Monday, January 09, 2012

Breadcrumbs by Anne Ursu

breadcrumbsWhat if all the old fairytales you heard when you were little, the stories that were told at a library story time perhaps, were all real? What if there really are houses made of gingerbread, cursed shoes, magic woods right behind your own house, or even witches made of ice? Breadcrumbs is a story that asks that question --what if it’s all real and can happen to you. Once upon a time… it was cold, and a blanket of snow covered the entire world …or so it seemed. The world looked like a magical place filled with endless possibilities. There was a girl named Hazel and a boy named Jack. Hazel and Jack had been best friends for as long as they could remember. They both loved using their imagination to create magical worlds where they would slay dragons, sail the seas as pirates, or turn an abandoned shack into a magical palace. But then things started to change. Jack had always divided his time between Hazel and his guy friends at school. Hazel didn’t fit in unless she was with Jack. She looked different and acted different from her classmates. She would get so lost in her imagination, all the stories she had heard and read, stores of Hogwarts and Narnia, that she didn’t realize that the things she thought and did were what made her stand out. But Hazel didn’t mind, not really, because there was always Jack, waiting for her and being there for her when she needed him. But one day something happened to change everything. Jack got a shard of magic glass stuck in his eye, magic glass that makes you see the world in an ugly light. Suddenly Jack didn’t have time for Hazel and her "childish" games. Hazel was lost and felt completely alone. In only a couple of days the winter wonderland of yesterday became like an ice prison of loneliness. But then Jack disappeared, willingly going with the white witch into the woods where his heart froze over. Only Hazel had enough courage, heart, and imagination with which to find him…. if he even wanted to be found! Hazel encountered many strange things as she travelled through the woods, things that were not entirely as she had read about in her stories: cursed dancing shoes, unsavory woodsman, wolves as sentries, a strange couple that captures children (but not for eating), and the biting cold of the White Witch that beckons her forward. Despite all the confusion of the woods, Hazel never gave up on making it out of the woods with Jack by her side. This is a wonderful modern fairytale that captures your attention. Anne Ursu took the classic fairytale of The Snow Queen and set it in modern times in America. You start to see that the world around you holds all the possibilities of the stories you read --all possibilities, both good and bad. Review by Lizzy Healy

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