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Book Review: Wonderstruck

Brian Selznick's new book as wonderful as its name

By Grace McManus | September 21 , 2011
Courtesy Scholastic<br />
Courtesy Scholastic

Author Brian Selznick is back. The creator of the much-loved mega-hit book The Invention of Hugo Cabret has now written an equally special, if not more captivating, story titled Wonderstruck.

In Wonderstruck, Selznick unfolds two seemingly separate stories set 50 years apart. One is told with only words, the other with only pictures, until both stories collide near the end. But from the start, there is one trait shared by the two main characters that can't be overlooked: both are deaf.

Selznick first came up with the idea of using only pictures to tell a story about a deaf person after he had seen a documentary about deaf culture. In a video interview I did with Selznick, he told me how struck he was by the documentary's idea that the deaf are often "people of the eye" who "see" most of the prominent things in their lives because they cannot hear.  

That intrigued Selznick, and he set to work on Wonderstruck, telling the stories of Ben and Rose — Ben in words, Rose in pictures. Selznick's drawings are amazing — they pull you in so that you feel like you're part of the scene instead of just viewing it.  

But for me, his writing is even more powerful. It pulls you down into the deepest part of the character's souls, especially when we're following Ben's story. I felt like I was a part of Ben, hearing his thoughts, not just reading an author's words. When Ben suddenly loses his hearing, Selznick's description broke my heart: "Then, through the windows, he saw something that seemed impossible. He saw rain, still pouring down from the sky, streaking hard against the glass. He saw lightning flash without thunder. 'How odd,' he thought. The storm hadn't stopped. Such quiet rain. It had been so loud before. Where had all the noise gone?"

Wonderstruck is as wonderful as its name. It is a beautiful and magical tale that leaves you with both goosebumps and a feeling of belonging in your heart.

Be sure and check out Kid Reporter Grace McManus' video interview with Wonderstruck author Brian Selznick!

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