Review of Explorer: The Mystery Boxes

by | Feb 8, 2018

Review of Explorer: The Mystery Boxes
Edited by Kazu Kibuishi
Inside stories by:
Kazu Kibuishi; Raina Telgemeier; Dave Roman; Jason caffoe; Rad sechrist; Stuart Livingston; Johane Matte; Emily Carrol


Explorer: The Mystery Boxes is a compilation of short stories centered around mystery and magic! Each story relates to the novel’s title in that each plot includes characters that come across a type of “mystery box.” The contents of the box differ from story to story. However, a theme that remains constant throughout the novel is that whatever the character finds in their box drives forward both the plot and conflict of the story. While the stories contain an element of humor, they carry an eerie tone as well. Some tales are darker than others, but all are undeniably spooky and suspenseful!

The Classroom Blog: Mystery Boxes

Themes: extraterrestrial, problem solving, magic, mystery


Editor Kazu Kibuishi does an excellent job keeping this novel at an elementary level with engaging drawings and text that is easy to follow. The storylines are simple and easy to understand, yet still contain meaningful messages that make this novel perfect for an elementary level reader. The stories are uniquely mysterious, however, and would excite readers of all ages! The authors featured in this book of stories keep readers engaged and on their toes through their use of mystical tone and suspenseful imagery.

In addition to containing some type of mystery box, the stories also relate to each other because the main characters in each are either kids or young adults. However, the stories do differ in tone, some being more eerie and dark than others. This slight change in tone throughout the novel helps hold the reader’s interest and engagement, while keeping a natural flow to the book as one piece. Because the book is made up of these different short stories, it is an excellent choice for kids who generally have a hard time maintaining their attention span for the duration of a novel.

The Classroom Blog: Mystery Boxes

Use in the Classroom

Mystery Box Project: Each short story contains a different mystery box that relates to that story’s plot. Have students create their own mystery box, along with a background story that explains why the box contains what it does. This will allow students to use their creativity and imagination, both of which are key elements in this novel.

“Create Your Own Ending” Assignment: Because the novel contains multiple short stories, each one is left without a definitive ending. Introduce an assignment where students pick one story and come up with their own creative ending of what they think should happen next. Ask students if they were to create a definitive ending for their favorite story, what would it be? What do they think should happen to the characters? Will there be another magic box, creating a whole new plot twist? This would be an excellent exercise to use in any class related to writing, reading, or literature.

The Classroom Blog: Mystery Boxes

Curiosity: With strange mystery comes curiosity, a theme that is represented in each of the story’s characters. Kids can be especially inquisitive when it comes to trying to solve a mystery. As a writing exercise, have students think about a time when they were especially curious. Ask them to include if they found the answer to the question that sparked their curiosity and how it turned out. Discuss why curiosity is a good thing? When should we be curious, and what should we question? Can curiosity ever be a bad thing?

The Classroom Blog: Mystery Boxes


Kibuishi does an excellent job compiling these spooky stories together to create a smooth flow that reads as one complete novel. This book is perfect for kids who enjoy any type of mystery and enchantment! Pick up a copy of The Mystery Box today and experience the magic and the mystery of these exciting tales!


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