Saturday, May 21, 2011

From the creator of Hugo Cabret....

comes pure and utter brilliance.
by Brian Selznick
Scholastic, September 13, 2011 (Pre-order from your favorite indie. Really, these will fly.)

Selznick expertly weaves together two stories, one told in pictures, and other in words. Ben's textual story begins in 1977, in Minnesota. An orphan living with his relatives, Ben collects interesting objects in a special box and dreams of wolves. Rose lives in New Jersey in 1927. She collects articles about actress Lillian Mayhew and crafts paper buildings. Lillian is deaf and takes joy in silent films, Ben is deaf in one ear and teased by his cousin.

Right from the beginning there are connections between the two. A drawing of a lightning bolt strikes through both stories, hitting Ben's textual story and Rose's visual one. A sign proclaiming "New York" breaks in as both characters, decades apart, enter the overwhelming city, both deaf it to its sounds, but not its striking visuals and pushing people. Selznick continually draws Rose and Ben together, their lives overlapping and passing--separated only by time. And then, at the height of Ben's adventure, he breaks from the written narrative into the drawn one in a stunning portrait, and the stories finally merge.

Like Rose and Ben, readers are pulled into a purely visual world, a story created exclusively through written and drawn imagery. Selznick's detailed illustrations possess secrets, references, and odes to visual and Deaf culture. Wonderstruck is not a book that should simply be read, rather poured over, considered, discussed, and shared.

A true masterpiece that will have readers, jumping, crying, signing, cheering, and writing, in an attempt to express the wonder that has stuck them.

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