Breadcrumbs by Anne Ursu

With the amount of positive press Breadcrumbs had been getting, especially as of late, I knew I had to take a look for myself. It didn’t take long before I was completely caught up in the world of Hazel Anderson and her best friend and neighbor, Jack Campbell. Or, as he soon turns into, the person formerly known as Hazel’s best friend. The thing is, something got in his eye one day, and it appears to have turned his heart to ice. Now, instead of sledding with Hazel and hanging out at recess with Hazel and making goofy faces at Hazel every morning and riding the bus with Hazel, Jack is doing all of those things. Without Hazel.

Of course, these things happen with boys and girls in 5th grade. Or so Hazel’s mom wants her to believe. . .but Hazel knows that’s not it. Boy or not, best friends don’t just stop acting like you exist. And they certainly don’t just disappear one day. But that’s exactly what Jack had done.

The only person who seems to offer any help to Hazel is her new friend Adelaide’s uncle Martin. He offers a world of fantasy to Hazel; a world she is all-too-willing to be a part of. But hey, she’s in 5th grade! Who doesn’t love a world of fantasy at that age (and for some of us, we never escaped that — but that’s another story for another time)? Hazel soon realizes that she must go find Jack. She must enter the woods where he was last seen. She must rescue him.

I wish I could write a review that would somehow encapsulate the amazing work that Ursu does with this story. Everything is interwoven in a way that I have not seen much in children’s literature. Fantasy and reality meet in an absolutely lovely way seldomly done. I was wondering where the line blurs between our world and the world of this story, and I’m still not sure. That is much of the charm in Breadcrumbs.

If you are at an age where you are comfortable reading chapter books, you should read this book. It really has just about everything: reality, fantasy, tough decisions, parents who just don’t understand, friendships that friends just don’t understand, innocence, experience, that feeling when you forget your boots and the snow is really deep but you’re so hard-pressed to go on that it doesn’t matter that you’re only 5 feet from your door you have to continue on anyway. . .. Read this book. I know my review is lacking. There’s so much to enjoy here, and I can’t say it all. If you’re not convinced, go read a couple other reviews, then go read Breadcrumbs. And watch for this next month when the Newbery Awards are announced! I think it’ll be in the mix somewhere.

Rating: 5 out of 5 fish. No doubt. 

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2 thoughts on “Breadcrumbs by Anne Ursu

  1. Brian, this is a terrific review. I loved Breadcrumbs, too. You are right that it has a mixture of fantasy and realism that is different from anything we’ve seen, and so very perfect. Your review isn’t lacking at all. Thanks!

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