Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Review: The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick

Brilliant!  I highly recommend this one!

We have a rule in our house - you must read the book before you see the movie.  My 9 year old and I caught the trailer for Hugo: The Movie (click here), and knew what our next read was going to be!  I am really hoping the movie does this book justice - especially since it's directed by the one and only Martin Scorsese.  Hollywood insiders are already whispering the word "Oscar" in Hugo's direction! (Hits theaters 11/23/11)

Back to the book! THE INVENTION OF HUGO CABRET is part picture book and part novel.  it's really in a class of its own, and completely unique.  Author Brian Selznick wrote an exciting story about an orphan boy living in a Paris train station as a clock keeper, and sometimes thief.  Hugo mostly lives in secret, with nothing but a broken animatron to keep him company.  His goal to make the animatron work is threatened by being discovered by the toy maker, his goddaughter and the Station Inspector. 
Interspersed throughout the text portions of the book, are pages and pages of the most beautiful pencil illustrations I have ever seen.  (Click here to see the opening sequence of illustrations) This is the first novel to win the Caldecott Award (2008), and there is no wonder why.   The illustrations are breathtaking.  I pulled a few of the images off the publisher's page, I hope this is OK:

Even my 9 year old ran over to me with the book, opened to an image of a bookstore, and told me to look at all the details in the sketch.  For a 9 year old to stop what he's seeing to show it to his know these illustrations are special.
Not only are the illustrations beautiful, but they move the story along nicely and fill it with emotion.  Sometimes a single photograph can convey what twenty pages of text cannot.  The entire layout of the book is so least to me!
Don't let the size scare you!  The thick, high-quality paper is necessary for all the illustrations, but makes the book an intimidating size.  I don't recommend throwing it in your backpack, as it is quite heavy, but it only took the 9 year old 3-4 days to read it.
I loved it, but the 9 year old can't stop talking about it!  If that's not a strong recommendation, I don't know what is!

Book Extras:
The Invention of Hugo Cabret website
Scholastic's book page
Brian Selznick on Twitter (It's about time!)

About the Book:

  • Reading level: Ages 9 and up
  • Hardcover: 533 pages 
  • Publisher: Scholastic Press; First Edition edition (January 30, 2007)  
  • Language: English 
  • ISBN-10: 0439813786 
  • ISBN-13: 978-0439813785

  • About the Author: (from Scholastic)
    Born and raised in New Jersey, Brian Selznick cannot remember a time when he was not drawing and making things. His mural of a dinosaur on his fifth grade classroom wall was a big hit, and he had a one-man show in junior high school.
    He graduated from the Rhode Island School of Art and Design with the intention of becoming a set designer for the theater, but a job designing window displays at Eeyore's Children's Bookstore in New York City changed his mind. Working at the store became a crash course in children's literature, and his first book was published while he worked there.
    Soon he left to pursue a full-time career in children's book illustration; he also has designed theater sets and is a professional puppeteer. His first book, The Houdini Box, was inspired by a fascination with the famous magician and his secrets. He has illustrated both novels and picture books for other writers, including the Sibert Honor books, When Marian Sang by Pam Munoz Ryan and Walt Whitman: Words for America by Barbara Kerley. His illustrations for Barbara Kerley's The Dinosaurs of Waterhouse Hawkins won a Caldecott Honor Award in 2002; and in 200, his groundbreaking and breathtaking The Invention of Hugo Cabret was awarded the Caldecott Medal.

    Click to purchase from


    bermudaonion said...

    I loved Wonderstruck, so I'll definitely seek this book out.

    Alison's Book Marks said...

    I can't wait to read Wonderstruck!

    Ελλάδα said...

    I read through the book I oved how Hugo had taken responsibly for the cocks in the train station, since his uncle who had been taking care of him due to a fatal fire that toook his parnts away had misterously vanished.
    As I read about how Hugo dealed with life and responsiblites about the train station, I occured to me that this was a wonderfull book and awsome for teaching kids not steal or how life was for less unfourntant people.
    It was also neat to lean how Hugos dad- a magic man and invtor had left a machine for hugo to try and fix that would soon become the center of Hugos life and what he did to finish it!

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