Brian Selznick
Scholastic, 2011

Oh. Man. I read Selznick's The Invention of Hugo Cabret for a graduate school assignment, and was fascinated by the illustrations. So I knew what I was getting when I picked up Wonderstruck from the library, but I didn't realize just how beautifully the story would be presented.

As with Hugo Cabret, Selznick uses simple black-and-white graphite drawings paired with his written text to create an elaborate and rich story. The drawings are beautifully detailed (favorite 'hidden' detail from Wonderstruck: the Star Wars movie poster in the subway!), and Selznick has a tendency to either start with a close focus and 'zoom out' in subsequent drawings/pages, giving you a broader context and visual, or starting wide and 'zooming in' as he guides your eye to the significant feature(s). Whereas Hugo Cabret used this technique to supplement and enrich the written text, in Wonderstruck the illustrations tell their own separate story.

The text story follows Ben, a partially-deaf boy who feels a bit lost following the death of his mom. After a freak accident leaves him totally deaf, Ben decides to take a chance and follow the few clues he has regarding his mysterious, unknown father. The journey takes him to New York, and a 'conclusion' he never dreamed of.

The illustrated story is set decades before Ben's story, and is about Rose - a deaf girl struggling to find her place in the world, looking for love and acceptance.

The stories intertwine and as the stories become a story, illustrations and text start overlapping and intermingling. The effect is simply beautiful. A surprising, moving story that's a feast for the eyes as well as an enjoyable journey for the mind.

Book provided by my local library.


  1. Wow- this sounds incredible. I should get a copy for my library classroom. I know that Hugo is popular with my students and the movie is coming out soon, which will probably spark their interest in this book. Thanks for sharing this one!

  2. After your review and the peeks I've seen of the movie capturing my curiosity, I think I might just have to add these two books to my "wish list". Sounds curious...but in a good way. Thanks for sharing!