I was intrigued by this book when I read a brief description of it in Family Fun Magazine as being two stories told side by side--one in pictures and the other in words. I had the chance to review it so I thought it might be interesting. The cover made me think the story might somehow be scary or eerie, but it isn't. The cover belies the wonderful story inside the pages. Selznick's story and writing remind me of E.L. Konigsburg's books.
This story begins by telling two stories. The first is Ben's story in 1977, set at Gunflint Lake, Minnesota. His mom has recently died and he is living with his Aunt, Uncle, and their children. Ben's story is told in text. The second story is about Rose. She is a young girl in 1927. Her story is told through pictures. As the brief description of the story says, both Rose and Ben are searching for something that they desire to find.
I loved reading Rose's story through pictures. The black and white pictures are wonderful. In an age where graphic novels are filled with cartoon or anime drawings, these drawings are life-like sketches filled with detail. Ben's story also drew me in. He was an easy character to like.
The only note I have for parents is that Ben's mom chose to have him and not get married. She fell in love and had no desire to have a husband. I don't think most people will have an issue with their child reading this as a part of the story. But, some may and so I wanted to mention it. If this concerns you, I would talk to your child about it rather than make the choice not to read this book. It is a wonderful book and is full of beauty. There are times when I believe it is wise to read a book even if the characters hold morals different than your own.
This book would be a great fit for reluctant readers in 4th-7th grades. The pictures make it a very quick read and also will give children the proud feeling of "reading a really long book". I look forward to letting my children read this book. It is about younger children, so I would recommend it to children as young as third grade and up to eighth grade. Honestly, this book is such a breath of fresh air. It is not filled with darkness and dread as many books for children are today. There is also no mention of potty humor or bad language (I don't even remember reading the word stupid). It is simply a very, good book and interesting story.
Please note that I received a complimentary copy of this book for review from Scholastic Publishing.