Book and Activities: The Marvels | Amnesty International UK

Book and Activities: The Marvels

The Marvels book cover

The Marvels leaves few heartstrings untugged in this saga about love, loss, family, truth and fiction, and history such as the AIDS epidemic.

It’s two stories – one told in pencil drawings, the other in words – which come together at the end. It begins in 1766 with around 390 pages of pictures telling the adventures of Billy Marvel and his family of actors over five generations. Leaping to 1990, the prose story follows Joseph escaping school to find refuge with his mysterious Uncle.

The book encourages children to understand that they have the right to belong, and that all families are unique. Billy loses his brother but finds a family in the theatre to raise him. One baby is abandoned and loved while another is left with his father who later banishes him. Joseph has two parents but feels more connection with his Uncle Albert.

Love is also essential to the story. It celebrates the right to choose our partners but in some countries the right to marry is denied to gay and lesbian couples.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights enshrines our right to healthcare. Both Billy and Albert receive treatment they need thanks to people like Barbara. Not all men, women and children who are living with HIV around the world receive what they are entitled to.

Teaching resource