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Breadcrumbs Hardcover – September 27, 2011


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Product Details

  • Age Range: 8 - 12 years
  • Grade Level: 3 - 7
  • Lexile Measure: 720L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Walden Pond Press; 1 edition (September 27, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0062015052
  • ISBN-13: 978-0062015051
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.8 x 1.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (149 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #348,248 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Gr 4-8-Hazel and Jack were friends, once upon a time. The games they played demonstrated rich imaginations and kindred spirits. Then Jack got a sliver of a magic mirror in his eye and his heart grew cold. Soon he was snatched away by an evil woman in a sleigh into a strange magical world where snow and cold abound-a place where his frozen emotions seem perfectly at home. Does Hazel have the heart to risk everything to find her friend and bring him back? In Anne Ursu's book (Walden Pond Press, 2011) we find a creepy, compelling homage to Hans Christian Andersen in a story based on "The Snow Queen." Vibrant threads from other Andersen stories are woven into the tale, creating a brilliant tapestry. There are also references to both classic and modern fantasy tales, showing that all are related. The underlying theme of friendship that is constant and true, sacrifice, and choosing reality over fantasy is beautifully written. Kirby Heyborne reads without background noises or musical embellishment, allowing the story to stand on its own so that listeners can enjoy its rich language and gentle messages.-Teresa Bateman, Brigadoon Elementary, Federal Way, WAα(c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.

Review

“Devastatingly brilliant and beautiful...Ursu has sculpted a rich and poignant adventure that brings readers deep into the mysterious, magical, and sometimes frightening forests of childhood and change. Breadcrumbs is one of those rare novels that turned me on my head then sat on my heart and refused to budge.” (Ingrid Law, Newbery Honor-winning author of Savvy)

“This is a lyrical book, a lovely book, and a smart book; it dares us to see stories as spreading more widely, and running more deeply, than we had imagined.” (Gary Schmidt, Newbery Honor-winning author of The Wednesday Wars)

Like a fairy-tale heroine, Hazel traverses the woods without a breadcrumb trail to save a boy who may not want to be saved in this multi-layered, artfully crafted, transforming testament to the power of friendship. (Kirkus Reviews (starred review))

The creepy fantasyland that Hazel traverses uses bits from other Andersen tales to create a story that...is beautifully written and wholly original. It’s certainly the only children’s fantasy around where Minnesota Twins All-Star catcher Joe Mauer figures into the plot. (Publishers Weekly (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 of the Center for Children’s Books (starred review))

2011 NPR Backseat Book Club (Featured Selection)

“Wonderfully distinct, delightfully told and destined for a long life on the shelf.” (The Wall Street Journal)

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Customer Reviews

Hazel is such a lovable main character, so well captured.
Amanda C. Bosky
Later, when Hazel ventures into the realm of fairy tales, she learns that it contains many dangers that "would have been beautiful, as a story."
Kelly (Fantasy Literature)
I would easily recommend this book to young readers who enjoy fantasy and adventure.
ReadingCorner

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

63 of 68 people found the following review helpful By Kelly (Fantasy Literature) VINE VOICE on September 21, 2011
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Hazel and Jack have always been best friends, bonding over their shared love of science fiction and fantasy. They play make-believe "superhero baseball" and hang out in a derelict house they call the Shrieking Shack. But now that they're eleven, Hazel's mom is pushing her to make some female friends, and Jack is more interested in hanging out with his male friends than with Hazel. Then the impossible happens: Jack is taken away by a mysterious witch, and Hazel is the only one who can rescue him. Anne Ursu's Breadcrumbs is a retelling of the fairy tale "The Snow Queen," and it's fantastic.

Ursu perfectly captures what it's like to be a child of about eleven, just on the cusp of puberty but not there yet. You're old enough to know that believing in magic is considered childish, but you don't want to live in a world without it. Social cliques are shifting, sometimes for no discernible reason, and you feel the loss of friendships without ever knowing what went wrong. And maybe your parents get divorced (Hazel's), or maybe they're suffering from a mental illness (Jack's), or even if none of that happens, you're starting to realize they don't have all the answers. Or they don't have the answers you want to hear, or they seem to be answering a subtly different question from the one you're asking. Ursu uses a delicate touch with the familial issues; the book never feels like a Very Special Episode About Divorce or anything like that. Instead, the issues are woven seamlessly into the kids' lives along with their fantasy geekdom.

Later, when Hazel ventures into the realm of fairy tales, she learns that it contains many dangers that "would have been beautiful, as a story.
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20 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Jennifer Mo VINE VOICE on September 13, 2011
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
It's been said that Hans Christian Andersen's fairy tale "The Snow Queen" is really an allegory about growing up and the strain adolescence places on girl-boy friendships. Anne Ursu takes that idea and runs with it in Breadcrumbs, a layered, subtle fairy tale retelling that rewards close reading (and an English degree). I enjoyed it quite a bit but have one major caveat: I don't think I would have liked it at all when I was in the 8-12 age range it's marketed for.

The story opens in the here and now: a snowy Minnesota winter and a fifth grade protagonist named Hazel, who is having trouble adjusting to her parents' divorce, her new school, and her changing relationship with her best friend Jack. One day, a strange shard of glass falls into Jack's eye, and he's suddenly completely different, though no one but Hazel notices. And then a woman made of ice and coldness takes Jack away with her into the woods.

Hazel, of course, plunges in after him. But here's where Breadcrumbs deviates from the fantasy books Hazel herself is a fan of (there are allusions to everything from Neil Gaiman's Coraline to CS Lewis's Chronicles of Narnia and Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials Trilogy). The magic forest might be filled with strange creatures and perilous adventures, but it really seems to be more of an internal journey through Hazel's own longings, fears, and attachments than an external quest. Ursu weaves in characters from several different Hans Christian Andersen stories, including "The Nightingale" and "The Little Match Girl", and uses them quite brilliantly to illuminate Hazel's struggles as well as her journey towards greater understanding and maturity.

Ultimately, it's a story about growing up and letting go.
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26 of 30 people found the following review helpful By Kate B. VINE VOICE on September 20, 2011
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Breadcrumbs... oh, how I wish I could write a song to your beauty. I have never really been a fan of middle grade type novels. The characters often are hard to relate to. Sometimes, they are annoying or not my cup of tea.

Anne Ursu, you have forever changed my opinion of middle grade books. Or at least spoiled me.

Hazel, our MC, was perfect. Not the perfect fit. Not the girl who just runs with the crowd. This girl dances to her own tune. And I loved her for it. For her awkwardness. Her imagination. For most of the novel, I just wanted to jump in and give her a hug. Tell her I understand what it means not to fit. It was like I was reading about my own childhood. Gosh, it was painful to read sometimes. But I loved it at the same time.

Breadcrumbs is like a cup of hot cocoa. It warms you body and soul. Making you want to believe in magic. Believe in the beauty of a snowy day. The snowflakes falling. Each with their own personality. Ursu gives you this imagery. Makes it come to life. Completely transporting me into this tale. Words cannot give justice to the amazement I felt after reading this book. I loved every moment of it. And will be looking forward to more from this gifted author.
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31 of 37 people found the following review helpful By Anna Keaney on March 4, 2012
Format: Hardcover
No book is more challenging to read than one that promises so much and delivers so little. It makes you question those who loved it and your own interpretations and reactions. BREADCRUMBS is one such book. In four and a half years of nightly family read-alouds, this is the only book we (two adults, one 8-year-old boy) ever considered not finishing; the only one with so little enjoyment that we felt it wasn't worth our time. We did stick it out, but it was a frustrating and unrewarding struggle.

BREADCRUMBS, written by Anne Ursu, tells the story of Hazel Anderson, a Minneapolis fifth-grader who is concerned that her best friend, Jack, has been magically altered or injured so that his personality is completely changed. When Jack appears to go missing, she treks into the woods to find him and bring him home. The first half of the book deals with Hazel's school and home experiences and her worry over Jack; the second half details her experiences in the woods by way of small vignettes with a variety of characters from Hans Christian Andersen's tales. Ms. Ursu references (and lifts from) numerous classic fantasy works throughout, from NARNIA to THE GOLDEN COMPASS to CORALINE to THE HOBBIT, and attempts to weave a magical vein throughout the story until Hazel's final confrontation with Jack.

Unfortunately, the promise of that outline goes unfulfilled, largely due to the deep unlikability of the main character. My son at first thought that Hazel just didn't seem very "alive"; by the end he was bored by her self-centeredness. My partner thought that the author couldn't possibly be creating such a self-involved character without going on to prove that she was so, and thereby having her grow and reflect on her past actions.
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