Reading guide for Wonderstruck by Brian Selznick

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by Brian Selznick

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  • Published:
    Sep 2011, 608 pages

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Reading Guide Questions Print Excerpt

Please be aware that this discussion guide may contain spoilers!

  1. How does Ben feel about living with his aunt and uncle and sharing a room with his cousin? Describe his feelings when he finds Janet in his mother’s house at night. Why is he so affected by the locket and the book he finds in his mother’s room?

  2. What are the early connections between Ben’s story and Rose’s story? Discuss how those connections—the places where they feel trapped, their loneliness, the storms and lightning—help to illuminate and expand on the individual stories.

  3. Discuss the meaning of the quote Ben’s mother liked: “We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.” How does the quote relate to each of the stories? How many ways does star imagery come into Ben’s story and Rose’s story?

  4. When do we first learn that Rose is deaf? How does that revelation intersect with Ben’s story? Discuss the events that compel each of them to run away. How are their experiences similar and how are they different?

  5. Compare Rose’s encounter with her mother to Ben’s first experiences in New York. Why does Rose run away from her mother? Why does Ben run away from the boy who tries to help him? What draws both Ben and Rose to the museum?

  6. Compare the powerful experiences Ben and Rose have with the meteorite Ahnighito and the wishes they make.

  7. Why does Jamie lead Ben to the wolf exhibit? Why does Ben decide to trust Jamie, and later, why does he become angry with Jamie?

  8. How does the storytelling structure in the book change when Ben finally finds Kincaid’s Bookstore? Describe Rose’s feelings when she sees Ben and realizes who he might be. Describe Ben’s feelings when he realizes his connection to Rose.

  9. Discuss Ben’s thought that “maybe we are all cabinets of wonders” [p. 574]. What does he mean? What does the Cabinet of Wonders in his father’s book and in the storage room at AMNH represent to Ben? Why is he so drawn to the idea of those early museums?

  10. Why is it important for Rose to take Ben to the Queens Museum to tell him the story of his father? What does the Panorama mean to her and how does it relate to her childhood? Why does Jamie follow them?

  11. Compare Ben’s experience during the blackout in Minnesota when he is home alone with the blackout in New York when he is with Rose. What do you think Ben’s next chapter will be—staying in New York or returning to Minnesota?

Unless otherwise stated, this discussion guide is reprinted with the permission of Scholastic. Any page references refer to a USA edition of the book, usually the trade paperback version, and may vary in other editions.

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