|Image: Walden Pond Boks|
Sunday, 8 December 2013
Seasonal reads 9- Breadcrumbs by Anne Ursu
As the snow falls, she and her best friend, Jack, talk about superheroes and supervillains, play fantasy games based on their reading, and make plans to go sledging. However, at the same time, a magical mirror gets broken, and in a playground accident, Jack gets a piece in his eye. The shard travels to his heart, making him cold and careless. He forgets about his plans with Hazel, and arranges to sledge with some boys who tease her in class. On arriving at the hill, he sledges by himself, in defiance of neighbourhood rules. On the hill, he meets a mysterious woman, who is in a sleigh pulled by wolves. She tucks him in her sleigh, kisses him on the forehead, and takes him into the woods.
Hazel is badly hurt by Jack's behaviour, but on hearing from one of the boys that he has gone into the woods with a strange woman, she resolves to go after him. On the journey she encounters wolves, a woodsman, a woman who wears the skin of a swan, and other characters from traditional tales. However, the imagination and knowledge of fantasy fiction that has earned Hazel mockery at school and got her into trouble for daydreaming allows her to navigate the difficult journey through the woods and face not only danger, but the knowledge that whether we want to or not, we must accept that change is inevitable.
This wonderful book was a joy to read; a bookish 9-12 year old will delight in encountering references to Hans Christian Anderson's fairy stories, Wolverine, Narnia, The Hobbit, A Wrinkle in Time and When I Meet You, amongst others. I'd have adored reading this to my class, and guiding them to the texts referenced in it. This would make an exciting blogging project with Year 5 or 6, I think. Unfortunately this book doesn't have a UK publisher, but it could be easily ordered from your local bookshop for not much more than buying it online.