Thursday, January 31, 2008

The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick

I recommend this book for: grade 4-7
Wow and a half. I was slightly skeptical when I found out that this one won the Caldecott, but now I'm a definite supporter.

Hugo Cabret is an orphan, the son of a clockmaker who has inherited his love and dexterity for fixing things. He now lives in a train station in Paris, where he keeps the clocks running for his uncle - but his uncle has disappeared, and Hugo is forced to turn to stealing to get enough food. The other thing he has to steal is parts to finish the project his father was working on when he died - an automaton, a mechanical man with a pen. Hugo is sure that if he can make the man write again, he'll get a message from his father. Then the man who runs the toy booth realizes Hugo is stealing from him and takes away his book of drawings of the automaton - and with it Hugo's every hope of being able to repair it.
This is just the beginning. The story is incredible, and it takes you on a tour of Paris in the 1930s, especially when it comes to early films. The presentation is amazing as well, as there are quite possibly more pages of (gorgeous black and white) pictures than there are of text. It's not quite a graphic novel and not quite a picture book, but the pictures tell a good portion of the story very clearly - you don't even have to pore over the details to understand what is happening. And the ending? It was so perfect that I gasped.
Don't trust me or the Caldecott committee? (There's a letter from the author at the top of the page, but keep scrolling down for the reviews.

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