Wonderstruck by Brian Selznick (9/13/2011)

Outside, the wind picked up and rustled through the leaves on the giant trees surrounding the house. Voices droned from Robby’s CB radio, which he insisted stay on all night. It didn’t bother Ben that much. Being deaf in one ear had it’s advantages: he could sleep with his good ear on the pillow to block out all the noise. Ben used a similar trick in school. He’d lean his good ear on his hand when he wanted to tune out his teacher or his classmates. It made it easier to read the books about outer space that he hid in his desk (p 17).

Brian Selznick’s follow up to the convention-defying The Invention of Hugo Cabret (which went on to win the 2008 Caldecott medal) is another novel told in words and pictures.

Two stories, set 50 years apart unfold. In words, we meet Ben Wilson, an orphan living in Gunflint Lake, Minnesota in 1977. A book called Wonderstruck and a book mark are the only clues that might lead to his father, a man his beloved mother could never bring herself to talk about.

Set 50 years prior and told through pictures, we learn about Rose, an isolated, lonely girl who dreams of New York, visible to her from her bedroom window on the other side of the Hudson River. As both stories unfold and settings overlap, readers begin to see the connection between these two curious, courageous young people.

Those who loved The Invention of Hugo Cabret (and really, who didn’t love it?) will not be disappointed. Wonderstruck is every bit as amazing as Hugo Cabret. Even better. Selznick does his research. His illustrations are beautiful. His story is tight.

Finally, I’ll have something to hand patrons who ask for something “just like” Hugo Cabret! Relief! Can we consider this for a Newbery, please? We could get to work on correcting this. You can read a bit more and see an illustration at GalleyCat.

Read Nina Lindsay’s take on Wonderstruck‘s Newbery/Caldecott chances or head over to Fuse #8 for a great review. Kirkus and Publisher’s Weekly gave it a starred review.

Advance Reader Copy | September 13, 2011 | Scholastic | 640 pages | ISBN 978-0-545-02789-2 | $29.99

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