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What You Need to Know:
• Wonderstruck is another extraordinary novel by Brian Selznick (author of the brilliant The Invention    of Hugo Cabret), told uniquely through illustration and text.
• This story is truly exceptional; it is by turns exciting, fast-moving, sad yet hopeful.
• I think this story is a tad more mature than Hugo Cabret, but no less amazing.
• The reader will move quickly through story, because of the illustrations, even though its a hefty 608 pages.
• The mild concerns rating is because our protagonists are thrown into some precarious situations, including: running    away, hiding out, loss of a parent and struck by lightning to name a few.
• This book is impressive looking. It is perfect for an older, struggling reader, as the abundant illustrations would be a    reprieve from the text.
• This is a great book to read aloud with younger and older childen alike; a good family read-aloud.
• This is a great book to give as a gift.
I am aware I won't be the first to say this, but I was completely wonderstruck by Wonderstruck. Brian Selznick has done it again. He has created another masterpiece, which shares some similarities with The Invention of Hugo Cabret, including illustrations and format, but Wonderstruck is also very different and wonderful in its own way.
The novel is actually two separate stories that happen fifty years apart. The first is Ben's story, told completely through text. Ben is a young boy growing up in Gunflint Lake, Minnesota in 1977. Ben has recently lost his mom in a car accident and is now living at his aunt and uncle's house next door. Ben never knew his father. During a trip over to his old house, Ben loses himself in memories of his mother. As he relives life with his mom, a storm hits and Ben is struck by lightning, knocked unconscious and rendered completely deaf. While having a look around his mom's room prior to being struck, Ben had found some clues as to the whereabouts of his father. Ben's mom never spoke of his father, but there is an urgency now to finding him. Ben wakes up in the hospital and decides to run away to New York City. Based on the clues found in his mother's things, he goes to the American Museum of Natural History to see if he can find a parent who is still alive.
The second story is about a young, deaf girl named Rose, who lives in Hoboken, New Jersey, in 1927. Her entire story is told through pictures. She is clearly not wanted by her movie star mother; in those days, nobody knew what to do with a deaf child. She was sequestered out in Hoboken, but she wanted more out of life so she runs away to New York City and also winds up in the American Museum of Natural History. It is in this place that our two stories intersect in the most brilliant and imaginative way. But that moment doesn't occur until after reading about 500 pages of great suspense and drama. I was riveted and your young reader will be, too.
Brian Selznick is truly an artist and storyteller of great talent. Wonderstruck is a fast-paced, terrific novel and a work of art. Children and adult alike will be enthralled by it. I couldn't put this book down and I can't wait to read it to or with all three of my children; ages 12, 10 and 6. Wonderstruck is one of those special books that transcends age and gender. In his author notes, Selznick admits he pays homage to the Konigsburg's great book From The Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler. For the more sophisticated book clubs out there, I suggest a reading of both of these books, which will make for a great discussion and comparison. A reading of Wonderstruck would also be greatly enhanced with two field trip: one to the American Museum of Natural History and one to the Queens Museum to see the Panorama (an exhibit of a miniature New York City built for the Worlds Fair in 1964 that figures prominently in the story). I know I will be heading to both soon with my children!
Enjoy this video of the author describing his book!
2011, 608 pages
Adventure, Mystery, Family Life, Friendship, Illness/Death, Exquisite Illustrations, Excellent Read-Aloud, Good Book Club Selection
• Between Ben and Rose's different stories, did one story interest you more? Why or why not?
• What do you think it is like to be deaf? How is it different from being a person capable of hearing?
• Can you think of any advantages to being deaf?
• What did you think of Jamie, Ben's friend? Was he a good friend? Why or why not?
• Did the end of the story surprise you?
• Did you think that the stories were connected as you read them? Why or why not?
• Have you read From The Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler?
• Can you find the 5/6 references to that book in Wonderstruck? What are they?
• Why do you think the author made both characters deaf? Is it important to the storyline?