I adore the work of Brian Selznick. If you and your kids haven’t read The Invention of Hugo Cabret or Wonderstruck, stop what you’re doing immediately and head to the library.
In my library classes, reading about Hugo and his automaton is a rite of passage. I’ve read it to every third grade class I’ve taught since it was published in 2007. I’ve read The Houdini Box and The Boy of a Thousand Faces to various classes. I’ve given Wonderstruck as a gift, to friends and students. I keep an eye out for The Robot King in every used bookstore (somehow discovering it seems more appropriate than buying it used from Amazon). Sometimes my students rush up to me with the library’s copies of Ann M. Martin’s The Doll People series or Andrew Clements’ Frindle and excitedly show me who the illustrator was. His work speaks to me dearly, and I love sharing it with kids.
So when Scholastic invited me to a special preview of his newest illustrated novel, The Marvels, it was like being asked to prom. It’s been four years since Mr. Selznick’s last book (Wonderstruck), and I couldn’t wait.
The Marvels is about several generations in a family of London actors, and it is also about a house. Mr. Selznick gave an emotional presentation on his inspirations for the book (including the splendid Dennis Severs’ House). He showed us the first 60 or so pages, all illustrations, which had the entire audience at New York City’s Hudson Theatre in tears.
Mr. Selznick walked us through his process, including photos from the 3 months he and his husband lived in London doing research for this book. He showed us the thumbnail drawings he did for the book before moving on to the full-size illustrations. Which is, in itself, the most incredible thing to see.
He explained that there were hundreds more illustrations, followed by 200 pages of written text. He signed some ARCs of the book, and he also had a surprise for us: small versions of the book’s illustrations put together from all of those thumbnails.
It’s his most ambitious book, and I think it will be his most beautiful. It’s next on my to-read pile, and I’ll be writing a review of it for the book’s release on September 15.
GeekMom received an advanced reader copy of The Marvels.