Wonderstruck by Brian Selznick

This is coming out this fall and while it is not a follow up or sequel in any way to The Invention of Hugo Cabret, Selznick has written another book in the same manner-part full page drawings (often focusing in closer and closer) that are like movie images, and part narrative.  The drawn story and the written story are told side by side until they come together, wonderfully, at the end.

In the narrative a young boy lives in Minnesota on a lake, and his mother has recently died. He has never known his father so he is left with his aunt and uncle and cousins.  Going through his mother’s things he finds clues as to who his father might be and runs away to New York City to see if he can find him.  He winds up in the Museum of Natural History, where he hides out with the help of a new friend.  This is pretty appealing-completely reminiscent of From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs Basil E Frankweiler, which the author does mention in the extensive afterword (holy cow, I cannot believe how much research he did to write this book.)  He gets to poke around in an old exhibit, check out the dioramas, and explore.  The mystery of his mother, his father, and this journey deepens when he sees one of the dioramas of wolves is set where he lives.  How on earth could that just be coincidence?

Meanwhile the drawn story has shown us a young girl from long ago, deaf (another coincidence-the boy is deaf as well), running away from home, living with her brother in New York City. The pictures are not necessarily ones to pore over-like in Hugo Cabret sometimes you might move through several pages quite quickly as the images go by forming, basically, a movie for you.

Selznick weaves these two storylines together so seemingly easily, it’s really quite wonderful.  At the end it does all make sense and it’s a moving and lovely story about family and journeys and loves.  I loved the historical details in this and what made this book so especially interesting to me was not only the museum setting, but the idea of collections and treasures and exhibiting them.  Boy. What I wouldn’t give to be a curator at a museum.

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