Review: The Invention of Hugo Cabret

The Invention of Hugo Cabret
The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The Invention of Hugo Cabret is part novel and part cinema. At first glance, it is overwhelming with more than 500 pages but once you open the book you realize this is not like any book you have ever seen before. Woven expertly together by author and illustrator, Brian Selznick, The Invention of Hugo Cabret is a story told in both words and picture, as the illustrations move the story along just as much as the words do.

Inspired by the earliest science-fiction films of Georges Méliès, Selznick put together a story about a boy who lives and hides in a Paris train station in the 1930’s and who longs to unlock the secrets of the broken mechanical human figure left behind by his absent father. During his search for the key to his father’s automaton, Hugo uncovers secrets, finds true friendship and unfolds more than one mystery in this story and it is through the that readers follow him through his adventure.

This book was recognized for its incredible graphic illustrations with a Caldecott Medal in 2008. Reading pictures can be a challenge for an adult who is not a digital native but the drawings in Hugo Cabret are pencil sketches and extremely detailed, making them visually rich and complex. The story progresses as much through the drawings as through the written text, so readers have to pay attention to both. This book is amazing in its physical form, whether in print or digital, and will change the way any reader sees (and reads) a story.

Age Range: 8 – 12 years

Grade Level: 3 – 7

Lexile Measure: 820L (What’s this?)
Hardcover: 533 pages
Publisher: Scholastic Press; First Edition edition (January 30, 2007)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0439813786
ISBN-13: 978-0439813785

Literary awards:

Caldecott Medal (2008), Book Sense Book of the Year Award for Children’s Literature (2008), Rebecca Caudill Young Reader’s Book Award Nominee (2009), Flicker Tale Children’s Book Award (2009), Deutscher Jugendliteraturpreis Nominee for Kinderbuch (2009)
Iowa Children’s Choice Award (2010), Boston Author’s Club Young Reader Award (2008), NAIBA Book of the Year for Children’s Literature (2007)

Annotation:

During his search for the key to his father’s automaton, Hugo uncovers secrets, finds true friendship and unfolds more than one mystery in this story and it is through the combined drawings and words that readers follow him through his adventure.

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