So much has already been written and said about Brian Selznick’s Wonderstruck that I hardly know what I can add to it. The story is sweetly mysterious and the delivery unique. As in his Caldecott-winning The Invention of Hugo Cabret, Selznick’s newest book is told in text and illustrations. But in Wonderstruck he tells two separate but intertwined stories.
Ben Wilson’s story starts in Gunflint Lake, Minnesota, in June 1977. His mother has recently died in a car accident, and Ben is living with relatives. He does not know who his father is, but one night he finds some clues in his mother’s bedroom—clues that take him to New York City where he ends up at the American Museum of Natural History.
Rose’s story takes place in October 1927, in Hoboken, New Jersey. Completely deaf, Rose is quite literally a prisoner in her own home. After getting in trouble for sneaking out of the house, she packs a suitcase and runs away to New York City—where she also ends up at the American Museum of Natural History.
What makes this book unique is that, while Ben’s story is told in words, Rose’s story is told completely in pictures. Their stories, though 50 years apart, twine through each other until a bookmark brings the two together.
I am completely enamored with Wonderstruck. I’ve read it twice, and though it is quite a hefty book (over 600 pages), it can be read quite quickly. The first time through, I finished it in one sitting, but the second time I paused longer over the pictures and was amazed at how much Selznick packed into them.
By itself, the written story was told well, and the intricate pictures themselves are truly worth a thousand words each, but the way Selznick weaves the two stories together, briefly touching now and again, is what makes the book remarkable.
P.S. Check out the trailer of Hugo, which comes out in theaters on November 23!