Author: Anne Ursu
Publisher: Walden Pond Press (A HarperCollins Children's imprint)
Release Date: September 27, 2011
Number of Pages: 313
Source of Book: ARC requested from publisher
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," Breadcrumbs is a story of the struggle to hold on, and the things we leave behind.
*************************BREADCRUMBS is a beautifully told tale of friendship, faith, hope, and magic. It's starts off in the real-world as we get to know more about Hazel's friendship with her neighbor Jack. And then something happens, and Jack changes, and then disappears. The second part of the book takes place in the woods as Hazel steps into a fantasy world that she didn't know was there. Overall the style was really unique in the way the narrator seemed to speak directly to the reader with asides at times, so I felt more involved and a part of the story. There are chapters interjected that tell what's happening in the fantasy world and the stories are interwoven seamlessly.
Hazel believes in magic and fantasy. She also believes in her friendship with Jack because he's pretty much her only friend in her new school, so when he changes toward her and that ends, she doesn't know what to do. But when she finds out that Jack has disappeared into the woods, she knows she needs to save him. She has so much faith in her friendship with Jack that she is willing to do whatever she can to save her friend. The fantasy elements of classic tales that occur in each successive chapter in the woods are engaging and meaningful.
This story is about belonging and believing and doing what's right even when no one believes in you. It's about trusting your instincts and staying true to who you are. It's about starting a journey and learning from the outcomes. One of the most significant lines to me was a moment of understanding for Hazel, "This is what happens on journeys-the things you find aren't necessarily the things you had gone looking for." It's all of those things wrapped up in beautiful prose and a masterful way of telling this fantasy story. This fantasy story is like a breath of fresh air wrapped in a warm blanket. This one comes out next week and will be a wonderful addition to a middle grades collection. It releases in one month, so get your pre-orders in now.