Kid’s Book Review: Kaleidoscope

Kid’s Book Review: Kaleidoscope

About the Book and Author / Illustrator

Kaleidoscope by acclaimed author Brian Selznick is a unique book with intricate and imaginative black and white illustrations as you would expect if you are familiar with his Hugo Cabret. You can see some examples if you scroll down.

Here is a message from the editor at the publishers, Scholastic:

“I have now read Kaleidoscope at least twenty times. And I have now talked to at least twenty readers of various ages who’ve read it, some of them multiple times. All I know for sure is this: Every reader will see something different and feel something personal as they immerse themselves in this book.

There is love.  There is loss.  There is grief.  There is hope.  As with a kaleidoscope, they are presented in fragments, colors, refractions . . . but there is a truth underneath that will be defined, in part, by your own experiences of love, loss, grief, and hope.

Brian began writing this book while under lockdown in Brooklyn, separated for months from his husband, who was under lockdown in California.  Many of us read it as we were in our own lockdowns, dealing with a mortal powerlessness that hit very close to home.  When I ask my colleagues what they think of the book, they use words like astonishing and remarkable.  When I ask them how they feel about the book, the word that comes up the most is grateful.

You have never read a book like this before. You need to meet it on its own terms. Read for love. Read for loss. Read for grief.  Read for hope. When you’re done, you’re going to want to talk about it. Give it to a colleague or a kid or teen in your life. Compare what they saw within it to what you saw within it.

This is a book for ten, eleven, and twelve-year-olds. This is a book for teenagers. This is a book for adults.  We will all see different things within it. All of those things will be true. I’m not going to talk to you any longer. Dive in.”

David Levithan. Publisher & Editorial Director, Scholastic Press

Kaleidoscope cover
Brian Selznick

Brian Selznick is the Caldecott Medal-winning creator of the #1 New York Times bestsellers The Invention of Hugo Cabret, adapted into Martin Scorsese’s Oscar-winning movie Hugo; and Wonderstruck, adapted into the eponymous movie by celebrated filmmaker Todd Haynes, with a screenplay by Selznick; as well as the New York Times bestsellers The Marvels and Baby Monkey, Private Eye co-written by David Serlin. Most recently, he illustrated the 20th anniversary paperback edition covers of J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series. His books have garnered countless accolades worldwide and have been translated into more than 35 languages.

Selznick began his career as a bookseller at Eeyore’s Books for Children in New York City and has worked as a puppeteer and a set designer. He recently collaborated with Christopher Wheeldon on a new narrative for a reimagined Nutcracker at the Joffrey Ballet.

Book Review

The stories take you on magical adventures to unknown worlds often seeking wonder

Reading ‘Kaleidoscope’ left me intrigued and wanting to know more. The book is a collection of incredibly short mysterious and unusual stories. These stories often follow the same two characters, a boy called James and his young friend who is often the narrator. However, the stories differ as sometimes James is dead, sometimes he is alive and sometimes he is ‘King of the Moon’.

The stories take you on magical adventures to unknown worlds often seeking wonder. Many of the stories seem unfinished and leave your questions unanswered which results in you wanting to know more.

Accompanying the short stories Brian Selznick has sketched an image as if you are looking into a kaleidoscope. On the page following he has then sketched an incredible piece of art to represent each story, that is refracted in the kaleidoscope image. These sketches are amazingly detailed and having read the stories I then enjoyed going back to appreciate the artwork.

Brian Selznick wrote this collection of stories during the pandemic and so the stories are all about the wonder of life. This resonated with me as much of my time during the early part of the pandemic was spent with my family on walks in the countryside, appreciating my surroundings and what is important in my life.

I would certainly recommend this book to others. Although at times I was frustrated with how short the stories were, and how I was left questioning the outcome, it has left a lasting impression in my mind.


Page Preview

If you would would like to buy a copy of the book we invite you to order it from your local independent book shop.

Or, you can shop on-line and support our Kids Reviews page by sourcing your discounted book via this link

Please Buy Here

Alternatively, we suggest that you visit your local library and request to borrow a copy from a friendly librarian.

Whichever you choose, we hope you enjoy being part of your unique reading community – happy reading everyone!


Reviewer Profile

Reviewer Photo
  • Name: Jacob
  • Age: 14 years
  • Likes: sport, history and holidays
  • Dislikes: early mornings and onions
  • Favourite Book: Scythe By Neil Shusterman
  • Favourite Song: Feel Good Inc. by Gorrilaz
  • Favourite Film: Star Wars