Tag Archives: fairy tale

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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Falling In by Frances O’Roark Dowell

Isabelle Bean doesn’t quite fit in.  She’s a quiet girl (but isn’t shy), who talks in riddles (but is never rude).  Her teachers, classmates and even her own mother can’t seem to figure her out.  A fall through a door in the nurses’s office sets Isabelle off on an adventure to figure out who she is and where she belongs.

The world Isabelle falls into is like something out of a fairy tale; fairies stealing babies, witches hunting children.  Despite the fact that the children she meets are running away from the witch, Isabelle thinks it might be interesting to meet one.  She tricks a lost girl named Hen into accompanying her on her journey but instead of a witch, the girls find Grete, a healer who lives alone in the woods.  As Grete teaches Isabelle and Hen the ways of her craft, secrets are revealed and Isabelle finds herself faced with an important decision and shocking information about her true identity.

Falling In by Frances O’Roark Dowell
Juvenile Fiction | 256 pages | March 2010 | Atheneum | 141695032X  | Library copy

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Filed under Book Reviews, Children's Literature