Monday, 16 April 2012
Author: Brian Selznick
Publisher: Scholastic Inc.
Publication Date: September 13th, 2011
Genre: Junior Fiction, Historical Fiction
In 1927, Rose spends her days making a scrapbook about a famous actress and turning her workbooks into paper recreations of buildings. In her house in Hoboken, Rose looks out at Manhattan and dreams of leaving her home. When Rose sees an article in the newspaper about her favourite actress doing a play in New York, that might be the incentive Rose needs to leave New Jersey. In 1977, Ben mourns for his mother who died earlier that year. One night when he returns to his old house, a lightening storm changes everything for Ben. When he finds a few old items by chance, Ben decides to leave Minnesota for New York to find the father he’s never known. With Ben’s story told through words and Rose’s through pictures, their two stories converge in the American Museum of Natural History.
From the author and illustrator of The Invention of Hugo Cabret, Wonderstruck follows two children as they embark on journeys that will change everything for them. Told in a similar format as Hugo, this book features Selznick’s beautiful illustrations. I loved how, like in Hugo, Selznick incorporated real places and things into the book. I loved the story and how the two different plotlines started out with nothing in common and slowly came together. I went to the American Museum of Natural History earlier this year, so discovering that it is featured in this book was a very pleasant surprise. I loved the role different things, such as lightening, New York, museums and collections, played in the book. This book is partially inspired by From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, although the two books are very different. I loved how the different settings in the story fit into the plot. This book is huge, but it is a quick read, due to all the pages of drawings. Because of this, you might think that the characters would feel underdeveloped, but Selznick managed to create realistic characters in a short amount of time. The writing was good, but it lacked the special magical feeling that Hugo had. Before you start this book, the most important thing to know is that probably half of the book is made of illustrations. I could see people picking this book up without knowing that and feeling disappointed in the shortness of such a large book. Writing another novel after the success of The Invention of Hugo Cabret would have felt like a difficult feat, but Brian Selznick managed to create another original and captivating novel. The illustrations make this book truly beautiful, and it manages to share a lot of the best features of Hugo while still being completely unique. After how much I loved Hugo, it felt like Selznick’s next book wouldn’t be able to compare. Lightening must have struck twice for Brian Selznick, because Wonderstruck was an amazing novel about the things that make us who we are.
“Maybe, thought Ben, we are all cabinets of wonders.”