In September and November, two important things happen.
First, in the beginning of September, World War II begins. Germany invades Poland, and England and France declare war on Germany.
Hitler's voice is all over the radio. The news of war is all over the papers. Food and other goods are rationed.
Liesel is about to begin some fighting as well.
In spite of her recent adventures in reading, she isn't reading well in school.
When she becomes too disruptive in the younger kid's class, she's moved up to a class of her peers. But not without getting more than one "Watschen (pronounced 'varchen') (12.17) out in the hall. A Watschen is a beating.
In November, there's an oral reading exam. Sister Maria (her teacher, a nun) is calling students' names.
She calls Rudy and Liesel is impressed with his reading.
When Sister Maria doesn't call Liesel, Rudy volunteers her.
Sister Maria tells Rudy that Liesel isn't ready.
But, Liesel says she can do it.
When she gets to the head of the class, and looks at the page she's supposed to read from, she can't see anything at all.
Instead, a passage from The Grave Digger's Handbook occurs to her. It's a passage about how to bury someone when it's snowing. She recites the passage for the class.
Sister Maria doesn't like this at all, and Liesel gets another Watschen.
During the break Ludwig Schmeikl starts teasing Liesel. He asks her to help him with his reading and say, "You Dummkopf – you idiot" (12. 55).
Liesel grabs the book, tosses it aside, then commences to beat up Ludwig Schmeikl.
When she's sitting on him she says, "You Saukerl. […] You Arschloch. Can you spell Arschloch for me?" (12.62).
Liesel almost beats him to death.
At one moment, she sees Tommy Müller smiling.
(Tommy is the twitching boy who suffered from ear infections.)
She starts thrashing him, too.
When Sister Maria sees what's happened to Ludwig, she looks at the kids' knuckles to see who has blood.
When she discovers Liesel's bloody knuckles, she gives her a severe Watschen.
The horror of the day and the loss of her family hit Liesel hard as she's walking home with the Steiners.
She breaks down on the street and begins to cry.
It starts raining. Rudy stays with her.
She asks him, "Why did he have to die?" (12.82) (meaning her brother Werner).
Rudy can't answer her. He waits until she's done and then they walk home to Himmel Street.