The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick
Children’s Fiction, Published 2007
2008 Caldecott Medal Finalist
Read Sept 2009
From the Cover:
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.
Hugo, a 12 year old boy lives within the walls of a Paris train station in the early 1930s. Hugo’s father died when he was small and all he has left of his father is a notebook of drawings and a broken automaton. Hugo has been left in the care of his Uncle, who is the train station’s clock keeper, but Hugo’s uncle is a drunk and comes up missing, leaving Hugo to care for all the clocks in the station alone. Meanwhile, Hugo works on his father’s automaton which he has to steals parts from a toy booth in the train station to repair it. He soon becomes entangled with the toy booth keeper and his goddaughter. Hugo is determined to get his father’s automaton working and find out what the toy maker is so interested in his father’s notebook and what he has to do with it all.
While this book at first glance looks a little menacing, I was quickly swept away with the beautiful illustrations. It is part children’s adventure novel and part graphic novel. But the pictures don’t just illustrate the words, they help tell the story. Hugo races around the train station trying to keep all the clocks in working order so his Uncle’s disappearance will go unnoticed as long as possible as well as repair his father’s automaton. In the midst of high adventure, the story leaves off and picks up with 20 pages or more of illustrations telling Hugo’s story and then picks right back up with the words. It’s a great bedtime story for children of all ages.