Monday, 10 December 2012

Review - The Invention of Hugo Cabret - Brian Selznick

The Invention of Hugo CabretTitle: The Invention of Hugo Cabret
Author: Brian Selznick
Genre: Young Adult/Middle Grade
Publication: April 1 2007, Scholastic
Pages: 522, Hardcover
Source: Library book
The Invention of Hugo Cabret is an American historical fiction book written and illustrated by Brian Selznick and published by Scholastic Press. The hardcover edition was released on January 30, 2007, and the paperback edition was released on June 2, 2008. With 284 pictures between the book's 533 pages, the book depends equally on its pictures as it does on the actual words. Selznick himself has described the book as "not exactly a novel, not quite a picture book, not really a graphic novel, or a flip book or a movie, but a combination of all these things."[1] The book won the 2008 Caldecott Medal,[2] the first novel to do so, as the Caldecott Medal is for picture books.
The book's primary inspiration is the true story of turn-of-the-century French pioneer filmmaker Georges Méliès, his surviving films, and his collection of mechanical, wind-up figures called automata. Selznick decided to add automata to the storyline after reading Edison's Eve by Gaby Wood, which tells the story of Edison's attempt to create a talking wind-up doll. Méliès actually had a set of automata, which were either sold or lost. At the end of his life Méliès was broke, even as his films were screening widely in the United States. He did work in a toy booth in a Paris railway station, hence the setting. Selznick drew Méliès's real door in the book.
 I enjoyed this book, it was fascinating reading the words and depicting the meaning of the drawings. This will be a short review, as The Invention of Hugo Cabret is a thick book, but the story is short and sweet :)

The Invention of Hugo Cabret is an interesting book. The story is told through images and words. It looks and feels like you are watching a black and white movie. Alternating between the author's beautiful drawings and his meaningful words, Selznick tells a story of twelve year old Hugo, a clock keeper and a thief, who rescues and repairs an automaton that his late dad was working on. I loved reading the different turns the story took, the pictures also made it feel like I was rotating between reading a book and watching a movie, which gave it a really unique twist.

The writing was good, but very simple. However, I think the simplicity captured the pure magic and innocence of the story. I enjoyed reading about the automaton, the clocks and the mystery surrounding the picture the automaton draws. Its a mystery that is finally solved, and I enjoyed solving the mystery a long with Hugo and Isabel.

I liked the characters. I instantly took a liking to Hugo, he was. Strong, determined, driven boy. I admired how he turned the clocks twice every single day, how he did what he was supposed to, even when times were tough. Isabel and Papa Georges were interesting. Isabel was a feisty young girl, and it always made me giggle and shake my head when she stubbornly refused to what Hugo wanted. 

Papa Georges was the second star in the story, after Hugo, that is. He had this bitter, harsh exterior, but when Hugo broke through that wall, I realized just how wonderful he could be, and I finally understood the reasoning for his previous behavior. I thought it was very clever how Brian Selznick created the story, as its part true. It would have meant more to me if I knew that one of the characters was actually a real person, and the real story surrounding it. I shan't say who the person was, as that would be quite spoilery. 

Although Hugo Cabret isn't a favourite, it's a book I can see myself revisiting in the future. To watch the story unfold before me, as if I were in a movie theatre. With magical drawings that are real and spellbinding, a sweet story of discovering secrets that have yet to be unveiled, interesting characters that are beautiful inside and out, The Invention  of Hugo Cabret is like nothing you'll ever read before.


  1. Great review, as always, Kyra! :) This book looks quite interesting, I love the idea of it. I am not usually a big fan of historical fiction but since it sounds like a classic then I will have to check it out :) Thanks for posting xx

  2. Ooh, I checked this book out from the library awhile back. I'm really quite intrigued by the format, with all of the illustrations and such. I'm looking forward to it!

  3. You know, sometimes i miss seeing pictures in my books!!

    great review!!
    I think I will have to find this book and read it soon

    -Theresa Jones


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