January 15, 2008
The Invention of Hugo Cabret
The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick
2007 Scholastic Press
Finished on 1/8/08
Rating: 4/5 (Very Good)
Quill Award Winner (2007)
National Book Award Finalist (2007)
Book Description (from the author's fabulous website):
ORPHAN, CLOCK KEEPER, AND THIEF, twelve-year-old Hugo lives in the walls of a busy Paris train station, where his survival depends on secrets and anonymity. But when his world suddenly interlocks with an eccentric girl and the owner of a small toy booth in the train station, Hugo’s undercover life, and his most precious secret, are put in jeopardy. A cryptic drawing, a treasured notebook, a stolen key, a mechanical man, and a hidden message all come together...in The Invention of Hugo Cabret.
This 526-page book is told in both words and pictures. The Invention of Hugo Cabret is not exactly a novel, and it’s not quite a picture book, and it’s not really a graphic novel, or a flip book, or a movie, but a combination of all these things. Each picture (there are nearly three hundred pages of pictures!) takes up an entire double page spread, and the story moves forward because you turn the pages to see the next moment unfold in front of you.
After working several shifts in the Children's section at Barnes & Noble this past holiday season, I decided to make an effort to read at least one Juvenile Fiction selection in order to become more knowledgeable and better equipped to make future recommendations. I'd heard very good things about Selznick's hefty book and decided to start the year off by giving it a read.
What a delightful story! Selznick was inspired to create a book about Georges Méliès after watching the 1902 Méliès film, A Trip to the Moon (the world's first science fiction film). I liked the story well enough, but my real enjoyment lay in the incredible black and white illustrations. They are simply amazing.
This book should appeal to most young readers, as the narrative is compelling yet the pictures keep it from feeling too long and dry. I think it could be a good book for those readers who might struggle with the more lengthy chapter book.
Even if you decide not to read it yourself, do spend some time at Selznick's website. Someone has put a lot of work into it with all the various links. One could easily spend an afternoon lost in Selznick's favorite websites. Pay particular attention to the Intro and Slide Show link. You can watch the opening sequence of drawings here (scroll down to the bottom of the page and click on the link - it's a Flash sequence to which I am unable to link to directly).