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Breadcrumbs Hardcover – September 27, 2011
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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.
“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)
Top customer reviews
It is a lovely book, with a lot of beauty, and also sly wit and reflection on fairy tales. When Hazel says her name is "Anderson", a character comments that they get a lot of those in The Woods. And the Snow Queen offers Jack some Turkish Delight and laughs at her own joke. And there are woodcutters and kindly healers and wolves and ice queens and fates, and only some of them are good and useful, even though Hazel is unfailingly polite and often kind. I liked that the magic of fairy tales did not always work perfectly for her.
Hazel is the kind of knight who would rescue a fellow knight, and I love that about her.
"He? Oh." Something passed over the woman's face.
"The princess is saving the knight, eh?"
Hazel shifted. "I guess."
"I hope the knight doesn't mind." She let out a laugh that sounded like it could cut something.
And the very ending was very much like the ending of Where The Wild Things Are, when the traveller returns home to a sign of love.
Another reviewer commented on the problematic way the author deals with mental health. Sometimes it's really interesting and descriptive, like describing a depressed woman as "looking like someone had severed her daemon". And sometimes it's casually judgemental and cruel. There are a lot of hard things in the real world of this book. Hazel's parents are recently divorced, and Hazel is an adoptee with no grounding or understanding of her birth family. Jack has his own problems, too. But that is not the core of Jack-and-Hazel. They are a pair, not in a romantic sense, but in a best-friends sense.
The art included was well-calculated to display well on Kindle screens, as it is just simple pencil drawings, but with a lot of emotional depth.
Read if: You want more immediate cultural touchstones than Among Others had. You love fairy tale twistings. You want the lady knight to be the hero.
Skip if: You don't read mid-grade books. You have trouble with slighting descriptions of mental illness.
A Long; Long Sleep (0)
The backbone of the story is a relationship of two friends and how that relationship can evolve through time - and that's it's okay to have a relationship change. Great theme.
Also, the characters had a bit of gritty-ness to their back story. But, not too much. I think a middle-reader likes to have a bit of grit, but not so much it takes the shine out of the story. Good plot. Good flow. Nice book!
Most recent customer reviews
The combination of Hans Anderson’s “The snow Queen” and the brothers Grimm’s “Hansel and Gretel” would have been an...Read more
This book has two halves.
The first half is about a depressed little girl who struggles to like anything in life except her friend Jack who ends...Read more