Monday, May 7, 2012

The Invention of Hugo Cabret

The Invention of Hugo Cabret
Brian Selznick
Scholastic, 2007
$24.99, Hardcover
April 14th, 2012
Caldecott Medal

Genre: Historical
Age: 9+
Description: Hugo Cabret is an orphan and a thief. His uncle disappeared a while ago so Hugo has been taking care of the clocks in his busy Paris train station ever since. When he gets caught stealing toys from a toy maker his prized notebook—featuring pictures of an automaton his father was trying to fix before he died—gets snatched and Hugo has to work to get it back. When he and Isabelle, the goddaughter of the toy maker, try to figure out the odd connection between him and the automaton they discover hidden secrets that point to the toy maker being George Melies—a famous filmmaker presumed to be dead and all his films lost. They confront her godparents about it and when Hugo goes to retrieve the automaton he gets caught by the station master who doesn’t believe he is who he says he is. Luckily, everything is sorted out and Hugo goes to live with the Melies. A year later, Georges films are being shown and Hugo is now a magician ready to make his big debut with his own magical automatons.
Opinion: A mix of novel, graphic novel, picture book, and film (it uses real film still images), Hugo is a multi-medium format. While its size is daunting (520 pages) it only took me an hour to read it. I really though it was kind of bland—what is the big deal that everyone says about it? I can see why the movie technically bombed—it would make for a very boring movie. It has a very Dickensian feel to it—a poor street urchin gets taken in by the rich man in the end. The picture element of the book could appeal to reluctant readers or turn them away. 

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