Wonderstruck (Schneider Family Book Award - Middle School Winner)

by Brian Selznick

Hardcover, 2011

Call number




Scholastic Press (2011), Edition: Illustrated, 640 pages


Having lost his mother and his hearing in a short time, twelve-year-old Ben leaves his Minnesota home in 1977 to seek the father he never knew in New York City, and meets there Rose, who is also longing for something missing from her life. Ben's story is told in words; Rose's in pictures.

Media reviews

The two stories come together at the climax of the book, which manages to incorporate an impressive array of heartfelt issues: everything from education for the deaf to friendship, love of collecting, conservation, memories and dioramas. As I turned the pages my heart was well and truly warmed in
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that way beloved of a certain type of American children's literature – earnest, life affirming, educational, and impossible to dislike. Reaching the end I leafed back through the 460 pages of Wonderstruck, admiring the pictures, all thoughts of my daughter now banished. Honestly, Brian, I do know how you can be bothered.
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User reviews

LibraryThing member msf59
This book has two parallel stories. The first features Ben, a partially deaf boy, recently orphaned. It’s upper Minnesota, 1977. This story is in narrative text. Our 2nd story centers on a totally deaf girl, named Rose, living a sheltered life in New York state. The year is 1927. This story is
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told in illustrations.
How these two threads finally meet and entwine, is the joy and magic of this novel. I was a huge fan of Selznick’s previous work, The Invention of Hugo Cabret. This one doesn’t work as well on every level. The narrative doesn’t flow as smoothly and there are some big credibility gaps but the drawings are beautifully rendered and the child-like awe of discovery is always a pleasure to witness, so I can still recommend it with just slight reservations.
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LibraryThing member porch_reader
If you liked The Invention of Hugo Cabret, you will love Wonderstruck. If you haven't read The Invention of Hugo Cabret, you should read them both. Brian Selznick is a genius of storytelling in words and pictures.

Wonderstruck begins with the story of Ben, a boy who lives in Minnesota in 1977.
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Ben's story is told in words. His mother has just died, and he doesn't know his father. But clues from his mother's room set him on a journey. Interspersed with Ben's story is the story of Rose, a girl in New York City in 1927. Rose's story, told entirely in pictures, is also a story of a child searching for her place in the world. The storylines and the ways they are told come together in a way that feels natural, not forced. The story is also richly layered. Selznick weaves in information about Deaf culture, museums, life in Minnesota, life in New York, and more For me, this was a very satisfying read.

I also have to note that this is a beautiful book. The pictures themselves are striking. The characters look up off the page directly into the reader's eyes. Although I was drawn into the story and often turned the pages quickly, I want to go back and savor the pictures. But the words are beautiful too. Ben and Rose both know hardships in their lives, but the story is ultimately one of hope and connection.
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LibraryThing member Whisper1
Not one to embrace graphic novels, this book surprised me. I love it! Selznick is an incredible artist, and wonderful story teller.

The primary setting is the New York City Natural History Museum, one of my all-time favorite places to visit since I went on a school trip there in third grade.

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two characters, Ben, a young man who never knew his father, and recently lost his mother, and Rose, now elderly who discovers that Ben is her grandson.

The illustrations are lush. The story of Ben and Rose, both deaf, both longing for family, is beautifully told.

Highly recommended.

Five Stars.
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LibraryThing member labfs39
My daughter brought home Wonderstruck as soon as she finished The Invention of Hugo Cabret, so I too read them back to back. Whereas I found Hugo to be fascinating and fresh, Wonderstruck failed to hit the sweet spot with me. Perhaps I read it too soon after the first, but it felt a little stale.
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The art and plot were interesting, but too closely resembled Selznick's first novel. It took me a long time to finish: something just didn't click.

The book opens in Gunflint Lake, Minnesota in 1977. The young boy Ben has just lost the only parent he ever knew, his mother, and is living with well-meaning relatives. His cousin is fond of teasing Ben because he is deaf in one ear. One late rainy night, Ben sneaks back to the home he shared with his mother, and finds clues about the father he never knew. When an accident takes away his remaining hearing, Ben runs away to try and find his father in New York City. Once there, he becomes friends with a boy at the Natural History Museum, who helps him in his quest.

Meanwhile, in alternating chapters, the author tells the story of Rose, a young deaf girl living in Hoboken, New Jersey in 1927. While Ben's story is told in text and graphics, Rose's is conveyed through pictures only, heightening the sense of her isolation from speech and language. Rose longs to escape her father's strict house, but her famous mother is uninterested in reuniting. Eventually the two stories move closer and closer together, until they become a single plotline.

In his acknowledgments, the author describes his research into Deaf culture. It sounds quite interesting, but I didn't feel as though much of it trickled down into his book. In sum, I gave Wonderstruck three stars as compared to four and a half for The Invention of Hugo Cabret.
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LibraryThing member KarenBall
Like Selznick's The Invention of Hugo Cabret, this is a tale told in words as well as artwork. But Selznick has taken his storytelling to a new level, allowing the artwork to be the sole communicator of half of the story. Ben and Rose live separated by 50 years, but connected in a number of ways.
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Ben is struck deaf in a lightning accident, while Rose has always been deaf. Each is searching for a missing parent: Ben discovers a clue in his mother's room that leads him to run away from his aunt and uncle's Minnesota home to a Manhattan bookstore and then to the New York Museum of Natural History, and Rose leaves her Hoboken home to follow a series of newspaper articles and a postcard to the same place. Ben's story is told in words, while Rose's story is told only in pictures. Elements of Deaf culture appear throughout, but the wonder of it is that though readers will learn much, Selznick never makes that the focus of the story -- they are simply the details surrounding how the characters manage their lives and relationships. The story jumps back and forth in time for the two quests, which may take some readers a few pages to get used to, but eventually it all intertwines in the end. A beautifully told story, with rich writing and amazing, expressive artwork. My guess is that this will win multiple awards, all well deserved. 6th grade and up, especially appropriate for 7th grade curriculum. Advance reader copy from Book Expo 2011, publication date 9/13/2011.
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LibraryThing member lindamamak
Brian Selnick's storytelling takes on two stories one in pictures and one in words, both are wonderful told about love, family and friendship. The ending is incredible.
LibraryThing member Lisa2013
Wonderful! Fabulous! So special! Very clever!

I liked this book even better than The Invention of Hugo Cabret, and that’s saying a lot. it’s even more emotionally touching than that first book.

Ben. Rose. Jamie. Etc. All of them touched me.

For not the first time I am tempted to create a new-york
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or nyc shelf.

I read this book in one day. Rose’s story told via pictures and Ben’s told via text were both mesmerizing.

I have memories of the 1964 New York World’s Fair, which is mentioned/”shown” in this story (which takes place in 1977 & 1927) had me spellbound all over again.

The title name is brilliantly incorporated more than one way into this story.

I recommend this book to just about everybody, particularly anybody who fits/likes any of the following: museums, books, the Museum of Natural History in NYC, bookstores, is interested in the deaf and/or Deaf culture, likes historical fiction stories, remembers the 1964-1965 New York World’s Fair, liked From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, is a fan of wolves, appreciates a good orphan story, enjoys beautiful and fascinating book illustrations, can feel in awe of unusual and brilliant books. I really don’t know what to say that wouldn’t come across as hyperbole. This book is great. Truly great. If I could give it more than 5 stars I would. It might end up on my favorites shelf; I’ll have to mull over that decision.

Entertaining and informative and absolutely not to be missed: end of the book Acknowledgments, and also a great Selected Bibliography, with many categories.
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LibraryThing member foggidawn
Wonderstruck by Brian Selznick is one of the really hot, much-discussed releases of the fall (release date 9/13/2011). Selznick pioneered a new format with The Invention of Hugo Cabret a few years ago, and Wonderstruck is in the same style -- text interspersed with full-page black and white
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illustrations. In Hugo Cabret, Selznick told one story . . . in Wonderstruck, he tells two.

First of all, there is the story of Ben, who lives with his aunt and uncle in Gunflint, Michigan, since his mother's recent death. Ben has always wondered about his father, but his mother never talked about him. Upon discovering a few key items in his mother's possessions, Ben takes hold of an opportunity to go on a voyage of discovery, which brings him to New York City and the American Museum of Natural History.

Fifty years before Ben's story, however, is the story of Rose, a deaf girl who lives in Hoboken, New Jersey, but longs for the big city just across the river. She also seizes the chance for an adventure, and her story parallels Ben's in many ways -- and, inevitably, despite those fifty years in between, the two stories come together.

Readers who loved Hugo Cabret will welcome Wonderstruck with open arms, as Selznick displays a rare talent for both writing and illustration.
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LibraryThing member jjmcgaffey
Excellent story. I saw it in Early Reviewers but didn't win it - got it from the library. It is one chunky book - 2.5" thick? But it doesn't actually have more text than a normal book - the many, many double-page-spread drawings (more than pages of text) are what makes it so thick. I knew from the
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Early Reviewers description that it was about deaf people, and that one of the protagonists has her story told entirely in pictures, no words (except for things shown in the pictures, including notebook pages). The other protagonist gets mostly words...some of the pictures I'm not sure whether they're his or hers, once their paths begin to intersect. Then near the end of the book their paths actually cross, and the story is told both ways. It's a clever gimmick, nicely done (the black-and-white drawings are very well executed); but that aside, it's also a great story. Stories, really - the intersection is quite a short bit at the end. And there's an awful lot of Rose's story we don't get to see - she just tells us about it. But her escape is shown, and paralleled with Ben's. Lots and lots of parallels - both deaf, the effects of lightning, the wolves, the fact of escaping, learning about sign language (I sign, a little). By the end of the book I was crying a bit, even though it's a (more or less) happy ending. Loved it, I will probably reread it in a few years. I should spend some time just looking at the pictures - I suspect they would reward close examination. Oh, right, and after reading the afterword I want to (re-)read From The Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler - he says Wonderstruck is filled with references to the book and the author, but I didn't catch any. It's been too many years.
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LibraryThing member bookymouse
Brian Selznick has done it again. Told in words and pictures, this is the captivating story of a young boy looking for his family entwined with the tale of a young deaf girl trying to find her place in the world. This book is amazing!
LibraryThing member EdGoldberg
Brian Selznick’s follow up to the incredible The Invention of Hugo Cabret is equally as incredible. The man has talent, that’s for sure. Wonderstruck is two stories about escaping your surroundings that ultimately converge.

Ben lives in Gunflint, Minnesota in 1977. His mother recently died in
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an accident and he is living with his aunt and uncle in a house across the clearing from where he grew up. He loves collecting things and is infatuated with museums. At night he dreams of wolves. One night in his mother’s room in his old house, he finds a book, Wonderstruck, all about museums. The inscription says “For Danny, Love M”. There is a bookmark from a bookstore in New York City. The book and inscription conjure up images of the father Ben never knew and he journeys to New York in search of his father.

Rose is a lonely deaf child, living in Hoboken, NJ, overlooking the Hudson River, in 1927. Across the river she sees the skyline of Manhattan and she longs to be there. She makes buildings out of paper (including the pages of her text book about lip reading) and lines her room with them, yearning for the day she will walk among them.

How these two stories, taking place 50 years apart, converge is one of the wonders of Wonderstruck. There are more, such as the fact that Ben’s story is primarily written while Rose’s story is presented entirely in illustrations. As a matter of fact, you don’t know what Ben looks like until the end. Selznick captures the spirit and grandeur and excitement of Manhattan in both time periods. Both Ben and Rose are commanding characters and you will care about both of them.

Listen, I could go on and on about the wonders of the story and the magnificence of the artwork, but that would delay you from getting your hands on a copy of Wonderstruck and reading it yourself. So, I’ll close by saying Brian Selznick never fails to satisfy his readers and Wonderstruck is a perfect example.
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LibraryThing member hoosgracie
Beautifully told intertwining stories of Ben and Rose. Rose's story is set in 1927 and is told through images and Ben's is set in 1977 and told through words - they tie together at the end. Well done! Will be released in September 2011.
LibraryThing member iShanella
Two stories, set fifty years apart; interwoven. One told through pictures and the other told through words.

The first story is of Ben, a young boy in the 1977 who just lost his mother and sets out to look for his father. The second story follows Rose, a young girl from 1927’s New Jersey who sets
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out to look for her idol, a movie star.

Both children’s search take them to New York City. Both children - deaf - are struggling to find what they are looking for in a world where hearing is normal and sometimes taken for granted. In a sense, they end up mirroring each other’s search and face similar hardships. How their lives intertwine in the end, though I was able to guess, was still very bittersweet.

I enjoyed the illustrations immensely. Brian Selznick sets out to tell a story through his pictures and he succeeds. The details in some of the pictures were amazing. I found myself looking forward to Rose’s story even though I loved reading Ben’s.

Brian also gives the reader a glimpse into Deaf culture, a culture that I’ve never experienced, and opened my eyes to a different lifestyle. I appreciated the way he told the story, giving the reader a glimpse into a world that some might not be familiar with. The story also echos with the longing we all have to belong somewhere, to be a part of something.

Wonderstruck is, at it’s core, a story of acceptance and community. It’s quite relatable and because of this, I think many people will enjoy reading it.
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LibraryThing member madamepince
The two narratives merge together into a story that's compeling and moving. Maybe I'm biased because I grew up deaf in one ear too, but I thought the visual story worked incredibly well. I'm thinking Newbery... Caldecott.
LibraryThing member mamzel
Absolutely marvelous! One story is told in text and a parallel story which takes place 50 years earlier is told in illustrations until...well, you will have to read this stunningly beautiful book. It won't take you long but make sure you turn the stove off before you start the book since you may
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forget it was on.
The style of this book is similar to The Invention of Hugo Cabret but there is no other connection except that if you liked Hugo, you'll love Wonderstruck.
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LibraryThing member JMBridger
A beautiful story that intertwines the story of a young boy and a young girl, separated by decades. Hundreds of pages of pencil illustrations tell the girl's story. If you enjoyed "The Invention of Hugo Cabret", you will not be disappointed by this book by the same author.
LibraryThing member bell7
In 1977, Ben Wilson has lived with his cousins since his mother passed away. He has a small collection of things in a box, and finds a book, Wonderstruck, that teaches his about the beginnings of museums. In 1927, Rose Kincaid can see New York City from her window, and has big dreams.

The two
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stories - Ben's in words and Rose's in pictures - interconnect and intertwine creatively. Selznick shows his fascination with cinema and museums in the historic times he portrays. His illustrations have intricate shading and add a fun twist to the story he's telling. I could tell where the story was going earlier than, perhaps, the book's intended audience would, but I enjoyed seeing it come together. I'll recommend it to fans of The Invention of Hugo Cabret and From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler.
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LibraryThing member Asperula
This is such an unbelievably beautiful book that I can't even imagine how it gets done. Reading Brian's notes at the end just make it even more special.
LibraryThing member CatheOlson
Two stories intertwine -- one in words takes place in 1977 about Ben a boy who has just lost his mother and his hearing who runs away to New York to find his father, and one in pictures that takes place in 1927 about a young deaf girl running away to New York City to be with her movie star mother.
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Eventually the stories intertwine . . . in a heartwrenchingly wonderful way.

I absolutely LOVED this book. In fact, when I'm done writing this review I want to go back and read it again. It was so beautiful, so touching. I was actually tearing up at the end. I think in a way it's a shame this is categorized as a children's book because it has so much for adults as well.
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LibraryThing member skraftdesigns
After his mother dies, and he goes next door to live with his cousin's family. He then starts to unravel the mystery of his father's identity by going through his mother's things. This leads him to run away from his home in Flint Lake Minnesota to New York city.Simultaneously throughout the book,
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is a story done entirely in illustration about a girl in the 20's who tracks her famous movie star mother in New York City. Her mother, though, is not pleased to see her.
These two stories, the written one and the illustrated one eventually connect in a surprising way, and the young boy's questions begin to be answered.
This is a beautiful book. The illustrations are lush and detailed and the story is warm and engaging. At over 600 pages, it is a surprisingly quick read. Recommended.
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LibraryThing member jorgearanda
The drawings here are as fascinating as in Selznick's "Hugo Cabret", and they are at the service of a more touching plot.
LibraryThing member ashmolean1
Read in one sitting...preferred Hugo Cabret as a subject but classy nevertheless
LibraryThing member mountie9
Jake's Review: I didn't like this one as much as mom, but it was still pretty cool. I really like how it was told half in pictures and half in words. Mom said there is another book like this that I might like even better, something about Hugo Caberat & its also going to be a movie. Think I know
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what Mom is getting me for Christmas (mom's note: smart alec!). I didn't want to read it at first because it looked like it was a thousand pages long, but once I opened it up and saw all the pictures I was ok with it. It was an exciting story and a really big surprise in it. I liked his friend Jamie because he was a really good friend to a total stranger and it was cool how he took him around the museum. My favorite part in the picture story was where they were walking over the miniature city, thought that was something I would like to do. Mom cried while reading it, but I didn't -- girls cry all the time you know (mom's note: must beat this sexism out of him). I would have liked it even better if it had more colour pictures and less words.(Mom's note: he's a huge graphic novel fan, so anything that is not graphic, is going to not be as good in his opinion). I felt really bad at times for the characters because they were deaf and so many things must have been difficult for kids back then. Rose's mom was really mean, sorta like Mom when I wake her up to early (mom's note: very true, I cannot lie). I think a more geeky guy like my friend Ben would like this even better. I really like the cover too!

Jake's Rating: 7.5/10

Mom's Review: I am at a total loss for words for expressing how beautiful this book is, do yourself a favor and just pick up a copy, you will not be disappointed. Two stories told, one in pictures, the other in text and than they intersect together so beautifully. Wonderfully unique. The story is one of loss, yet at the same time of hope, understanding and forgiveness. I won't tell you how many times I teared up while reading and even while just gazing at the outstanding illustrations (works of art on their own). Some kids might struggle at figuring out the story done in pictures, but if they give it time, will be able to do it and fall in love with it. This is a must have for every school and public library and I will just come out and say it - it will win awards. Also just as an added bonus, the main characters mom is a cool Librarian, so that gives it an even higher rating in my opinion. The Acknowledgments and selected bibliography at the end are a nice added touch and will be helpful to kids wanting to learn more. This will be one that I will be purchasing for gifts and my copy will be added to the bookshelf -- only the very best are allowed in my limited book space now.

Mom's Rating: 10/10

We received this from Scholastic in Exchange for an Honest Review. Update: I also got a signed copy at the Scholastic Author and Illustrator Dinner that I will be blogging about later this week.
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LibraryThing member tapestry100
Sigh. I really wanted to like this book more than I did. Honest, I did! The Invention of Hugo Cabret was one of my favorite reads the year it was released, so when I heard Brian Selznick was releasing a new book in the same fashion, I was thrilled. When a friend offered to let me borrow her ARC, I
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was even more excited! I settled in for what I was hoping was going to be as just a magical and heartfelt story as Hugo Cabret, but I was left wanting at the end.

The story follows Rose, whose story is set 50 years in the past and told in pictures, and Ben, whose present day story is told in prose. They are both looking for something more in their lives, and as the tale jumps back and forth from Rose's story to Ben's, we are led on an "adventure" that eventually brings the two together in Ben's present day. I won't really give anything away, but needless to say, I had already figured out the connection between Rose and Ben long before it is revealed in the story, and found the coincidences that occurred to Ben far too convenient for my taste. In fact, I was really more vested in Rose's story than Ben's, because I felt everything that happened to Ben was far too unrealistic and forced to feel like the story was developing naturally. Everything that happened to Ben needed to happen in order for the story to progress. If his story didn't move, neither did any of the book. Unfortunately, this forced feeling in Ben's story just left me feeling a little cold to the story.

Rose's portion of the story is beautifuuly told, however. Selznick utilizes the same storyboard techniques he used in Hugo Cabret to make it feel like we are actually watching a silent movie about Rose and her story. I thoroughly enjoyed the entire drawn portion of the book and really wish that I had felt as strongly about the prose portions.

I never like writing reviews like this, especially over a book that has had so much work put into it. I can't imagine how long it took Brian Selznick to draw all the illustrations that went into Wonderstruck. Each one is a work of art unto itself. I just couldn't quite get into the rhythm of this story as much as I did The Invention of Hugo Cabret. Will this stop me from picking up future books from Brian Selznick? Absolutely not. The man is a genius with this storytelling technique. Wonderstruck just didn't quite strike me with as much wonder as I was hoping it was going to.
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LibraryThing member eduscapes
Wonderstruck by Brian Selznick is a powerful book on many levels.

First, let's talk about the use of images. Selznick tells two stories that merge into one for a climatic ending. One is told through text and the others images. This exciting approach works perfectly with the narrative of the
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Second, let's talk about time periods. The historical nature of the book was fascinating. Often books with dual stories take place in the past and the present. I like the way the the book focused on two time periods in the past. It was also interesting that the book wasn't centered on well-known events. Instead the narrative used time periods that reflects the story, the characters, and the topics.

Third, let's talk about the themes. From interesting topics such as museums and adventure to serious issues related to deafness and family, the book did an outstanding job delving into these engaging subjects.

I'm not much of a crier but I'll admit to lots of tears as the two stories came together!

Selznick's awards are already stacked high. This will make his mountain of award-winning works even higher. I can't wait for this next title using this text/image dual story approach.

Wow… can I give this book 6 stars?
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Nebraska Golden Sower Award (Nominee — 2014)
Texas Bluebonnet Award (Nominee — 2013)
Commonwealth Club of California Book Awards (Finalist — Young Adult — 2011)
Great Stone Face Book Award (Nominee — 2013)
Kentucky Bluegrass Award (Nominee — Grades 3-5 — 2013)
Buckeye Children's & Teen Book Award (Nominee — Grades 3-5 — 2012)
William Allen White Children's Book Award (Nominee — Grades 3-5 — 2013-2014)
Bluestem Award (Nominee — 2015)
Mark Twain Readers Award (Nominee — 2014)
Blue Hen Book Award (Nominee — Middle Readers — 2014)
Iowa Children's Choice Award (Nominee — 2014)
Mitten Award (Honor — 2012)
Virginia Readers' Choice (Nominee — Middle School — 2014)
Kids' Book Choice Awards (Finalist — 2012)
Golden Archer Award (Nominee — Intermediate — 2013)
Volunteer State Book Award (Nominee — Middle School — 2014)
Rhode Island Teen Book Award (Nominee — 2013)
South Carolina Book Awards (Nominee — Children's Book Award — 2014)
Schneider Family Book Award (Winner — Middle Grades — 2012)
Best Fiction for Young Adults (Selection — 2012)
Children's Favorites Awards (Selection — 2012)
Great Reads from Great Places (New York — 2012)


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