Thursday, October 6, 2011

Breadcrumbs

A couple things. First, I realize that this blog is geared toward adult fiction (and nonfiction), with a smattering of young adult titles thrown in for good measure, but today I’m going to write about a children’s book I read recently. The reason? Well, that brings me to item no. 2. I can generally tell whether or not I’m going to be swept away (enchanted, bewitched…you can choose your own word if you like) by a book from the first chapterthe writing, the story, the characters, and the opening scene all deliciously measured and stirred together by an author who really knows how to cook. And if the resulting aroma is pure magic, I know I’ve found a keeper. That book is Breadcrumbs, and that author is Anne Ursu. Now, the narrative of Breadcrumbs is a simple one; in fact, it’s a retelling of a classic fairy tale you may already know—The Snow Queen by Hans Christian Andersenplaced in a modern setting. In Breadcrumbs, Hazel Anderson loses her best friend, Jack, to a mysterious woman in white who spirits the boy away into the woods with her, and Hazel sets out to reclaim her friend. The bond of friendship between the two is so strong that Hazel will move heaven and earth to bring him back. But wait: is young Hazel some supergirl with special powers? No. There’s only one power truly at work in this story: love. It’s love that compels this brave little girl to enter the great unknown in search of her friend because her heart tells her that he is in trouble, even if he doesn’t realize it. My take: I fell in love with this book! if Breadcrumbs doesn’t exhibit one of the most moving examples of love and friendship in children’s literature, in literature period, I don’t know what does. But don’t be put off by the fact that it’s a children’s book; there’s an emotional depth within its pages that you would be hard pressed to find in books written for adults. And the writing? Poetic in its simplicity and stunningly beautiful. If you’ve ever had a friend, lost a friend, and felt lost because of it, then this is a book you should read. Well done, Anne Ursu!    

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