Thursday, January 24, 2008

The Invention of Hugo Cabret

Selznick, Brian. 2007. THE INVENTION OF HUGO CABRET. New York: Scholastic. ISBN 9780439813785 [Suggested Grade Levels 4-9]

Twelve year old Hugo, an orphan, lives in the walls of the Paris train station in the 1930s. He makes sure that the clocks keep running and steals enough food to survive. Hugo’s dead father, a clockmaker who worked in a museum, was obsessed with an automaton he had found and had spent his life trying to make it run again. Then one day, Hugo has a run-in with the bitter, eccentric man who runs the toy booth at the train station and meets an unusual girl and finds that their futures are inextricably combined in this satisfying and mysterious novel.

But the plot is only part of this magical book that defies categorization. It is not really a picture book, not really a graphic novel, and certainly not a traditional novel. It is a remarkable blend of narrative, illustration, and cinematic technique. It is a book that is not only read, it is experienced. In a bold and unusual move, it was awarded the Caldecott Medal for illustration in 2007.

For the many teachers and librarians who have Caldecott units each year, Selznick’s novel will add an interesting and added dimension. For high school students who are studying film and film making, this novel could bring a new perspective to the study of cinematography. On top of that, it is a good read for many ages of readers.

Other books written or illustrated by Brian Selznick:
Selznick, Brian. THE HOUDINI BOX. ISNB 9780679814290

By Janet Hilbun

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