Monday, October 10, 2011

Brian Selznick's Wonderstruck



In Wonderstruck (Scholastic, 2011), Brian Selznick conveniently provides in his title the perfect description of a reader's likely reaction. Much like The Invention of Hugo Cabret, Wonderstruck is an enchanting and complex story told in equal parts text and pictures.

Two parallel and eventually intesecting stories unfold. Through the text, we learn Ben Wilson's story, set in the 1970s. Ben has recently lost his mother, suffers a freak accident that leaves him deaf, and runs away to New York City to find the father he never knew. Through the pictures, we learn Rose Kincaid's story, set fifty years earlier. She is a deaf girl who also ends up in New York following her obsession with a silent film star. Both kids find answers at the American Museum of Natural History, and their stories finally meet up in both time and place in a fully satisfying way.

While Hugo Cabret was a tribute to silent films and the lost art of automata, Wonderstruck celebrates museums and the human impulse to collect and curate. It also introduces deaf culture in an accessible and sympathetic way. This is a book that will resonate with and enchant middle schoolers.



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