Saturday, June 28, 2008

The Invention of Hugo Cabret

Title: The Invention of Hugo Cabret
Author: Brian Selznick
Genre: Juvenile Fiction, Caldecott Medal
Pages:533
Date Finished: 9 June 2008
My Rating: 5 Stars

I really prefer to write my thoughts about a book right after I read it when the story and the things I liked or disliked are fresh in my mind. It has been a few weeks since I read this and I already sent it back to the library so I can't even flip through the book to remind me about what I really liked about this book.
Except of course, I have not forgotten that most of this story is told in drawings. Really amazing drawings. In many ways it was like watching an old silent movie. Which turns out to be appropriate since the book tells the story of an early, pioneering French film maker.

From The Invention of Hugo Cabret website:
"ORPHAN, CLOCK KEEPER, AND THIEF, twelve-year-old Hugo lives in the walls of a busy Paris train station, where his survival depends on secrets and anonymity. But when his world suddenly interlocks with an eccentric girl and the owner of a small toy booth in the train station, Hugo’s undercover life, and his most precious secret, are put in jeopardy. A cryptic drawing, a treasured notebook, a stolen key, a mechanical man, and a hidden message all come together...in The Invention of Hugo Cabret.This 526-page book is told in both words and pictures. The Invention of Hugo Cabret is not exactly a novel, and it’s not quite a picture book, and it’s not really a graphic novel, or a flip book, or a movie, but a combination of all these things. Each picture (there are nearly three hundred pages of pictures!) takes up an entire double page spread, and the story moves forward because you turn the pages to see the next moment unfold in front of you."

All I knew about this book when I picked it up was that most of the story was told in pictures and that it won the Caldecott Medal. I had no idea that it was about magic,
Georges Méliès and early cinema. I really enjoyed the mystery and history in this book.

The drawings in the book are, of course, the center piece of the book.
Brian Selznick tells the story alternately through words – often just a paragraph or two per page – and 158 black-and-white pictures. The illustrations consist mostly of pencil drawings but include memorable stills from the movies of the silent filmmaker Georges Méliès. I was amazed by Brian Selznick's ability to tell so much of the story in pictures. The drawings were amazing in their detail and ability to tell the story with out words. I liked the story overall but I don't think the book would be half so good without the illustrations. There were times when I felt the written story was a little slow and I was glad to get back to the pages of illustrations to tell the story and move it along.


A great book to check out, even if for no other reason than to be able to say you read a 500 + page book in just a few hours. :-)

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