Genre: Historical fiction, sequential art, middle grade
First published: 2007; 2011
Author: Brian Selznick
I discovered his books late last year… well I had heard of them before, but I never really knew anything about them or their format. But I read The Invention of Hugo Cabret last December and it was beautiful. I fell in love with the artwork, with the format of the stories and also with the stories themselves.
If you’re not aware, Brian Selznick tells his stories through a combination of sequential art and writing. I would not classify his books as graphic novels, because when I think of a graphic novel, I think of a comic book type format with speech bubbles at all that. Which is not at all the case here. Instead, he alternates between parts of the stories told entirely through sequential art and parts of it that are told entirely through text and it goes back and forth between the two. It’s unlike anything I’ve read before and I love it.
Reading his books is a multi-sensorial experience. The artwork is beautiful, the books themselves are beautiful and very… tactile. The paper is high quality, it’s really thick and… it’s just tactile. Because of the thick pages and also the large number of pages that is a result of half the story being told in pictures, gives the book a heft. And I feel like all these things combine with the stories to give a unique and immersing experience.
The stories themselves are very educational. They’re very enriching. I’ve read two of his books so far and I feel like I have genuinely learnt things in a very unique and fun way. They’re just lovely. I think that’s the best word I have to describe his stories. They’re just lovely stories. They’re very… culture focused. Of the two I’ve read, one was predominantly about film and early film history and the other was about museums. And I’ve learnt so much about those two things through reading these books.
I wholeheartedly recommend his work to anyone. This was a bit of an unconventional review, but I wanted to talk about his books and I didn’t really feel like I had enough to say about them as individual stories as much as I had to say about Brian Selznick’s Work in general, but I had too much to say to put it in a mini review (which is actually what I had originally intended).