Breadcrumbs

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Breadcrumbs
Author(s)
Genre(s)
Age Range
8+
Release Date
September 27, 2011
ISBN
978-0062015051
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A stunning modern-day fairy tale from acclaimed author Anne Ursu

Once upon a time, Hazel and Jack were best friends. But that was before he stopped talking to her and disappeared into a forest with a mysterious woman made of ice. Now it's up to Hazel to go in after him. Inspired by Hans Christian Andersen's "The Snow Queen," Breadcrumbs is a story of the struggle to hold on, and the things we leave behind.

Editor review

1 review
The Sadness
Overall rating
 
4.5
Plot/Characters/Writing Style
 
4.0
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable)
 
5.0
This is a seriously sad children’s book. It’s beautiful, thought-provoking, and heartfelt, but melancholy is the prevailing mood for BREADCRUMBS.

Hazel and Jack are fifth graders who have been best friends forever, throughout their difficult young lives. One day, Jack changes and stops speaking with Hazel. It could be that his heart has been turned to ice by a snow queen, or it could just be that he is growing up and apart from her. Hazel must go on a quest to get Jack back, and author Anne Ursu makes it possible to believe that the fairy tale journey into the cold is a metaphor for salvaging a broken friendship.

Hazel’s mission is trying and solitary. Along the way she encounters many strange characters that remind her of her beloved fairy tales. The allusions in BREADCRUMBS come fast and furious—Ursu references The Red Shoes, The Little Match Girl, The Chronicles of Narnia, A Wrinkle in Time, and countless more. This makes me wonder who the audience is for the novel. The characters are young, yet I wonder if people their age will like the story. For the most part, I did, enjoying the literary references, Ursu’s beautiful writing, and the sadness that pervades the novel. I don’t know that eleven-year-olds will feel similarly, especially at the end, which trails off, rather than ending definitively.

BREADCRUMBS is popular, having been named Book of the Year by Amazon.com, Publishers Weekly, and School Library Journal. There are many things to love, from having an Indian protagonist, Erin McGuire’s gorgeous illustrations, and its thematic depth. Yet it just didn’t click completely for me. I’m in the minority here.

Good Points
Erin McGuire's wonderful illustrations
Would be great for teachers who are doing a lesson on allusions
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1 review
Overall rating
 
4.5
Plot/Characters/Writing Style
 
4.0(1)
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5.0(1)
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Breadcrumbs review
Overall rating
 
4.5
Plot/Characters/Writing Style
 
4.0
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable)
 
5.0
Breadcrumbs was a very enjoyable read for me. It kept me engaged and I managed to finish it quicker than most things I've been reading lately, so that's certainly something.

First of all, I love the illustration of Hazel on the cover and the fact that it seemed to be a pretty accurate representation of how she actually looks. But, the book isn't about the cover, so we'll talk about the actual contents.

The main focus in Breadcrumbs is Hazel's growth when it comes to "growing up." Everyone's always telling her to get used to the real world and that everything isn't as magical is she likes to think. I appreciated that Hazel could see perfectly well that everyone was telling her to grow up, but she refused to give up on the things she believed. And in the end, Hazel certainly learns some things and grows a little, but she doesn't just drastically change and become all adult-like, which is good.

The forest was interesting. There wasn't really any rhyme or reason (as far as I could tell) to what happened or showed up in the forest which made it feel kind of weird, but not necessarily in a bad way. The forest characters were interesting and kept me guessing, which I enjoyed.

Generally, I don't read a lot of contemporary middle grade. I mostly read fantasy/adventure and the like, but Breadcrumbs managed to get the perfect balance between contemporary and fantasy. The main conflict is Jack growing away from Hazel which is a fairly contemporary type of thing, but Hazel also goes on a quest to save Jack from a witch (through a forest) that is decidedly fantastical. Ursu kept me entertained while also dealing with a very real thing almost all of us go through at some point in our life.

The Nutshell: Breadcrumbs is a great contemporary-fantasy hybrid and I highly enjoyed it. It was a quick read that kept me engaged throughout the story.

Hit
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