed, and human. Each character possesses its own set of motivations and quirks with which I could identify as a reader. This makes it hard for me to pick a favorite character because each character strikes a chord that resonates in my own life. In Liesel, I admire her humble beginnings and self-motivated quest for learning. In Max, I empathize with his wrestling with guilt in making hard choices. Death appeals to my cynical side. Rosa reminds me not to always hide behind my “tough skin.” I respect Hans’ selflessness and kindness towards others. As an adult, I am nostalgic of Rudy’s youthful naivety and innocence, and as a teacher, I am inspired by Ilsa Hermann and the influence her love of literature has in Liesel’s life.

"Book Burning Exhibit Teaches about Literary Atrocities" by Justin JacobsThe Jewish ChronicleThe article introduces a traveling exhibit that debuted at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Philadelphia called "Fighting the Fires of Hate: America and the Nazi Book Burnings.” The exhibit features photos, videos, and information about authors and books burned by the Nazis (such as Ernest Hemingway, Karl Marx, Sigmund Fraud, and Helen Keller). It explains the exhibit's mission is to educate how Hitler and the Nazi regime used book burnings to control the ideas and minds of a nation. The article directly relates to a message in The Book Thief in its emphasis on the power of words. It even relates this message to modern issues of book banning and book burnings.Jacobs, Justin. "Book Burning Exhibit Teaches about Literary Atrocities." The Jewish Chronicle. Jewish Chronicle. 21 Oct. 2010. Web. 7 July 2014.

Praise/Criticism"The writing is elegant, philosophical and moving. Even at its length, it’s a work to read slowly and savor. Beautiful and important."from "Review of The Book Thief by Markus Zusak." Kirkus Reviews. Kirkus Reviews, 15 Jan. 2006. Web. 7 July 2014."Many teenagers will find the story too slow to get going, which is a fair criticism. But it's the kind of book that can be life-changing, because without ever denying the essential amorality and randomness of the natural order, The Book Thief offers us a believable, hard-won hope. "fromGreen, John. "Fighting for Their Lives: The Book Thief by Markus Zusak." The New York Times. The New York Times Company, 14 May 2006. Web. 7 July 2014."Markus Zusak has not really written Harry Potter and the Holocaust. It just feels that way. The Book Thief is perched on the cusp between grown-up and young-adult fiction, and it is loaded with librarian appeal. It deplores human misery. It celebrates the power of language. It may encourage adolescents to read. It has an element of the fanciful. And it's a book that bestows a self-congratulatory glow upon anyone willing to grapple with it."fromMaslin, Janet. "Stealing to Settle a Score With Life: The Book Thief by Markus Zusak." The New York Times. The New York Times Company, 27 March 2006. Web. 7 July 2014.



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