The Marvels by Brian Selznick Review
Sometimes I read books because they are recommended to me, or there is a release by an author I have previously enjoyed or I may have been sent an advance reviews, my exception is this case was breaking the rule of don’t judge a book by its cover.
Would I have picked up the marvels if it weren’t laced with the most beautiful illustration laced in gold & blue as well as gold-sprayed edges? – Probably not.
Am I glad I did? Yes.
The Marvels by Brian Selznick is like something I have never read before and is absolutely ingenious. As much as I would love to write lots about this masterpiece, I feel it is hugely important to not give away too much.
I will start with the cleverest part of the book, the book that makes it stand out as you will not know this unless you physically pick up the book, whereas many of us now scan online for the best prices just like myself, it was not until I was at Waterstones that I took a closer look, that the first 390 pages of the story is told in pictures, or more accurately stunning pieces of art. Yes I read plenty of comics where of course stories are told in pictures but you still have dialect through speech bubbles. The words in Selznick’s first part of ‘The Marvels’ are kept to the bare minimum with only a few news reports showing text. If you think that for one moment this removes any detail or emotion from the story, you are totally wrong, I would definitely protest that it has the total opposite effect, to the point where I was in fact disappointed to make the change back to words. But this is a hugely important part of the storytelling and maximises impact on the readers.
“Aut Visum Aut Non”
The Marvels starts in 1766 around the time of the industrial revolution. We first meet Billy Marvel dressed up tied to the mast of a ship called The Kraken, the boy eyes show a fear for his life. Dragon’s come flying into the scene, when just before they are about to attack an angel appears from the sky with a sword to rescue him…
This is a very scary scene and quite an eye opening start, of course I will go on but I suggest you don’t tell the children and please don’t let them drink the rum.
Of course this is a play that would be shown on board as entertainment, theatre and Shakespeare hugely influence this story. Though this acting rescue operation does not go to plan as the angel is struck down by lightning and the ship spirals out of control. We shortly find out that the angel is in fact Billy’s brother in a beautifully drawn out emotional scene.
I will leave the imagination of the next 300 pages to you.
“you either see it or you don’t”
Part 2 of The Marvels is told in words, where we meet another young boy named Joseph who has run away from boarding school, his parents are not worried as they are rich and on a luxury holiday. Joseph escapes to London to his Uncle’s house, who grudgingly takes him in. Within the house Joseph discovers there is more to his family history than meets the eye daring him to investigate further and unlock the secrets lying within his uncle’s eerie home.
Official trailor- http://www.themarvelsthebook.com/about_book.htm
I loved this story so much, the artwork is amazing, every page is intriguing enticing you further into Selznick’s spooky world suitable for all the family (except the rum). In fact the pictures are so good your children could tell you this story making a fantastic learning resource to encourage imagination and recognise emotion.
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I was so impressed I have already ordered myself a First Edition of Brian Selznick’s last title The Invention of Hugo Cabret. As well as going to see him at an exclusive book signing at Waterstones Piccadilly on Friday.
Published by Scholastic Press, 665 pages, 1/10/15
A little bit about the Author – Brian Selznick grew up in New Jersey and graduated from the Rhode Island School of Art and Design in 1988. He worked for two years after graduation at Eeyore’s Books for Children in New York City. His first book was published while he worked there.
Brian has also designed theater sets and worked as a professional puppeteer. His first book, The Houdini Box, was inspired by a fascination with the famous magician. He has illustrated both novels and picture books for other writers, including the Sibert Honor books, When Marian Sang by Pam Munoz Ryan and Walt Whitman: Words for America by Barbara Kerley. His illustrations for Barbara Kerley’s The Dinosaurs of Waterhouse Hawkins won a Caldecott Honor Award in 2002; and in 2008, his groundbreaking book The Invention of Hugo Cabret was awarded the Caldecott Medal. It was nominated for a National Book Award and was the basis for Martin Scorsese’s Oscar winning film Hugo. His follow up illustrated novel, Wonderstruck, debuted at #1 on the New York Times bestseller list. Brian’s next book will be published in the fall of 2015.
Brian divides his time between Brooklyn, New York, and San Diego, California with his husband Dr. David Serlin, a professor at the University of California, San Diego. (This information is from http://www.scholastic.com )