Hazel and Jack seem like your typical fifth-graders. They're best friends despite the fact that Hazel's a girl and Jack's a boy (and yes, they get some backlash from both friends and parents over that one). Although Jack has his own circle of friends, Hazel is very wrapped up into Jack. However, as Jack is forced to face family issues, the two friends drift apart and things really take a turn when Jack disappears into the wintry woods, lured by a mysterious woman made of ice.
When I first started reading Breadcrumbs, it seemed like your typical contemporary middle grade novel. Then the story turns into a modern-day fairytale that's quite magical. I must admit, it took me a little while to change gears as this story does, but once you enter Ursu's winter wonderland, you'll find yourself letting the story wash over you.
Avid fantasy readers will appreciate the fact that the book is based on Hans Christian Andersen's fable The Snow Queen, which features a woman in white who inspired Jadis the White Witch from The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. And that's what truly makes this book special--the references to fantasy literature and other classics such as The Hobbit and The Wizard of Oz. I loved Hazel who has a huge imagination, is a daydreamer and attempts to interpret life from the stories she reads. If only everything had a happy ending, right?
Reading level: Ages 8 and up
Hardcover: 320 pages
Publisher: Walden Pond Press; 1 edition (September 27, 2011)
Source of review copy: Publisher
Browse Inside Breadcrumbs by Anne Ursu, Illustrated by Erin McGuire