Nancy Keane's Booktalks -- Quick and Simple

Zusak, Marcus. 
New York : Knopf , Distributed by Random House, c2006.
ISBN 0375831002

(3 booktalks)

Click on the book to read Amazon reviews
 Booktalk #1

"First the colors.
Then the humans.
That's usually how I see things.
Or at least, how I try.

You are going to die.

I am in all truthfulness attempting to be cheerful about this whole topic, though most people find themselves hindered in believing me, no matter my protestations. Please, trust me. I most definitely can be cheerful. I can be amiable. Agreeable. Affable. And that's only the A's. Just don't ask me to be nice. Nice has nothing to do with me.

***Reaction to the ***
Does this worry you?
I urge you--don't be afraid.
I'm nothing if not fair.

--Of course, an introduction.

A beginning.

Where are my manners?

I could introduce myself properly, but it's not really necessary. You will know me well enough and soon enough, depending on a diverse range of variables. It suffices to say that at some point in time, I will be standing over you, as genially as possible. Your soul will be in my arms. A color will be perched on my shoulder. I will carry you gently away."
Death serves as knowing narrator for this tale, which is framed much like a lengthy flashback. The storytelling aspects of the book and   foreshadowing about what eventually happens to the various lead characters embraces the heart of things here-the rather small and ordinary saga of 10-year-old Liesel Meminger, who has been given over to a foster family following her mother's branding as a "Kommunist" and the death of her younger brother. Under her foster parents' care, she learns how to read, how to keep terrifying secrets and how to hone her skills as a book thief, a practice that keeps her sane and feeds her newfound love of words. This is a tale of Germans and Jews under unfathomable duress and the ripple effect such circumstances have on their lives.   (Rhode Island Teen Book Award nominee 2007-2008)

Booktalk #2

Death himself narrates the story of Liesel, a German girl left with foster parents just before the outbreak of World War II. Along the way to her new home with her younger brother, he dies, and after the funeral Liesel steals The Gravedigger's Handbook, though she cannot yet read. It is only the first of what will become a series of book thefts. 

As she settles in with her harsh but caring foster mother, Rosa, and kind foster father, Hans, she gets to know her poor neighborhood and learns to read. Her obsession with books grows as the war closes in, rationing is put in place, air raids begin, and Hans takes in a Jewish man to hide in the basement. And through it all, Death travels the Earth, taking in more and more souls every day.
From CommonSense Media  (Georgia Peach Book Award for Teen Readers, 2007-2008)

Booktalk #3

I only met the book thief three times, yet she was one of the few who intrigued me to the state that I keep her story to retell to myself. 
The first time it was white, blindingly so, and I had come to harvest the soul of her brother who had died on the train while her mother was taking the two of them to be raised by someone else. When one of the men who buried her brother dropped a book, the girl picked it up and took it with her. It would be the book from which she learned to read, the grave diggerís handbook. 
The second time was black, the darkest moment before the dawn when I arrived early (or he hung on longer than expected and died late) to harvest the soul of the pilot. A boy arrived and took a teddy bear from a box he carried and placed it on the pilotís chest. The book thief arrived about a half minute later. 
The third and last time I saw the book thief, the sky was red and the sirens came too late for the bombs. Bodies everywhere like driftwood after the flood. I was just about to leave when I saw the book thief there clutching a book, her diary. She dropped the book, knelt and howled. 
The book, her journal, was thrown aboard a garbage truck at which time I retrieved it for future viewing. One of a handful. Come with me and I will tell you the story. It is set in Nazi Germany before, and during the Second World War. It is happy and sad. It is tragedy and hope. It is a life and an attempt to prove that human existence is worth it.
(Sam Marsh, Colorado Blue Spruce Young Adult Book Award Nominees 2009) 

SUBJECTS:     Germany -- History -- Fiction.
                        Books and reading -- Fiction.
                        Storytelling -- Fiction.
                        Death -- Fiction.
                        Jews -- Germany -- History -- Fiction.
                        World War, 1939-1945 -- Jews -- Rescue -- Fiction.
                        Historical fiction.

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