The atrocities that occurred in Germany in World War II are incomprehensible in their scope. But when Australian author Markus Zusak heard his parents talk about their childhood memories of the time, he found there were moments of kindness and humanity that cut through some of the horror. These stories inspired him to write The Book Thief, a novel about a nine-year-old orphan girl named Liesel, who covets and steals books as a way to cope with her hardscrabble life. When she's taken in by a pair of gruff but kind foster parents, she learns to read and also comes to understand the tragedy her nation is reaping thanks to the Jewish refugee hiding in her foster family's basement.

The Book Thief spent more than 280 weeks on the best-seller charts and now its gearing up for a star-studded movie adaptation, courtesy of Fox. THR reports Academy Award-winner Geoffrey Rush (Shine) and two-time Oscar-nominee Emily Watson (Breaking the Waves, Hillary and Jackie) have signed on to play little Liesel's foster parents, while newcomer Sophie Nélisse will play the brave little girl at the film's center. A French-Canadian ingénue, Nélisse made her movie debut in the Oscar-nominated drama Monsieur Lazhar. The Book Thief will mark her English-language debut.

Of course, you can't go wrong casting Rush and Watson, and they are sure to give support to this budding child actress. The script is a bit of a wild card, as its penned by a pair better known as actors than screenwriters. Ben Schnetzer was most memorably a part of the short-lived drama series Happy Town, and Nico Liersch comes from German television. Still, this World War II drama will be in good hands as it's being helmed by Brian Percival, an Emmy-winning director of the miniseries sensation Downton Abbey. In short, this drama looks like it could be destined for award season buzz.

The Book Thief is expecting to go into production later this month in Berlin.

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