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Book trailer for The Assassination of Brangwain Spurge


• 2018 Fall Junior Library Guild Selection


starred reviewSTARRED REVIEW “Spy thrills meet fantasy rivalries as an elitist elf and a bookish goblin strike up a cross-cultural kerfuffle in Anderson and Yelchin's collaborative meditation on prejudice. The book makes no secret about its own position even as it cheerfully asks readers to think critically about ideologies and their agendas and the manufactured barriers of misinformation and misunderstanding. Together, Anderson and Yelchin craft something that feels impossible, a successfully unorthodox epistolary, pictorial, and prose narrative that interrogates the cultural ramifications of unchallenged viewpoints and the government violence they abet even as it recounts the comedic blunderings of a spy mission gone wrong. Monty Python teams up with Maxwell Smart for a wrestling match with Tolkien—splendid.”


starred reviewSTARRED REVIEW “Anderson’s latest foray into middle-grade fantasy is executed with the all smarts and finesse his fans have come to expect. Joining him on this storytelling adventure is Yelchin, who supplies illustrated sections identified as “Top Secret Transmissions” that move the story along, much like the artwork in Brian Selznick’s illustrated novels. Yelchin’s black pen-and-ink illustrations, in Medieval style, capture the humor and fantastical details of the text, as well as Brangwain’s changing view of goblins. Biting and hysterical, Brangwain and Werfel’s adventure is one for the history books.”


starred reviewSTARRED REVIEW “Spurge’s spy reports, not always reliable, are represented by Yelchin’s digitally assembled pen-and-ink illustrations, which, like those in Selznick’s The Invention of Hugo Cabret, wordlessly carry a large part of the narrative. With the look and feel of medieval lithographs, they include touches of humor, whimsy, irony, and menace; as such, they are well suited to both the acerbic wit and the affecting tenderness of Anderson’s prose. The result is a fantasy that couldn’t feel more real, obliquely referencing a political climate marked by a lack of civility, underhanded diplomacy, fake news, widespread bigotry and prejudice, and the dehumanization of marginalized people.”

—Horn Book

starred reviewSTARRED REVIEW “In a witty, offbeat adventure... told in narrative and illustrated pages—Werfel’s experiences and Spurge’s visual dispatches back home—the story by Anderson and Yelchin blends the absurd and the timely to explore commonality, long-standing conflict, and who gets to write a world’s history.”

—Publishers Weekly

“Brilliant and very, very funny, writer Anderson and artist Yelchin tell this tale jointly through text and illustration. Together, they weave a wildly imaginative story that challenges readers to examine their perceptions—societal, historical, political, and personal. As thought-provoking as it is entertaining, this fantasy is part John Cleese, part inverted Tolkien, and part Hieronymus Bosch. Packed with secrets, double-dealing, and barbed commentary on our own world, this witty adventure reminds us that while it is the victor who writes the histories, sometimes historians can be the victors. Yelchin and Tobin make great collaborating historians. My middle-school scholars will be poring over this fine text for years to come.”

—The Booklist Reader ALA

The Assassination of Brangwain Spurge, M.T. Anderson and Eugene Yelchin's first collaboration for middle-grade readers, is an intelligent, captivating and hilarious tale that uses fantasy characters and settings to give readers an up-close look at how the victors write the histories. Anderson and Yelchin work cleverly together, giving close readers tons of things to pick apart between illustration and text. And, while the tones of the illustration and text are different from the beginning--the art dark and scary, the text light, friendly and upbeat--it is not immediately clear that Spurge's impressions differ from the reality. As this creative concept builds, a slow understanding dawns, and every reader will be able to literally see how Spurge's thoughts and opinions affect his experience--and how his experience affects his thoughts and opinions. The Assassination of Brangwain Spurge is a work with layers, secrets and hidden gems that will certainly call for many rereads.”

—Shelf Awareness