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Exclusive Excerpt of Breadcrumbs by Anne Ursu, illustrated by Erin McGuire

July 15th, 2011 (07:56 am)
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Current Mood: content
Current Song: To the Beat of Our Noisy Hearts by Matt Nathanson

I feel quite lucky to have had an early look at Breadcrumbs by Anne Ursu, illustrated by Erin McGuire. Inspired by The Snow Queen and other stories by Hans Christian Andersen, this story has a glorious heart as well as gorgeous artwork. This is the story of a young girl, Hazel, who braves the unknown in order to find her best friend, Jack. He had recently been acting a little different, a little distant, but when he actually disappears without a trace, Hazel sets off on a quest that takes her into another land altogether.

Though Breadcrumbs will be shelved in the children's department, it is one of those books which transcends labels and should be put in the hands of adults, teens, and kids alike. This is a story for anyone and everyone who enjoys classic fairy tales - especially those who like Hans Christian Andersen tales - but also for those who like coming-of-age stories. If you like fantasy stories in which a person from our world goes into another world, such as The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe, then you'll have to pick up this book.

Thanks to Walden Media and Kellie Celia, I am able to offer readers this exclusive excerpt from Breadcrumbs, along with a beautiful illustration by Erin McGuire. Enjoy.

In the real world Hazel was an ordinary thing, a misshapen piece with no purpose. Maybe here she could be a swan. Maybe it had been left here, just for her. She could fly over the woods to rescue Jack. She could bear him on her back on the way home. She would alight just before the edge of the wood and unfurl herself. And then maybe she would hide the skin there, deep in the hollow of a tree, for when she needed to spread enormous white wings.

She held it up. The neck and head hung to the side, and Hazel tried to ignore the way her stomach turned looking at it. After all, she was not the one who’d killed the creature.

She felt naked as she began to wrap it around herself, like a bird plucked of its feathers—all goosebumpy skin and trembling bones and frail, sputtering heart.

And then the skin was around her and Hazel was softness, she was warmth. The skin settled into her as if made for her.

But she was no swan. She had legs, she had arms, she had a swan neck dangling uselessly behind her.

Of course it would never work, not on her. She didn’t even know her name.

Hazel walked over to the edge of the ridge, thinking she might catch a glance of her reflection in the stream below. But it was too far away, and moving too quickly. It didn’t matter. Hazel knew what she looked like. The skin was just a taunt, just one more thing she would never have. And she was still alone.

She tore the skin off and hurled it into the ravine.

Hazel watched as the beautiful, terrible thing fell into the water. It could not fly, it could not float, because all its swan-ness had been taken away. She stared down at the ravine, and then turned and walked slowly back to her backpack.

And a hand grabbed her arm.

“Where is it?” a voice hissed in her ear.


To find out what happens next, pick up Breadcrumbs by Anne Ursu, illustrated by Erin McGuire, when it lands in your local bookstore on September 27th, 2011.

Read my interview with Anne Ursu.

Read my interview with Erin McGuire.