Wonderstruck. That’s an interesting word. Wonderstruck. The dictionary says it means – struck with wonder; feeling admiration, surprise, etc. I like this word. I don’t believe that I have ever been struck before. But I like the idea of being struck with wonder. I think that I am Wonderstruck over Mr Brian Selznick. His books fill me with admiration and surprise. We’ve been kind of on a roll lately with his books. The latest to cross our threshold is called Wonderstruck.
by Brian Selznick
published by Scholastic Press in 2011
suitable for grades 3-7
themes – deaf culture, museums, chasing your dreams
it begins –
(The book actually begins with several pages of illustration of wolves running toward the reader.)
The first text begins on page 16 –
Something hit Ben Wilson and he opened his eyes. The wolves had been chasing him again and his heart was pounding.
This is another really BIG book by Mr Selznick. 637 pages! Another really BIG mostly picture book that can be read in a short amount of time. I’ve noticed that a lot of my readers in 3rd and 4th grade like to check out BIG books. I think they like the look and feel of BIG books. But most BIG books are a little much for some of them to handle. Mr Selznick’s BIG books are delightful! Lots of great illustrations that are filled with story.
This book – Wonderstruck – is actually TWO stories being told at the same time! One in text and one in pictures! Both stories kind of parallel each other throughout the book, but then in the end they intersect. Ben Wilson’s story begins in words in Gunflint Lake, Minnesota in 1977. His mom has recently died, he doesn’t know anything about his father, and he is living with his aunt and uncle. He was born deaf in one ear.
Rose Kincaid’s story begins in pictures in Hoboken, New Jersey in 1927. She seems to be obsessed with an actress and has a scrapbook of stories and pictures about her. It turns out that Rose is deaf and unhappy. Ben gets struck by lightening and becomes totally deaf. Both kids run away from home and venture to New York City. Rose, in search of her mother and brother. Ben in search of his unknown father. Their lives intersect at the Natural History Museum. And that’s as much as I’m going to tell you!! You’ll have to solve the mystery yourself!
This book is a thrilling mystery filled with Wonder. The wonder of a museum and all that is in it. The wonder of the universe. The wonder of being deaf and learning to get along in a hearing world. The wonder of friendship. The wonder of finding yourself.
Mr. Brian Selznick is a Wonder.
Ben kept a treasure box full of wonders that he found around him. Rocks and bones and fossils, twigs, a baby tooth, a game piece, My Mom Person is a collector like this. She doesn’t have a special box – she just kind of makes little shrines all over the house. But I think that kids might like to make a treasure box like Ben’s. What kinds of things would go in your treasure box? Do you keep a box like this?
A trip to a Natural History Museum would be in order after reading this book. And a planetarium! I’ve been to a Natural History Museum. There were BIG animals behind glass that were kind of scary. They looked real, but they could sure stand really still! I’m sure that there is probably a Natural History Museum in your area. If you would like to learn more about the one in New York that is talked about in the book you can visit their website HERE.
HERE is a link to information and teacher resources about American Sign Language.
This happens to be Friday. Susanna Hill’s Perfect Picture Book Friday. It’s USUALLY PPBF. But today, Ms Hill is announcing the winners of her writing contest. So you might want to venture over her way and check that out.
This is a song that plays a big part in Ben’s story. It was his mom’s favorite song and Ben liked to pretend that Major Tom was his dad. The song is Space Oddity by David Bowie — I think that Ben may have been a little odd.
I hope that you find Wonder in this holiday season.
Your Wonderstruck friend