Tuesday, May 15, 2012
Wonderstruck by Brian Selznick
September 13, 2011; Scholastic Inc.
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. Rich, complex, affecting, and beautiful--with over 460 pages of original artwork--Wonderstruck is a stunning achievement from a uniquely gifted artist and visionary.(courtesy of Goodreads)
It's not often that an author does something truly groundbreaking. Brian Selznick is rewriting the possibilities of children's literature. Picture books are no longer confined to the infant and preschool set. Illustrations do not simply support a story, they tell a story. Wonderstruck is a fabulous novel that illustrates just how far you can with words and illustrations.
From an adult perspective, Ben and Rose's stories are quite melancholic. There is death, mistreatment by adults, frustrating friendships, and more. All this is framed around exciting adventures. I wonder if kids pick up on the sadness or if they mostly focus on the excitement of the characters' quests.
The illustrations are amazing. There are over 400 drawings. Each are made with such detail that I wanted to cut them out of the book and hang them on the wall. It's amazing how well they conveyed Rose's story. Not only that, but they reflected the characters' emotions as well or even better than words could have. I thought it was appropriate that Rose, who had no hearing, was the character whose life was featured in a richly detailed albeit silent world.
You must pick up Wonderstruck. It's a very quick read that packs a big emotional punch. A sweet story about discovering your roots, but most importantly discovering yourself.