Monday, June 25, 2012

Book Review; Breadcrumbs, by Anne Ursu (Erin McGuire, ill.) (Walden Pond Press, 2011)

Recommended for ages 9-12

Fifth graders Hazel and Jack are best friends until the day Jack decides he wants to be around boys more than a girl. Hazel is miserable at the loss of her friend, but when Jack disappears, she is the only one who ventures into the mysterious woods to find him, and get him back from the White Queen – whether or not he wants to come home.

Breadcrumbs is a trip through fairy tales and middle-grade stories that many readers will be familiar with, all surrounding a retelling of the classic tale of the Snow Queen. The characters are fifth graders who actually act their age; they are fully fleshed out with backgrounds that touch on issues that many readers will be familiar with – multiculturalism, adoption, divorce and remarriage, depression, and the pain of loss and how to move past it. There is a little bit of magic in every world, and Breadcrumbs brings that to life in the form of the main characters’ imaginations and in the more literal, magical forest sense. Erin McGuire’s black and white illustrations bring the chill of the cold forest, particularly the Snow Queen, to life and enhance the text. Compulsively readable, the book also provides numerous opportunities to enhance classroom discussions on topical issues or on a fairy tale unit.

Breadcrumbs is a 2011 Cybils award nominee for Middle Grade Science Fiction/Fantasy. Author Anne Ursu’s webpage offers information about Breadcrumbs and all of Ms. Ursu’s books, plus updated news and appearance information and links to social media.

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