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Review: The Marvels by Brian Selznick

Title: The Marvels
Author: Brian Selznick
Release Date: September 15, 2015
Published By: Scholastic Press
Source: ARC from publisher
Genre: Historical fiction, Middle Grade
Rating: 4.5 out of 5

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Caldecott Award winner and bookmaking trailblazer Brian Selznick once again plays with the form he invented and takes readers on a voyage!

Two seemingly unrelated stories–one in words, the other in pictures–come together. The illustrated story begins in 1766 with Billy Marvel, the lone survivor of a shipwreck, and charts the adventures of his family of actors over five generations. The prose story opens in 1990 and follows Joseph, who has run away from school to an estranged uncle’s puzzling house in London, where he, along with the reader, must piece together many mysteries.


A beautiful, intriguing story about two families. The pictures take your breath away. This was such a beautiful story within a story. I don’t normally reads books like this, but it was such a beautiful tale that had me mesmerized. The pictures were so beautiful. I was able to understand what was being told, and at times it felt like I was actually in the book.

The pictures had told the story of how The Marvel family came to be such famous actors in the theatre. It went from generation to generation in the course of over a hundred years. It was truly spectacular to see how each Marvel grew up with each picture. The pictures were so detailed, it was hard not to look at. My son actually enjoyed this part of the book the most because he was able to understand what was happening right in front of his eyes. The author really captivated my attention, that I was able to go back and go through the story again.

The writing part was a different story. It was about a boy named Joseph who sought out his Uncle Albert to find out more about his family. His parents sent him away to boarding school, so he felt alone in the world. He felt maybe if his uncle welcomed him in, he would know more about their family heritage. He felt that they were some how connected to The Marvels.

His Uncle was none too pleased to see him. He was a peculiar man because it felt like he was hiding something from Joseph, and the way he kept the house in a certain order was very odd. Their relationship started off rocky, but slowly they grew accustomed to one another. Joseph began to realize just how special his Uncle was to him and they formed a bond that made them family. I really enjoyed reading how they started to trust each other. They both had trust issues, but you could see that they both needed someone to just listen to them. Joseph also formed special bonds with the neighbor, Frankie. They did not get along well in the beginning, but they were both mischief enough to become great friends.

This was definitely a marvelous story that I could read over and over again. The pictures are beautiful and the story is a wonderful short tale. The book may look huge, but it is quite the easy read. I was able to fly through it real fast. That could be because the story was too interesting to put down. If you want to read a unique middle grade novel about family, I suggest trying this one out. It’s fast paced and the pictures will get you hooked. This was not like anything I’ve read before. Now, I must go and look for the author’s other books!

**Thank you to the publisher for providing an arc in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affects my view of the book.**

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