Thursday, February 2, 2012

Wonderstruck by Brian Selznick

via Media Bistro
Let's be honest: If not for the fact that I work in the Children's Department of the local library, I would have never picked up a copy of Brian Selznick's Wonderstruck. I would have not paid $16 dollars - that's $14 off cover price - for this insanely thick children's book. I may not have even beaten myself over the fact that it took me four days to read rather than the one night/one morning time span it should've taken me (my eyes do get tired). However, I can't say I didn't enjoy the book. Hell, it might be a brick but it's still a damn good book.

The novel follows to characters. Ben, a partially deaf boy who becomes fully deaf after an accident during an electrical storm and recently suffered the loss of his mother after a car accident; and, Rose, a young deaf girl who dreams of escaping her father's house in order to find a place in the world. The two stories are set fifty years apart - Ben's taking place in the 70's while Rose lives in the 20's.

Having never read anything by Selznick before - and if the price of this book is any reflection, it'll take another mandatory reading to get me to pick up anything by him - I don't know much about his style. Whether or not The Invention of the Hugo Cabret follows the similar structure is beyond me. See Ben's story is told through conventional storytelling - you know, with words - while Rose's story takes a more primal spin - with pictures. It's a lot of guess work to be made with the latter story, but it's still just as powerful. It's the allure of the book. And probably why it was chosen for that International Book Discussion we're doing at the library late next month or early April. The story is about language barrier - not entirely, obviously. And when you have a school of predominately English speaking kids discussing with those of a predominately Spanish speaking school, well, you see my point. Clearly not at all like the characters lost in New York in the book, but you know, what are you going to do? 

 It's a sweet story of two kids looking for their place in the world with a mixture of pop culture, Deaf culture, arts, history, and nature. The art work is beautiful and its detail is breath taking. Selznick has a way to keep his readers captivated and wanting more, while dropping subtle clues as it leads you down the path.

This 600+ goliath is available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

One more thing before I go. As I mentioned, Wonderstruck is part of the International Book Discussion we host at the library. It brings two schools together - a local school and one from Mexico - to discuss the chosen book. The responsibility of the children's library is to creative activities that will get the children discussing the novel. There are a few that I've encountered via Google searches - such as the ones offered in TeachMentorTexts - but nothing that really grabs the attention. A part of me thinks that having the children create their own cabinet of wonders would be a great way to get the ball rolling, but the required materials they'd need to provide might be a little too much. 

Anyway, if there is anyone out there currently or recently teaching this book in your class, please do send suggestions. It would be greatly appreciated.

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