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Breadcrumbs Hardcover – September 27, 2011
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From School Library Journal
“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)
Top Customer Reviews
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.Read more ›
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.Read more ›
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.
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.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Very well written. Anne Ursu is an incredible author. This book pulls you in and soon, you can't stop reading it. Read morePublished 3 months ago by Amazon Customer
The protagonist in Breadcrumbs has some commendable qualities, but the story fails in so many ways. It wanders through most of the book, lagging and turning down dead ends that... Read morePublished 5 months ago by Kindle Customer
Book boring although I am 75 yrs old so that might be the reason it was boring to me. Would be good for younger people.Published 9 months ago by Ronald Pete Alford
This is a story about Hazel--an imaginative, effervescent adoptee--whom only feels like she truly only fits in with her best friend Jack. Read morePublished 10 months ago by justme
It needs some work on descriptions. Kids read these books and if a four year old read it they would have to really get someone to explain it. The book was just ok. Read morePublished 12 months ago by Avery Henry
As a rabid fan of the fairytale The Snow Queen, Breadcrumbs has been on my TBR list since Fairytale Fortnight 2014. And I am so, so glad I finally got around to reading it! Read morePublished 13 months ago by Beth Wade
A dreamy piece. I really liked the main character and was cheering for her all the way. It was nice to see a strong female heroine who succeeded through her brains and grit rather... Read morePublished 13 months ago by Samantha Dunaway Bryant
One of my favorite genres of books is the "retold fairy tale." Some of my favorite books have fallen into this category -- East, The Snow Child: A Novel, Ella Enchanted (Trophy... Read morePublished 13 months ago by Kenya Starflight
It was an ok book because it barley got to the main part of the story and when it did get to that spot it just was a chapter long.Published 14 months ago by Rachel