Reviews for Explorer : The Mystery Boxes

Booklist Reviews 2012 February #2
Award-winning comics creator and editor of the celebrated Flight anthologies, Kibuishi offers yet another great anthology geared toward middle-school readers. This collection brings together seven minicomics written and drawn by comics luminaries such as Raina Telgemeier, Dave Roman, and Kibuishi himself; Flight contributors Jason Caffoe, Rad Sechrist, Stuart Livingston, and Johane Matte; and comics newcomer Emily Carroll. Each fantastic and fantastical story centers around the theme of boxes and the mysteries that lie within or around them. Always clever and never boring, these diverse stories run the gamut from creepy to sarcastic to witty to cute to Zen to wacky to thoughtful. While the pieces feature different artists and styles, each one is complete and so well composed that the transitions from one to another do not seem jarring or out of place. A great introductory title for young or struggling middle-school readers starting to explore the world of graphic novels. Copyright 2012 Booklist Reviews.

Horn Book Guide Reviews 2012 Fall
In this anthology of seven stories, each comics creator takes the same idea--mysterious boxes--and runs with it. Each story--spooky cautionary stories, slapstick humor, tales of enchantment--fits the theme but spins its own twist: part of the fun is anticipating how each will integrate the titular box. The varied illustration styles show off the breadth of comic art.

Horn Book Magazine Reviews 2012 #3
Kibuishi is known for Amulet, his epic fantasy comic series, but he and his webcomics and animation peers first made a splash in the comics world with their Flight anthologies. More cohesive in theme and targeted toward younger readers, this new installment in the Explorer comics series shares the artistry, vivid atmosphere, and accomplishment in the telling short-form stories that make the Flight series so successful. In this anthology of seven stories, each creator takes the same idea -- mysterious boxes -- and runs with it. Spooky cautionary stories, slapstick humor, and enticing tales of enchantment fill these pages. All of the contributors have honed their artistic and narrative craft in both print and animation; the rich and varied styles show off the breadth of comic art, from the slickest Pixar-style romp to noble legends built from bright colors and shapes. Each story fits the theme but spins its own twist on the tale: part of the fun is anticipating how each will integrate the titular box. In a few brief pages, the creators use reader expectations and convention to signal plot and genre but then delight in turning things upside-down. By introducing a range of new comics creators to young readers, this standout anthology will leave its audience with a fresh appetite for more from both the series and the individual contributors. robin brenner Copyright 2012 Horn Book Magazine Reviews.

Kirkus Reviews 2012 January #2
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) Copyright Kirkus 2012 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

Publishers Weekly Reviews 2012 February #2

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.)

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School Library Journal Reviews 2012 March

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

[Page 188]. (c) Copyright 2012. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

VOYA Reviews 2012 April
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.--Laurie Cavanaugh $10.95 Trade pb. ISBN 978-1419700095. 4Q 3P M J Graphic Format Copyright 2011 Voya Reviews.