Tuesday, December 29, 2015

THE MARVELS by Brian Selznick. Scholastic Press: New York, 2015.  670p. ISBN 978-0545-448680 hc. $32.99.   Gr. 6-10   JUV FIC

          The first 400 pages of this very thick book tells the genealogy of the Marvel family in pictures.  It's a fantastical story of two brothers at sea who become shipwrecked in 1776.  The survivor makes his way to London and takes up life in the theater; backstage where the rope rigging and backdrops are as familiar as the surroundings of a sailing ship.  Readers will flip through the pages quickly absorbing the story. It's almost like watching a movie, as Selznick zooms in and out of a scene with detailed pencil illustrations.
          Fast forward to 1990 with a new character, Joseph Jervis, and a switch to telling the story with text.  Joseph lives at boarding school because his parents are rich enough to travel the world.  He decides to do some traveling of his own - to London, where his elusive uncle, Albert Nightingale, lives in a museum of sorts.  Uncle Albert is a man of few words and fails to explain why a room in his house is left unused and unchanged.  After much effort and frustration, Joseph unlocks the mystery of the room and his family history.  Selznick's crafted storytelling conveys each character's emotions through words and illustration.  Selznick is famous for his ability to create two separate stories, find the common thread and weave it into a complete, but complex, story. 
          As the story reveals the final scene, it switches back to illustration and fast forwards again to Joseph as a grown man.  To read this story once is not enough.  THE MARVELS is a masterpiece of storytelling. Since this story is loosely based on an actual house in London, readers will find an afterword and a dramatic black and white photograph of the mysterious unchanging room.
Lynette Suckow, Superiorland Preview Center, Marquette, MI

No comments:

Post a Comment