Walden Pond Press/HarperCollins Children
"It would just be like she was a leper, and leprosy really wasn't so bad once you made it part of your routine."
"They were plastic flowers of words -- but they looked nice on the surface."
"This is what it is to live in the world. You have to give yourself over to the cold, at least a little bit."
Hazel’s parents are divorced and she lives with her mom next door to her best, and only, friend Jack. She was adopted from far away and has always felt like an outsider at school. Jack is the only one who's paid her attention. Until one day he doesn’t. This snowy day Jack gets hit in the eye and leaves school for the day. But, overnight he changes. Then he disappears. When Hazel finds out what may have happened to Jack, there’s only one thing she can do. Rescue him. Hazel is an avid reader and knows how fantasy novels work: find entry to the other world, go there, get help, solve problems, find friends, come home. Unfortunately, the real world doesn’t always work like books. Wait, isn’t this a book?
Ursu takes the (previously unfamiliar to me) story of Hans Christian Andersen’s The Snow Queen (1844)and brings it to life. Breadcrumbs weaves the tales to together into something more familiar and relatable than Andersen's original. Jack and Hazel’s friendship comes to life, something you don’t see between Gerda and Kay, the original boy and girl. This makes Jack’s defection all the more heartbreaking. We understand why Hazel wants to rescue him and we root for her along the way. Get this one!