Breadcrumbs Book Review
For those who wonder how “The Snow Queen” could be retold in modern day with modern characters, look no further than Anne Ursu’s beautiful novel, Breadcrumbs. “The Snow Queen” was always a tale about friendship, so to twist the familiar fairy tale into a symbolic coming of age story about how friendships change with age, worked flawlessly.
Hazel, an adopted fifth grader, doesn’t fit in, except for her friendship with Jack. Her head always in the clouds, Hazel would rather live in the fantasy worlds of Hogwarts or Narnia than the harsh reality of life. Kindred spirits of the imagination, Hazel and Jack use their creativity as a team in order to create stories or play what seem may deem childish games. But then, Jack starts hanging out with boys his age, boys who want nothing to do with Hazel.
Then the worst happens. A piece of a shattered magical mirror created by an evil troll, lands in Jack’s eye. Suddenly, his friendship with Hazel turns to ice literally. He has no more time for childish things. Soon, the snow queen (the Narnia witch is based on her) lures Jack with his frozen heart into her frozen castle. Hazel has no choice but to look for him. With determination, she enters a magical forest full of magic and familiar fairy tales.
Indeed, Breadcrumbs does more than retell “The Snow Queen,” but also pays homage to several of Hans Christian Andersen’s stories such as “The Red Shoes” and “The Little Match Girl” to play with the themes of the book. How “The Little Match Girl” comes into play is particularly moving and powerful. The little match girl weaves into the plot seamlessly to spark or even symbolize a transformation in Hazel’s characterization in a way that moves the story forward beautifully.
As fantasy and reality begin to merge, time starts to run out. Can Hazel warm Jack’s heart when her own heart grows colder and colder? Overall, Breadcrumbs is an exquisite novel with gorgeous prose that will suck you into the pages of Hazel’s broken world. A must read for all fairy tale fans!
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“The stuff that dreams are made of.”