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Unformatted text preview: sure her brother was buried right. Whatever the reason, her hunger to read
that book was as intense as any ten-year-old human could experience.
Chapter one was called “The First Step: Choosing the Right Equipment.” In a short introductory passage, it
outlined the kind of material to be covered in the following twenty pages. Types of shovels, picks, gloves, and
so forth were itemized, as well as the vital need to properly maintain them. This grave digging was serious.
As Papa flicked through it, he could surely feel Liesel’s eyes on him. They reached over and gripped him,
waiting for something, anything, to slip from his lips.
“Here.” He shifted again and handed her the book. “Look at this page and tell me how many words you can
She looked at it—and lied.
“Read some for me.” But of course, she couldn’t. When he made her point out any words she could read and
actually say them, there were only three—the three main German words for “the.” The whole page must have
had two hundred words on it.
This might be harder than I thought.
She caught him thinking it, just for a moment.
He lifted himself forward, rose to his feet, and walked out.
This time, when he came back, he said, “Actually, I have a better idea.” In his hand, there was a thick painter’s
pencil and a stack of sandpaper. “Let’s start from scratch.” Liesel saw no reason to argue. In the left corner of an upturned piece of sandpaper, he drew a square of perhaps an inch and shoved a capital A
inside it. In the other corner, he placed a lowercase one. So far, so good.
“A,” Liesel said.
“A for what?”
She smiled. “Apfel.”
He wrote the word in big letters and drew a misshapen apple under it. He was a housepainter, not an artist.
When it was complete, he looked over and said, “Now for B.”
As they progressed through the alphabet, Liesel’s eyes grew larger. She had done this at school, in the
kindergarten class, but this time was better. She was the o...
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- Winter '13