Selznick’s ‘Wonderstruck’ illustrates human relationships for CLSC Young Readers, guests

Yemi Falodun | Staff Writer

Four years after The Invention of Hugo Cabret, Caldecott Medal author Brian Selznick dazzles again with his signature illustrative storytelling in the Scholastic published Wonderstuck.

The book is this week’s selection for the Chautauqua Literary and Scientific Cirlce Young Readers program, which will discuss Wonderstruck at 4:15 p.m. today in the Alumni Hall Garden Room. St. Mary’s School for the Deaf faculty and students will offer insight into what is similar to living as a deaf person.

At more than 600 pages, Selznick tells the story of Ben, who is deaf in one ear and living in 1977 Minnesota. After his mother dies, Ben must move in with his aunt and uncle. But with the recent void in his life, he goes on an intense journey to find his estranged father, whom he has never met.

Ben’s story is interspersed with the visually mesmerizing story of Rose, an adventure-seeking deaf girl. Set 50 years before Ben’s story, Rose runs away to the big city, despite her mother’s disapproval. There, she finds her brother Walter, who works at a museum.

Young readers are left to piece together the puzzling mystery, as Ben and Rose are headed on a collision course, at the end of which secrets will be revealed.

Both Ben and Rose are hearing impaired, but that does not stop them from seeking out adventures and forging bonds.

“People have a tendency to talk louder or act differently around deaf people,” said Teresa Adams, assistant director of the Department of Education and Youth Services. “We just want the young readers to be comfortable around people who are deaf and have hearing impairments.”

To help young readers familiarize themselves with deaf people, St. Mary’s School for the Deaf members will come to tell their own stories. They will also teach the young readers the importance of American Sign Language as a communication tool.

“Having the kids interact would help them,” Adams said.

But Wonderstruck is less about being hearing impaired and more about human relationships and interactions. Selznick delves into the difficult tension there is in raising a child without knowledge of a father or the experience of visiting a big city.

Both mothers in the story feel their actions justifiably protect their loved ones from whatever danger or truth they may realize on their own.

In Wonderstruck, young readers explore a world in text and pictures, as they witness the amazing stories of Ben and Rose unravel before them.