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I love the way Anne Ursu weaves fantasy and real life together in her coming of age story, Breadcrumbs. Friendship, feelings of exclusion, adoption, and issues with parents are all primary themes in this retelling of Hans Christian Anderson’s “The Snow Queen.”

Hazel and Jack are best friends until a magical shard of glass lands in Jack’s eye and changes him. The adults in the story attribute Jack’s change and rejection of Hazel to growing up, but Hazel knows better. And when Jack goes missing, Hazel walks into an enchanted forest full of danger in order to rescue him.

Breadcrumbs is compelling and well written, and most kids will find something to relate with in Hazel’s character. However, you’ll want to be aware that this book deals with issues that may be sensitive subjects for some kids including divorce, severe depression (in an adult), and adoption. You, as the parent, are the best one to determine if these subject will be cathartic or disruptive to your child if they have dealt with these issues.

While Breadcrumbs is obviously a reference to Hanzel and Gretel (and I just realized Hazel’s name is a combination of Hanzel and Gretel) and a hint at the fantasy elements in store, my favorite trail of “breadcrumbs” was the multitude of references to other books. A few that I caught were The Chronicles Narnia, A Wrinkle in Time, Harry Potter, His Dark Materials, Coraline, The Phantom Tollbooth, Alice in Wonderland, “The Swan Princess,” and of course, “The Snow Queen” upon which this story is based. Though some of these are on my “read with caution” list, I love this kind of literary trail for kids to follow.

Overall, I’d definitely recommend this book (given the caveat above for some children) for mature 5th graders and up.


Your kid can read it for free!

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Thousands of high quality titles.
What fantasy retellings do you love?