Saratoga County

Clifton Park-Halfmoon’s first ‘Two Towns’ choice: “The Book Thief”

Clifton Park-Halfmoon Library’s first community book follows a girl in Nazi Germany and is narrated

Clifton Park-Halfmoon Library’s first community book follows a girl in Nazi Germany and is narrated by Death.

“The Book Thief” by Markus Zusak was chosen by community vote this fall from five selections and marks the towns’ first foray into a community reading initiative. The new Two Towns — One Book program is patterned after other local communities’ programs where a book is chosen and people are invited to read it and attend book talks, discussion groups and special activities centered on the book’s themes.

The book tells the story of Liesel Meminger, a young girl who is placed with a foster home in Germany. Her new father teaches her to read, and she steals books from her more well-off neighbors.

The family hides a Jewish man in the basement; Liesel befriends him and he writes a book for her. Later she writes her own story before tragedy strikes her small town and the people closest to her.

The library will stock many copies of the book and its companion works for children — “Wolf” by Becky Bloom for ages kindergarten through second grade; “Number the Stars” by Lois Lowry; and Patricia Polacco’s “The Butterfly” for third through sixth grades.

Linda Conklin, chairwoman of the Two Towns — One Book program, said the book is a good pick for a community reading program because it has a wide appeal and is appropriate for ages seventh grade to adult. It also lends itself to activities because of themes of the Holocaust and the power of the written word.

“I think it can be looked at as intergenerational, and we’re hoping it appeals to both genders,” Conklin said. “There were so many themes in it that you can expand on.”

The Two Towns — One Book committee now is planning programs to complement the book, Conklin said, and aims to have two or three big events between January and March for the program’s debut year.

They will likely include book discussions and perhaps some type of performance by the Not-So-Common Players.

“One of the things we’re considering for younger children is [to] actually make a book, construct it,” Conklin said.

“The hardest thing is going to be how to get an interaction with the author for one of our final events,” she said.

Zusak lives in Australia, but committee members hope he might be able to speak to local residents using the Internet video phone service Skype.

The program started this spring with 270 book nominations put forward by the public, and a book selection committee narrowed the list to 25 works. Over the summer, the committee members and others read those books and picked five finalists, Conklin said.

Between September and Nov. 1, the public voted on those five books. Besides “The Book Thief,” they were: “The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society,” “Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close,” “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks” and “Peace Like a River.”

For more information on the program, visit

Other local communities have already paved the way with reading programs. Saratoga Springs does a similar project called “Saratoga Reads,” and Schenectady County has “One County, One Book.”

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