Sunday, December 7, 2008

Book Review: The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick

Hugo Cabret is an orphan living in the walls of a Paris train station doing his utmost to stay alive and undiscovered. He has in his possession two items from his deceased father: a broken mechanical man (or automata) and his father's notebook containing sketches on how to fix it. Hugo believes the pen-holding automata, when repaired, will write a message from his father intended for Hugo alone. Determined to perform the repairs, Hugo steals parts from an elderly toymaker only to uncover an even greater mystery than his own.

I bought The Invention of Hugo Cabret simply for it's notoriety: it was a National Book Award Finalist and winner of the 2008 Caldecott Medal. I wanted to have the book that had reputedly changed the face of children's book publishing forever. As I read, I was awestruck by the inextricable use of words and illustration. I found myself wishing I were a writer-illustrator with the freedom to go non-verbal whenever the spirit and story moved me. I can't say the tale, itself, will become a personal favourite, but its telling is unprecendented and an experience I won't soon forget.

Bravo, Mr Selznick.


  1. Sounds like a good pick. I may get this one up for James he is obsessed with reading and both boys have a list of books they hope santa will bring. I think he will be happy to deliver.

  2. sorry that was my comment above didn't realize James Id was logged on. I'm sure you would have figured this out on your own anyways. I hope your enjoying the few weeks before christmas.