Reading Breadcrumbs is a little bit like getting lost in a dream while wrapped up in a soft blanket by the fire in midwinter. Anne Ursu’s lyrical, poetic language wrapped around me and pulled me into Hazel’s heart and her story from the first sentence. While it was a bit of an incongruous book to be reading in the middle of the summer, with temperatures in my town still in the mid-90s, I loved the wintery, snowbound atmosphere of the story and can’t wait to revisit it sometime in the appropriate season. I was particularly impressed by how seamlessly Ursu incorporates the classic fairy-tale feel of the narration with the present-day setting of the book. And, of course, as a voracious reader and a former imaginative child, Hazel and Jack felt like kindred spirits!
My only complaint (and “complaint” is probably too strong a word) is that, while the book stars fifth graders and is targeted towards middle grade readers, the language is fairly complex and sophisticated and I’m not sure that it would hold every middle grade reader’s interest. However, even in the case of reluctant readers, I think Breadcrumbs would be an excellent read-aloud. Breadcrumbs is recommended both for middle grade and young adult readers, as well as adults who were once book-loving children themselves.
Violence/Gore: Children throw snowballs at each other. A boy gets a piece of glass in his eye and is taken to the emergency room. A girl throws a pencil case at a boy. A girl is menaced by a wolf on two occasions (but not attacked). Children discuss storybook villains and their evil powers. On various occasions, characters attempt to enchant the protaganist in different ways.
Mature Subject Matter:
Adoption, divorce, parental depression, friendship troubles, growing up.
Alcohol / Drug Use:
Two children play in an abandoned building that is littered with old cigarette butts and beer bottles.