One of my favorite authors for young readers is Brian Selznick. He is the author and illustrator of the book that inspired the 2011 movie, Hugo. The book’s full title is The Invention of Hugo Cabret (2007). When I read that book back in 2009 with my daughter I was in awe of it from start to finish. I had never experienced such a creative intertwining of a written narrative and finely detailed drawings. Selznick’s illustrations didn’t just enhance the story, for at least half the book they were the story. To say the least, I was inspired.
Selznick’s follow-up novel is Wonderstruck (2011), a book that is no less amazing. Once again, Selznick’s illustrations are just as important to the story as his written words. What has impressed me even more about Mr. Selznick is that he didn’t sit back and repeat his winning formula from Hugo Cabret. He took his unique storytelling technique and gave it a new twist. In Wonderstruck, he has two main characters whose points of view are used to tell his story, both children. One, a boy name Ben’s story, is told completely through the written narrative. The other is a girl named Rose. Her story is told solely with pencil illustrations. The two stories take place in different time periods, but as the story goes on we see parallels, suggesting that their stories are somehow tied together. The resulting story is mysterious, historic, and heart warming.
I recommend Hugo Cabret and Wonderstruck for younger readers, ages 8 to 12 for sure, and also older readers will enjoy these creatively told stories. I have not heard anything about a Wonderstruck movie yet, but my guess is that it will get the movie treatment soon. As I read both of these books I felt almost like I was watching a silent movie. Perhaps it’s because Selznick sets his stories back into earlier days of the 20th century, and perhaps it’s also because his drawings are crafted as if they are still shots taken straight from the big screen. For both of these reasons and more I think Wonderstruck has the potential to be a great movie. But, that’ not really where I meant to go with this blog. What I really want to communicate is this: the book Wonderstruck and it’s predecessor, The Invention of Hugo Cabret, are treats to read and I think ever parent should go out and get them both for their young readers, and also for themselves.
Here is a link to Brian Selznick’s website.