Wonder Struck by Brian Selznick

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Scholastic Press, 2011. ISBN 978 0 545 02789 2. Suitable for upper primary to lower middle school and anyone with a love of illustration. Selznick has followed the successful format of his award winning The Invention of Hugo Cabret in this similarly hefty volume. The beautifully rendered pencil drawings occupy more than half the pages and feature the wonderful detailing and close-ups that characterised the previous book. The opening sequence of wolves getting ever closer sets the scene for Ben's story, told mainly in prose, located in a remote Minnesota settlement in the 1970s. He has never known his father and his mother recently died, leaving him to live with relatives. He chances on a small book about museums containing a dedication and a link to a New York bookshop which lead him to run away in search of his father. Interleaved with Ben's story is that of Rose, a deaf girl living in Hoboken in 1923. She loves the silent movies but is kept locked in her room for her own safety. Reflecting the way Rose's life lacks language, her story is told entirely in pictures until both narrative threads converge. While this book is as gorgeous to hold and lovely to behold as the previous book, the written narrative is a little disappointing, and the matter of the drawings not as instantly engaging. However, if the illustration of the 'Cabinets of Wonders' p.403 draws more lost souls to find themselves in the orderliness of museums the book will have done its job. Sue Speck