Author: J.K. Rowling
Genre: Children’s Literature; Fantasy
Publisher: Scholastic (US); Bloomsbury (UK)
Published: June 2, 1999 (US); July 2, 1998 (UK)
Number of Pages: 341
The good news? Harry Potter survived his first year at Hogwarts. The scary news? He still has 6 more to go. And someone set a monster loose in the castle. And pretty much everybody thinks Harry did it. Go figure.
The Book Thief
Author: Markus Zusak
Genre: YA historical
Number of Pages: 584
Growing up is complicated. Growing up in Nazi Germany is more complicated. In the winter of 1939, nine-year-old Liesel Meminger is taken by the state from her communist parents so that she will be brought up to be a “true” German. Despite the government’s efforts, however, Liesel is exposed to non-Nazi ideology and encouraged to make her own opinions. (Though she must keep those opinions to herself at all times.)
*NOTE: This was a very eye-opening book for me. It helped me understand for the first time why so many regular everyday Germans went along with Hitler and the Nazis. I also appreciated that it managed to show the human side of these people without completely exonerating them from guilt—these people were just cogs in the machine, but they were still part of the Nazi war machine.
The Ties That Bind
Warning: Spoilers follow for Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. Nothing from the later books in the series will be discussed. Mild spoilers in the form of details and plot points for The Book Thief are contained below, but nothing major from that book will be discussed. Due to the natures of these stories, it is impossible to point out the connections between them without including these details.
In both books, a young girl comes across a book she definitely is not supposed to have. Once she has the book, it changes everything—though in ways that the people around her often don’t notice or suspect the reason for.
In The Book Thief, Liesel steals her first book from the cemetery where her brother is buried. With the help of this contraband, she painstakingly learns to read. From there, Liesel broadens her horizons and ideas beyond Himmel Street with the help of books that are gifted, borrowed, or stolen from a host of unlikely sources.
In Harry Potter & the Chamber of Secrets, Ginny Weasley finds a small diary amongst her second-hand school books. When Ginny tries to write in this diary, she is delighted to find that the diary writes back. Grateful for someone to confide in, Ginny pours her whole heart and soul into the diary—little-suspecting that diary may likewise be pouring a bit of itself into her.
On another note, it is interesting that in both situations, coming in contact with these books puts Liesel and Ginny on the radar of an unnatural being. Liesel’s exploits attract the attention of the Angel of Death, who narrates the book by Markus Zusak, though he does not interfere in the young girl’s life. In Ginny’s case, well, let’s just say that the diary she found isn’t just a diary.
Harry Potter & the Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling and The Ticking is the Bomb by Nick Flynn