Thursday, August 13, 2015

Wonderstruck gets 4 Stars

Wonderstruck by Brian Selznick is an illustrated novel.  It's a very long book (600+ pages) with the majority of the pages full of beautiful pencil like illustrations/pictures.  Selznick's newest illustrated novel didn't win the Caldecott like the last one, but  it's a great read boys and girls in 3rd grade and up will enjoy.  Reluctant readers will love this book too b/c they can read it so fast.  Alohamora Open a Book books, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th grade

Wonderstruck by Brian Selznick is 608 pages long, but it takes only a few hours to read.  No, I'm not a speed reader; I'm quite the opposite actually.  For a slow reader like me it took no more than 3 1/2 hours to finish.  

Some of you may be wondering how that is possible, but I used the same reading technique I use for graphic novels and Selznick's book, The Invention of Hugo Cabret.  The reading strategy I used is something a 3rd grader and up could easily do while enjoying this book; it's called pictures.

Selznick is well known for his illustrations; he even won the Caldecott in 2008 for his illustrated chapter book The Invention of Hugo Cabret.  Both of these books by Selznick are very long, page wise, books.  They look intimidating, and kids love checking them out b/c of how thick the book is.  However, I'd say over two-thirds of the book is beautiful pencil like illustrations that help tell the story.  

The pictures are fantastic, fun to look at, and tell the story.  They also make this an incredibly fast read.  I'd say kids in third grade and up will enjoy this huge novel; reluctant readers will love to check it out and read as well.  The size of the book will boost their self-esteem, the speed at which they fly through the pages will keep them engaged, and the pictures will keep them entertained.

I give Wonderstruck 4 out of 5 Stars in my book review.  It's a good book, completely clean, and it's an incredibly fast read boys and girls alike will enjoy. The fun story line, is actually two stories that are over 50 years apart.  However, they come together b/c the characters, Rose and Ben, share a similar situation and visit similar locations.   Both of their time spent in the museum reminded me of E.L. Konigsburg's From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, a favorite book of mine,  Please read it if you haven't.  

The character development of both Rose and Ben are well done; they are characters that you care and root for.  Both are deaf, but for Ben it was from a sudden injury, lightning through a phone.  Rose appears to be deaf from birth.  However, their lack of hearing is not the only connection they share.  They are both on the search for love and a sense of belonging.     

I would say the deaf world is something I haven't read about in too many literature books.  Wonderstruck did give me a sense of appreciation for hearing, and how hard it would be to be deaf in a hearing world.  A cool detail I noticed in the book was Ben's dreams were silent as well.  It made me curious if that was really the case for those that are deaf.  Anyone know?  
I also really love Ben's reference to the Dewey Decimal system, but that is the librarian in me.  However, his thoughts have a point; it would be pretty awesome.  On page 440, Ben wishes the world was organized by the Dewey Decimal system so one would always be able to find whatever he/she were looking for, like the meaning of your dream, or your dad.  You have to admit, it would be pretty handy.  

Wonderstruck lost a star in my book review b/c it didn't have a wow factor.  It was a good read that I enjoyed, but nothing grabbed me enough to make me want to read it again.  However, there was far more positive than negative in this book.  I would recommend it to kids in 4th and 5th grade especially. 

Amazon had the following book description

"Playing with the form he created in his trailblazing debut novelThe Invention of Hugo Cabret, Brian Selznick once again sails into uncharted territory and takes readers on an awe-inspiring journey.

Ben and Rose secretly wish their lives were different. Ben longs for the father he has never known. Rose dreams of a mysterious actress whose life she chronicles in a scrapbook. When Ben discovers a puzzling clue in his mother's room and Rose reads an enticing headline in the newspaper, both children set out alone on desperate quests to find what they are missing.
Set fifty years apart, these two independent stories--Ben's told in words, Rose's in pictures--weave back and forth with mesmerizing symmetry. How they unfold and ultimately intertwine will surprise you, challenge you, and leave you breathless with wonder. Rich, complex, affecting, and beautiful--with over 460 pages of original artwork--Wonderstruck is a stunning achievement from a uniquely gifted artist and visionary."

Selznick has a unique and beautiful style.  Have you read one of his books?  

Happy Illustrated Novel Reading!  

What are you reading? 

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