Best Book I Have Not Read

Writing, Reading, Teaching, Life, Attempting to Balance it All

Breadcrumbs by Anne Ursu January 13, 2012

Breadcrumbs by Anne Ursu

September 2011, 320 pages

Walden Pond Press

Library Copy

Anne Ursu has written an amazing book. I love the intersection of realistic fiction with a version of  The Snow Queen. The two friends Hazel and Jack each are suffering from their own family problems. Hazel doesn’t “fit” with her school and her father has recently left, doesn’t call, and is getting remarried. Jack gets teased by the boys in his class for being friends with a girl and has a mother suffering from a serious depression.

So that I can get on to other reading, instead of writing my own review, I’m going to give you a couple links to other blog reviews:

NPR December 2011 Kids’ Book Club Pick  (This is the first I’m learning of Backseat Book Club. Love it!)

Jen Robinson’s review 

Book Smugglers interview  with author in their Inspirations and Influences category.

The author’s use of language really grabbed me. I aspire to write as well as she. Here are my favorite lines:

“Everyone in the fifth grade had messenger bags, everyone but Hazel, who had not been cc’ed on that particular school-wide e-mail.” (p. 11)

“She spoke in bright, shiny words, as if that might distract Hazel from thoughts of Jack.” (p.98)

“Her heart plummeted, and her feathers fell away.” (p. 108)

“…their voices were rough and loud and had the sharp edges of crushed-up beer cans.” (p. 138)

“They were plastic flowers of words–but they looked nice on the surface.” (p. 142)

“She had stepped into the woods in the park and landed in an entirely different place. She knew this might happen. She’d been to Narnia, Wonderland, Hogwarts, Dictionopolis. She had tessered, fallen through the rabbit hole, crossed the ice bridge into the unknown world beyond. Hazel knew this world. And it should have made this easier. But it did not. (p. 160)

“There were so many Jacks she had known, and he had known so many Hazels. And maybe she wasn’t going to be able to know all the Jacks that there would be. But all the Hazels that ever would be would have Jack in them, somewhere.” (p. 247)

“The truth was he had been getting more and more scratchy and thick lately. Because sometimes when you are scratchy and thick you don’t want to be sitting in a shack with someone pretending it’s a palace, especially someone who can tell you are scratchy and thick, especially someone who tries to remind you who you really are.” (p. 248)

Brilliant don’t you think? 

I had heard about this book for a long time before it was released. I probably would have read it sooner if it wasn’t for the one thing that bothers me about it. I don’t think it’s very nice to point out a negative about such a great book, and of no fault of the author’s, but it REALLY bothers me that the girl on the cover looks so much like a Disney cartoon. In the shower this morning, I decided she looks like a cross between Lilo from Lilo and Stitch and Pocohantas. I don’t want a Newbery-worthy book to have a cartoon-like character on the cover. I know that’s probabaly dumb, but really???

That aside, teachers and parents definitely should introduce this book to your middle grade readers! 


8 Responses to “Breadcrumbs by Anne Ursu”

  1. I’ve heard great things about this book. I’ve got to put it on my TBR list. – Laurisa White Reyes, author of The Rock of Ivanore (Tanglewood Press, May 2012)

  2. I, too, have only heard good things about this book. It is in my stack, but I will have to move it closer to the top! I love the comment about the cover. I am bothered by similar things. It disappoints me that there is still not a bigger connection between cover illustrators and authors in this day and age.

  3. Sandy Brehl Says:

    Good to know you enjoyed the book. I’m always leery of rave reviews, especially in pre-pub, but I suppose I shouldn’t be- most offer the book lives up to the hype. This one certainly did.
    I especially enjoyed the noon-standard ethnicity of the characters, and perhaps that explains the cover design incorporating an ambiguously non-white lead character. Disney does specialize in that, so I can see where you would associate it.
    That said, I’m chiming in with your vote to share this with kids- as a read aloud or as a recommended reading.

  4. Mary Says:

    So glad to see another positive review of this one. I LOVED it too, but I do agree about the cover – the cartoony-ness bothered me too. That aside, it is a gorgeous book and with a unique cast of characters and a fresh perspective. Great stuff!

  5. anniecardi Says:

    Great review–I especially appreciate seeing a few lines from the book. The Snow Queen is a favorite fairy tale, so this is definitely on my list.

  6. Pen and Ink Says:

    Thank you. Your review and quoted lines move me to read it.

  7. Linda Baie Says:

    I wrote a review of this a few weeks ago & loved the book as you did. It’s funny, but I don’t pay much attention to the covers, & perhaps I should. You make a good point here, but it is fantasy, so perhaps the illustrator was aiming that way. Who knows? Thanks for the thoughtful idea.

  8. Margo Dill Says:

    I love what you said about the cover. The crazy thing is is how much the marketing team supposedly thinks about covers and they are such a big deal to sell a book. I wonder if they’ve had a lot of complaints on it??

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