As Germany descends into the nightmare of Nazism, a preadolescent girl discovers the power of literature; I guess that means there’s hope for humanity after all. This plush, mawkish period drama, adapted from Markus Zusak’s 2005 best seller, might be useful as a means of introducing the Holocaust to small children, but it’s indefensible on almost any other terms. Every scene—even the re-creations of Kristallnacht and a Nazi book burning rally—looks as if it were designed for a department store window. There’s a similar hard-sell quality to the Oscar-grubbing performances, the patronizing John Williams score, and the plenitude of adorable children. Brian Percival, a veteran of British TV, directed; with Geoffrey Rush and Emily Watson.