Explorer: The Hidden Doors, edited by Kazu Kibuishi, 128 pp, RL: 3
The Explorer series, edited by Kazu Kibuishi, just keeps getting better. Mystery boxes then lost islands provided the themes of the graphic shorts in he first two books. Now, with hidden doors setting the theme for the third book in the series, imaginations soar even higher, if possible. As always, Kibuishi kicks off the book with a short of his own. "Asteria Crane" will remind you of his superb Amulet series of graphic novels - the long awaited sixth book came out this summer - but it is so much more.
Jason Caffoe, contributor to Explorer: The Mystery Boxes and Explorer: The Lost Islands, delivers an excellent story reminiscent of a Miyazaki movie with "The Giant's Kitchen" in which Briar, a young magician unsure of her abilities stumbles through a hidden door and into a hectic kitchen where she comes into her own.
Another favorite of mine, Jen Wang, tells a very sweet story with "Luis 2.0." Feeling like an outsider, Luis discovers a mysterious door in the woods that changes him into the guy he thinks he wants to be. When he finally talks to the girl he likes, he discovers something about the door that changes his mind.
Faith Erin Hicks, creator of the fantastic YA graphic novels Friends with Boys and Nothing Can Possibly Go Wrong shares the story "Two-Person Door," with color by Noreen Rana. Wishing you were something you aren't, or somewhere you aren't, are themes of several of the stories in The Hidden Doors, and Hicks's story is stayed with me the longest.
Actually, all the stories in Explorer: The Hidden Doors will have you turning them over long after you finish reading. I am so grateful to Kazu Kibuishi, the talented graphic novelists he invites to contribute to this series and especially Abrams for publishing these great works! I hope this series continues long into the future.