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! 


Fun Read Aloud: Into the Wild September 20, 2008

Filed under: books,kidlithosphere,read alouds,school — bestbookihavenotread @ 8:08 pm
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Thanks to Ike’s power outage in central Ohio (we got power back last night), I just finished the Into the Wild by Sarah Beth Durst. What a great read and I can just imagine the fun reading it aloud to intermediate aged students. It does have the same title as a very different book (and movie about the book), but that is the only similarity (although I could come up with others if pressed). The other Into the Wildis by John Krakauer and was made into a movie directed by Sean Penn. It is a “true life” adventure type book that Jon Krakauer writes so well.

The reason I mention the other book with the same title is because you will probably run into, as I have, incredulous looks by people who are familiar with the first adventure book when you mention that you are reading Into the Wild aloud to your class.  Just be prepared with your explanation of the plot and the other author’s name.

Into the Wild by Sarah Beth Durst has been in my must-read pile for awhile after reading reviews of it on other blogs such as Jen Robinson’s Book Page, The Reading Zone, and A Year of Reading. The main character is a girl by the name of Julie. She just happens to be the daughter of Zel (short for Rapunzel), her brother is Puss-in-Boots, and they are frequently visited by Cindy, the seven dwarfs (didn’t there used to be more?), Goldie, and a wicked witch. Zel and the others had managed to outwit and escape the Wild (an malevolent all-knowing presence that can take many forms, but mainly is in the form of an out-of -control forest) many hundred years ago. Zel, Julie, and grandma are the guardians of the Wishing Well and the Wild, a task that Julie underestimates its importance.

The Wild gets loose and everyone is swept back into their old roles which they have to play over and over again, at the expense of their memories of anything else they have known. There is no free will in the Wild. The Wild is a kind of evil master puppeteer that forces and tricks people into fairy tale stories.

I know as I read I really wanted to get out some of the fairy tales in their many forms and compare what I remember to the actual stories. You could really use this book as a springboard into studying fairy tales or even just introducing some not quite so familiar fairy tales to your students. 

Out of the Wild is the sequel that came out in June 2008. The first chapter is included in my paperback copy of Into the Wild and it pulled me in right away. I wonder if the public library has it yet?

What’s up next in my must-read pile:

Gilda Joyce: Psychic Investigator by Jennifer Allison

The Primary Comprehension Toolkitby Stephanie Harvey and Anne Goudvis (I like what I’ve seen so far!)

Breaking Dawn  by Stephanie Meyer (I want to read it, but really don’t want the series to be over! She has an interesting website, complete with playlists that inspired/reminded her of her novels-I’ve enjoyed listening to them!)

The Hunger Gamesby Suzanne Collins (I’ve been WAITING for this to come out after several blogs reviewed it from ARCs). BTW-Stephanie Myer also loved this book)