The Book Thief: A Visual Adaption Commentary

The Book Thief is a fiction novel depicting the journey a young orphan, Liesel Meminger, during World War 2. Written by Australian author Markus Zusak the book has won numerous awards and was listed on The New York Times Best Seller list for over 230 weeks.[1] Janet Maslin of New York Times wrote of The Book Thief ‘It will be widely read and admired because it tells a story in which books become treasures. And because there’s no arguing with a sentiment like that.’ [2]

Markus Zusak created something that completely resonated with me, I couldn’t put my finger on it for a very long time but he managed to write about a time that everyone in the world new of or was about to and had experienced. He managed to put a unique spin on it and has said ‘One was about a burning sky when the city was bombed. The other was about a boy being whipped on the street for giving a starving Jewish man a piece of bread. The man sank to his knees and thanked the boy, but the bread was stripped away and both the taker of the bread and the giver were punished. This showed me that there was another side to Nazi Germany, and it was a side I wanted to write about.'[3] Not only that but this was the first book that I couldn’t put down and until 2013, when the novel came to life by 20th Century Fox, I really wanted to have a visual representation. Christian Vandendorpe suggests that images ‘present the senses with a vision of an immediate reality.’[4]

I wanted to create this reality and I wanted to do it in a creative way than how I would usually work. I had already seen a project by someone in a previous year that had done drawings and then connected them to parts of the book. I thought that this was such a beautiful way to recreate something and I’m quite strong at drawing and wanted to do something I’d have fun with as well as share my own thoughts on the book and what I took away from it. Aristotle said ‘The aim of art is to not represent the outward appearance of things, but their inward significance'[5]

What’s digital about drawings? These drawings will also be paired with an instagram account. Social media has become such a huge part of society and allows for a little more interaction with the content, it allows for people to comment and to also take what they want from the images. Of course the images as a collective will tell they story but I also want each image individually to have its own message, this could be different for everyone that looks at them, something that I love about this project.

This will also then be connected with a website. The website will delve deeper into the book giving the reader a chance to look at character profiles. It will also show the process of drawing and colouring the images in a set of time-lapse videos. There will also be explanation as to how the website and the instagram account is used.

With the combination of all the aspects I am hoping to create something that people will be interested in and enjoy experiencing. It will also show my creativity, something I have not done with my work before.

[1]Wikipedia [Online] Available from: [5 April 2015]

[2]Janet Maslin. The New York Times, 2006. [Online] Available from: [5 April 2015]

[3]Markus Zusak. [Online] Available from: [5 April 2015]

[4] Vandendorpe, Christian From Papyrus to Hypertext: Toward the Universal Digital Library. Illinois: Uinversity of Illinois Press, 2009. p. 95.

[5]Carolyn McDowell. The Culture Concept Circle, 2011. [Online] Available from: [5 April 2015]



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