Explorer: The Mystery Boxes: kids' comic-book stories about cubic mcguffins

My four-year-old daughter and I love to read comics together. Having thoroughly enjoyed the Hilda comics and gone absolutely bananas over Giants Beware, I stopped in at London's wonderful GOSH! Comics (recently relocated to a fantastic location in the heart of Soho) and asked the clerk for a recommendation. The gentleman behind the till recommended Explorer: The Mystery Boxes, an anthology of short stories aimed at middle readers, edited by Kazu Kibuishi (the creator of Amulet, who also contributed the final story in the book).

Each of the stories in Explorer relates to a "mystery box" -- a cubic mcguffin that each creator is free to interpret in his or her own way. The contributors display enormous ingenuity and range in their responses to this challenge. Emily Carroll's "Under the Floorboards" is a spooky, Twilight Zonesque take; Rad Sechrist's "The Butter Thief" is a great cross between Japanese legends and Grimm fairytales; Johann Mate's "Whatzit," is a madcap science fiction comedy; and Kibuishi's "The Escape Option" is a beautifully illustrated environmental parable. There are seven stories in all, and we read them together over three bedtimes. Though the book is aimed at middle graders, Poesy really enjoyed it, with a little bit of translating, explaining and narrating from me. As soon as we were done, she wanted to hear the stories over again, which is always a good sign.

I asked Poesy if she thought that other kids would like having this read to them, and she was very enthusiastic in her recommendation!

Explorer: The Mystery Boxes


  1. Ok, I can’t be the only one who, upon seeing the cover, assumed this was a children’s book about the pleasure to be found in pain.

    1. “Is that a Lament Configuration coloring book?” was the first, second, and third thing I thought.
      ETA: Deviant Art Hellraiser kid’s book mashup in 3, 2, 1…

  2. “You euthanized your faithful Mystery Box more quickly than any test subject on record. Congratulations.”

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