Author: Anne Ursu| Website
Publication Date: September 27th, 2011
Publisher: Waldon Pond Press
My Interest: Project: Fairy Tale
Age Group | Genre: MG| Retelling, Contemporary, Fantasy, Adventure,
Oh goodness. I think I may have just found my new favorite middle grade story! Nevermind that it is based on my favorite fairy tale, boy can Ursu write! I love how many stories are wrapped up in this single one… and how every time I turned a new page, I fell deeper and deeper in love with Hazel and her quest.
My best friend suggested I read this book a long time ago, (right after it came out in 2011) and I have no idea why I waiting so long to pick it up. I have been missing out!
I found a copy of this story in my library, and I was not compensated in any way for my review (cross my heart) nor did I promise a good rating. All thoughts and opinions expressed in this review are 100% mine.
Hazel and Jack are best friends… or at least they were once upon a time. Most of their Minneapolis winters were spent dreaming of superheroes and wizards. , simply because they knew they didn’t belong anywhere else. But suddenly, Jack stops talking to Hazel and even though her moms explains perfectly that sometimes this happens to boys and girls at this age, Hazel knows there’s more to the story.
Because in books, there is always more to the story.
Hazel finds out Jack’s heart has been frozen by a mysterious women in white, and it is up to her to save Jack. Venturing into the woods, Hazel learns they are nothing like what she has ever read about. And the two o them might not even leave the woods the same.
What. A. Fabulous. Story.
And I mean that. Breadcrumbs is a story. A story!!!! Sure, there are lessons weaved into the pages; and sure readers are going to relate to the characters, but there is a depth to this novel that I have not found for a long time.
It is no secret that I am in love with middle grade literature because it is so imaginative, and fantastical, and beautiful, and fun… but Breadcrumbs, wow. This is a story that is all those things times infinity.
Plotwise the story follows Andersen’s original tale quite well. Of course Ursu strays from the timeline of the tale, but I love how she has reworked it. A tiny fifth grade girl ventures into the woods and disappears for days—never once worried about or looked for by her family. Just wait until you see how! Unlike the original tale, Breadcrumbs is not split into seven different parts, but those seven story elements are most definitely in the story. And again, they are fabulously re-imagined.
Both Hazel and Jack are loveable characters, even when Jack’s heart turns cold. I could definitely picture myself as Hazel, and I think that is what Ursu gets right about the story. Hazel is not only has family struggles, but she is the new girl and the different girl in her fifth grade class. Boys tease her and girls don’t not want to be her friend. But Jack is different too, and he is what makes her feel like she belongs. I totally understand her desperate need to rescue her friend. She knows how stories teach us, and that quests make us stronger. Even though there is a very strong chance that Jack will be different when she rescues him, she doesn’t fear the future. She only cares about the now and saving the life of her friend.
What I love most about this story, though, is the rich, literate history Ursu weaves into the story. She has not only re-imagined a classic tale, but connected it to many other fantastical stories that shape readers. If readers pay close enough attention, they will find A Wrinkle in Time, Alice in Wonderland, Andersen’s own Little Match Girl, and even a connection to Narnia.
It goes without saying that this novel is a 5-rating novel for my bookshelf, and one that I hope to someday teach from. Ursu’s writing is bold, lyrical, and at many times, breathtaking. Never once did I wish to close the cover, and as I turned the final pages, I found myself longing for more of her storytelling. Even though I know the original tale by heart, I was surprised and awed by Breadcrumb’s journey. This is a novel that stole my heart from the first few lines, and it is a story I hope to take with me as I follow my own breadcrumbs.
If you like this novel, you might like….
Peter Nimble and His Fantastic Eyes by Jonathan Auxier
Juniper Berry by M.P. Kozlowsky
[for ratings system, please check out my Bookshelf]