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Reviewed by:
  • Wonderstruck
  • April Spisak
Selznick, Brian. Wonderstruck; written and illus. by Brian Selznick. Scholastic, 2011. [640p]. ISBN 978-0-545-02789-2 $29.99 Reviewed from galleys R Gr. 5–8.

In a return to the form he used for The Invention of Hugo Cabret (BCCB 4/07), Selznick again explores multiple narratives through illustration, text, and the partnership between the two as they overlap or diverge to tell stories. Here, there are two tales, set fifty years apart (1927 and 1977), both about deaf children who are coping with loneliness and loss and attempting to define their identities. Rose’s 1920s search for her mother is told exclusively through illustrations, while Ben’s 1970s quest for family and home unfolds through text, until the two protagonists meet; the book then becomes more of a traditional graphic novel, with text and illustrations working in concert to tell a single narrative. Selznick’s distinctive monochromatic drawings, while always elegant and sometimes startlingly detailed, sometimes lack variety in long stretches of visual narrative, but the story will still keep reader/viewers absorbed. There is a vulnerability, a keen sense of nearly but not actually belonging, that is poignantly conveyed in both Rose and Ben’s journeys, and it is this common thread that will likely stay with readers as much as the nifty natural history collections (a long-term interest for both Rose and Ben) or glimpses into the way deaf children engage with the world. Notes include an explanation of how the author was drawn to exploring Deaf culture and natural history museums, and the places where the two pursuits converged to make this book. A selected bibliography is not always an exact age/reading match but will certainly send curious readers in the right directions.



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Launched on MUSE
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