Several years ago during a March snowstorm, school was canceled for nearly a week. Our power was out for three of those days. It was near torture. Not only was the house freezing, we had no hot water, and one of my kids had strep throat. Despite that, one of my favorite parenting moments occurred that week. One day, we all huddled in my bed, under mountains of blankets, and read The Invention of Hugo Cabret. It was perfect.
So of course I jumped at the chance to read Wonderstruck, Brian Selznik’s follow-up to Hugo Cabret. While I didn’t love Wonderstruck as much, it does have all the elements that make Selznik’s work so magical. It would be satisfying enough to simply look at the book with its incredible sketches, but the story is lovely and uplifting.
In Wonderstruck, Selznik actually tells two stories. One story follows Ben, a young boy desperate to know more about his absent father. After an accident renders him deaf, he travels to the city, following clues he hopes will lead him to his father. His story is told in words. The other story follows Rose, a young girl who lived 50 years before Ben. Her story is told through pictures.
Selznik alternates between Ben and Rose until their stories intersect. At that point their questions are answered and their lives are fleshed out. The resolution is rewarding for Ben and Rose and for the reader.
I really can’t imagine anyone not enjoying this book. It is gratifying without being cloying, simple but suspenseful and both lovely to look at and read. Get it for your grandmother for Christmas. Or better yet, snuggle up and read it with your kids.