One of our recommended books for 2019 is The Assassination of Brangwain Spurge by MT Anderson

THE ASSASSINATION OF BRANGWAIN SPURGE


Subverting convention, award-winning creators M. T. Anderson and Eugene Yelchin pair up for an anarchic, outlandish, and deeply political saga of warring elf and goblin kingdoms.

Uptight elfin historian Brangwain Spurge is on a mission: survive being catapulted across the mountains into goblin territory, deliver a priceless peace offering to their mysterious dark lord, and spy on the goblin kingdom—from which no elf has returned alive in more than a hundred years. Brangwain’s host, the goblin archivist Werfel, is delighted to show Brangwain around. They should be the best of friends, but a series of extraordinary double crosses,

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Subverting convention, award-winning creators M. T. Anderson and Eugene Yelchin pair up for an anarchic, outlandish, and deeply political saga of warring elf and goblin kingdoms.

Uptight elfin historian Brangwain Spurge is on a mission: survive being catapulted across the mountains into goblin territory, deliver a priceless peace offering to their mysterious dark lord, and spy on the goblin kingdom—from which no elf has returned alive in more than a hundred years. Brangwain’s host, the goblin archivist Werfel, is delighted to show Brangwain around. They should be the best of friends, but a series of extraordinary double crosses, blunders, and cultural misunderstandings throws these two bumbling scholars into the middle of an international crisis that may spell death for them—and war for their nations. Witty mixed media illustrations show Brangwain’s furtive missives back to the elf kingdom, while Werfel’s determinedly unbiased narrative tells an entirely different story. A hilarious and biting social commentary that could only come from the likes of National Book Award winner M. T. Anderson and Newbery Honoree Eugene Yelchin, this tale is rife with thrilling action and visual humor . . . and a comic disparity that suggests the ultimate victor in a war is perhaps not who won the battles, but who gets to write the history.

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  • Candlewick Press
  • Hardcover
  • September 2018
  • 544 Pages
  • 9780763698225

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$24.99

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About M.T. Anderson & Eugene Yelchin (Illustrator)

M.T. Anderson is the author of The Assassination of Brangwain SpurgeM. T. Anderson is the author of Feed, winner of the Los Angeles Times Book Prize; the National Book Award–winning The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Traitor to the Nation, Volume I: The Pox Party and its sequel, The Kingdom on the Waves, both New York Times bestsellers and Michael L. Printz Honor Books; Symphony for the City of the Dead: Dmitri Shostakovich and the Siege of Leningrad; Landscape with Invisible Hand; and many other books for children and young adults. He lives near Boston, Massachusetts.

Author Website

Eugene Yelchin is a Russian-American author and illustrator of many books for children, including Breaking Stalin’s Nose, a Newbery Honor Book and The Rooster Prince of Breslov, a National Jewish Book Award winner.

 

 

 

 

 

Eugene YelchinEugene Yelchin is a Russian-American author and illustrator of many books for children, including Breaking Stalin’s Nose, a Newbery Honor book; The Haunting of Falcon House, a Golden Kite Award winner; and The Rooster Prince of Breslov, a National Jewish Book Award winner. He has also received the SCBWI Tomie dePaola Award for illustration. He lives in Topanga, California.

Artist Website

Praise

A National Book Award Finalist
A New York Times Editors’ Choice
A Junior Library Guild Selection

“Both moving and hilarious.” The New York Times Book Review

“The satirical tone is reminiscent of Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events, while the format is similar in concept to Brian Selznick’s work; Yelchin’s black-and-white ink drawings reveal the viewpoint of the visiting Elfin historian, contrasted with the text descriptions from Werfel’s viewpoint. A relevant…message on the importance of perspective and finding common ground. A good choice for most middle grade shelves.”School Library Journal

“Told in narrative and illustrated pages—Werfel’s experiences and Spurge’s visual dispatches back home—the story by Anderson (Feed) and Yelchin (Arcady’s Goal) blends the absurd and the timely to explore commonality, long-standing conflict, and who gets to write a world’s history.”Publishers Weekly (starred 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…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.”Booklist (starred review)

Discussion Questions

1. There are many ways to tell a story, as The Assassination of Brangwain Spurge makes clear. Who are the narrators of this novel? What does each contribute to the story? Which narrator do you find to be the most trustworthy? Why?

2. Take a closer look at Spurge’s transmissions back to Elfland. According to Clivers, they depict “whatever he pictures in his mind,” his impression of things as opposed to reality (page 160). If Spurge were using a camera, how would his transmissions be different? Would they be more honest? Why?

3. For the goblins, “hospitality was holy” (page 29). What risks does Werfel take to be a good host to Spurge? Why does Spurge mistreat his host? When does he stop acting like a bad guest and start behaving like a good friend? How does that transformation save his life, and Werfel’s, too?

4. Books that depict warfare, treachery, and personal humiliation tend not to be very funny, but this one is often hilarious. What is your favorite piece of comic dialogue? What is your favorite comic scene? Why?

5. “Werfel thought of the old saying: Elf and goblin, we all have pointy ears. So true” (page 81). Beyond their ears, what other characteristics do elves and goblins share? What qualities set them apart?

6. Despite mounting evidence of the rot in his homeland, Spurge is blind to Elfland’s problems through most of this novel. Yet Werfel clearly sees the corruption in the goblin kingdom. Why is one scholar more open to disturbing truths about his country than the other?

7. Military strength is highly prized in most nations, but what about intellectual strength? How do ideas and values contribute to a country’s security? How do Werfel and Spurge prove the potency of brain power?

8. Perhaps you’ve heard the assertion “History is written by the victors” in a classroom or on television. What do you think it really means? Does it apply to this novel? Why?

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