Katie's Reviews > Wonderstruck

Wonderstruck by Brian Selznick
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Mar 03, 2012

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Recap:
Two very separate lives, decades apart, become inextricably linked through the magic of howling wolves (not werewolves, real wolves!), a great big museum, and a little blue book called Wonderstruck.

Review:
The story of Wonderstruck is lovely - a little girl growing up in New Jersey in the 20s, and a little boy growing up in Minnesota in the 70s, are unaware that their lives are being knit closer and closer together with each passing page. Neither have any parents to speak - due to either death or just really bad, dismissive parenting. And both are deaf, and just beginning to learn to communicate with their hands.

I had a few different ideas about how their stories would eventually connect, and I thought that their ultimate resolution was completely satisfying.

But... the real star of this story is the artwork. And that's not just because Brian Selznick creates some truly fantastic illustrations. Obviously, he does that, but the magic of the artwork here is the way that they communicate an entire storyline with almost zero words.

A series of illustrations will zoom in and out, so you think you're seeing one thing, but then realize that it's actually only a small part of a much larger scene. And he includes tiny details, so that discerning readers can approach each page as a treasure hunt, searching for clues that will connect back to the story in prose.

I remember reading The Invention of Hugo Cabret and feeling, well, wonderstruck over the incredible imagination that was behind those illustrations. I remember only bits and pieces of the actual storyline, but much of the artwork still vividly stands out in my memory. I have a feeling that Wonderstruck will end up being the same way for me. I'll remember the gist of the storyline, but still regularly want to flip back through the pages, just so that I can re-experience the magic of Selznick's art.

I'm ashamed to admit that I've never read E. L. Konigsburg's From the Mixed Up Files of Ms. Basil E. Frankweiler, but am now even more determined to finally do so. In the Acknowledgements, Selznick described how "any story about kids who run away to a museum owes a debt of gratitude to [the aforementioned title]." He went on to say, "In order to pay back that debt, Wonderstruck is filled with references to Konigsburg and her book. How many can you spot?" Doesn't that make you want to read it all over again with a brand new lens? I love a good literary scavenger hunt.

Wonderstruck is up against Okay for Now in SLJ's Battle of the Kids' Books. Who do you think will come out on top?? I still have to read Okay for Now and then I'll share my vote...

Recommendation:
Readers of all ages will be charmed by Wonderstruck. Teachers will find that the illustrations can be used for a variety of lessons on inferences, making connections, point of view, and character development.
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