Wednesday, December 6, 2006

The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick

Publication Date: March 2007.

Orphaned twelve-year-old Hugo Cabret lives in a train station in Paris in 1931, and manages to survive by stealing food and keeping his uncle’s disappearance a secret. Hugo manages the clocks in the city for his uncle and pilfers small toy parts in the hopes of fixing an automaton that he received from his father. Eventually his plan of surviving on his own fails, and he befriends a young girl and her grandfather, who owns a toy shop in the train station. The grandfather recognizes Hugo’s talent for repairing machinery and employs him at the toy store. The girl’s grandfather turns out to be the famous filmmaker Georges Melies, who adopts Hugo and fosters his love for magic.

The artwork in this “novel in words and pictures” is stunning. Beautiful full-page black and white illustrations are interspersed throughout the book and advance the story, often in critical areas of the plot. Readers will also love the still film images that are used when the characters discuss Melies’ films. The novel is loosely based on the actual French filmmaker, and the credits section at the end gives more information about the filmmaker, films from the early movie era, and automatons. Part-mystery, part-feel good drama, part-picture book for older readers, this novel will fly off the shelf, simply because of its visual appeal.


4Q, 4P, and intended for junior high and middle school students.

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