Monday, February 27, 2012

Review of Breadcrumbs by Anne Ursu

Once upon a time, Hazel and Jack were best friends. They had been best friends since they were six, spending hot Minneapolis summers and cold Minneapolis winters together, dreaming of Hogwarts and Oz, superheroes and baseball. Now that they were eleven, it was weird for a boy and a girl to be best friends. But they couldn't help it - Hazel and Jack fit, in that way you only read about in books. And they didn't fit anywhere else. 

And then, one day, it was over. Jack just stopped talking to Hazel. And while her mom tried to tell her that this sometimes happens to boys and girls at this age, Hazel had read enough stories to know that it's never that simple. And it turns out, she was right. Jack's heart had been frozen, and he was taken into the woods by a woman dressed in white to live in a palace made of ice. Now, it's up to Hazel to venture into the woods after him. Hazel finds, however, that these woods are nothing like what she's read about, and the Jack that Hazel went in to save isn't the same Jack that will emerge. Or even the same Hazel. 

Inspired by Hans Christian Andersen's "The Snow Queen," Breadcrumbsis a story of the struggle to hold on, and the things we leave behind.

Recommended: Yes.

About Breadcrumbs
Available as: Hardcover $10.98 from,  
                                E-book $9.99 from's Kindle Edition

buy the book from The Book Depository, free delivery

Recommended Ages: 12 and Up
Hardcover: 313 pgs.
Published: September 27th 2011 by HarperCollins Publishers/Walden Pond Press
For This Review: *Book Copy Provided by the Reviewer's Program*
  In Breadcrumbs, Hazel, an eleven year-old girl journeys to The Snow Queen's (also referred to as the white witch) home to save Jack her best friend that happens to be a boy. Yes, everyone keeps pointing out the strangeness of an eleven year-old girl like Hazel having a best friend as a boy but to Hazel he's the only one who truly understands her. She has a huge imagination and Jack appreciates that about her unlike other kids in her class at school that feel that Hazel is a bit too old for the creative way she sees the world. The other kids like to make fun of how she likes to explain the world which you can better see how she views it [below]:

"Her mom nodded from the doorway."
It's amazing when you can see the patterns like that. Look at it. See the six sides? It's called hexagonal symmetry. A snowflake is made-"
People were always doing this sort of thing to Hazel. Nobody could accept that she did not want to hear about gaseous balls and layers of atmosphere and refracted light and tiny building blocks of life. The truth of things was always much more mundane than what she could imagine and she did not understand why people always wanted to replace the marvelous things in her head with this miserable heap of you're -a-fifth-grader-now facts.

The relationship between Hazel and Jack (not sure how it connects to Hans Christian Andersen's "The Snow Queen," since haven't read. Do know that Breadcrumbs is very much another fairytale-like story with a more modern take.) is so tender. They understand each other reveling in each other's company. It changes when Jack gets some shard glass embedded in his eye that makes him see Hazel as now unimportant. One day he just stops seeking her out. Hazel goes on her journey to seek him out from the white witch who has claimed him.
Breadcrumbs is a read that has so much in reading enjoyment. The written lines within its pages come out to be beautiful with richness. By today's standards it would be labeled a middle-grade book. For that it is a novel that is full of simplicity and, yes, complexity that makes it unique. And so readable. Anne Ursu with her novel, Breadcrumbs, has a strong voice that lures readers in. Her use of words is just plainly "admirable". Will open your heart with wonderment of clarity. For it's true in the world things aren't always good and that's a huge theme throughout the novel that life isn't always easy (opened up with imaginative wonder) and that it can go unexpectedly for people.

"Most of the splinters that fell were as tiny as dust. But there were a few larger pieces as well. The biggest one was about the size of your hand. It fell near the woods and a woman picked it up and carried it with her. She dropped it when the wolves scared her, and it was picked up several days later by a girl who lived nearby. This girl did not need an enchanted mirror to show her that the world could be an ugly place, so to her it spoke the truth. She kept the mirror in her apron pocket, where it could be secret and safe. 
A boy got a splinter in his eye and his heart turned cold. Only two people noticed. One was a witch and she took him for her own. The other was his best friend. And she went after him in ill-considered shoes, brave, and completely unprepared."

Breadcrumbs delivers something that sure does satisfy and for that reason this is more than just a middle-grade book but a middle-grade book with a slice of life in its pages. In this novel for some reason Jack will never be the same. So much so that wonder, if he will recover. So it's a growing seedling at this point whether there will be more books to Breadcrumbs as in sequels to it. If so excited for that immensely!
Overall: Touching read 
Genre: Fantasy, Middle-Grade

                              About the Author
Anne Ursu's most recent book is BREADCRUMBS (HarperCollins/Walden Pond Press), a modern–day fairy tale for middle grade readers. Inspired by Hans Christian Andersen's "The Snow Queen," BREADCRUMBS is a story of a Minneapolis girl who follows her best friend into a strange fairy-tale woods, and discovers there that fantasy is no escape. 

Anne is also the author of the Cronus Chronicles (Atheneum), a middle grade fantasy trilogy about two cousins who unwittingly fall into a battle with Greek gods. The three books are THE SHADOW THIEVES, THE SIREN SONG, and THE IMMORTAL FIRE. In addition, she has written two novels for adults: SPILLING CLARENCE and THE DISAPPARATION OF JAMES (Hyperion). She teaches at the Hamline University's Masters of Fine Arts in Writing for Children and Young Adults. Anne lives in Minneapolis with her young son and neurotic cats. 


Donna Yates said...

Very in depth review. I enjoyed reading about this book.

Cassandra (The Book and Movie Dimension blogger) said...

It is. Good of you to read.

Hyacinth Marius said...

Wonderfully written and full of imagination! I personally identified with Hazel's character and felt her emotions throughout the whole book. The author mixes different fairy tales into one brand new one! Worth a read if you love the Snow Queen and stories about true friendship.

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