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The Book Thief

The film version of The Book Thief provides a good introduction to the history of the Holocaust from a different point of view. This story focuses on a German girl who’s adopted by two older Germans, good Germans who hide a young Jewish man from the Nazi’s.

The young actress, Sophie Nélisse, gives a fine performance as the heroine Liselle, who was dropped off with a married couple who had expected a boy and a girl, but Liselle’s brother died on the journey. Thus Rosa, the grouchy foster mother, (Emily Watson) shows her pettiness from the start as she harps about the loss of income, while Hans, the kind foster father (Geoffrey Rush) shows his good side and thus sweetens life for Liselle, whom he teaches to read.

The story shows life in Nazi Germany from the German side, which I’ve never seen before. It does show the horrors of the book burning and the rounding up of Jews, but there’s nothing about the concentration camps. Thus it is a fitting introduction for children to this evil period of history.

One troubling part of the story was that when Liselle’s town is bombed by the Allies, it’s implied that that was bad, and it was because people were killed, but overall, it wasn’t worse than what the Germans did to much of Europe. I wonder if young viewers would find it perplexing that the “Good Guys” caused death. I know that’s how the world works, but would tweens get it?

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