March 1, 2007; Scholastic Inc.
ORPHAN, CLOCK KEEPER, AND THIEF, 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, bookish girl and a bitter old man who runs a toy booth in the 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 from Hugo's dead father form the backbone of this intricate, tender, and spellbinding mystery.(courtesy of Goodreads)
Brian Selznick has revolutionized children's literature with The Invention of Hugo Cabret. Traditionally, children leave the world of picture books behind once they begin reading. The Invention of Hugo Cabret mashes together a story told only in pictures with a traditional mid-level children's novel.
The written portion of Hugo is also endearing, but doesn't break any new ground. It follows common themes of many children's stories. Orphan, great adventure, danger, friends. Hugo lives in a train station and makes sure the station's clocks are set to current time. A unique setting if ever there was one. He is trying to fix the automaton (kind of a wind up robot) that his father was working on when he died. Hugo's world changes when he runs into a cranky toyseller and his god-daughter Isabel.
The story had lots of twists and turns that I didn't expect, although the ultimate ending wasn't that surprising. There were also a lot of coincidences. Too many to be even remotely believable. I wish the book - especially the drawings - had taken better advantage of its setting and time period. We got to know a little about the 1920s/1930s through learning about the silent film industry, but otherwise, it didn't feel like the 1930s. Similarly, there was no exploration of the wonders of Paris. It could have been set in New York City, Berlin, London, or any other big city. Paris is necessary for certain plot reasons, but certainly could have been portrayed more richly.
While not a perfect written story, I recommend that everyone pick up The Invention of Hugo Cabret. Despite its large size, you can read this giant book in just a few hours. The story is charming. But it's the drawings you'll remember. They add a richness to the book that words could never convey.
Those illustrations are unbelievable! I've always had a fondness for the author, he's eccentrix and different...- I loved 'Wonderstruck'! Likewise, it gave off the idea that words and art go hand in hand, so to speak. Thanks for the review! :)ReplyDelete
*eccentric- my damn spelling! xxReplyDelete
I absolutely adored this book! I've never read anything that seamlessly used pictures and text to tell a story. I was mesmerize by reading it. True, the story does have the same tropes of children literature but I loved learning about movie making and the importance of the automaton. Have you seen the movie yet? I thought it was very well done and very faithful to the book.ReplyDelete
I can't find my daughter's copy anywhere. Still looking for it cause I so want to read it. Great review!ReplyDelete
Is this the book before Wonderstruck? I think it is, that drawing style looks familiar:) I think I would like to get this book just to flip through the illustrations, they're amazing! I need to check this one out:)ReplyDelete
I've heard great things about these books! Actually, I heard that Wonderstruck is better than Hugo Cabaret ... I still haven't read either of them, but I hear they're quick reads so I might have to pick them up. :) Great review!ReplyDelete
Hi! I'm a new follower from FF believe it or not. I may be early but probably late - that's me! Glad to find your blog. DonnaReplyDelete
I'm a fan of this book - and I agree with your review!! Although... at my house, we don't call it a kids' book. We call it a VERY BIG book - 'cause it's like 4 inches thick!! For a reluctant reader, it's such a great challenge. My boys didn't pick up on predictability, of course, they figure things should fall in their favor. :-) And they love the gears & fixing things. As you say, it's easy to read in a day - so it's a GREAT book to discuss with afore-mentioned reluctant reader. *ahem!* GREAT review!!ReplyDelete
Such a beautiful review!ReplyDelete
I want to read this one... the movie was a B- for me so I expect the book to at least be an A-ReplyDelete
Great review and I loved the graphics from the book!
Is the one that is a movie? If so I need to read it. Have you seen the movie yet?ReplyDelete
The size has put me off but it sounds like I need to attempt it. I definitely need to read it before seeing the movie. I do love that it's filled with illustrations. Done correctly, it really enhances a book.ReplyDelete
I agree, the illustrations are what truly made this book special (though the story was nice too, of course). I love how certain series of images sort of felt like storyboards for a movie.ReplyDelete
I've definitely been wanting to read this one, if only for the illustrations and seeing what the reading experience will be like. Glad you mostly enjoyed it. =)ReplyDelete
With a lot of secrets out there people can never deny why there are so many inspectors.ReplyDelete
Hello, I enjoy reading all of your post. I wanted to write a little comment to support you.ReplyDelete