Breadcrumbs by Anne Ursu is a love song to book lovers. I first heard about it when a few of my Tweeps mentioned it on Twitter. When I was lucky enough to receive an ARC from the publisher, I set my other books aside and sank into my couch with it. A few hours later, I struggled to leave Ursu’s world behind in order to be a functional member of society again. It’s that good. Enchanting, heartfelt, sincere, and magical are the only words I can use to describe Breadcrumbs.
A modern retelling of Hans Christian Anderson’s “The Snow Queen”, Breadcrumbs is the story of Hazel and Jack. Best friends their entire lives, they are inseparable. That is until, something happens and Jack begins to change. No one else notices anything different about Jack and when Hazel tries to point it out, she is only told that sometimes boys and girls grow apart as they grow up. Luckily for Jack, Hazel doesn’t see this as a valid reason for his sudden coldness and distance.
Hazel finds herself drawn into a fairy tale world full of magic, witches, enchanted flowers, and spells. I found myself utterly enchanted by Hazel. She is a real (non-white!) girl experiencing the growing pains of early adolescence. She is struggling to understand her parents’ divorce. She has been forced to transfer to a regular public school rather than the creative arts schools she previously attended. And she doesn’t fit in with new classmates but she is unwilling to compromise her self in order to fit in.
And the geekiness! Ursu has created a love song for bookworms with Breadcrumbs. Hazel is a book lover and she views the world through the lens of the books she has read and loved. Harry Potter, Madeline L’Engle, Rebecca Stead, The Golden Compass, and many more in between. I loved the obvious and not-so-obvious mentions of books that shaped my own childhood. Breadcrumbs is just magical.
Highly, highly recommended. This is being marketed as a middle grade book but I handed it to some of my sophomores and they are raving about it. I think this is a book the will leap across the divides of gender and age. It’s a book that should be in all classroom libraries. The writing is poetic and brilliant and the story is one that wraps you up in its arms and doesn’t let you go until you reach the last page. Get this one now! You will want to own a copy before the Newbery Award is awarded this winter. ;)
Interested in winning a copy of Breadcrumbs? Walden Pond Press has kindly offered a copy for one reader of the blog! Simply comment on this post by 10/7 in order to be entered. Be sure to leave your name and an email address where you can be reached in the event that you win!