Mrs. Julien read this book to Ewandini, so we are preparing a joint review.
Wonderstruck is a great book. It is packed with mystery. Who is this? What is that? What ties this all together? The answer is a wolf diorama.
Ben has just turned 10 and his mum died a year ago. Suddenly, he makes a strange discovery – a silver locket. It hints to who his dad is, but that is just the main story. There is a side story told in pictures about a little girl named Rose. She is deaf. Are these stories tied together or did Brian Selznick make two different stories under one cover? Find out in this mystery filled should-be-classic.
I recommend this book to the many lovers of The Invention of Hugo Cabret. As you can tell, this is Brian Selznick, but this doesn’t mean it’s going to be linked, but the ideas can be faintly linked by the importance of a locket in each of them.
Like The Invention of Hugo Cabret, Wonderstruck is a children’s novel featuring exquisite pencil drawings that both tell and embellish the story. The young boy at the heart of Brian Selznick’s book has recently lost his mother and it is only when he could bring himself to revisit their home that he finds clues that could lead him to his absent father. Tragedy strikes Ben again and this complicates his quest. Rendered entirely in drawings, Selznick weaves a secondary story through and eventually into Ben’s: Growing up in the 1920s, young Rose is deaf and seemingly alone in her quiet world. She reaches out to others through art, but has trouble accepting the help normally afforded a child in her situation.
Wonderstruck visits similar themes to Selznick’s more famous work, The Invention of Hugo Cabret, with isolated and bereft children making lives for themselves in the absence of traditional parental figures. Selznick’s own artistic ability and his deep love of art itself, including the idiosyncratic items to which we give our affection, are given a voice in the book. The drawings can be very evocative and often say just as much, or more, than words which leads to great character moments and a wonderful sense of mystery. Ben finds his way in the world and builds himself a family out of both the old and new elements of his life. Selznick creates a picture of New York City that is both magical and sufficiently portentous to create tension. There is true jeopardy for Ben and also a realistic view of what he can hope to accomplish. Ben may not have much of a plan, but he is not a fool, and showing this respect for children’s abilities elevates the story.
Ewandini and I both loved the book. It had many lovely and touching moments. Well written and beautifully illustrated, it is a great read for children, their parents, or both, at bedtime.