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.
The Doll People by Ann M. Martin and Laura Godwin (with pictures by Brian Selznick) is a sweet children’s adventure book about the importance of family, friendship, courage, and adventures.
Annabelle Doll and her family haven’t seen her Aunt Sarah in 45 years. In this world, much like Toy Story ouerve , toys can come to life after there are no humans around. If you are caught out of your proper place when a human does come around, though, you risk being put into Permanent Doll State. For this reason, the Doll family hasn’t gone looking for Auntie Sarah. They fear getting caught and losing their own doll lives.
But one day, Annabelle discovers Auntie Sarah had a journal. She starts reading it, hoping it will give her insight to her Auntie’s disappearance. What it tells her is that Auntie Sarah liked to explore the house…and not just their Doll house, but the house in which their humans lived in! This was a revolutionary idea to Annabelle and so she started cautiously go exploring, hoping to find Auntie Sarah.
On one such expedition, she comes across another Doll house in another room. This is a far more modern, plastic version of a doll house, and the family that lives in it are called the Funcrafts. The Funcrafts are also plastic. They have a daughter named Tiffany, who’s just about Annabelle’s age. The two become fast friends and wind up reading Auntie Sarah’s journal and exploring together.
They wind up in some scrapes along the way but there is a happy ending and a doll house door left wide open for sequels. It’s sweet and beautifully drawn, and probably would make a good reading-a-chapter-to-a-child-before-bedtime kind of book.