Thursday, November 10, 2011

THE INVENTION OF HUGO CABRET – Brian Selznick


The middle grandson said he liked this book and since the movie is coming out and we might want to go see it together I decided to get a copy. Yikes! I asked him if he knew it was monstrously large at 533 pages. With much eye rolling and sighing he informed me it has a lot of big margins, pictures and blank pages and I could handle it. He and I and my other grandson went to the bookstore on a Sunday and I read it that evening after they went home.

It is beautiful. As soon as I finished I went to the scholastic website to investigate where I learned that Selznick wanted the book to feel like an old movie. At http://www.theinventionofhugocabret.com/about_hugo_intro.htm there is also a wealth of information about the author's inspiration, old movies mentioned in the book, the real train crash, and information about automata, specifically the one that was the inspiration for the automaton in this book. But I digress.

In 1931 twelve-year-old orphaned Hugo is trying to survive living in a Paris train station. His uncle who is the clock keeper for the station is missing, and though Hugo keeps the clocks running and picks up his uncle's checks he doesn't have any way to cash them. Having no income, Hugo is forced to steal food and try to remain undetected. Hugo also is skilled mechanically and steals nuts, bolts, metal, and gears from the toy seller to work on an automaton that his father had been working on before he died. Hugo's existence is threatened when he is caught stealing. There is suspense, a train wreck, and a close encounter with death.

I don't know how to adequately describe this book. Pages of fascinating illustrations are followed by pages of text and I couldn't read fast enough or look long enough at each picture. I read it, explored information about the author and the real people and events portrayed in the book and then read it again. It would be a lovely book to share with a child and I am looking forward to the movie. Hope my grandsons will let me go with them.

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