“Linda C said: 4 stars
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“I was really disappointed with this book. When I picked it up I was expecting a modern retelling of "Hansel and Gretel," which I was looking forward to. Instead it was loosely based on "The Snow Queen" with references to a number of other Hans Christian Andersen's fairy tales, as well as books...”see full review » see other reviews »
“Linda C said: 4 stars
Hazel and Jack are 11 year old best friends with a great interest in fantasy worlds and baseball. But they both are having family issues to deal with and feel as if they don't fit in at school. Hazel's father has left and is getting remarried. This necessitated a change in schools where her culture stands out (she was adopted as a baby from India). Jack's mother is suffering from depression and his home life is fragile.
These next door neighbors have been each other's support until Jack begins to shut Hazel out. At first it is playing with other boys and ignoring her and then he seems to disappear. Hazel struggles to maintain his friendship and fears there are outside forces at work changing Jack. When she suspects that he has been stolen by the Snow Queen she sets off to rescue him. When she enters the woods everything becomes menacing and she must meet many challenges to reach Jack and bring him home.
Hazel learns a lot about herself on her mission and begins to understand the changes that are happening between her and Jack. Well done fantasy.”
“Hazel and Jack are 11 year old best friends with a great interest in fantasy worlds and baseball. But they both are having family issues to deal with and feel as if they don't fit in at school. Hazel's father has left and is getting remarried. This necessitated a change in schools where her culture stands out (she was adopted as a baby from India). Jack's mother is suffering from depression and his home life is fragile. These next door neighbors have been each other's support until Jack begins to shut Hazel out. At first it is playing with other boys and ignoring her and then he seems to disappear. Hazel struggles to maintain his friendship and fears there are outside forces at work changing Jack. When she suspects that he has been stolen by the Snow Queen she sets off to rescue him. When she enters the woods everything changes and she must meet many challenges to reach Jack and bring him home. Hazel learns a lot about herself and the changes that are happening between her and Jack. Well done fantasy.”Linda C wrote this review 2 weeks ago. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“A lovely, emotive children's chapter book. I found the beginning particularly compelling. The fairy tale aspect sometimes felt a bit too familiar for my taste, but that was sort of the point. I really enjoyed this book.”Coraline Truesdell wrote this review 2 weeks ago. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“2.5 stars, I think. I'm still pondering this one. While there were many cool literary references sprinkled throughout the book, overall it left me feeling flat. I did like the sentiment about how people change as they grow up, but you still carry pieces of every version of the people you love in your heart, and they become a part of you forever. The villain in the story, the Ice Queen, was surprisingly passive, and I can't recall if that is her attitude in the original fairy tale or not. l'll have to re-read it to find out.”Susie P wrote this review Wednesday, November 6, 2013. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“Very touching story written in beautiful language.”Moonglow338 wrote this review Saturday, October 19, 2013. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“I wanted to like this more than I did for a few reasons. I loved the author's Chronus Chronicles series, and I am absolutely crazy about the fairy tale, "The Snow Queen." Another wonderful aspect of this novel is that the main character, Hazel, is a young girl who is Indian in ethnicity (from the country), although adopted by a white, American couple. I think that Ursu has something powerful to say about being 'other' in a society that is primarily of a certain race/culture. How that can impact a young person, and the wounds it causes that person as they walk through a world where they feel alien.
I also enjoyed the deep friendship that Hazel has with Jack. However, I felt that this aspect of the novel, which is probably the crucial element, fell short. Hazel is almost obsessed with Jack. He's like an anchor to her in a stormy sea that her world has become since her parents' divorce. While I don't mind that she is bonded to Jack, I never felt that Jack was as bonded to Hazel as she was to him, which bothered me. Understanding the fairy tale source helps to appreciate the rift that forms between them, but as it was written, it's not enough. We are given breadcrumbs (if you'll forgive the unintentional pun) to suggest that Jack's issues are also about his mother's bout with depression, but while I can see that Hazel and Jack spend so much time together, I could have used more of his viewpoint on how important his relationship to Hazel was to him. Clearly she was the right person to save him, but more depth on his point of view would have been great.
Ursu made the choice of ending this novel with some questions left in the air. I can't fault her on that, but it did leave me dissatisfied about some situations that weren't addressed, both in the winter woodland and in the lives of both Hazel and Jack. Despite that, I do have the conviction that things will work out for Hazel and Jack. Even though the problems in their families might not be resolved, we know they have each other to get through those times. Also, knowing that Hazel has found more connections in her life other than her mother (and absentee father) and Jack. She needs those. She also needs to know she is fine as she is. She needed that validation, especially with they way her father failed her. One scene I was so glad that Ursu included, her mother telling her that she was perfect and didn't need to change was very important. Kids need to hear from their parents that they are approved of and loved despite any perceived short-comings.
As far as "The Snow Queen" retelling, it was well-done, and I liked the manner in which Ursu personalized it to Hazel and Jack's story. I felt that the White Queen's menace and authority was slightly undermined by the resolution. I would have loved more descriptive imagery of her Ice Palace. I liked how Ursu creates a world of magic that intersects with the 'real world' in that children travel to this other place to escape from their disappointing lives on the real side of the woods. I hurt for the children who suffer from the cruel effects of selfish magic that the woods bring out in adults and the creatures who live in the woods.
Ursu's writing is good. She drew me into Hazel's story and I felt for this wonderful little girl. It broke my heart to see her feeling so disconnected and flawed. No child should feel that way. I am all for color-blind adoptions, but I feel that her parents should have worked harder to make sure Hazel wasn't alienated by the fact that her ethnicity was distinctive from her parents and many of her peers. I loved the fact that Ursu does address this so poignantly, but she doesn't offer a lot of solutions for the issues Hazel felt.
Overall, I think my biggest issues with this novel were the lack of resolution on those crucial issues and the fact that I think some really important aspects of the story (outside of Hazel and Jack's bond) weren't dealt with in the depth I wanted. I know this is a book for younger readers, but the maturity of the writing makes me want more from the author as far as an emotional resonance and completion about the familial issues faced by Hazel and Jack.
I would be curious to see what a younger reader thinks of this book. If they grasp the deeper, melancholy aspects of this novel. I feel that its melancholy and darker elements hit the right note for a mature reader, but might be lost on a younger reader. Although the ending is hopeful, I can't help feeling a lingering sadness now that I have finished it.
Overall rating: 3.5/5.0 stars.”
“Breadcrumbs by Anne Ursu, is an adventurous book filled with friendship and determination. Breadcrumbs is a fairytale based on The Snow Queen. The main character, Hazel, is kind and caring for her friend Jack, and is very kind to everyone she meets in the woods. Hazel has to make hard decisions throughout the book. Hazel has trouble settling in at her school. Her best friend Jack starts acting meanly, because a piece of glass that makes you mean gets in his eye. She is told that a witch made of ice took him to the woods. Hazel goes out into the woods to try to find him, and goes through a dangerous adventure to get him back. Also, it deals briefly about anger because Hazel throws a pencil case at a boy who insults her and later, has to see the school counselor. Overall, Breadcrumbs is a great book!
Ursu, A. (2012). Breadcrumbs. New York, NY: HarperCollins Children’s Book.
Levels: Grade Level Equivalent: 5; Guided Reading Level: n/a; DRA: Not Available; Interest Level: 3; Lexile: n/a (Scholastic.com).
“I was really disappointed with this book. When I picked it up I was expecting a modern retelling of "Hansel and Gretel," which I was looking forward to. Instead it was loosely based on "The Snow Queen" with references to a number of other Hans Christian Andersen's fairy tales, as well as books by Pullman and Rowling. This wasn't a bad thing, just not what I was expecting.
What really annoyed me, however, was the heroine of the book, eleven year-old Hazel. In Part One, especially, I found her to be quite obnoxious. She was mopey, self-involved, obsessive and prone to too many fits of fantasy. To make matters worse, the plot was extremely sluggish in this part which made reading a burden. Part Two was a bit better, more excitement, but not enough to really keep me engaged. There were some beautifully written descriptions of the cold and snow throughout the book, but they didn't carry it, thus making it a real struggle to read. Aimed at middle and upper primary school students, I seriously doubt this book, with its 336 pages, will appeal to its intended audience.”
“Selfish and conceited main characters who only went after her friend because he defined the whole of her personality. She didn't help anybody else on the way, didn't learn anything, didn't grow. A waste of a book. ”Sabina Hahn wrote this review Friday, July 26, 2013. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“For being an incredibly quotable book I'm honestly surprised I didn't love the book more than I did.
The start of the book begins with the protagonists in our world, the world of boring school days and not fitting in. Ursu shows how Jack and Hazel fit together and how Hazel doesn't really fit in anywhere else. Other periphery characters are shuffled in to make a point or to issue foreshadowing and then disappear. It's very sixth grade - friendships fall apart for no apparent reason and not fitting in as much as you'd like. All the while, the two kids' home lives are falling apart as well. Hazel's dad has moved out and Jack's mom is clinically depressed and possibly suicidal.
Then the shift happens, and suddenly the world that Hazel knew is replaced by one in which an ice witch can steal boys and no one notices. A world in which fairy tale tropes are real: swan skins transform you, beautiful shoes make you dance until you die, honeyed drinks mask dangerous poisons.
All throughout the book there are wonderful lines that I just had to repeat or jot down. Ursu certainly has mastered turn-of-phrase.
There are two things that prevented this book from moving up on my ratings scale.
First, the tone of the book was surprisingly bleak. I supposed I shouldn't down-rate a book just because its tone wasn't what I expected, but this is my review and I'm going to.
Secondly, magical realism and I have a troubled relationship. I love the idea of it, but at the end of the story I had more questions than answers and I wasn't sure that the answers would even be satisfying.
Finally: Everything seemed so overwrought. Everyone's life is complete crap. Other than Jack-and-Hazel, no one is nice to one another (except for the one-scene-only characters that only exist to be poignant.)
I don't know. I suppose the book was good to read just for the amazing quotable parts, but I can say with certainty that I will never be reading this book again. I'm less unsure that I will recommend this book. For readers who aren't troubled by the perplexing questions left by magical realism, or for readers who can enjoy language for language's sake, you'll like this book.
I just wasn't blown away.”