by Selznick, Brian

"The award-winning creator of The Invention of Hugo Cabret presents the story of two people bound to each other through time and space, memory and dreams, as they try to solve a mystery of grief and love"-

Brian Selznick's books have garnered countless accolades worldwide, and have been translated into more than 35 languages. He is the Caldecott Medal-winning creator of the #1 New York Times bestsellers The Invention of Hugo Cabret, adapted into Martin Scorsese's Oscar-winning movie Hugo; and Wonderstruck, adapted into the eponymous movie by celebrated filmmaker Todd Haynes, with a screenplay by Selznick; as well as the New York Times bestsellers The Marvels and Baby Monkey, Private Eye. Most recently, he illustrated the 20th anniversary paperback edition covers of J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter series.

*Starred Review* It should come as no surprise that Selznick has tossed standard storytelling conventions aside in his first collection of short stories, which drift through genre, time, and even space, as the tableaux shift with occasional references to elements from previous stories. What remains consistent is the unnamed boy who narrates, often involving or reflecting upon his best friend, James, who, it becomes clear, has died. The kaleidoscope becomes a perfect, unifying motif for the ever-changing tales and their fragmented beauty, literally implemented in the beautiful graphite illustrations preceding each story: the first being a patterned, abstract image that resolves into a second scene made whole. Readers willing to trust Selznick will be rewarded with a trip to the moon, a friendly giant, an unusual genie, and a tricky dragon, not to mention the simple joys of boyhood. While each story is only a few pages long, Selznick has built dazzling worlds into which readers can momentarily drop. Yet with all the adventures that unfold, the emotions underlying the tales are what elevate them and lend cohesion to the collection. It is marked by the boys' love for one another, their joy in the world's wonders (or those of other realms), and the quiet melancholy of the narrator's grief-all jumbled wonderfully together, reflective of the complexity of life at the edge of childhood.HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: A new book by the beloved creator of The Invention of Hugo Cabret will be celebrated by adults and kids alike, so double that order. Grades 5-9. Copyright 2021 Booklist Reviews.

In his most complex work to date, Selznick examines the unique realities surrounding love and death. Seeking knowledge of the world on his 13th birthday, the unnamed narrator sets sail with his friend James (both are assumed White). A storm carries them to the Moon, where James brilliantly defends the night and sleep in a battle with the Sun, because "without dreams, everything dies." He is crowned king, and the protagonist wonders how he will live without him back on Earth. Twenty-three more chapters reveal dreamlike (nonlinear, often phantasmagorical) fragments of the boys' relationship, before and after separation/death. Each is introduced by an exquisite, graphite illustration that is preceded by a symmetrical, kaleidoscopic version of the scene: These provide foreshadowing, focus, and an aura of spiritual mystery. Settings involving shattered glass or mysterious forest lights like "the entire world had turned into jewels" further the titular provocation. While the deftly constructed chapters could stand alone, the author plants images-biblical, mythological, scientific, Sendak-ian, and even David Bowie-esque-that shift and reappear: The last view of the apple, served by a dragon, leads the protagonist to ponder a (post-Edenic) life with answers but without wonder. Labyrinths, angels, clocks, butterflies, and clasped hands resurface, prompting contemplation of fear, solace, the fluidity of time, the thrill of connection. How do you find/feel love after death? How do you live with grief? While Selznick trusts readers to draw their own conclusions about what is true, he offers rich companionship on the voyage. (author's note) (Fiction. 11-adult) Copyright Kirkus 2021 Kirkus/BPI Communications. All rights reserved.

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