Jumble Your Genres Reading Challenge – Middle Grade: Breadcrumbs by Anne Ursu

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The Jumble Your Genres Reading Challenge moves into April with Middle Grade! Christal and AH chose Anna Ursu’s take on the Snow Queen legend, Breadcrumbs.  Read on to see what they have to say about this book.

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breadcrumbsBreadcrumbs by Anne Ursu
Genre: Middle Grades
Publication Date: September 27, 2011
E-Book Purchased from Amazon and Waldon Pond Press

Synopsis from Goodreads: 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.

AH and Christal’s Review

Breadcrumbs was an interesting read for us and we both liked some elements more than others.  Read on to see what we thought of the book and writing overall.

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AH: Christal, what have you done to me? Why choose a book that waxes poetic about snow? After 6 months of the stuff and a polar vortex or two, snow is not beautiful – I don’t want to see another snowflake for a very long time.  All kidding aside, what did you think of the writing style?

Christal: Ha, sorry about that!  I didn’t even think of it when we were discussing options. 😉  I did like the writing style; it flowed nicely and was very descriptive, but I think the story got bogged down by the word usage a lot.

AH: The author describes everything in lovely prose, but sometimes it just felt a little overdone. I mean, this is geared towards middle grades. There are some pretty big words in this book.

Christal: I agree, I was surprised this was targeted to younger children.  It actually felt like a children’s story written for adults.

AH: I loved Hazel and Jack’s friendship. They were so cute together and I enjoyed their imaginative moments. I guess it’s hard being a 10-year-old boy – you just want to be with the guys, something that Hazel could not understand. Meanwhile, Hazel’s mom tries to set her up with Adelaide, but that friendship just isn’t the same.

Christal: I wasn’t totally won over by Jack and Hazel’s friendship.  I felt like she was much more devoted to him than he was to her.  Maybe it was because we spent most of the time in Hazel’s head, but I never got the same depth of feeling from Jack as we did from Hazel.  I did think they were cute when they were together though.  I understand why Hazel’s mom tried to get her to begin a friendship with Adelaide though; Hazel was almost too fixated on Jack.

AH: I liked how the author introduced the fairy tale aspect of the story. A simple snowball tossed at Jack, a shard of a glass mirror and Jack was a different boy:

“Once upon a time, a demonlike creature with a forty-seven-syllable name made an enchanted mirror. The mirror shattered in the sky. The splinters took to the wind and scattered for hundreds of miles. When they fell to earth, things began to change.”

Christal: See, I wasn’t as sold on the fairy tale aspect of the story.  To me, it felt jarring.  The first half of the book was so heavily rooted in contemporary and there were so many real-life problems sharing the focus that the change to “fairy tale” felt abrupt.

AH: Jack disappears. His parents tell everyone that he has gone to stay with his elderly Aunt Bernice. Hazel knows that this isn’t true and embarks upon a rescue mission. Hazel is such a plucky heroine, so determined to bring Jack home. This was my favorite part of the book and I enjoyed how the author incorporated various fairy tale stories in this part of the book.

Christal: I didn’t really understand the part with his parents telling everyone Jack had gone to stay with his aunt.  Were they knowingly lying or did the Queen influence them somehow?  Neither explanation is really hinted at.  I did like Hazel’s journey to find Jack, but it fell a little flat for me in the end.  It didn’t seem like anything she experienced on the way to the palace really changed her or aided her on her journey.  They just seemed like inconsequential stepping stones and then were forgotten once Hazel and Jack left the forest.  I was also disappointed in how easy it was for Hazel to rescue Jack in the end.  The Snow Queen was just… there.  She had very little personality and really wasn’t much of an antagonist.

AH: I think that they were under a spell, but you are right, no explanation was ever given on that point. I agree about the Snow Queen – she was this looming presence that everyone was afraid of, yet she never did anything that say, a Disney villain queen would have done.

Christal: Exactly, I never understood why everyone was afraid of her.  I just expected more, especially with all the Narnia references.  Now, that’s a fierce winter queen!

AH: Personally, I enjoyed this book. There were a few pacing issues where I thought that the plot slowed down a little, however once I got into this book it was a fun little read. A few little niggling things kept me from giving this book more than 4 skulls – for a children’s book, the vocabulary and writing seemed quite advanced. It is a good book for an adult to read out loud to a child but I think that most of the kids I know in the target age group would find this a difficult read. My other little criticism is that it is awfully cold in Minnesota in the winter and Hazel never seemed to dress for the weather. Most kids I know in cold climates own boots, snow pants, and winter coats.

Christal: I thought this book was just okay.  The writing was nicely done but, again, I felt it was more geared towards adults than children.  The story was pretty dark and even at the end, it remained kind of depressing.  Breadcrumbs just didn’t have the magic that I was expecting.  I would rate this a 3 overall, but I do see how other people enjoyed it much more.  I agree, AH; Hazel never seemed to be dressed for the winter even though she and her mother lived there.  That was an odd aspect to the story.

Be sure to join us next month for a dystopian discussion!

AH’s Rating: ☠  ☠  ☠  ☠  ☠ 

Christal’s Rating: ☠  ☠  ☠  ☠  ☠ 

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Jumble Your Genres Reading Challenge Schedule:

January – Young Adult checkmark
February – Contemporary checkmark
March – Urban Fantasy checkmark
April – Middle Grade checkmark
May – Dystopian
June – High Fantasy
July – Adult
August – Paranormal
September – Romance
October – Sci-Fi
November – Historical Fiction
December – New Adult

 

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