Breadcrumbs by Anne Ursu
September 2011, 320 pages
Walden Pond Press
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!)
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!