Tuesday, September 16, 2008

The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick

A beautiful, beautiful book. Hugely thick, which might make some children worry, but most of those pages are pictures. It is not, however, a graphic novel. The pictures are separate from the text, but they tell the story just as much. They do not describe what the prose describes, they are a replacement for words. So Selznick takes us back and forth in between words and pictures to tell his story.
The story of Hugo Cabret is lovely, a story of hope lost and found, of discovering who you are and who you are meant to be. Hugo is a teenage boy who lives in a Paris train station. He takes care of the clocks, keeping up the pretense that it is his vanished uncle doing so. He dreams of magic, and of the automaton that he saved from the fire that killed his father. Various problems arise as he attempts to restore the automaton, and he finds himself discovered, and his sketchbook stolen, by the old man who runs a toy shop in the train station. The excitement builds as Hugo gets closer to finishing the automaton, which he believes carries within it a message from his father; Hugo is also becoming more and more likely to be discovered. Who is the old man who runs the toy shop, and why is he so interested in the automaton. Hugo and the man's foster child Isabelle join together to find out, and to bring dreams and magic back to his and their lives.
This is a wonderful book to read together with someone, child and adult alike. The pictures make the story more mysterious and exciting, and the real life story behind to book is a great lesson in the history of film. I really can't recommend this book enough.

1 comment:

Rebecca Reid said...

I liked this book, but didn't love it. It felt like a Disney channel sitcom: all sweet and touching but not much substance.

But I'm not the target age group, and I'd be happy to encourage my son to read it! (he's only one right now, but someday).