4.5 36
by Brian Selznick

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From Brian Selznick, the creator of the Caldecott Medal winner The Invention of Hugo Cabret, comes another breathtaking tour de force.

Playing with the form he created in his trailblazing debut novel The Invention of Hugo Cabret, Brian Selznick once again sails into uncharted territory and takes readers on an awe-inspiring journey.

Ben and Rose

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From Brian Selznick, the creator of the Caldecott Medal winner The Invention of Hugo Cabret, comes another breathtaking tour de force.

Playing with the form he created in his trailblazing debut novel The Invention of Hugo Cabret, Brian Selznick once again sails into uncharted territory and takes readers on an awe-inspiring journey.

Ben and Rose secretly wish their lives were different. Ben longs for the father he has never known. Rose dreams of a mysterious actress whose life she chronicles in a scrapbook. When Ben discovers a puzzling clue in his mother's room and Rose reads an enticing headline in the newspaper, both children set out alone on desperate quests to find what they are missing.

Set fifty years apart, these two independent stories--Ben's told in words, Rose's in pictures--weave back and forth with mesmerizing symmetry. How they unfold and ultimately intertwine will surprise you, challenge you, and leave you breathless with wonder. Rich, complex, affecting, and beautiful--with over 460 pages of original artwork--Wonderstruck is a stunning achievement from a uniquely gifted artist and visionary.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Selznick follows his Caldecott-winning The Invention of Hugo Cabret with another illustrated novel that should cement his reputation as one of the most innovative storytellers at work today. Ben and Rose are both hearing-impaired. He is 12 in 1977; she is the same age 50 years earlier. Selznick tells their story in prose and pictures beginning with Ben, living (unhappily) with his aunt and uncle, 83 steps from the Minnesota lake cabin he shared with his librarian mother until her death in a car accident three months earlier. He has never met his father, but has reason to believe he may live in New York. As in Hugo Cabret, a significant part of the story is told in sequential illustrations, most of which depict the even unhappier Rose, whose movie star mother has remarried, leaving her daughter with her ex-husband in New Jersey. Both children run away to Manhattan seeking something from their respective absent parents. It takes several hundred pages and a big chunk of exposition to connect these two strands, but they converge in an emotionally satisfying way. Selznick masterfully uses pencil and paper like a camera, starting a sequence with a wide shot and zooming in on details on successive pages. Key scenes occur when the runaways find themselves in one of Manhattan's storied museums, and with one character named Jamie, and Rose's surname being Kincaid, it's impossible not to think of E.L. Konigsburg's From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, to which Selznick tips his hat in an author's note. Like that Newbery winner, Selznick's story has the makings of a kid-pleasing classic. Ages 9–up. (Sept.)
From the Publisher

Select Praise for Wonderstruck :

• “Selznick's story has the makings of a kid-pleasing classic…Another illustrated novel that should cement his reputation as one of the most innovative storytellers at work today.” -- Publishers Weekly, starred review

• "The way that the stories of Ben and Rose echo one another, and then finally connect, is a thing of wonder to behold.” -- School Library Journal, starred review

• “A gift for the eye, mind, and heart.” -- Booklist, starred review

• “Visually stunning, completely compelling, Wonderstruck demonstrates a mastery and maturity that proves that, yes, lightning can strike twice.”  -- Kirkus, starred review

Awards and Distinctions for The Invention of Hugo Cabret :

2008 Randolph Caldecott Medal

National Book Award Finalist

#1 New York Times Bestseller

USA Today Bestseller

#1 BookSense Bestseller

Select Praise for The Invention of Hugo Cabret :

• "A true masterpiece." -- Publishers Weekly, starred review

• "Fade to black and cue the applause!" -- Kirkus, starred review

• "Complete genius." – The Horn Book Magazine, starred review

• "Breathtaking." -- School Library Journal, starred review

• "It's wonderful. Take that overused word literally: Hugo Cabret evokes wonder." -- New York Times Book Review

Children's Literature - Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
The separate stories of two youngsters, a boy in 1977 and a girl in 1927, finally come almost miraculously together. The boy's tale is told at first in engrossing text; the girl's only in black and white double-page textured drawings. We meet Ben living unhappily in Gunflint Lake, Minnesota with his aunt and uncle and family, having lost his mother in a car accident. He is deaf in one ear, but after a lightning strike accident he is completely deaf. Finding clues to a father he never knew, Ben takes off for New York City to find him. In 1927 a girl named Rose lives isolated by her deafness in Hoboken, New Jersey, looking yearningly across the river at New York City where her mother is a famous actress. She too runs away. Themes run through both stories: parents, deafness, storms, stars, and the American Museum of Natural History. Some coincidences must be accepted, but the happy ending is both believable and satisfying. Selznick provides detailed, naturalistic, black pencil drawings that create gray, almost photographic scenes of buildings and people with a sense of mystery. We are swept into the powerful visual story as the point of view zooms in or out. The provocative narrative, similar in format to the author's The Invention of Hugo Cabret, leaves the reader with much to think about and illustrations to peruse repeatedly. Reviewer: Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
VOYA - Lauri J. Vaughan
Selznick follows up his Caldecott Medal winner, The Invention of Hugo Cabret (Scholastic, 2007/VOYA February 2007), with the similarly designed Wonderstruck. The story of Rose, a young deaf girl living in Hoboken, N.J., takes place in 1927 and is delivered exclusively in full-page, black-and-white drawings. Rose longs to experience Manhattan, the magical city where her mother performs and that she can see from her home but is forbidden to visit. Rose's tale is interspersed with the seemingly unrelated story of Ben, which takes place fifty years later in northern Minnesota and is delivered exclusively in text. Ben, who was born deaf in one ear, has recently suffered the loss of the only parent he has ever known—his mother, Elaine—in a car accident. Circumstances contrive to deepen Ben's tragedy when a lightning strike renders him completely deaf. The handicap does not prevent Ben from seeking out the identity of his father, however, and he shortly embarks on a journey to New York's American Museum of Natural History. Rose, too, embarks on a journey that ends up at that venerable institution. It is not until the third and final section that the connection between Ben and Rose becomes apparent and the story's advancement shares pictures and text. Wonderstruck is weakened with a few too many implausible events that middle school readers will quickly sniff out and question. Still, those willing to suspend the litmus test of reality will enjoy puzzling out the mystery of Ben and Rose. No doubt the Caldecott committee will be taking a close look at this beautifully illustrated title. Selznick has done an admirable job of weaving in bits of information on a myriad of topics, including museums, deaf culture, geology, astronomy, and wolves—and even provides a bibliography for readers interested in learning more. Readers and young artists will be snapping this title off the shelves. Libraries serving large populations will need multiple copies—and will probably need to check the wear and tear on their copies of The Invention of Hugo Cabret, as this title will no doubt re-ignite interest in the 2008 Caldecott winner. Reviewer: Lauri J. Vaughan
School Library Journal
Gr 4–8—Using the format he so brilliantly introduced in The Invention of Hugo Cabret (Scholastic, 2007), Selznick tells two parallel stories. The first, taking place in 1977, is told through words. Ben Wilson lives in Gunflint, MN. His mother has just died, and he doesn't know the whereabouts of his father. Disaster ensues when Ben is struck by lightning and loses the hearing in his one good ear. He runs away from his aunt and uncle and goes in search of his father. Parallel to Ben's story, and told through illustrations, is the story of Rose, a deaf child who lives in Hoboken, NJ, in 1927, with her overbearing father. She lives in a room that feels more like a prison, where she keeps a scrapbook of her silent-film star mother and builds models of New York City. Both Ben and Rose escape to New York and are drawn to the American Museum of Natural History. It is there that they find the connections they are seeking. The way that the stories of Ben and Rose echo one another, and then finally connect, is a thing of wonder to behold. The dual text/illustration format is not a gimmick when used to tell the right stories; the combination provides an emotional experience that neither the words nor the illustrations could achieve on their own.—Tim Wadham, St. Louis County Library, MO
Kirkus Reviews

Brian Selznick didn't have to do it.

He didn't have to return to the groundbreaking pictures-and-text format that stunned the children's-book world in 2007 and won him an unlikely—though entirely deserved—Caldecott medal for The Invention of Hugo Cabret. Weighing in at about two pounds, the 500-plus page tome combined textual and visual storytelling in a way no one had quite seen before.

In a world where the new becomes old in the blink of an eye, Selznick could have honorably rested on his laurels and returned to the standard 32-to-48–page picture-book format he has already mastered. He didn't have to try to top himself.

But he has.

If Hugo Cabret was a risky experiment that succeeded beyond Selznick and publisher Scholastic's wildest dreams (well, maybe not Scholastic's—they dream big), his follow-up, Wonderstruck, is a far riskier enterprise. In replicating the storytelling format of Hugo, Selznick begs comparisons that could easily find Wonderstruck wanting or just seem stale.

Like its predecessor, this self-described "novel in words and pictures" opens with a cinematic, multi-page, wordless black-and-white sequence: Two wolves lope through a wooded landscape, the illustrator's "camera" zooming in to the eye of one till readers are lost in its pupil. The scene changes abruptly, to Gunflint Lake, Minn., in 1977. Prose describes how Ben Wilson, age 12, wakes from a nightmare about wolves. He's three months an orphan, living with his aunt and cousins after his mother's death in an automobile accident; he never knew his father. Then the scene cuts again, to Hoboken in 1927. A sequence of Selznick's now-trademark densely crosshatched black-and-white drawings introduces readers to a girl, clearly lonely, who lives in an attic room that looks out at New York City and that is filled with movie-star memorabilia and models—scads of them—of the skyscrapers of New York.

Readers know that the two stories will converge, but Selznick keeps them guessing, cutting back and forth with expert precision. Both children leave their unhappy homes and head to New York City, Ben hoping to find his father and the girl also in search of family. The girl, readers learn, is deaf; her silent world is brilliantly evoked in wordless sequences, while Ben's story unfolds in prose. Both stories are equally immersive and impeccably paced.

The two threads come together at the American Museum of Natural History, Selznick's words and pictures communicating total exhilaration (and conscious homage to The Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler). Hugo brought the bygone excitement of silent movies to children; Wonderstruck shows them the thrilling possibilities of museums in a way Night at the Museum doesn't even bother to.

Visually stunning, completely compelling, Wonderstruck demonstrates a mastery and maturity that proves that, yes, lightning can strike twice. (Historical fiction. 9 & up)

Adam Gopnik
…engrossing, intelligent, beautifully engineered and expertly told both in word and image…Selznick's gift is for the uncanny and the haunting, and his subject is not only the strange poetry of ordinary things but the poetry of things from another time: train stations, frozen museum dioramas and old bookstores.
—The New York Times Book Review
Mary Quattlebaum
With this superb illustrated novel, Brian Selznick proves to be that rare creator capable of following one masterpiece—The Invention of Hugo Cabret, winner of the 2008 Caldecott Medal—with another even more brilliantly executed.
—The Washington Post

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Product Details

Scholastic, Inc.
Publication date:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.90(w) x 8.60(h) x 2.30(d)
830L (what's this?)
Age Range:
8 - 12 Years


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Wonderstruck 4.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 36 reviews.
Shanella More than 1 year ago
Two stories, set fifty years apart; interwoven. One told through pictures and the other told through words. The first story is of Ben, a young boy in the 1977 who just lost his mother and sets out to look for his father. The second story follows Rose, a young girl from 1927's New Jersey who sets out to look for her idol, a movie star. Both children's search take them to New York City. Both children - deaf - are struggling to find what they are looking for in a world where hearing is normal and sometimes taken for granted. In a sense, they end up mirroring each other's search and face similar hardships. How their lives intertwine in the end, though I was able to guess, was still very bittersweet. I enjoyed the illustrations immensely. Brian Selznick sets out to tell a story through his pictures and he succeeds. The details in some of the pictures were amazing. I found myself looking forward to Rose's story even though I loved reading Ben's. Brian also gives the reader a glimpse into Deaf culture, a culture that I've never experienced, and opened my eyes to a different lifestyle. I appreciated the way he told the story, giving the reader a glimpse into a world that some might not be familiar with. The story also echos with the longing we all have to belong somewhere, to be a part of something. Wonderstruck is, at it's core, a story of acceptance and community. It's quite relatable and because of this, I think many people will enjoy reading it.
TeensReadToo More than 1 year ago
Gold Star Award Winner! Ben, a young boy, feels lost and alone ever since the death of his mother. Even though he lives with his aunt and uncle, he doesn't feel like he belongs. When loneliness get too much, Ben sneaks next door to the house he lived in with his mother and begins to look for something, anything to make him feel better. When he finds a mysterious note that could possibly lead him to the father he's never known, he has to make the decision whether to follow his heart or stay where he is. Rose, a young girl, feels lost and alone in a house with her stern father. With her mother out of the picture and her older brother living in New York, she is completely cut off from everyone. After one too many disagreements with her father, Rose decides to strike out on her own to New York City to find some peace of mind. Both Ben and Rose find themselves at the American Museum of Natural History - only 50 years apart. Ben's story takes place in 1977 and Rose's story takes place in 1927. Ben's story is told in words, while Rose's story is told in pictures. Brian Selznick does a masterful job combining two journeys to create one amazing story. A winner!
ChelseaW More than 1 year ago
Ben is going through his mother's old belongings when a storm brews and lightning strikes the house. The force of the lightning goes through the phone he is holding against his ear, rendering him deaf. Instead of letting this setback in hearing bring him down, Ben decides that this is the perfect time for him to go to New York to try and find his father. Once there, he follows the tiny clues he has, until a chance encounter with a stranger from his past changes his life forever. Selznick's first book, The Invention of Hugo Cabret, is all but a common sight in middle grade schools. I was a little late reading it, thinking that all of the hype was just that, but when I did finally read it, I was completely blown away. The beauty of the drawings and timing in the pictures, mixed with the fascinating story of a boy and clockwork things was enough to keep me glued to the book. Now with Selznick's second book, I was hoping lightning would strike twice. Unfortunately, while the drawings and timing still had that "tear-through-the-book" quality, the story wasn't as interesting for me. There is a breakneck speed at which the plot unfolds, but I never really felt invested in the characters enough to care about what was happening to them. Readers will be captivated by the silent action that unfolds for a magical reunion, but I am hoping Selznick's next book packs a little more punch.
miamimom More than 1 year ago
A perfect novel! I loved the parallel stories that come together at the end! The illustrations were just beautiful and the story was captivating! Not just for children but for any age! Highly recommend it!
Genna_Sarnak More than 1 year ago
Twelve-year-old Ben Wilson lives as an orphan with his aunt and uncle in Gunflint Lake, Minnesota in 1977. His mother was tragically killed in a car accident and he never knew his father. Missing his mom one night during a terrible storm, Ben sneaks out of his aunt's house into his mom's old room. There, he discovers a puzzling book with a postcard and address in New York City. With a strong sense of longing for the man he’s never known, Ben sets out, alone, on a quest to find his dad. Twelve-year-old Rose Kincaid is a deaf girl who lives with her father in Hoboken, New Jersey in 1927. She dreams about a mysterious silent film star and longs to travel to New York City to see the actress in person. Her father won’t let her go, so Rose sneaks out of her house and finds a way across the water into the grand city. Desperately searching for what she is missing, Rose embarks on a journey of her own. The book goes back and forth between Ben's quest, which is told entirely with words, and Rose's story, which is told entirely through pictures. The two stories, set fifty years apart, weave back and forth before ultimately coming together in a very satisfying and mysterious way. The story is ultimately about two kids who are trying to find their place in the world. Easy-to-read and very beautiful, this book will leave you feeling both satisfied and Wonderstruck.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book was very good. The author/artist obviously is very good and put a lot of time into it. If you like this book read The Invention of Hugo Cabre.t IT IS AWESOME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
donnareads911 More than 1 year ago
Wow! Great story that comes to lfe with drawings. New and innovative and "wonderful"!
carly13 More than 1 year ago
this book will keep you on the edge of your seat! it is a tremendous book if you love mystery clues and more this is the book you should read!!
I-Got-Seoul More than 1 year ago
This book says so much with so little.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
My son and I had an argument about this book because I think its better than Hugo. I think the story telling is better because it is being told in two time periods and yet the story is brought together seamlessly. Illustrations are exceptional yet again and is the type of book everyone can enjoy.
TrixieBelden92 More than 1 year ago
I read this in one night and i lovedit soooooooooooooo much!
MissPrint More than 1 year ago
In 1977 in Gunflint Lake, Minnesota Ben's mother just died. Ben has to share a room with his annoying cousin who makes fun of him for being born deaf in one ear even though his old house--the cottage he shared with his mom--is right down the road. Ben is drawn back to the cottage as strongly as he is to the wolves that chase him in his dreams. When a clue about the father he's never met points to New York City, Ben knows he has to follow it. In 1927, Rose is suffocating at home with her father in Hoboken, New Jersey. All Rose wants is to be able to go out by herself, like the other kids, and to watch Lillian Mayhew in silent films. When Rose learns that sound is coming to the movies and that Lillian Mayhew is starring in a play right across the river in New York City, how can she stay away? Will New York City reveal its secrets for Ben and Rose? Will either of them find what they're searching for in Wonderstruck (2011) by Brian Selznick? Wonderstruck is Selznick's second book told in words and pictures like his Caldecott winning The Invention of Hugo Cabret. In this book Ben's story in words intertwines in surprising ways with Rose's story told through pictures. Although the format is still brilliant and the story is once again clever and utterly original Wonderstruck lacks some of the verve and guileless charm of Hugo Cabret. The story is messier with a more immediate sense of loss and details that never tie together quite as neatly as they did in Selznick's earlier novel.* New York's American Museum of Natural History plays a prominent role in this story adding a nice to dimension to the story that will make it especially appealing for some readers** but Wonderstruck felt very busy as though it was tackling too much in one book. That is not to say that Brian Selznick is not a genius. He is--that fact is beyond debate. He combines words and pictures in a new way reinventing the whole idea of printed stories and blurring the line between prose fiction and picture books. His books are also always filled with historical details and facts that are well documented in a bibliography at the end of the story. Wonderstruck is a particularly find pick for anyone with an interest in New York City or museums. *I'm thinking particularly of Jamie's behavior in the book. Also the fact that Ben never felt much of a loss after the lightning strike. Did anyone else find that odd? **Like everyone who went to my grade school in 1993. Our building had asbestos so for a few months while it was being removed my entire school was bussed to the AMNH and we had classes there. We ate lunch under the whale every day. True story. Possible Pairings: The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman and Dave McKean, From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankenweiler by E. L. Konigsburg, Holes by Louis Sachar, The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick, Maniac Magee by Jerry Spinelli
Meshugenah More than 1 year ago
I almost didn't buy this book. First, I have a nook touch and generally don't buy many physical books anymore. Second, I'm more of a words person than picture person. Third, I don't have children, and generally believe the youngest of my extended family are better at picking their own books than I could ever be. (So what would I do with it after I read it?) However, after seeing Scorsese's movie "Hugo", my interest was piqued. Wonderstruck sat in it's box for a couple of weeks while I read a few others that were stacked up in front. Then I decided to take a break from the "heavy" stuff. I started reading this book and, after some initial confusion caused by the back and forth between the two character's stories, I found myself intrigued by both. I scoured the pictures for clues to where Rose's story was going and just when I thought I might find out, the story switched to Ben. I read Ben's story, delighted by its realistic and non-judgemental progress and then was thrown back to Rose. My dog nudged me an hour into my reading and I looked up, then down at the book, and was shocked to find I was halfway through it. Sure enough, another hour later and I was done and amazed at how delightful and satisfying the experience had been. My copy of this book will get passed along to a few other adults, then will, indeed, be repackaged and mailed to those young nieces and nephews of mine. I'm confident that this is one I can choose for them and they'll enjoy it as much as I did.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is amazing and it just comes alive as you read and the pictures are just amazing.the book is amazing.
JoanofArcreader More than 1 year ago
I thought Wonderstruck was an amazing book. Rose and Ben’s stories overlap and mix, making it very interesting. When you read it you will be enticed by the pictures that tell Rose’s story, looking at the detail closely, searching for who she is. In Ben’s story you will feel as if you’re living his story with him because it is described in perfect words. This book is now definitely one of my favorites. I absolutely loved this book! I would recommend it to anyone who is looking to escape in a book one day or just looking for a good read. The action starts right away in the book. Though the book may scare some readers away because of its large size do keep in mind that Rose’s story is all in pictures so reading this book is faster than you might think it is. Wonderstruck is a book for all ages because younger children can understand it, teens can relate to it, and it can mean a lot for an adult while still be a challenging enough read for adults. Brian Selznick’s writing technique will entrance you. It is a enthralling novel that will leave you breathless as you race though it from suspense. I thought it was phenomenal! Wonderstruck will truly leave you wonderstruck.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I was spellbound by Brian Selznick's book Hugo Cabret when i saw this in the book store i knew it was for me. I begged my mom who finally gave in to an irreplacable book. I'm 12 years old and i found this book amazing with the amazing pictures mixed with the enchanting story it makes for a perfect read by the fireplace this ones a keeper. A perfect gift i lent this book to my cousin, my mom,my aunt my brother my dad and my grandmother who all said it was one of the best books EVER!!!!
PapaJohnJA More than 1 year ago
I recently read The Invention of Hugo Cabret with my eight and six year old grandsons. They loved it and were so excited when I told them about Wonderstruck. They loved the story and the illustrations, and I loved reading with them and talking about the beautiful pictures. My 12 year old daughter also read this on her own and loved it. Fans of Selznick's books will not be disappointed by his latest.
smaikens More than 1 year ago
Brian Selznick created a new art form with his illustrated novel, "The Invention of Hugo Cabret". Now, he's followed up with his 2nd novel, "Wonderstruck". Perhaps the title hints at the reaction that readers will have to the many intricately rendered pencil drawings. "Wonderstruck" is actually 2 intertwined stories set many years apart. Selznick uses his hundreds of drawings to tell the story of Rose, a deaf girl living in 1920's New York. The text tells the story of Ben, a boy living in Minnesota in 1977. "Wonderstruck" is as thick as a brick, but don't let the size deter you from experiencing this marvelous read. This is a perfect book to share with reluctant readers or for parents to read at bedtime. I've been a Brian Selznick fan for years, ever since I saw him "put on a show" to promote his picture book, "The Dinosaurs of Waterhouse Hawkins". He's talented, personable, & a born promoter. "Hugo Cabret", which won a Caldecott Award, is one of my favorite books of all time. I hope the movie by Martin Scorcese due at Christmas does it justice.
vtreenine More than 1 year ago
I was reading this for a school activity in college and it turned out to be an excellent read. It does not take long either. There is a surprise in the book so I will not spoil it for you, but it is a must read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Laine-librariancanreadtoo More than 1 year ago
I loved it!! Absolutely a wonderful read. A story that will enhance your thinking of how KIDs think!!  Ben and Rose wish their lives were different. Which kid doesn't? Ben longs for the father he has never known. Rose dreams of a mysterious actress whose life she chronicles in a scrapbook. They finally look into their mysterious lives and find an interesting character. And the amazing thing is.....it's set fifty years apart with Ben told in words while Rose is in pictures -- weaving back and forth with "mesmerizing symmetry". 
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Interesting book. A little too long for kids but pre-teens like it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This story is heart-warming and one of those books you just CAN'T put down. I recommend people this creative, loving, mysterious, and completely touching book.