The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick

Hmm, another picture novel. How do I keep ending up with these? After just one chapter, though, I was entranced. (Goodbye, Son of Neptune.)

Almost instantly, I had questions: Why does the boy live in the train station and where is his uncle? Why does this child maintain all the busy railroad station’s clocks? How will the automaton answer all Hugo’s questions about life? Won’t his childlike belief that it will somehow connect him to his father end up tragically? What does the old man accomplish when he tricks Hugo with the ashes? Is he the automaton’s creator?

The story of this poor, sad, lonely boy and the old toymaker he meets is poignant and immensely readable. I am charmed by the way Hugo connects to his surroundings by touching them until they become smooth and his drive to fix both the machines and people he encounters. The drawings, which make up about half of the novel’s 500 pages, bring each hand-drawn detail into intense focus, but it is the story that kept me reading. It is the story itself, a simple story that works as seamlessly as clock gears– full of tenuous, heartwrenching, and interlocking connections –that makes the book unforgettable.

As a sidenote: I found the link to the actual 1800s automaton (which this story is based on) fascinating. Check that out here:

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4 Responses to The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick

  1. shelleybean1 says:

    Hmm, Kelley? Do we read anything but YA anymore?

    • kelley says:

      no we do not! Actually I think we’re regressing, because I USED to read YA, but lately I’ve been reading actual kids books.
      This books sounds really interesting, I might need to borrow it. It sounds kind of depressing though.

  2. shelleybean1 says:

    It was quite good. Somehow R. said he had read it before (and you know he NEVER reads), although it is fairly new (2007), but oddly he did know the whole storyline. C. said he read in it school a few years back so maybe they talked about it, or maybe he saw a preview for the movie about it which is coming out at Thanksgiving (which I stumbled upon by accident), or maybe it’s just that predictable or similar to something else we do know… I couldn’t think of anything though. It had a few faults, but I was trying to not be too nitpicky. And overall, I did REALLY like it.

  3. shelleybean1 says:

    And, actually, like you said, this might be younger than YA.

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