The Marvels

The MarvelsWritten by Brian Selznick

The Marvels is Brian Selznick’s latest “visual novel,” completing a trilogy in the form that started with The Invention of Hugo Cabret and continued with Wonderstruck. The books of this trilogy do not form a single narrative, but they are connected in their themes and format. Selznick takes the best tricks from picture books, graphic novels, and even motion pictures to tell his stories visually as well as textually, and his books are unlike anything else I have ever encountered.

The Marvels begins with a tragic shipwreck and goes on to show the multi-generation saga of a family of actors in London, all descended from a young survivor of the shipwreck. This historical narrative unfolds entirely visually over the course of about 400 illustrated pages. It is engrossing and fast-moving, yet filled with subtle details and visual clues.

The illustrated section is followed by an all-text section telling the story of Joseph, a boy in the 1990s who has run away from boarding school to London to find the house of an uncle he has never met. Joseph’s uncle is mysterious and grumpy, and of course the house he lives in is strange, old-fashioned, and filled with artifacts and pictures of what may be the Marvel family. Joseph is grudgingly allowed to stay there, but his uncle won’t tell him about anything. Nonetheless he is determined to find out the mysteries of this marvelous family who may be his ancestors.

Selznick once again weaves together wonderful stories about young, stranded characters searching for connections to their family and their past. Highly recommended for readers young or old who enjoy a good mystery, historical fiction, and especially those who are in any way interested in visual art as narrative.

Review by Joshua Whiting, Media Specialist, Granite Educational Technology Dept.
Rating: ★★★★½ (4.5 stars)
Interest Level: Grades 4 and Up

The Marvels
Written by Brian Selznick
Scholastic Press
665 pages
Release Date: September 15, 2015

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12 thoughts on “The Marvels”

  1. GIVE-AWAY! We have one copy of this title to give away to a Granite library or classroom! Leave a comment with your name here by 2/7/16 for a chance to win. Drawing will be held Monday 2/8.

    There are other book giveaways going right now as well, don’t miss them!

  2. I loved his other two. I am excited for this book. The kids enjoy them, especially when you let them know it has two stories that are connected.

  3. I found the trick and don’t really need the this book, but I love free stuff. Kids were not as impressed with this one as opposed to the first 2.

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