Explorer: The Mystery Boxes

Overview

Seven clever stories answer one simple question: what’s in the box?

Funny, fantastic, spooky, and suspenseful, each of these unique and beautifully illustrated short graphic works revolves around a central theme: a mysterious box and the marvels—or mayhem—inside. Artists include middle school favorites Kazu Kibuishi, Raina Telgemeier (Smile), and Dave Roman (Astronaut Academy), as well as Jason Caffoe, Stuart Livingston, Johane Matte, Rad Sechrist (all contributors to the ...

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Overview

Seven clever stories answer one simple question: what’s in the box?

Funny, fantastic, spooky, and suspenseful, each of these unique and beautifully illustrated short graphic works revolves around a central theme: a mysterious box and the marvels—or mayhem—inside. Artists include middle school favorites Kazu Kibuishi, Raina Telgemeier (Smile), and Dave Roman (Astronaut Academy), as well as Jason Caffoe, Stuart Livingston, Johane Matte, Rad Sechrist (all contributors to the groundbreaking comics anthology series Flight), and upcoming artist Emily Carroll.

Praise for Explorer: Mystery Boxes
STARRED REVIEW
"An outstanding out-of-the box anthology from renowned comics veteran Kibuishi. With eye-popping full-color art and palettes ranging from candy-colored to ethereal earth tones, this is both a visual feast for the eyes and a healthy helping of thought for the soul. Superb.”
Kirkus Reviews, starred review
 
STARRED REVIEW
"Coherent for all its variety, there will be something here for most readers."
School Library Journal, starred review

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Editorial Reviews

School Library Journal
Gr 3–6—A brief anthology edited by the organizer of the "Flight" anthologies (Villard, 2008), these kid-friendly shorts vary in tone from light horror to cheerful adventure. They continue the "Flight" collective tradition of artwork that has a painterly animated quality. While the artists vary in individual style and the stories vary in tone, the thematic connection to a mysterious box is highly effective, perhaps particularly so because of the slim length and tight focus of the stories. A box is a container, and therefore inherently holds potential and revelation. From Pandora to Santa Claus, it has represented the push-pull of compulsion and anxiety. Emily Carroll's opening tale and the cartoony romp by Saymone Phanekham deserve special mention for immediately establishing tone and a reader-friendly world, and the mythological underpinnings of Rad Sechrist's story provide it with a compelling base. Coherent for all its variety, there will be something here for most readers.—Benjamin Russell, Belmont High School, NH
Publishers Weekly
Like the lesson of Schrödinger’s Cat, what exists within a box is possibilities—when opened, we all have to face the reality of that decision. The tales in this anthology—which add up to a kind of Twilight Zone for younger readers—offer characters who encounter the mystery boxes of the title, with no unification beyond their geometry and their role as catalysts to unexpected narrative turns. Gathering multiple creators to work within that concept, editorial dynamo Kibuishi (the author of the Amulet series) creates a mixture of laughs and creeps, with some philosophy thrown in, as well as the kind of graphical triumphs expected from Kibuishi’s previous Flight collections. Outstanding among the contributions are the spooky tale of a sinister doppelgänger invading a girl’s life by up-and-coming comics star Emily Carroll; Dave Roman and Raina Telgemeier’s comedy of wizarding errors and online bidding wars; and Rad Seachrist’s romp involving a teenage girl, an introduction to the basics of Shintoism, and a manic butter thief driving a grandma to the brink. All the stories offer top-notch storytelling while providing readers with something more to think about without being overbearing in their intellect. Ages 9–up. (Mar.)
VOYA - Laurie Cavanaugh
For this comics collection edited by the creator of the popular Amulet graphic novel series, artists and authors have taken the same story prompt of "mystery boxes" and created seven graphic-novel short stories, each very different in style and tone. Subjects range from a creepy wax doll found in a box ("Under the Floorboards" by Emily Carroll) to the need for environmental activism ("The Escape Option" by Kazu Kibuishi). Four of the stories are humorous ("Spring Cleaning" by Dave Roman and Raina Telgemeier, "The Keeper's Treasure" by Jason Caffoe, "The Butter Thief" by Rad Sechrist, and "Whatzit" by Johane Matte with Saymone Phanekham), while "The Soldier's Daughter" by Stuart Livingston with Stephanie Ramirez conveys a serious pacifist message. The collection is aimed at readers ages nine to twelve, but if teens pick it up, they will enjoy the irony of the stories and appreciate the serious themes even more than younger readers. Reviewer: Laurie Cavanaugh
Children's Literature - Maggie Chase
Herein lay seven diverse stories that, while unconnected to each other except by the binding, do share a common theme: the discovery of a box. The contents of each box could unleash trouble, truth, or terror for the character featured in each story, but that recognition is not known, of course, until the contents have been revealed. The stories vary from creepy to whimsical to apocalyptic, but all within an acceptable range of suitability for younger readers. The first story, nearly wordless, is called "Under the Floorboards," and tells of a wax doll a little girl finds that begins as a helper, but soon takes on more sinister role. In another story, slightly reminiscent of the Greek myth about the Minotaur and the labyrinth, we meet a young boy using a map to find a treasure box. The horned creature who guards the treasure turns out to have unexpected qualities. The final story in the collection tells of a boy who, during a nature hike, stumbles upon a giant box hovering above the landscape. He is scooped up into the box and the alien creature inside portends the end of mankind and Earth. Upon hearing this, the boy has to make a choice. Each story is skillfully depicted graphically, with distinctly different styles of the individual authors/artists, all very appealing and suited to the stories they convey. This is a great compilation of stories to add to a graphic novel collection. Reviewer: Maggie Chase
Kirkus Reviews
An outstanding out-of-the box anthology from renowned comics veteran Kibuishi. Kibuishi's Flight series for adults (collected in Flight, 2011), spurred a spin-off, Flight Explorer (2008), a volume specifically written for a younger audience. Both anthologies were strong on art but held no cohesive theme; this volume preserves the strong artistic stylization of its predecessors, but also employs a unifying theme--"what's in the box"--throughout the slick and imaginative collection. The seven tales, from artists both established and up-and-coming, span the spectrum from a serious and moralistic tale of war and vengeance in "The Soldier's Daughter" to seriously silly and fun alien hijinks in "Whatzit" to a dark and creepy yarn about doll that comes alive with a sinister purpose in "Under the Floorboards" to the light and sweet "Spring Cleaning," replete with wizards and reunited love. This volume eloquently demonstrates how well short stories work in the comics medium and Kibuishi's masterful chops as an editor. By cleverly applying the thematic catalyst to an already-winning formula, Kibuishi deftly fends off staleness. With eye-popping full-color art and palettes ranging from candy-colored to ethereal earth tones, this is both a visual feast for the eyes and a healthy helping of thought for the soul. Superb. (Graphic short-story anthology. 7-12)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781419700095
  • Publisher: Amulet Books
  • Publication date: 3/1/2012
  • Series: Explorer Series
  • Pages: 128
  • Sales rank: 161,734
  • Lexile: GN370L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.40 (d)

Meet the Author

Kazu Kibuishi is the creator of Amulet, the award-winning middle school graphic novel series, and the editor and art director of eight volumes of Flight, the influential, Eisner-nominated graphic anthology. His earlier work Daisy Kutter was named a YALSA Best Book for Young Adults. He lives in Alhambra, California.

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Posted February 27, 2012

    Fun and kid-friendly!

    This is a fantastic compilation of short graphic novel stories, put together by eight top comic creators. Seven different stories and fabulous color graphics will keep middle grade readers engaged for hours. Both my 10-year-old son and 7-year-old daughter LOVED it. In fact, I had to steal it from my daughter in order to write this post.

    My son's favorite thing about these stories was the endings. He told me he loved the way they kept the mystery alive, even at the end, and then insisted on reading three of the endings to me. Both kids loved the recurring theme of the mystery boxes in every story. I love the graphics.

    I highly recommend picking up a copy of this one.

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