Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Review: Breadcrumbs

By Anne Ursu
Publication date: September 27, 2011

My review:

In this contemporary retelling of The Snow Queen, eleven year old Hazel sets out to rescue her best friend Jack from the Snow Queen's clutches and his own inner demons. Along the way, Hazel must find her own inner strength and sense of belonging.

Breadcrumbs is a novel best described as magical. In telling her story, Anne Ursu pays homage to fairy tales like The Little Match Girl and Hansel and Gretel and novels like The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe. I was reminded more than once of Narnia and the White Witch, especially when the Snow Queen arrives in a sleigh and asks Jack if he'd like some Turkish Delight. The world that Hazel finds herself in does not have the charm of Narnia however. There is danger everywhere even with those who seem perfectly harmless and Hazel goes into the woods knowing that she will have to fight evil to get Jack back. 

Hazel is a character who is at times wise beyond her years and at other times very young. She has an active imagination and she's entered a time when grownups tend to start encouraging kids to be more serious. This causes difficulties for Hazel in school where she struggles to pay attention. She is intelligent but her curiosity gets her into trouble. Jack is the one bright spot in her life since her dad left. He shares her creativity and they like to make up stories and superpowers together. Lately though Jack has been spending more time with his buddies, Bobby and Tyler. Even before the incident with the Snow Queen, Jack and Hazel start to grow apart. Hazel is at a pivotal moment in her life as she begins to leave childhood behind and her quest to save Jack helps her come to grips with the idea of growing up without losing yourself. 

One of the themes of this book seems to be about the importance of creativity and encouraging creativity in young people. Breadcrumbs certainly succeeds with that. The writing style adds to that sense of magic and wonder. The descriptions of cold really pulled me into the story. There were a couple of times that I thought maybe the writing style would not appeal to younger kids but I think tweens in 5th and 6th grade would appreciate it. Anne Ursu has a gift for description and creating a sense of place. Overall I thought this was a fantastic story and one I would suggest to fans of The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe and Inkheart. I look forward to reading more from Anne Ursu.

Readalikes: The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis, East by Edith Pattou, Inkheart by Cornelia Funke, Princess Academy by Shannon Hale, Fairest by Gail Carson Levine, Jessica Day George

 Note: I received an ARC of this book from the Amazon Vine program in exchange for an honest review 


  1. Oh I cannot wait to read this one. I picked it up during our book fair and have been hoping to get to it soon. I adore retellings and even have my students read original and modern retellings to do a compare and contrast and a retelling of their own. Breadcumbs looks fantastic. So glad you love it.

  2. Oh I bet I would love this then! Great review.

  3. Importance of creativity - definitely a wonderful theme. Great review, Christina!

  4. I definitely want to read this - I love the thought of paying homage to The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe! References like that are so comforting.

  5. I really liked this one, too. Nicely reviewed!


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