Friday, September 23, 2011

Breadcrumbs by Anne Ursu

By Anne Ursu
Walden Pond Press
Release Date 9/27/11
336 pages

Once upon a time, Hazel and Jack were best friends. But that was before he stopped talking to her and disappeared into a forest with a mysterious woman made of ice. Now it's up to Hazel to go in after him. 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.

**Sigh** I'm in love with a book. No- not a guy in a book- the story, the writing, the characters, the words, everything about it. I just want to curl with it and hug it like an old friend. And Breadcrumbs by Anne Ursu is
 an old friend wrapped in new words and around new tellings of favorite old fairy tales I grew  up reading and cherish still.  They were always like a warm blanket to me, familiar, yet slightly different, depending on who wrote them, every one's version just a little different.  There were no Disney versions when I was a child and don't expect the Disney version with Breadcrumbs.  I wouldn't even call it a fairy tale.  It goes way beyond that.

First, there is the heroine. Yes, that's right. no hero here. There is Hazel. Hazel has a best friend named Jack who has been her best friend since they were six. They have crazy incredible imaginations. With Jack, Hazel would mount her scooter and joust with plastic swords like knights. When it was so hot one summer they actually thought they might melt, they filled the baby pool with ice, begging some from neighbors and then lay in it getting numb and pretending to melt with the ice. They even found an abandoned shack near the woods that they called a palace, a fort, even a Shrieking Shack. With Jack, Hazel could be herself. She is brave and strong. She is loyal even when loyalty appears not to be deserved. She is courageous and determined. All of these character traits come in handy when it comes to dealing with a teacher who doesn't appreciate her learning style and classmates who don't understand her. And when she has to find Jack when he stops talking to her one day and then disappears. The word "impossible" is not in her vocabulary. And she is second only to "Evie" from Paranormalcy by Kiersten White as my strongest and favorite female character. No, she doesn't fight, this is MG, remember. She uses her brain. I haven't read enough Middle Grade literature to make a comparison of her to anyone in MG lit but if she had to kick butt, she'd kick any fairy tale princess' butt up and down Happily Ever After Lane and make it home for dinner!

The narrative style is also unique in comparison to the fairy tales I grew up with. No unseen narrator telling the story. Most of it is told through Hazel's point of view, third person. We get to see and feel and hear her think. And her thinking is very interesting. We get to know her early on so we know further on in the story that she isn't going to do what anyone else would do, she thinks outside the box. Here's an example of how she sees things. After seeing the school counselor, Hazel's mother wants to make sure Hazel knows there is nothing wrong with her. "Listen to me. There is nothing wrong with you. Got it?" And Hazel nods and could think "yeah, sure whatever." But instead thinks, "They were plastic flowers of words-but they looked nice on the surface." (p. 142) I know what she means, but not many kids in fifth grade would be smart enough to figure it out. Only the truth is, there isn't anything wrong with her. She's just different and different is good in my book. Other narrations include Jack in third person narrative in a few chapters and then the unseen narrator steps in for a few chapters as well just to move things along.

Anne Ursu's command of the written word is amazing. It's poetic. It's lyrical. It breaks your heart and keeps you going even when you want to stop. The words are so pretty that it actually took me a week to read Breadcrumbs, lulling me to sleep with it's rhythmic phrases and fairy tale images-wolves, woodsmen, dancing shoes, kindly strangers, match girls and cold. To quote the story again, "It was the sort of story your mother told you before she tucked you in at night and you would sigh and think of the...tragedy of it all. It would have been beautiful..." (p. 206)

I read the ARC of Breadcrumbs thanks to the publisher and K. at Walden Pond Press. This in no way influenced my review of Breadcrumbs. That being said, I'll be ordering my own copy of Breadcrumbs when it is published. One, because the ARC has blank pages of promised artwork to come and I definitely don't want to miss that! And two, because this is one of those books that is to be shared. I will put it on my special shelf (the one high in my closet that I have to ask my husband to reach) so that when my kids need to feel like a kid again or I do or when I have grandchildren waaaay down the line, I can share this book with them. It's enchanting, entrancing, and an absolute must read for fairy tale lovers of all ages. It's about growing up, friendship and going on. And it's sure to be a classic!


There is also a Giveaway!!! Walden Pond Press is giving away a Hardback Copy of Breadcrumbs.  US only.

You can fill out the Form here to enter the giveaway.  But before you do that you might want to Follow Walden Pond Press on Twitter  and on their Facebook Page because they are giving away an iPad with a Breadcrumbs skin on it.  The best place for information would be to start Here on September 27th, but you might want to poke around before then on their website and see what's going on.


  1. I clearly need to read this! I love anything fairy tale related and this one is obviously don't brilliantly since you enjoyed it so much. Can't wait to give it a try, thanks for the recommendation Heather!

  2. FanFaeryTastic review, Heather :o] I've got this one coming for a blog tour and you've got me really excited!

    Thanks for such a beautifully written review!

  3. Thanks you Jenny and Kristi! I really loved it as you can tell. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did. Sorry for such a lengthy review-you know how I get!


  4. Wow, I knew I wanted to read this book and now I know I NEED to read it. It sounds wonderful!

  5. I can tell how much you enjoyed this one from your review! Yay for heroines who use their brains :D I'm glad to hear the story inside is as beautiful as the cover!

  6. Book Sake and Danya- The story is every bit as beautiful and heartbreaking as the cover. You know not all fairy tales end with an HEA. This was a realistic ending and I think that was another reason I loved it so much! There was a world of possibilities. I hope you both enjoy it and enter the contest to win it!


  7. Wow, this book sounds spectacular! I've read one of Anne Ursu's books before, but I didn't enjoy it all that much. This definitely sounds like one to try out though! The writing sounds so beautiful, and I'm looking forward to the different viewpoints the story is told from. Plus, I love fairy tale retellings! Amazing review Heather!


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