Wonderstruck

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.

IMG_1934Wonderstruck
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.

IMG_1936Rose 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
Rhythm
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A Bit of Magic

My Mom Person has a boy who as a little boy was fascinated with a magician and escape artist named Harry Houdini. This little Houdini wannabe was often to be found tied up somewhere trying to escape his bonds. Once he was even discovered in the swimming pool with some chains! Crazy boy!! Luckily the Mom Person was well aware of his propensity for getting himself in a fix and kept a sharp eye on him!

Well, we recently discovered a GREAT book by Mr Brian Selznick about the GREAT Houdini. The Mom Person happens to be crazy about Mr Selznick so she scooped it right up and brought it home for a good read. And a good read it is!! That Mr Selznick is magic! Now, here’s some more serendipitous magic — The very next day, we received in the mail a movie to watch. The movie was Hugo! This is a movie based on another of Mr Selznick’s books – The Invention of Hugo Cabret! The week turned into a celebration of Mr Brian Selznick!

And I’m here to share the celebration with you!! You might notice that I locked Electra in THE CAGE to see how clever she might be. My Mom Person was pleased to find that she is no Houdini.

IMG_1694and ABRACADABRA!!!!!!
The Houdini Box
by Brian Selznick
published by Atheneum Books for Young Readers in 1991

A CURIOUS STORY
OF MAGIC
AND
ESCAPOLOGY
as performed by
Harry Houdini and a
little boy named Victor,
with special appearances
by Victor’s Mother, Aunt
Harriet, and the lovely
Mrs. Houdini.

The story begins with a bit of history about Mr Houdini, a magician extraordinaire who was famous for his daring escapes from all sorts of unbelievable situations. Then we meet Victor, who is ten years old and wants to be a magician, too. He tries to escape from locked trunks and walk through walls and perform magic tricks just like his hero. With no success. Then! One day he has a chance encounter with the GREAT MAN and Mr Houdini promises to write him a letter.

IMG_1695After a long, impatient wait, a letter arrives for Victor and he is asked to come to Mr Houdini’s house. He goes there on Halloween night only to find that Mr Houdini has died just that day!!! But Mrs Houdini gives Victor a box. A small, locked box. Does this box hold all of Mr Houdini’s secrets? Will Victor now be able to become the magician he longs to be? Ahhhhh – you’ll have to read the book to find out!

At the end of the book there is a lot of back story material about Mr Houdini and about Mr Selznick’s journey in writing this book. He even includes instructions for a magic trick you can learn yourself!! And a list of resources for further reading.

IMG_1697The Invention of Hugo Cabret is a very similar book. It’s another tale about magic – and clocks and automatons and the history of the movie industry. It was published in 2007 and won the Caldecott Medal Award in 2008. It is a very BIG book. 526 pages! But many of the pages are double spread illustrations that compel you forward much like a flip book or a movie. There are nearly 300 pages of pictures! In 2011 Martin Scorsese made a movie adapted from Mr Selznick’s book. The movie is HUGO. It won 5 Academy Awards and lots of other awards. It was the book on the big screen! Absolutely incredible!! See the movie! Read the book! It will all make you want to go out and watch some silent movies!

IMG_1699Mr Selznick illustrated another Caldecott Honor book – The Dinosaurs of Waterhouse Hawkins. Another incredible historical fiction book written by Barbara Kerley.

Mr Selznick writes about magic – Mr Houdini was a magician and illusionist, Georges Melies, from the Hugo Cabret book, was a magician of the cinema – creating dreams. Mr Selznick himself creates magic with pen and paper.

I will leave you with an interview with Mr Selznick discussing a musical play of The Houdini Box and also talking about the movie Hugo – enjoy!

Now go forth and find some magic in your life!
Your library friend
Rhythm
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