Wonderstruck ISBN: 9780545027892
Published by Scholastic Press, 2011
It would be difficult not to be 'wonderstruck' by this book, all 637 pages of it! This is a tour de force, not only for the text, but in particular for the wonderful illustrations. In fact, over half the book is illustration, which means that in spite of its length, it is not difficult to read. The stories of two children run simultaneously, that of Ben (taking place in Minnesota in 1977) and that of Rose (taking place 50 years earlier in New Jersey). Rose is deaf, and her story is told entirely through amazing pencil-drawn pictures. Full of cross-hatching and emotional truth, we see a brave and resourceful child finding her way in a difficult world - a world that encompasses her running away to New York City. Ben, on the other hand, has just lost his mother in a car accident, a relationship that has been close and loving. Her loss has resulted in his having terrible recurring dreams. He is deaf in one ear, but becomes deaf in both as the result of being struck by lightning in a freak storm. Ben knows nothing of his father, but begins to put clues together, and these take him on a runaway trip to New York City as well, in the hope of finding his dad. The American Museum of Natural History comes into the story, along with wolves and a small treasure box. How the two children come together, how their interests run in parallel, how they manage their hearing problems in a hearing world makes for a deeply satisfying read. Selznick won the American Caldecott Award for his previous book, 'The Invention of Hugo Cabret', and I would be very much surprised if this book did not at least come close to doing the same. Absolutely brilliant!