book review, Books

We’re Wonderstruck

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When I heard that Brian Selznick was coming out with a new book called Wonderstruck, I was excited beyond belief. In one sitting, we’ve just finished all 600 something pages of Wonderstruck, written and illustrated by Brain Selznick and let me just say it didn’t disappoint.

He is a master storyteller entertwining two stories. The first is about a young deaf girl rose, told only in beautifully illustrated pictures. The second, about an orphan boy Ben, told only in words. Set 50 years apart, Rose in 1927 and Ben in 1977, both characters flee to New York City in search of answers to deep seeded questions and to find a sense of belonging.

Like many of us, Brian Selznick, was inspired as a child by the book “ The Mixed-up files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler.”  Wonderstruck fulfills our need once again to hid in a museum without being discovered. The museum this time, however, is the Museum of Natural History in NYC. Living in a long forgotten room of collected treasures, Ben learns the meaning of what is important to hold onto while he searches for news about his father.

As each story unfolds and captures our attention, the two stories brilliantly come together towards the end and become one.  How does one family sit for an entire evening reading 600 pages? I have to say it is the talent of Brian Selznick which keeps us turning every page.  Each page is a cliff hanger of sorts and one cannot leave the story hanging, so we kept turning pages until the very end of the book. Brian Selznick does this masterfully by drawing his images from far off and then gradually brings them in very close. His eye for details in both text and pictures is superb.

Like all classics, and Yes I believe Wonderstruck as well as The Invention of Hugo Cabret to be in that ranking; a good story doesn’t end with the closing of the book. It lives on in our conversations, and for us our adventures. We have happily lived inside the pages of Wonderstruck , recreating and discovering many new and wonderful explorations.

Before we get into Somethings to Do, I wanted to share Brian Selznick speaking about Wonderstruck .


Somethings to Do~

Visit a Natural History Museum

If you happen to be in New York City, there is no better place to visit than The American Museum of Natural History, the very museum in the book. There are wonderful natural history museums all over the United States and the world for that matter.  One of the most intriguing things about a natural history museum is that they show off collections from the natural world. Rocks, dinosaurs, cultures, bugs, animals, etc.  All of which are collected in curiosity cabinets or shadow boxes.

Make Your Own Curiosity Cabinet

All of us have collections of some kind. Maybe you collect stamps from around the world, money, rocks, bottle caps, buttons or anything at all. One fantastic way to display your collections is in a curiosity cabinet or a shadow box.  Here’s how to create your very own and here’s a little history  and a wonderful resource.

Make Your Museum Exhibit



Have a museum exhibit. Once your curiosity cabinets are finished, have a family get together or invite your friends to come and display their collections too. Enjoy looking at what others have collected and get some ideas for yourself.

Learn about Deaf Culture and Sign-Language

Inside Wonderstruck one of the main characters is Rose who is deaf. Have you ever wondered what it might be like not to be able to hear? What might you be missing out on? How would you talk to people if you couldn’t hear them? Here are a couple of websites to get you started into the world of the Deaf as well as the language they use called sign language. If at all possible, see if you could visit a school of the deaf or meet someone who is deaf so they can share their world with you.

Deaf Culture

American Sign-Language

Study Wolves

In the story, Ben keeps having a dream about wolves. Let’s have a look at these beautiful creatures.

Enjoy the Night-Sky


I know you’ll enjoy this book and its sure to become a family favorite. Please let me know what you think in the comments below.

Happy Reading!

13 thoughts on “We’re Wonderstruck

  1. Thank you Valarie 🙂 You’ve always got something inspiring for our library list most certainly. This book looks like a gem and my daughter is quite passionate about ASL right now so we so appreciate the link too! xoxo ~stephinie

    1. Hi Stephinie. So glad you’re going to look into this book. It’s just one of the most incredible experiences we’ve had reading. So great your daughter is learning ASL. My oldest daughter has a friend who is deaf and learned ASL so they could communicate well. It’s been so wonderful to see their friendship grow over many years. Thanks for stopping by.

  2. I had forgotten all about my sisters and I making our own museum exhibits (and sometimes zoo exhibits with insects in jars) when we were little. So, of course I loved that idea you shared here! Thanks for the memory reminder.

    1. I’m so glad you had a wonderful memory moment. We loved to make our own museums too. There’s something about collections that just want to be shared.

  3. Do you think a six-year-old would enjoy it as a read aloud or should I just wait until she is old enough to read it herself?

    1. Hi Janelle,
      Brian Selznick books are incredible to read aloud because they are such an experience. They are like no other books you’ve ever read or seen. Because this book has two stories going on at the same time I might worry that she would get confused, so my suggestion is to start with The Invention of Hugo Cabret first if you haven’t already read that. That one is perfect for a six year old and then work your way into Wonderstruck. Both of these books I’ve read aloud first with my children before they cart them off to live under their bed covers with a flashlight. Enjoy !!!!!

    1. My pleasure. This book will become a classic like The Mixed-up Files….., I feel it in my bones. After reading Wonderstruck I had the same feeling I had with Mixed-up Files, I wanted to live in a museum. Wouldn’t that be fun for a couple of days?

  4. This looks lovely! What age group do you think would enjoy this book? My children are 7 & 9 and we read together every night, I’m not sure if it might be more complex than what we’re used to. (we love all Judy Bloom, Trumpet of the Swan, The Borrowers etc)

    Any thoughts? Thank you.

    1. Hi Laura ! I think your children would really enjoy this book. Is what I might recommend first though is Brian Selznick’s The Invention of Hugo Cabret. First it would introduce his writing and drawing style to your children first. The movie is coming out Nov. 13th and it’s incredible as well. The difference between Hugo and Wonderstruck is that Hugo is one story/novel told in text and the story continues and unfolds throughout the book in great illustrations. Wonderstruck is two different stories completely until they meet at the end. I’m very confident your children will like both. Let me know how it goes.

      1. Hi Valerie,
        I’m just seeing your response now. I took a leap and borrowed Wonderstruck from the library. We’ve been slowly devouring it over the past couple of weeks and are LOVING it! Thank you so much for the recommendation. All three of us become teary and have to stop from time to time, and other times it’s impossible to put down! The illustrations are so rich, the emotions so well captured. My youngest has said he wished it didn’t have to be so sad, however he is enjoying it thoroughly.
        Thank you again! We will read The Invention of Hugo Cabret next.

  5. Valarie,
    This looks like such a great book! We have been so enjoying our books. I actually have some pictures to send your way, I’ve been meaning to send for a while of my little sweeties enjoying the books. Hugs, Erin

    1. It’s such a wonderful book and please do send photos. I’m so glad you’re enjoying your books!!! Happy Reading!

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