Thursday, December 29, 2011

Wonderstruck by Brian Selznick

As with The Invention of Hugo Cabret, Brian Selznick's new novel is constructed with sections of text alternating with wordless illustrations. The enlarged graphite pencil artwork is stunning in both books, but it is used to even greater storytelling effect in Wonderstruck. Instead of mostly contributing texture and atmosphere, this time the illustration pages carry an entire storyline, starting in Hoboken, New Jersey in 1927. The text portion of the story begins in Gunflint Lake, Minnesota in 1977, with the two timelines eventually converging in New York City.

Rose, the child in the earlier timeline, is deaf. The sense of being cut off from the outer world translates beautifully in the wordless images. Her restlessness and yearnings are portrayed through her actions. Ben, 50 years later, is an orphan searching for information about a father he never knew. Imbued with a gentle sense of wonder, the stories explore what it means to find one's place in the world. A heartwarming experience.

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