Reviewed by Jackie Marchant
With my review slot imminent, I walked my dog to the library, tied him to his usual spot outside and went in to find a book to review. Something small, I thought, a mid-grade paperback that would fit in my little back-pack for the journey home. I came out with the biggest, heaviest book on the children’s shelves. A whopping hardback with gilt edges.
But how could I resist? I’ve read both of Brian Selznick’s previous books and absolutely loved them. Yes, they are big books, but they are what reading is all about. They are books you have to really hold to read, they are heavy and feel like, well – Books (but with a capital ‘B’). And please don’t think the paperback would do – these books are works of art and belong in hardback. If you’ve not come across Brian Selznick’s wonderful books before, then get ye to a library (with something suitable to carry it home in) – you have no idea what you are missing.
Like the other two (The Invention of Hugo Cabret and Wonderstruck in case you really don’t know, but I can’t believe that) this one is told in a mixture of illustration and text. As ever, the illustrations are beautiful, drawing you into the wonders of the story. Not a single word for nearly 400 pages, but an absolute pleasure to read. And yes, illustrations do have to be read, just like words.
This is a story within a story. It’s the story of shipwreck, of lost love, a long line of actors and a theatre. It’s also a contemporary story of the wonders that live under your own roof, if only you could see them. Based on a real house (18 Folgate Street), it’s about a man who buys an old house in Spitalfields and turns it into the real, living yet imaginary home of the family in the story. It’s about the runaway nephew who seeks sanctuary here and discovers the story for himself.
It’s a lovely book – with an added bonus. 18 Folgate Street is open to the public so you can see the inspiration behind the story for yourself. Enjoy!
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