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Friday, December 30, 2011

The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick

The book that turned into a phenomenon.

Published 2007 by Scholastic.
533 pages.
Text and illustrations by Brian Selznick

The Invention of Hugo Cabret was a gift to my daughter by her great aunt way back when she was in 3rd grade. She was at a critical time when some of her friends were losing interest in books (how sad to throw away such a powerful thing as reading for pleasure) and her great aunt stepped in in a big way with this book. The sheer magnitude of the thing made her eyes open wide and she looked at her great aunt dubiously as if to say, "Can I read anything this big?" Of course, she read it - that night. And, she got up again and read it again at 4 o'clock in the morning. She was so thrilled that she could read something with this much heft that she has never shrunk from another book again. And, she has read it at least once a year (if not more) since then.

So, because of my daughter I loved this book even before I read it. But, what did I think about it?

I enjoyed it. The pictures are great and they tell the story well. The writing is also good. It is simply told but not a simple story. I very much enjoyed both parts of the story. I appreciated the respect paid to old movies, to history in general and the honor given to people who are very talented with their hands. It does a great job of creating a whole new world and putting the reader right into it.

Very loosely inspired by real events, the plot involves an orphan named Hugo who lives in the Paris train depot and works as the keeper of the clocks. All of the clocks are powered by springs and have to be turned to keep running on time. Hugo is an orphan and his uncle was the keeper of the clocks and gets a room to stay in at the depot as a part of his pay. However, his uncle has now passed away and Hugo keeps the clocks running as though he is still alive just so he can have a place to live. Hugo is also afraid that he will lose an automatos (robot-like machines that look like people powered by gears) that his father was restoring at the time of his death. He has been stealing gears from a toymaker/seller in the depot to work on his automaton and at the beginning of the story he gets caught and everything looks like it will fall apart for Hugo...

I rate this book 4 stars out of 5.

This book can be found on Amazon.com here: The Invention of Hugo Cabret.

Reviewed on December 30, 2011.

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