Posted tagged ‘New York City’

WONDERSTRUCK by Brian Selznick

November 5, 2011

I just finished reading WONDERSTRUCK by Brian Selznick. Like his last book, THE INVENTION OF HUGO CABRET (which won the Caldecott Award), it is a huge book  (600+ pages) that is half gorgeous pencil drawings (not a graphic novel: rather, an illustrated novel). The book tells two different intertwined stories – one in words and the other in pictures –  that the reader just knows are going to come together somehow. Ben’s story is in 1977 and Rose’s is in 1927. Both Ben and Rose are unhappy children who make a daring decision to change their lives, and the way their two stories come together is something I wouldn’t want to spoil for you. Let me just say that it is a beautiful book, both the story and the illustrations, and the ending, which celebrates friendship and family,  will leave you WONDERSTRUCK.

Newbery Award Winner!

February 8, 2010

When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead is this year’s Newbery Award Winner.  That’s a big deal in the children’s book world:  it’s like winning the Academy Award for the Best Movie of the Year.  I quickly drove to the nearest book store when I heard the news, purchased a copy, and sat down to read the book in one sitting.  The book is a quick read, exciting and mysterious but also rather confusing because it’s about TIME TRAVEL, a concept that can be difficult to understand, even for adults!

The book’s setting is New York City in 1978.  Miranda, a sixth grader, is learning to navigate school, friendship issues, and life in her city neighborhood.   Her favorite book is A Wrinkle in Time, a classic children’s book from the 60’s about time travel.  One day when walking home from school, her best friend Sal gets punched in the stomach by an older boy who hangs out down the street from their apartment building. Sal pulls away from Miranda after that and stops hanging out with her. Miranda feels completely lost without him.  Walking home alone is no fun, especially as she must pass the crazy old man by the mailbox.  Then, the notes start arriving, notes that tell her things about the future.  Here’s the first one:

I am coming  to save your friend’s life, and my own…

First, you must write me a letter….

You will keep reading to find out WHO is writing the notes, and HOW the puzzle is going to be solved.   Though I’m not sure I would have voted for this book to win the Newbery Award, it is well-written and thought-provoking. I particularly liked the positive relationship Miranda has with her mom, the lessons Miranda learned about friendship and caring about others, and the connection to A Wrinkle in Time.