Thursday, September 22, 2011

Wonderstruck Book Review by ChristineMM

Title: Wonderstruck

Author: Brian Selznick

Genre: Children’s Book ages 9 and up

Publication: Scholastic, September 2011

My Star Rating: 5 stars out of 5 = I Love It

Summary Statement:  Selznick’s Unique Storytelling Delivery Combining Illustration with Text is Fantastic!

Within a couple of hours after its delivery (as soon as I was able) I dove into Wonderstruck and couldn’t stop until I finished it. I loved Selznick’s book The Invention of Hugo Cabret which combined visual storytelling with hand drawn illustration with text to deliver an action packed suspenseful story, and I was happy that he created a second very similar book with Wonderstruck.

Wonderstruck uses a twist on the storytelling method of illustration combination with text. Instead of using those two methods to tell one story, as with Hugo Cabret, Wonderstruck has two stories running through it, one told all in text set in 1977 and the other told all in illustration in 1927. The two plot lines converge and meld at the climax, when all our questions are resolved.

The book also deals with Deaf culture, something that is not a common theme in books for children aged 9-12. I think even young readers will feel empathy and gain insight as to what it is like to be deaf in a hearing world.

The publisher states this book is for ages nine and up. I think that the story is a bit more mature, being a coming of age tale, it is about a twelve year old boy on a journey to find some answers that will help him feel more whole, which is usually target marketed to readers aged 12 and up (young adult genre).  I am not sure that nine year old kids will relate to the inner journey aspect of the tale, it may be more emotionally deep than they can relate to or want to relate to. However the idea of being a runaway living in a New York City museum and the solving-a-mystery format may be enough excitement to hook the younger kids in.

The parent in me feels torn though, about the issue of how that child was conceived and the choice his mother made, and why she made it. Those are big topics that do not usually occur in books for that age range, they are more like the “problem novel” topics for ages 12 and up. I suspect the decision to target the market to ages 9 and up probably was a marketing decision made by the publisher in order to increase sales…

I loved the tale and appreciated and enjoyed the illustrations. I can only hope that Selznick continues to use this storytelling method he invented. Bravo, Brian Selznick!

I rate this book 5 stars = I Love It!

If you view the publicity trailer featuring Brian Selznick’s interview you will get a sense for the illustrations in the book as well as insight into why he wanted to write this story. (My attempt to embed the video is not working.)


Read my gushing book review of The Invention of Hugo Cabret from November 2008 here.

Disclosure: I received an ARC of this book from Amazon Vine. However I also purchased a copy of this book. For my blog's full disclosure statement see the link near the top of my blog's sidebar.


Sherry said...

I've heard a lot of buzz about this book. And the "runaway living in a museum" description caught my attention since my ten year old's favorite book is From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler. So I guess I'll have to take a look at it for my self.

ChristineMM said...

I can't tell spoilers for the amazon published review so I held my tongue. Sherry I wonder what your take will be on the moral issue especially for target market age range 9+ (juv lit), not 12+ (YA).

I have been so busy I have not heard any buzz about this book when I was offered it, it was the first I knew that Selznick has published another book in similar storytelling format.