Wonderstruck is written and illustrated by Brian Selznick (author of The Invention of Hugo Cabret) and was published in 2011 by Scholastic. Selznick’s website for Hugo can be found here and his website for Wonderstruck can be found here.
Genre: Historical Fiction, Middle Grade
“Ben and Rose secretly wish their lives were different. Ben longs for the father he has never known. Rose dreams of a mysterious actress whose life she chronicles in a scrapbook. When Ben discovers a puzzling clue in his mother’s room and Rose reads an enticing headline in the newspaper, both children set out alone on desperate quests to find what they are missing.
Set fifty years apart, these two independent stories—Ben’s told in words, Rose’s in pictures—weave back and forth with mesmerizing symmetry. How they unfold and ultimately intertwine will surprise you, challenge you, and leave you breathless with wonder.”
“Then, in the bottom right-hand dresser drawer, he found a plain cardboard envelope. He pulled it out and turned it over. There was no address or stamp. Carefully, he opened it.
Inside was something wrapped in tissue paper.
The paper wasn’t taped down, so Ben pulled it off. He discovered a small blue book, its covers soft and creased with age. On the front, the title was stamped in black letters: WONDERSTRUCK.”
Recommended Age Range: 12+
What I Liked:
Ben’s story (the written portion) was good, but it was Rose’s that really struck me. Rose’s story was told entirely in pictures. It wasn’t confusing to follow at all and the drawings themselves were great. This book is proof that you can tell a story entirely in drawings and still have plot, plot reveals, conflict and all the rest, with no dialogue to help things along. I liked this book by Selznick better than The Invention of Hugo Cabret (although that was a fantastic book as well). Selznick also portrayed Deaf culture, and the struggles that come from being deaf, especially fifty and more years ago, very well. The symmetry between the pictures and the story was excellent.
What I Didn’t Like:
Ben’s story was good at the beginning and the end, but dragged in the middle (right when Rose’s story was picking up), so I found myself wanting more of Rose and less of Ben. The ending, while fulfilling, was also slightly disappointing for me. I was expecting a little more.
This is a great book that everyone should pick up and read. The drawings are excellent and tell the story well, while the written story is good. The drawings and the story meld together to make a very good bit of storytelling.
Coming Up Next: The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson