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Marly's Ghost


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About the Author

David Levithan is a New York Times bestselling and award-winning author of many books for teens, including Boy Meets Boy, Every Day, Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist (with Rachel Cohn), and Will Grayson, Will Grayson (with John Green). He is also a publisher and editorial director at Scholastic and teaches at The New School in New York. He lives in New Jersey.

Brian Selznick graduated from Rhode Island School of Design. He has since gone on to be an award-winning author-illustrator of many books for children, including The Invention of Hugo Cabret, which won the Caldecott Medal in 2008 and was adapted into the Academy Award-winning film Hugo (directed by Martin Scorsese) and the New York Times bestseller Wonderstruck. Brian lives in Brooklyn, New York, and San Diego, California.


Gr 7-10-In this modified version of Dickens's A Christmas Carol, Scrooge has been replaced by Ben, a high school student whose girlfriend has passed away, leaving him extremely cynical about love as Valentine's Day approaches. The creatively mutated story follows the basic action of the original as the teen is visited by Marly's ghost, then three spirits: The Ghost of Love Past, The Ghost of Love Present, and-well, you know. While this seems like a promisingly inventive way to address bereavement, nothing quite clicks in this remix of the classic. Prior knowledge of the original story seems to diminish rather than enhance the power of this adaptation. There are downright awkward moments, too. The character Tiny Tim has morphed into a pair of gay freshmen, Tiny and Tim, for example, and the young lovers' presence in the story seems gratuitous and synthetic. Selznick's pen-and-ink drawings, while very well done, don't quite seem to fit in either, reflecting the overall problem the story has establishing and sustaining a uniform tone and mood.-Jeffrey Hastings, Highlander Way Middle School, Howell, MI Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

In Levithan's (Boy Meets Boy) clever but rather thin retelling of A Christmas Carol, he casts sad teenaged Ben as Scrooge. Because of his girlfriend's death from cancer, he has a "bah humbug" attitude about love as Valentine's Day approaches. His girlfriend, Marly, appears to him as a ghost, telling him he will be visited by the Ghost of Love Past, Present and Future. After their visit, Ben realizes that "giving up on love is the same thing as giving up on life itself." There are some fun adaptations in this modern version; Tiny Tim, for example, is not a boy who may die, but rather a young gay couple (Tiny and Tim) at risk of breaking up. But the book, attractively packaged as an unjacketed, red cloth-covered hardcover featuring a black-and-gold embossed heart bordered with chains, takes a bit too long to unfold. While readers will sympathize with Ben who says he "wanted to die" without Marly, they will likely be ready for some action long before Marly's ghost arrives. The witty writing is also a bit too self-conscious at times (at a present-day anti-Valentine's Day party, "only the sadder love songs would be broadcast tonight: The Cure with no sense of a cure, breakup breakdowns and long-player longings"). Selznick's cross-hatch pen-and-inks give a nod to Victorian drawings and boost the novel's haunting aura. In the end, this novel has charm, but is likely more memorable for its premise than for its story line. Ages 12-up. (Jan.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

The magical realism is powerful throughout, especially in the love story. . . . A solid story . . . (Booklist)

A great addition to the literature of the (ValentineAEs) holiday season. (Kirkus Reviews)

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