Study Guide

The Book Thief Chapter 67

By Markus Zusak

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Chapter 67

The Hidden Sketchbook

  • Several days before Christmas, 1942, there's another air raid.
  • Although Molching isn't hit, the residents of Himmel Street go the bomb shelter.
  • People are looking at Liesel, and she remembers Hans telling her to continue reading aloud to the neighbors in the bomb shelter.
  • But, she waits until she's certain they want to be read to.
  • Rudy is the voice of the neighborhood: "Read, Saumensch" (67.6).
  • Back at home, Rosa takes Liesel over to her bed. The mattress has been cut, and sewn back, nothing the naked eye would probably detect.
  • She cuts the stitches, puts in her hand. She removes Max's sketchbook.
  • She says, "I think you've always been ready, Liesel. From the moment you arrived […] you were meant to have this" (67.10).
  • The sketchbook's title is printed on the cover: "THE WORD SHAKER, A Small Collection of Thoughts for Liesel Meminger" (67.13).
  • She hugs Rosa and wants to tell her she loves her but, unfortunately, does not.
  • Liesel wants to read the book in the basement, but Rosa says it's too cold.
  • There's no way she'll risk Liesel getting sick.
  • So, Liesel reads in the kitchen.
  • There are sketches about his time on Himmel Street, and about Germany, and Hitler, and his family.
  • When Liesel gets to page 117 she finds the actual Word Shaker.
  • There's a note on the page before, from Max, saying that he'd almost destroyed this story, afraid it's too much of a kid's story for her.
  • He changed his mind though and now he thinks it's a good story for everybody.
  • (The rest of this chapter is The Word Shaker. It's illustrated, and really cool, so definitely check it out in your book. Now on with the summary of The Word Shaker.)
  • The Word Shaker begins with an odd man with an odd mustache and a desire to "rule the world" (67.29).
  • When he's in the park one day, he sees a lady say things to her little boy that make the little boy cry.
  • The woman says more words and the little boy feels better.
  • The man hugs the woman for showing him the things he needs: "Words!" (67.31).
  • Words are all he needs to rule the world.
  • He's smart and decides to "plant words in as many areas of his homeland as possible" (67.37).
  • He spends all his time planting words and helping them grow.
  • Soon, the words grow into forests throughout Germany.
  • In addition to growing words, the man grows symbols.
  • The people are "hypnotized" (67.39) and can't get enough of the terrible words or the symbols.
  • The forests grow large and lots of people need to work in them and care for them.
  • Some people need to go to the tops of the word trees and shake down the words.
  • The people who catch them give them to the rest of Hitler's people.
  • The more skilled word shakers know how strong the words are and therefore can climb higher.
  • One of these very skilled word shakers is a girl.
  • She knows that a person who doesn't have words doesn't have much control over his/her own life. She loves words and wants them very badly.
  • One day this girl meets someone. The young man was born in Germany, but now he is hated here.
  • The word shaker and the man make friends.
  • One day, she cries, just one tear, on his face.
  • It is a tear made up of the word "friendship" (67.45).
  • When the tear dries it is a seed, and the word shaker plants it in the forest.
  • It begins to grow, and soon it's taller than the other trees.
  • (One of the illustrations shows a tree with the words "hatred" and fear" growing from the branches of Hitler's trees. Swastikas grow from other branches.)
  • When the Führer comes, he demands that the tree be cut down right away.
  • The word shaker protests and she's grabbed by the Führer's people.
  • He calls for an axe.
  • The word shaker breaks free and begins climbing the tree.
  • As she climbs, the Führer hits the tree with the axe.
  • But, the axe has no impact.
  • Soon, the word-shaker makes it to the top of the tree, high up in the clouds.
  • The Führer wears himself out trying to chop down the tree, and eventually has to stop.
  • He orders in a replacement.
  • Days turn into weeks and almost two hundred soldiers try to chop down the tree.
  • People wonder how she stays alive without food. The people don't know it, but other word shakers throw food and other things into the branches of her tree.
  • She climbs to those lower branches to get it.
  • Through rain, snow, and the various seasons, the word shaker stays in the tree.
  • The men with the axes tell her they will chop no more and invite her down.
  • But, she stays, because she knows the tree will fall if she leaves it.
  • After some time, a new "axman" (67.57) comes to the forest looking for the tree.
  • They tell him that nobody can make the word shaker come out of the tree.
  • He takes out a hammer, and they laugh at him.
  • He begins hammering nails into the tree, and then he climbs it.
  • The word shaker is sleeping, and the young man watches her.
  • When she wakes up she says, "Is it really you?" (67.68).
  • It is, and they stay in the tree talking.
  • After some time, they climb down.
  • When they touch the ground, the marks from the axes begin to show and the tree begins to shake.
  • It is miles high, and it soon falls across the forest of the Führer's word trees.
  • The tree "could never destroy" the whole forest, "but if nothing else, a different-colored path was carved through it" (67.78).
  • The word shaker and the young man begin walking on the "horizontal tree" (67.78), occasionally stopping to listen to "voices and words" they think they hear behind them.
  • (End The Word Shaker.)
  • Wondering where Max is, Liesel falls asleep. Rosa wakes her, and Liesel takes the sketch book with her to bed.
  • A couple of hours later she wakes up, thinking she knows where Max is.
  • She falls back asleep and dreams about the word shaker's tree.

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