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Wonderstruck – A Kids Book About Curation (and Other Stuff)

I’ve just finished reading Brian Selznick’s Wonderstruck.

The book’s title is an apt approximation of how I felt by the end of the 600+ page book. Selznick’s mixture of images and text is unlike anything other writers are doing. In Wonderstruck, he extends his unique storytelling technique by offering parallel narratives that cross in ways that elevate the emotional depth of the work.

Currently, I’ve been working on a chapter of my dissertation that, in part, looks at youth as curators and the transformative possibilities of this role. By taking ownership, labeling, collecting, and displaying ephemera within their communities, my students help guide a collective consciousness for their peers that establish opportunities for social improvement. The act of curation is a liberatory one. Or at least that’s what I’m arguing so far.

Wonderstruck finds its protagonist desperately holding onto the artifacts that make up an unclear past in search of meaning amongst them. Selznick’s narrative illuminates the personal  power of curation and imbues it with the same sense of wonder that I attempted to achieve in the ARG I created. The book opens up paths of discussion that I’d love to someday host with students.

Though its written for junior readers (Ally has just clarified for me that it’s “JFIC”), Wonderstruck is a book that–like his previous book The Invention of Hugo Cabret–should be read by just about anyone. And as much as I’m looking forward to the Scorsese adaptation of Hugo Cabret this Christmas (the trailer looks pretty great), I feel like Selznick’s books deserve to be picked up and experienced page-by-page.

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