Did you enjoy the movie "Hugo" or its book counterpart, the Caldecott winning "The Invention of Hugo Cabret"? Then I've got a great book for you! "Wonderstruck" is the newest offering by imaginative author Brian Selznick. Written in the same style as "The Invention of Hugo Cabret," Selznick's novel continues his tradition of blending two separate stories that are told in both words and illustrations into one masterful tale. The first of two alternating stories is set in 1977, where 12-year-old orphan Ben is struck deaf by lightning moments after uncovering a mysterious clue to his unknown father's identity. Throwing caution to the wind, Ben runs away from his hospital in Minnesota to New York City searching for answers to this mystery. With the recent passing of his beloved mother, Ben believes this stranger could be his only chance at having a real family again. Eventually ending up at the American Museum of Natural History, Ben meets new friends and finds additional clues along the way. Will he find the home he so desperately desires?
The second story begins in 1920s New Jersey and is told entirely in Selznick's trademark illustrative style. We meet Rose, the deaf child of a famous movie star actress desperate to have a "real" life despite her disability. Like Ben, Rose also has a connection to the American Museum of Natural History. Why does she visit so often? Why are both Ben and Rose drawn to the same exhibit, centered on the wolves that inhabit the area around Ben's Minnesota home?
Selznick's beautifully detailed illustrations draw readers into his stories and creates suspense as they uncover the connection between Ben and Rose and their seemingly separate lives. Many will identify with Ben and Rose's search for a life with meaning beyond their disability and desire to find a place to call home. Kudos to Selznick for shining a light on two wonderful New York City landmarks that many travelers overlook: The American Museum of Natural History and The Queens Museum's Panorama of the City of New York. A frontrunner for book awards this year, "Wonderstruck" is a current Missouri Association of School Librarians "Mark Twain Award" nominee for 2013-2014. Check it out today!
--Mary G., Rock Road Branch