Breadcrumbs - Anne Ursu, Erin Mcguire The Snow Queen is one of my favorite fairy tales. It's haunting and nostalgic, bleak yet hopeful. The villain isn't some wolf lurking in the forest, or an evil witch who casts curses on newborns; it's not even the Snow Queen herself. Rather, the villainy lies in our own heart, capable of being manipulated and mutated by how we perceive the world.

Using this tale, Anne Ursu crafts a lovely retelling from the perspective of a girl, right on the cusp of adolescence. Hazel is a fifth grader struggling with her new life in a public school, unable to fit in. Following a divorce, her mother struggles to maintain her family and finances, which leaves Hazel on her own for some time. Hazel's only confidante is Jack, the only one who (Hazel believes) relates to her troubles and her active imagination.

Circumstances happen which drive a wedge between Hazel and Jack. Suddenly, Jack stops playing with Hazel and instead opts to play with the other boys during recess. Hazel, though she tries to resist, is dragged along by her mother to play with a girl her own age. Hazel suspects that something is deeply wrong with Jack, but she is unable to do anything about it.

That is, until Jack is taken by the Snow Queen.

The second half of the book narrates Hazel's journey through a forest to find Jack. Along the way, she meets a cast of fascinating and, I won't lie, very creepy characters. Reading about some of these characters, particularly the couple with the abundant *ahem* garden really unsettled me. But, like in all good fairy tales, the journey leads to growth, and the change in Hazel from the beginning to the end of the story was beautifully written.

I really enjoyed this book, particularly the second half. I am thinking of bringing this book to a fifth grader I read with weekly at a local elementary school. Breadcrumbs is a story about growing up and the changes that come with it. Anne Ursu did a fantastic job staying close to not only the narrative of the original fairy tale but also the emotion behind it, even with the modern twist. In essence, both are about navigating the dark forest of our own uncertainty and fear, and learning to face change with courage.

4.5 stars and highly recommended!