Summary: Wonderstruck, “a novel in words and pictures,” tells two stories, one of Ben and one of Rose. Ben lives at Gunflint Lake, Michigan in 1977. After his mother passes away, he sets out to New York City to find the father he never knew. Fifty years earlier, Rose lived in Hoboken, New Jersey, and she, too, set out for the City to find what her life her was missing.
Thoughts: Brian Selznick has created another masterpiece of storytelling and art in Wonderstruck. He uses the same format of his Caldecott-winning The Invention of Hugo Cabret, yet brings a new freshness in this wholly original tale. The stories are told side by side, Ben’s through text, and Rose’s through pictures. Rose is deaf, and I was impressed with the way her story was told visually; the quiet experienced as the reader “reads” the illustrations is the perfect accompaniment to her journey. The cinematic quality of the illustrations and Selznick’s brilliant spreads, zooming in and out, are truly mesmerizing. It is impossible not to be pulled in from the very first page! From there the reader is taken on a fascinating adventure as Ben grieves for his mother, struggles with his own hearing, and seeks answers about his father, a quest that leads him to the American Museum of Natural History.
The author includes many references to the beloved novel, The Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, and the classic journey taken to the Metropolitan Museum of Art by Claudia and her little brother Jamie. (I have found a few and may have to reread both books so I can catch more!) I loved this tribute to the classic novel (a lifetime favorite of mine) and also loved that Ben’s mother, described by the author as a strong, independent, revolutionary, was a librarian. 🙂 The “Acknowledgments” at the end of the book are worth reading as they tell of the author’s inspirations and how things all came together in this new work. Wonderstruck will surely be a favorite of readers of all ages, those who loved Hugo as well as those who are just meeting Brian Selznick for the first time.