Wonder Struck

Written and Illustrated by Brian Selznick. (GENIUS) Brian Selznick is a renowned illustrator and author. His book The Invention of Hugo Cabret,  won the Caldecott honor medal and  was turned into a film that was released in November 2011.

My copy of the  book smells of new, heavy, high quality paper. The ink smell is strong  because most of the pages of the book are detailed black and white illustrations.

I am not saying anything revolutionary by giving my opinion that Selznick has created another magical literary work in his newest work Wonderstruck.The story is brilliantly and movingly illustrated.

The illustrations tell a separate story than the words for the first part of the book. The illustrations detail a past series of events involving a character named Rose. The words tell the present tense  story of the life of a boy named Ben. Ben and Rose have one thing in common. They are both searching for a place where they belong.The two narratives are separated by 50 years but the lives of Ben and Rose meld together surprisingly and flawlessly throughout the course of the story. The melding of those two lives will astound you.

The story is full of surprises, and, as the title alludes to, wonder.  I feel strongly that it is an asset to any school or home library. The story will best be appreciated by people over the age of ten. The  beauty of the complications of love and loss might be missed by anyone younger. Still, the illustrations and overall design of the book fill the reader with the sense that they are holding something magical in their hands and this  can be appreciated by younger children. That feeling is one that builds life long readers.

Selznick is a rare talent with a gift for telling stories with settings of  great breadth  and scope that  do not overshadow the detailed and complicated lives of the characters living within them. The settings themselves act as characters in the story, illuminating the lives of the living characters that move around, in, and between them.

I read this book in one sitting and finished it moments ago. I was so desperate to read it this weekend that I ‘bought’ it off of a student who had checked it out of the school library before I could. I bribed him with our school’s good behavior currency- Tiger Paws. You read that correctly. I bribed a child so I could take their book. Judge me if you will, but this story was well worth it. I hope you find your own copy by less illicit means. Also note- I read the entire novel with a throbbing sinus headache that would usually have had me laying in the dark with my eyes closed. I found the story  that moving and enthralling.

In this tale Selznick gives  me the feeling that all of us are caught up in our own magnificent narrative.



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