Breadcrumbs by Anne Ursu

“This is what happens on journeys – the things you find are not necessarily the things you had gone looking for.” (p. 235)

Hazel and Jack are best friends.  Highly imaginative and having both suffered loss in their home lives, Hazel and Jack seem inseparable.  Until a shard of glass from a magic mirror falls in Jack’s eye and pierces his heart with an impenetrable coldness.  Suddenly he wants nothing to do with Hazel and soon he disappears into the woods with the White Witch.  Despite Jack’s brush-off, Hazel goes after her friend, for this is what best friends do.  In the woods, things are not what they seem.  Hazel encounters wolves, wizards, and woodsman, all of whom try to distract her from her mission.  After trudging deeper and deeper into the cold, Hazel finally finds the Witch and the slightly underwhelming showdown (but a showdown nonetheless!) begins.  Based on Hans Christian Andersons story, “The Snow Queen”, Breadcrumbs is a fairy tale retelling that blends contemporary and traditional tales, along with realistic and fantasy elements.

I just have one word to describe Ursu’s writing:  enchanting.  I thought the writing was brilliantly beautiful, with passages that beg to be read aloud.  I found Hazel to be a believable and relatable character and her issues with her parent’s divorce, fitting in at a new school, growing up (and growing apart) were realistic.  I was completely drawn into the first half of the book…and then lost a little bit of interest in the second.  Maybe it’s just the fact that I prefer realistic fiction over fantasy that I had a harder time swallowing the second half.  I also thought the story got slightly repetitive and that the climax was a bit anti-climactic, but even with those hang-ups I was still overall delighted by Breadcrumbs and would recommend it to young and old alike.

Breadcrumbs by Anne Ursu
Juvenile fiction | 313 pages | September 2011 | Waldon Pond Press | 0062015052  | Library copy
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Filed under Book Reviews, Children's Literature

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