Monday, February 6, 2012


Book Review

Wonderstruck by Brian Selznick

I was browsing the online listing of new books sometime back in December and I came across mention of this book. I was immediately curious.

We had just watched the Hugo movie, which was based on Selznick's first book, The Invention of Hugo Cabret. We all enjoyed both the book and the movie.

And it looked like he had created another "picture novel". A novel written in both words and pictures.

I wanted to read it.

But it wasn't available yet. I had to request it. And I had to wait.

And wait I did. I just hoped it wouldn't be waiting for me while we were traveling for the holidays. But wait for it, I must.

Ultimately, I got lucky. It came in after we returned from our travels. Perfect!


This new picture novel is just as thick as The Invention of Hugo Cabret was. But no matter. I wasn't deterred in the slightest by the size, thickness, or number of pages.

This is a work of fiction using both pictures and words. At the beginning, we are presented with two story lines, one told exclusively in words and the other told exclusively with pictures. Towards the very end of the story, the two plots merge into one, which is told through both pictures and words.

I enjoyed the pictures. Just as in Hugo, they are all done in pencil. Lucky for us, the pictures depict the story line that is set two generations before the action of the other story line. This black, white, and shades of gray portrayal is perfect for that time frame. When the two plots merge at the end of the story, the pictures remain in pencil. This is good for continuity, but I do wonder how colored pencil drawings may have changed the perspective of the story's conclusion.

The words were definitely written for children. This is, after all, a children's book. I did have to remind myself of this more than once while reading. Some of the plot points are a bit far fetched, but they make for a reasonably good story. If I was many years younger, I would really enjoy the story.

Overall, I enjoyed this book almost as much as I enjoyed "Hugo". Hugo definitely had the advantage of novelty, being the first of its kind. This meant that the expectations were already predetermined when Wonderstruck arrived on the scene. The plot of Wonderstruck left me asking a few questions, but I doubt my kids would analyze the plot as critically as I did.

This is a worthy book. Go out, find it, and read it.

And then hand it to your kids!

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