Geoffrey Rush and Emily Watson to co-star.

French-Canadian actress Sophie Nelisse (‘Monsieur Lahzar’) has been cast as the young lead in the ‘The Book Thief,’ Fox 2000’s adaptation of the bestselling novel by Markus Zusak.

With Brian Percival (‘Downton Abbey’) attached to direct from an adapted screenplay by Michael Petroni, the WWII-era tale centres on Liesel Meminger, a foster girl living outside of Munich. The spirited young girl scratches out a meagre existence for herself by stealing when she encounters something she can’t resist–books. With the help of her accordion-playing foster father, she learns to read and shares her stolen books with her neighbours during bombing raids as well as with the Jewish man hidden in her basement before he is marched to Dachau.

Joining Nelisse for the upcoming film will be Geoffrey Rush and Emily Watson, who will be playing Liesel’s foster parents, and Ben Schnetzer (‘Happy Town’) and Nico Liersch.

The plan is for the adaptation to go before cameras later this month in Berlin with Karen Rosenfelt and Ken Blancato serving as producers.