Monday, March 26, 2012

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday: Breadcrumbs by Anne Ursu

About The Book: Once upon a time, Hazel and Jack were best friends. They had been best friends since they were six, spending hot Minneapolis summers and cold Minneapolis winters together, dreaming of Hogwarts and Oz, superheroes and baseball. Now that they were eleven, it was weird for a boy and a girl to be best friends. But they couldn't help it - Hazel and Jack fit, in that way you only read about in books. And they didn't fit anywhere else. 

And then, one day, it was over. Jack just stopped talking to Hazel. And while her mom tried to tell her that this sometimes happens to boys and girls at this age, Hazel had read enough stories to know that it's never that simple. And it turns out, she was right. Jack's heart had been frozen, and he was taken into the woods by a woman dressed in white to live in a palace made of ice. Now, it's up to Hazel to venture into the woods after him. Hazel finds, however, that these woods are nothing like what she's read about, and the Jack that Hazel went in to save isn't the same Jack that will emerge. Or even the same Hazel.
Inspired by Hans Christian Andersen's "The Snow Queen," Breadcrumbsis a story of the struggle to hold on, and the things we leave behind. —GoodReads

Self Portrait
Erin McGuire
Illustrator: Erin McGuire                   

First Line: It snowed right before Jack stopped talking to Hazel, fluffy white flakes big enough to show their crystal architecture, like perfect geometric poems.

Another Great Line: [When Hazel's friend decides not to sit with her.]  Mikaela got up and moved over to join Susan and Molly. The two became three, and Hazel carefully studied the shift of gravity. (121)

What Others are Saying:  “Although this is a fantasy, its grounding in psychological realism and focus on Hazel’s feelings makes it a fine choice for readers who prefer realistic fiction. Ursu's multilayerd, dreamlike story stands out from the fantasy/quest pack/” —School Library Journal starred review

"The evocative magical landscape, superbly developed characters (particularly dreamy, self-doubting, determined Hazel and lost Jack), and the piercing sadness of a faltering childhood friendship give this delicately written fantasy wide and lingering appeal."

 —Bulletin for the Center of Children's Books, starred review

What I Thought: Each of us have our own childhood wilderness where things are bigger and darker, where mystery is around each corner and anything is possible, hidden deep within us. This is the childhood that Ursu takes us to. A place where edges run together and color bleeds through. These are the images that light upon us as gentle as snow but sharp as jagged ice. Ursu cleverly weaves the stories of childhood that lead us to the reality of change so when the snow melts and wardrobe door is shut, we nod knowingly and remember that we've been down that path, too. 

About The Author: Anne Ursu

Anne is the author of Breadcrumbs, a contemporary retelling of “The Snow Queen,” and the three books in The Cronus Chronicles series—The Shadow Thieves, The Siren Song, and The Immortal Fire. She has also written two books for adult readers. Anne teaches at Hamline University’s MFA in Writing for Children, and lives in Minneapolis with her young son.


  1. A great team for a great book. The Snow Queen is one of my all time favorite favorite stories and Anne did it some serious justice in how she used it to tell her tale. And the language...sooo rich and wonderful. Thanks for the feature!

  2. I've never read The Snow Queen, but I recently started reading Breadcrumbs. Thanks for the review, Pam.

  3. I love this one, and I really like your take on it, especially in relation to childhood! Thanks for this review!

  4. I still haven't read this, but I'm definitely going to now.

  5. I seriously have to read this. Thanks for reminding me.

  6. I loved (LOVED) this book. Your insight in the paragraph "what I thought" is as beautifully written as the book itself.

    Living in Minneapolis, I've had several opportunities to meet and talk with Anne; she is as delightful as her writing.

  7. This is on my to-read list. Thanks for the review!


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