Book Review: The Marvels

The Marvels by Brian Selznick


Published by Scholastic Press in 2015

Brian Selznick has redefined what a picture book could be. With his award winning book, The Advenures of Hugo Cabret he brought a level of layer of complexity in both illustrations and storytelling. Wonderstruck took this to another level. The Marvels has been called the thrilling conclusion to his experiment with this medium.

The first half of the story creates an intricate storyline with phenomenal pictures. Our story begins with a shipwreck. Billy Marvel is a performer who was presenting a play with his brother on a ship, the ship sinks and his brother is killed. Billy and his dog are rescued and taken in by a London group of stage hands. He becomes a theater legend. A boy is left on his doorstep and he raises him as his son. His son begins a family and eveyone in that family becomes successful in the theater world. Until Billy’s great-grandson Leontes comes along and doesn’t fit into the family mold.

Brian Selznick puts a level of complexity in the images that allows the readers to walk away from the story with a deep understanding of the characters in the story.

The second half of the story takes place in 1990. Joseph leaves boarding school to find a mysterious uncle. As it turns out, his uncle lives in a house that is straight out of the 1800’s. As the story moves forward, Joseph starts to discover the connection that the house has with the first half of the story. This story has a beautiful twist that no one will see coming.

The house is based on the David Severs House in London ( This house is based on the premise that the family has just stepped out. That time froze for a second and you are getting a glimse at their home lives.



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