Gosh, that Brian Selznick is a clever dude. I felt that Hugo Cabret worked so well because (a) it was totally new and unique and (b) its storyline (silent films/mystery) worked perfectly with the medium. And so I wondered if he could really pull it off a second time. Well, pull it off he did and, in my opinion, with even more success.
Wonderstruck tells two equally engrossing stories. One, set in 1977, tells the story of a grieving boy named Ben who is dealing with the loss of his mother and the total loss of his hearing while also attempting to unravel the mystery of his unknown father. The other, set in 1927, tells the story of Rose - an overprotected, lonely and deeply unhappy deaf girl seeking some kind of freedom and happiness. Ben's story is told in text and Rose's exclusively in pictures. The stories intersect in surprising and enjoyable ways and overall this book is just a delight to experience.
I absolutely LOVE how Selznick always manages to incorporate non-fiction elements into his stories. With Hugo it was silent films and Georges Méliès in particular. Here it's museums - specifically the American Museum of Natural History in New York and the precursors to formal museums - Cabinets of Wonder. I think in some author's hands this type of thing could feel clunky and pedantic, but Selznick's passion for the subject always shines through and is deeply infectious.
Finally, one simply cannot read this book and not think of E.L. Konigsburg's From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler. I was thrilled to see Selznick address this in his acknowledgements AND he says there are little references to Konigsburg and her book sprinkled throughout his book! I didn't catch a single one and now I feel like I may have to go back and read the entire thing! Well, I could think of a lot worse ways to spend my time.