Wonderstruck by Brian Selznick
Wonderstruck is indeed, as the title page announces, a novel in words and pictures. It is a double narrative set fifty years apart that brilliantly tells one of those stories with drawings alone. Some readers may have already heard of this Caldecott Medal Winner and creator of The Invention of Hugo Cabret (the movie HUGO is nominated for 11 Academy Awards). This story was inspired by many things from museums to Deaf Culture and the demise of the Silent Movie. Selznick’s beautiful and captivating crosshatched drawings, done with pencil on watercolour paper, convey such a wide range of emotions and nuances, you almost forget parts of the story are told with so few words.
The book is lovingly dedicated to Maurice Sendak, whose innovative book Where The WIld Things Are forever changed how we look at picture books. It is easy to see the influence and inspiration that Sendak provided to Selznick, but the magic and energy in these drawings is uniquely his own. Part storyboard, part silent movie, all masterful storytelling at its finest, Wonderstruck sweeps the reader along until at last the two threads of narrative intermingle and combine to form a touching and supremely satisfying ending.
If I had one complaint about this book, it would be that the hardcover format and higher price ($29.00 in both Canada and the US) for a “shorter read” story may keep some readers from adding this amazing book to their library. Hopefully, it will be released as a thick paperback with a slightly lower price point at a later date. Wonderstruck was loaned to me by a friend who knew that as an illustrator and an author, I would be fascinated by the combination of text and story. Despite the high page count, the book is a quick evening’s read for most people… or just over an hour’s gulp for my fast reading pace. Regardless of how fast or how slowly you devour this delectable, artistic creation, I have no doubt that you will be, like me, completely Wonderstruck.
Hardcover format, 637 pages, 2011 by Scholastic Press