Author: Jenny Slate and Dean Fleischer-Camp
Illustrator: Amy Lind
Publisher and Year: Penguin Group, 2011
Number of Pages: 39 Pages
This book is based off of Jenny Slate’s (comedian) YouTube video sensation called Marcel the Shell (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VF9-sEbqDvU). The book follows Marcel’s adventures through a house as she describes how she completes daily tasks. This book serves as a mirror to allow the reader to reflect on themselves and the talents that make him or her special. As a window, the reader is able to see life from a different perspective. As a door, this book invites the audience to be creative and find innovative ways to make things work.
This book originally caught my attention because of how much I loved the YouTube video. This video always makes me laugh and I wanted to know if the authors (they were the original video makers) would do the same in book form. The book has no specific plot, but details Marcel’s adventures in a human house. With Marcel being a shell, no exact human race or culture is represented. However, I think that makes the character more relatable because she is not limited to a specific group. In the book, Marcel tells of how she completes her daily activities. For example, as opposed to sleeping on a bed, she sleeps on a piece of bread (she calls her bedroom the “breadroom”). In addition, she refers to using a ladle as an amusement park ride. Besides having comedic relief, the book sends an important message to the reader: the positivity in being unique. As Marcel tells of how she completes tasks, she begins the book by saying, “I like that about myself and I like myself, and I have a lot of other great qualities as well” (Fleischer-Camp and Slate, 2011). Though Marcel is different, she is not afraid to embrace and use her differences and talents to help her in her way through life.
Perceptually, images take up most of space, indicating the images are more important. This makes sense because the reader can visually see how Marcel completes all her tasks. In addition, the text is written in scribble and hard to read. This tells the reader that though the text helps the story, the most important aspect of book is the artwork. Structurally, there is a full text page and then a full image page. Adding on to what was mentioned above, the authors are reiterating the importance of the images. The close-up images of Marcel and images of Marcel shows the reader that she is the main character of the book and tells the reader to pay close attention to Marcel’s unique way of accomplishing tasks. The full-page images are not framed while pages with images are framed, signaling the reader to engage with the images as opposed to the text. The most important themes this book offers are being unique is perfectly acceptable, doing things differently makes one unique, embrace one’s talents and differences, and make the most of life and what is has to offer.