Wonder Strikes Twice

Brian Selznick
Scholastic Press, 2011

Selznick is the author of The Invention of Hugo Cabret, the adaptation of which, "Hugo" is in theaters as of this writing. Wonderstruck uses the same "novel in words and pictures" format as Cabret, but employs it in a much more calculated way. Where Cabret flowed back and forth between text and picture pages within a single narrative, Wonderstruck uses them to tell analogous narratives about a boy named Ben in Gunflint Lake, Wisconsin in 1977 (words) and a girl named Rose in 1927 (pictures).

Both Ben and Rose travel alone to the American Museum of Natural History in New York City in search of lost parents, which ultimately represent searches for themselves. Selznick used the images in Cabret to make the action more immediate and to capture the reader in frozen moments of wordless wonder, where Wondestruck (title notwithstanding) uses the pictures to separate the narratives as well as adding a deeper layer of shared experience to Rose's tale. I don't want to over-explain that because I'd rather have it open up to you slowly as a reader.

Much as Cabret used a love letter approach to early film history as catalyst for a quest tale, Wonderstruck wraps itself deeply in a merged museophilia/bibliophilia like an heirloom comforter. It's a very learning-positive air, and one that parents aiming to instill such attitudes in their children will appreciate for its tasteful, authentic approach. Don't get the idea it's a drily intellectual work, however. The book is filled with emotional highs and lows, creating unique experiences for the reader to share. Many of the same themes resonate through both books, but Wonderstruck may well be the better crafted narrative. Such choices are pointless, however, as both books and the film are all top-drawer additions to the narrative arts.

"Best" of "2011"

The "best" of everything I read, saw, heard or played in 2011, regardless of its year of origin...


Wonder Struck by Brian Selznick (2011)
Fat Vampire by Adam Rex (2010)
The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Traitor to the Nation, Vol. 2: Kingdom on the Waves by M.T. Anderson (2008)


Habibi by Craig Thompson (2011)


Hugo, directed by Martin Scorcese (2011)

Films on Video:

Near Enough:
Cedar Rapids, directed by Miguel Arteta (2011)
Love and Other Drugs, directed by Edward Zwick (2010)
The King's Speech, directed by Tom Hopper (2010)
Tucker & Dale Versus Evil, directed by Eli Craig (2010)

Dipping Back a Bit:
Sullivan's Travels, directed by Preston Sturges (1941)
Singin' in the Rain, directed by Stanley Donen (1952)
Remember the Night, directed by Mitchell Leisen (1940)
Topper, directed by Norman Z. McLeod (1939)
Irma la Douce, directed by Billy Wilder (1963)
My Man Godfrey, directed by Gregory la Cava (1936)
Ninotchka, direct by Ernst Lubitsch (1939)
The Bachelor and the Bobby-Soxer, directed by Irving Reis (1947)
The Lady Eve, directed by Preston Sturges (1941)
The Great Dictator, Directed by Charles Chaplin (1940)
Trouble in Paradise; directed by Ernst Lubitsch (1932)
How To Murder Your Wife, directed by Richard Quine (1965)


The only thing I HAVE to watch in a week is Community, but I have to give credit to Parks & Recreation for a REALLY good season so far.


Too little new stuff I've wanted to hear and too much good old stuff to choose either way. Dennis Coffey had a good one and I really enjoyed the Wake Up! RADIO remix of John Legend & The Roots' album from the previous year. The Roots' own Undun is pretty fantastic, and I really enjoyed following Madlib's Medicine Show releases.


LA Noire
Fallout: New Vegas
Call of Duty: Black Ops

the entire Nintendo DSi XL experience



I have never seen a movie with Cary Grant that I less-than-loved him in.

UPDATE: I really disliked That Touch of Mink all over, and felt he phoned it in.