A trip to the moon and a battle against the Sun. A giant who befriended a boy. A library stocked with all the stories of the world. A genie in a cave who just wants to grant three wishes. A discovery in ice of a lost expedition crew. These and many more stories tell the tale of James and his friend, many alluding to grief and sorrow in very few words. Others show the gut wrenching loss of a loved one through a tale of woe.
This is a sharp departure from typical Selznick books. The art is more an illustration to accompany the many short stories, rather than an integral part of the story itself. In addition, while the illustrations are gorgeous in spectacular Selznick style, the black and white nature of the kaleidoscope images leaves one wondering if that was intentional due to the nature of loss. Taking the vignettes as individual stories will be more common among young readers than seeing a chronological tale emerge from the abstract disjointed chapters, especially as there is little continuity between tales besides the name “James” being used every so often and no cohesive summarizing explanation offered. It’s a difficult, cerebral read.
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