Kellee and I are very excited, because Breadcrumbs by Anne Ursu is finally in bookstores TODAY. If you are looking for a great fantasy book that has adventure and strong allusions to folk literature, this is a great book! It is truly a magical adventure that will grab readers from the beginning. We are re-posting our review because we want to share just how much we loved this book!
Author: Anne Ursu
Illustrator: Erin McGuire
Publisher: Walden Pond Press
Publication Date: September 2011
Summary: Hazel is Jack's best friend. He is the only person she can be truly herself around. As they are getting older, Jack seems to struggle with spending time with Hazel and spending time with some of the boys in her class. Hazel gets worried when Jack gets mad at her and then, all of a sudden, Jack isn't at school and isn't at home. Then she really gets concerned when Jack's friend Tyler says he saw Jack go into the woods with a woman made of ice. Hazel can't leave her best friend alone and sets out on a fantastical trek into a magical forest to find her friend.
What Jen Thinks: Hazel is so brave to risk everything to go and find Jack. She is a great character who is loyal and determined. I love that she's the one saving Jack when he has been taken into the forest by the ice queen. I've heard people say this is based off of the ice queen fairy tale but I'm not familiar with that story. I can definitely recognize elements of folk literature in this book though without knowing the ice queen story. Hazel encounters many magical beings in the forest, each with their own story that she has to outwit. I love how all these characters from stories are found in the forest. I kept imagining all the characters from other fairy tales I know roaming around in one magical forest. It's like a dream come true but also so scary at the same time. Readers will be drawn into Hazel's story as she navigates this enchanted forest to find Jack.
What Kellee Thinks: I was enchanted with this book from the opening pages when the descriptive language grabbed me! I could close my eyes and picture exactly what Anne Ursu was describing. Ursu also alludes to so many great novels and fairy tales throughout Breadcrumbs such as When you Reach Me, A Wrinkle in Time, Harry Potter, and The Little Match Girl on top of the main inpsiration for the story: The Snow Queen. Though I am not familiar with The Snow Queen either, it was easy to fall into Ursu's magical world.
On top of the language of the book, the protagonist is such an exceptional young girl. Hazel is someone that I wish I was friends with! She has the best imagination, but this also separates her from what is expected in "the real world" which is why she always navigates back to Jack- the one person who seems to get her. So, when Jack stops talking to her, you see Hazel having to mold herself to fit into a niche where she is not tormented- this devastated me! However, when she learns that Jack needed to be rescued, Hazel returns to her old self and knows that she must be the princess to save the knight (pretty empowering for a 5th grader!).
Read Together: 3 - 8
Read Alone: 4 - 8
Read With: A Monster Calls: Inspired by an idea from Siobhan Dowd by Patrick Ness, Fablehaven by Brandon Mull, The Lightning Thief (Percy Jackson and the Olympians) and The Kane Chronicles, The, Book One: Red Pyramid by Rick Riordan, A Tale Dark and Grimm by Adam Gidwitz, Sun and Moon, Ice and Snow by Jessica Day George, Ice by Sarah Beth Durst, Into the Wild by Sarah Beth Durst, Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine
Snatch of Text: "There were some days, ever since the summer, when the whole feel of Jack seemed to cahnge. Like suddenly, instead of being made of baseball and castles and super heroes and Jack-ness, he was made of something scratchy and thick. Hazel could tell because he had been her best friend for four years, and you can tell when your best friend is suddenly made of something else. And all she could do was try to remind him what he was really made of." (p. 44)
“And then the whole class was out, and Jack wasn’t there. How curious, Hazel thought. How odd. The facts, as Hazel had observed them, were that Jack was not on the bus, was not as his desk, and was not at recess. The logical conclusion was that Jack was not in school today.
Hazel’s eyes traveled across the playgound and landed on the crew of boys. They were already running around, pushing each other into the slush. All except one-Tyler was staring at the quiet doorway, just as she had been.
His head turned slowly and his eyes met hers. He looked at her for three blinks, and then turned away.
Curious.” (p. 118)
**Page numbers are from the ARC so may not be the exact page numbers in the final printing of the book.**
Reading Strategies to Practice: Visualize, Vocabulary, Making Connections, Characterization
Writing Strategies to Practice: Dialogue, Narrative, Descriptive
Writing Prompts: If you were going to write a screenplay, what would your movie be about?; What is your favorite fairy tale?
Topics Covered: Integration- Math, Fairy Tales, Depression, Divorce, Adventure, Loneliness, Courage
Translated to Spanish: No
Many things to Walden Pond Press for providing us with an ARC of Breadcrumbs to review!