The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick
Selznick, Brian. The Invention of Hugo Cabret. Scholastic, Incorporated, 2007. 544 pages. Tr. $24.99. ISBN 978-0-439-81378-5.
Annotation: Hugo, an orphan boy, who lives within the walls of a busy train station in Paris secretly works as a clock keeper while trying to fix a robot invention found by his father.
Summary: Twelve year old Hugo lost his father in a fire and is forced to secretly live and work as a clock keeper within the walls of a Paris train station. He finds an automaton that his father was fixing and decides to work on it himself. Using his father’s diagrams and stolen supplies from an old toymaker Hugo starts to repair it. Hugo befriends Isabelle, a spirited girl who is the adopted daughter of the toymaker. She inadvertently supplies Hugo with the key to start the automaton. Hugo and Isabelle discover that the toymaker is the famous French movie pioneer, George Melies, who was thought to have died. Hugo renews George’s interest in films and becomes a part of his family.
Evaluation: Brian Selznick successfully combines a telling narrative, detailed black-and-white charcoal drawings, and expert cinematic technique to form a captivating tale of mystery set in Paris in the 1930’s. His ability to tell this story equally well in both pictures and words is amazing. Inventions, secrets, dreams are slowly revealed in first-rate storytelling. Recommended for ages 7 to 14.
Genre / Subject: Juvenile Fiction, Historical, Clocks, Robots, George Melies, Film-Making, Persistence, Orphans
Awards: 2007 National Book Award Honor Book – Young People’s Literature, 2008 Caldecott Medal Winner, 2008 ALA Notable Children’s Book, 2008 ALA Best Books for Young Adults