In Death’s diary, it is 1942, and Death claims that he needed a broom or a mop that year as the war moved closer to Himmel Street. Liesel turns thirteen this year, and Max still resides in the basement. It is winter, and she carries down buckets of snow to Max so that they can make a snowman and have a snowball fight. But that night, Max falls terribly ill, and he gets worse over the next couple of months. The Hubermanns move Max upstairs to Liesel’s room, taking care to avoid having anyone see him through the windows. Liesel prays that Max does not die. He sleeps much, and on a few occasions, he opens his eyes and groans. Liesel reads to Max from The Whistler. Rosa finally cannot take Liesel’s worrying and sends her out to play soccer with Rudy.
In the street, a random car passes, crushing the ball, and Liesel carries it home as a present for Max. This starts a string of presents that Liesel brings to Max: a ribbon, a pinecone, a button, a stone. On her way to and from school, Liesel is always on the lookout for new presents: a feather, two newspapers, a candy wrapper. One day, she even gives Max the gift of a cloud in the form of a story during one of her bedside vigils. Liesel gives Max the next couple of gifts, a toy soldier and a leaf, before she finishes reading The Whistler to him.
One afternoon standing near the Amper River, Liesel tells Rudy that she wants to take another book from the mayor’s library. It is a gray March day—perfect for stealing. Liesel and Rudy survey the house and see a light on inside the kitchen. They circle the block a few times on their bicycles, and as it gets late, Liesel decides that she is not leaving without a book. She climbs through the window to the library and steals The Dream Carrier, all the while thinking of Max and the horrors of his life. She and Rudy hurry home. Every day, Liesel reads two chapters of the book. She offers the story to Max in the hopes that it will sustain him. The Hubermanns must have the conversation about what they will do if Max dies. Liesel walks away and simply says, “He’s not dead yet.” Later, Rosa shows up at Liesel’s school and pretends to scold her for stealing a hairbrush, but she reveals that Max is now awake. At home, Max is sitting up holding the deflated soccer ball. Liesel tells him of her nightmares, then reads to him until he falls asleep. And although Liesel feels a great relief that Max is on the mend, she is unaware that the war is coming.
At the end of May, 500 people die from bombs dropped on Cologne. Meanwhile on Himmel Street, Liesel and Rudy have found a new soccer ball, so the games continue. The Nazis enter town and paint several doors to identity them as air raid shelters. The Hubermanns have only a minute to make a plan about what they will do with Max should their home be searched as a possible designated shelter. A knock on the door—they are too late. Max is hiding underneath the basement steps, and the Nazi officers search and measure the basement. Luckily, Max is not found, and Rosa nearly faints when the officers leave the house.
That summer, many die in Auschwitz, and Death carries them away, one by one.