Selznick, Brian. The Invention of Hugo Cabret. New York: Scholastic Press, 2007.
The Invention of Hugo Cabret follows a young, orphaned boy, Hugo, who lives in the train station and secretively maintains the station's clocks. Hugo's only company is a broken automaton, which he rescued from a burned down museum, and plans to fix, paying homage to his father's life and work. However, when an old man catches Hugo stealing from his toy shop, Hugo's mysterious journey begins. Hugo befriends the old man's goddaughter, Isabelle, who helps him discover that Hugo's and the old man's lives are inexplicably linked through imagination and dreams. The Invention of Hugo Cabret is a beautiful piece of literature that embodies the whimsy illustrated through its pages; it proves that, like film, literature is magical.
Brian Selznick created an exciting, moving, and timeless story that exhibits the power of the imagination, which transcends generations. Selznick's characters embody an individuality and quirkiness; Hugo, Isabelle, and Papa Georges view the world in a transcendent glow characteristic of childhood perception, which appeals to children and adults alike. Hugo's enigmatic automaton and Papa Georges's secret past lure the reader into the world of the novel. Thematically, The Invention of Hugo Cabret utilizes the metaphor of clocks to represent how people, like machines, "are made for some reason," highlighting that both broken machines and people may be repaired (374). In addition to the assertion that all people have a purpose in life, Selznick extols the power of the imagination, creativity, and art. In reference to Papa Georges, he writes, "he was among the first to demonstrate that film didn't have to reflect real life. He quickly realized that film had the power to capture dreams" (355). Selznick's novel exemplifies the ways in which art can capture dreams, while also providing insightful commentary about the workings of real life.
Furthermore, the black and white illustrations in Brian Selznick's work are enchanting, and they perfectly complement the themes and plot of his story. He incorporates cinematic elements, which mirrors the emphasis placed on film in his tale, into his drawings. For example, the book opens with a small drawing of the moon, which, page by page, becomes larger and gradually encompasses the city of Paris, eventually focusing in on the train station, and then a close-up of Hugo. The drawings scan the setting, moving the reader about the scene, just as a camera would. Adding to the fantasy, film stills and photographs are included to exhibit the magic of film in real life.
Starred review in Booklist – “The 2008 Caldecott Medal winner and a 2008 Notable Children’s Book.”
"The Invention Of Hugo Cabret." Kirkus Reviews75.22 (2007): 20. Library, Information Science & Technology Abstracts with Full Text. Web. 30 Jan. 2013. - Selznick’s art blends “with period photographs to create a complex and satisfying story and visual experience.”
R., S. "The Invention Of Hugo Cabret." Horn Book Magazine 83.2 (2007): 173-175. Library, Information Science & Technology Abstracts with Full Text. Web. 30 Jan. 2013.
“The interplay between the illustrations and text is complete genius.”
The Invention of Hugo Cabret would be a great way to lead a discussion on film as text, as well as turning text into film.
Martin Scorsese directed a film version of "Hugo."