The Invention of Hugo Cabret

The Invention of Hugo CabretThe Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A hefty book, but easily read in a few hours at most. Text alternates with exquisitely detailed drawings (which earned this book the 2007 Caldecott Award) to tell the story. This is the kind of book I would have loved as a child (and still do) because it is about a real person and I learned something about the very earliest film making industry. Georges Melies really did end up selling toys at the Montparnasse station in Paris, and he really did donate his automata collection to a museum.

The movie, Hugo, based on this book, used actual film clips of Georges Melies which really brought it alive. It expanded on several of the lesser characters, which I enjoyed, but downplayed Hugo’s thievery. It also glossed over some of the reasons G.M. ended up trying to bury all memory of his film-making days.

For me, the major themes seemed to be about following one’s passion, and when that is not tended people become broken just like the clocks and the automaton that Hugo repairs. It is also about curiosity and having the courage to follow adventure in our lives.

Book Description:
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.

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