Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Wonderstruck by Brian Selznick

Yet another wonderfully intriguing story from the author of The Invention of Hugo Cabret.
In Wonderstruck we follow two separate stories that eventually merge into one. The first story begins in 1977, in Gunflint Lake, Minnesota with Ben Wilson who has just lost his mother in a car accident. He is living with his aunt and uncle in their house which is eighty three steps away from the house he lived in with his mother. Likely because his mother has just died, Ben who feels alone in the world, wonders about his father, whom he knows nothing about. Does he know about Ben? Where is he now?

When Ben sees a light on in his mother's house he decides to investigate. While searching through his mother's bedroom, he discovers a book, titled Wonderstruck published by the American Museum of Natural History inscribed with the message, For Danny, Love M. He also finds a book mark from Kincaid Books which has a handwritten message dating back to February 1965. With these two clues, Ben embarks on a remarkable journey to find his father.

This story is alternated with a second story told entirely in pictures. Set in Hoboken, New Jersey, 1927, it is about Rose, a deaf girl who lives in a house with her father and keeps a detailed scrapbook on a very famous actress named Lillian Mayhew. Rose is very, very lonely and one day runs away to the city to see her mother who only comes home to visit once a month. But her mother is not interested in seeing her and Rose ends up fleeing to the American Museum of Natural History where her brother works.

Gradually the Selznick weaves a story that ties all of the lose ends together while giving the reader some clues that encourage and entice us to try to figure out the connection between Ben and Rose.

Wonderstruck is a brilliantly conceived novel that melds together an interesting narrative with gorgeous pencil drawings in a graphic novel style. This story will appeal to young readers, especially boys who are reluctant readers as well as older readers who have enjoyed The Invention of Hugo Cabret. The back of the book contains a detailed Acknowledgement section in which Selznick outlines the origins of some of the ideas in the book.

Book Details:
Wonderstruck by Brian Selznick
Scholastic Canada 2011
639 pp.

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