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Book review by
Sally Engelfried, Common Sense Media
Breadcrumbs Book Poster Image
Brilliant tale of girl's enchanted-woods search for friend.
Popular with kids

Parents say

age 10+
Based on 4 reviews

Kids say

age 9+
Based on 13 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

References to children’s literature abound (most notably the Narnia books and the fairy tale "The Snow Queen" by Hans Christian Andersen), although they are not always cited. Hazel is an avid reader with an active imagination, but she has a hard time paying attention in school and gets in trouble with the teacher.

Positive Messages

Hazel comes to understand that friendships must change and that she will change as well, but that positive outcomes may also result, such as new friends and new interests.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Hazel is a loyal friend to Jack and understands that she must rescue him even if their friendship won’t be the same afterward.


In the woods, a woman viciously slashes Hazel with her claw-like fingernails when Hazel steals her enchanted swan skin, and Hazel’s face is permanently scarred. At school, Hazel throws a pencil case at a boy who makes fun of her.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this middle-grade retelling of "The Snow Queen" deals with an 11-year-old boy disappearing into the woods and his best friend, Hazel, going in after to rescue him. Although this is clearly a fantasy, real-world elements are woven in so strongly that the situation might seem more frightening than in the usual fantastic story. Hazel’s journey through the woods includes scary scenarios such as a lonely couple that entices children to stay with them and then transforms them into flowers and beautiful red shoes that won’t let their wearer stop dancing. Back home, Jack’s mother suffers from depression, and Hazel’s father has left her and her mother. Hazel is excluded by her peers at school, and her teachers don’t appreciate her imagination. Hazel wonders why she’s so different from everyone else. Is it that she was adopted and her skin is darker than everyone else’s, or is there something intrinsically wrong with her?

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent of a 7, 10, and 12 year old Written byWordGirlTN February 14, 2012

A Book Worth Sharing

Breadcrumbs was, quite simply, a beautiful book. I loved the story of Hazel and her friendship with Jack. I loved the writing. I loved the mix of reality and... Continue reading
Parent of a 9 year old Written byMamaBearNJ December 4, 2012

Somewhat gloomy retelling of The Snow Queen

Nothing off-color, nothing bloody, nothing nearly as frightening as parts of the original, but this modern retelling of Hans Christian Anderson's classic f... Continue reading
Kid, 12 years old January 6, 2012

Ineptly named book is a fun retelling of The Snow Queen!

Breadcrumbs is essentially a retelling of The Snow Queen, and as such, is a fantasy adventure where the girl undertakes a fairly dangerous quest to rescue her b... Continue reading
Kid, 10 years old February 24, 2012

Retelling of the snow queen is marvelous!

Breadcrumbs is a beautiful book, filled with heart, friendship, and determination. The main character, Hazel, is kind and caring for her friend Jack, and is ver... Continue reading

What's the story?

Hazel’s teacher thinks she has an overactive imagination, and the other kids at school think she is just plain weird. Except Jack. Since they were 6, he's been Hazel’s best friend. But when a shard of enchanted mirror flies into Jack’s eye, Jack starts hanging out with the boys instead of Hazel. Then, suddenly, Jack's gone. When one of the boys tells Hazel he saw Jack ride into the woods on a wolf-drawn sled with a silver woman made of snow, Hazel realizes only she can rescue Jack. But although she’s read countless fairy tales and fantasies, none of them has prepared her for walking through a genuine enchanted woods. As one of its inhabitants tells her, "It’s not the wolves you have to worry about."

Is it any good?

Hazel's a sensitive and imaginative girl, and readers will relate to and root for her even when she is filled with doubt about her own self-worth. Ursu delicately weaves classic fairy tale themes into Hazel’s very real world and addresses dark subjects such as depression and isolation without trivializing them in the fantasy setting. The tale is fraught with metaphor that doesn’t have to be understood by children who simply want an exciting adventure story, but it will add an extra dimension for those who want to dig deeper.


Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how Hazel doesn’t feel she belongs at school. Why does she feel this way? Is there anyone at your school who is an outcast? Have you ever tried to change the situation for that person?

  • Although Jack’s heart is enchanted so he can no longer feel, his situation could be a metaphor for what it feels like when friendships change. If this happened to you, would you try to "rescue" your friend, as Hazel did?

  • The boy in the woods tells Hazel, "Sometimes it seems like it might be easier to give yourself to the ice." What do you think he means by this?

  • Hazel thinks of herself as fundamentally different from her classmates -- do you think she is? Are there ways she is similar to them that she doesn’t see?

Book details

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