Brian Selznick

Book Review: Wonderstruck

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Wonderstruck 

Written and Illustrated by Brian Selznick 
Published: 2011 by Scholastic 
Ages 9+, 608 pages 
Genre: Graphic Novel, Mystery, Realistic Fiction 

I don’t want to reveal too much about Wonderstruck, since letting the story unfold makes it a great book. You may already be familiar with Brian Selznick’s book The Invention of Hugo Cabret, which was recently made into a film. This book is similar, since part of the story is told through pictures. Don’t let the page numbers scare you, since the pages fly by and you’ll wish there was more to read. The book is about two individuals set 50 years apart who eventually intertwine together. The stories are separate, yet both desire something in their lives. Ben’s story begins in Minnesota, in 1977, who desires to learn about his father. Rose’s story begins in New Jersey, in 1927, who keeps newspaper clippings of a woman and feels out of place. Both discover a clue that leads them onto a quest. The stories move back and forth, Ben’s story is told through words and Rose’s story is told through pictures. This is the first graphic novel that I’ve read and it was magical. Brian Selznick’s illustrations and details make the story come alive. The pages need full attention, since there are  messages within the illustrations. The book wasn’t exactly a mystery, instead it was as though Wonderstruck slowly revealed its secrets. I really enjoyed this book and highly recommend it.

Excerpt:

Ben’s hands were still shaking from the dream. Ever since the accident, the wolves appeared, galloping across the moonlit snow, red tongues wagging and white teeth glistening. He couldn’t figure out why they were stalking him, because he used to love wolves.

– Brian Selznick (Wonderstruck, page 17)

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Book Review: The Landry News

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The Landry News

by Andrew Clements, illustrated by Brian Selznick

Ages 9+, 131 pages

Topics: Censorship, Newspaper, Realistic Fiction

I was first interested in The Landry News, because it discusses censorship and the freedom of press. Everyone knows a teacher who has lost their enthusiasm and may not be giving their best effort after years in the classroom. Mr. Larson, who teaches fifth grade, read a student editorial that highlighted his lack of teaching. At first Mr. Larson is upset, but this created a spark that motivated better teaching. The class writes a weekly newspaper that provides the truth with heart. However, the principal becomes upset when an article is published and hopes to use the information to fire Mr. Larson. The class discusses the First Amendment and what has a right to be printed. In fact, the book’s first pages provide the Bill of Rights. I think this was a great book to start conversations about freedom of speech and censorship.

– Editorial excerpt that sparks Mr. Larson:

     There has been no teaching so far this year in Mr. Larson’s classroom. There has been learning, but there has been no teaching. There is a teacher in the classroom, but he does not teach.