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In The Book Thief what books does Liesel steal, what is the importance of each book?

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q4242 | Student, Grade 9 | eNotes Newbie

Posted February 11, 2010 at 8:01 AM via web

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In The Book Thief what books does Liesel steal, what is the importance of each book?

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mrs-campbell | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted February 11, 2010 at 8:57 AM (Answer #1)

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The very first book that Liesel steals is called The Gravedigger's Handbook, and she snags it from a cemetery, close to a grave that an actual employee had been digging.  In this rather dry and morbid book, it gives very specific instructions on how to properly dig graves, place coffins inside, and maintain a cemetary and grave sites.  It is a how-to book for cemetary employees.  This book is the one that Liesel learns how to read with, under the patience guidance of her foster father, Hans.

This book is a significant choice for a couple reasons.  The first is that she grabbed after the burial of her own little brother.  So, that the book is about graves and burial is a fitting theme, since that is something that Liesel was very, very familiar with at that time in her life.  This is also an interesting grab because the narrator of her own story is death itself, another element that is closely associated with graves.

Another book that she steals is from the pile of burning books at one of the frenzied Hitler youth rallies that was being held in her town's courtyard.  This is significant because it was a direct act of defiance against the Hitler youth; if he had been caught, there could have been serious repercussions.  It is also interesting, because they only burned books that were considered unpatriotic, or that went against the Nazi idealogue.  And here is Liesel, a member of their very own party, desiring to read a book that they had singled out for burning because of its dangerous ideals.

Other books after this come directly from the home of the governer's house, which again, if she had been held accountable for, would have resulted in serious consequences.  She gets lucky, and finds a sympathetic friend in the governer's wife.  All of the books that she ends up stealing are either acts of rebellion that could have been dangerous for her, or that fit in with her life and the story itself. I hope that those thoughts helped; good luck!

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dkdoodle | Student, Grade 10 | eNotes Newbie

Posted March 18, 2011 at 10:41 AM (Answer #2)

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she also stole the whistler, she got the mud man also

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grace7809 | Student, Grade 9 | eNotes Newbie

Posted March 8, 2010 at 8:25 AM (Answer #3)

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I just wasnted to say that the book from the fire is called The Shoulder Shrug

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askinquestions | Student, Grade 9 | eNoter

Posted August 16, 2012 at 12:39 PM (Answer #4)

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graedigger's handbook, the whistler, and the shoulder shrug, the rest come from the mayor's wife's library

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jennaesther | Student, Grade 11 | eNotes Newbie

Posted September 5, 2012 at 7:25 PM (Answer #5)

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what is the significance of the title of the whistler?

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