mystery boxes

Explorer: The Mystery Boxes by Kazu Kibuishi

Released March 1, 2012.

Kibuishi is the author of the Amulet series of graphic novels as well as the anthologist for Flight.  Here he has created an anthology for children that has seven short stories in graphic format that focus on a single subject: opening a mystery box.  The seven stories all take very different approaches to the focal subject, some of them approaching with humor, others with drama.  The differences deepen when the drawing style is factored in, some creating almost real images and others looking more like mainstream cartoons.  They all add up together to a whole that works well, the entire book rather like a mystery box since you never know what story is coming after the next turn of the page.

Kibuishi’s skill in anthologies is apparent here, weaving the seven individual stories together into a flow that works well.  Many of the stories focus on the boxes showing the characters more depth to their world than they ever knew existed.  There are dolls that come to life, spiritual worlds in modern suburbia, magicians searching for magical objects, war, aliens and treasure too.  Just like textual short stories, these are focused stories that get to the point and end up surprising and delighting thanks in part to their brevity.

This is a great addition to library collections and will offer glimpses of rich worlds to graphic novel fans.  Appropriate for ages 9-12.

Reviewed from ARC received from Amulet Books.