Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Review: The Invention of Hugo Cabret

I just read that Brian Selznick's Caldecott-winning book, The Invention of Hugo Cabret (Scholastic, 2007), is being made into a movie directed by Martin Scorcese to be released in November, starring Jude Law, Ben Kinsley, and others.  I was thinking of reviewing this book anyway, so this is a good excuse to revisit this marvel of a book.

At over 500 pages, almost half of which are illustrated in moody pencil sketches, Hugo Cabret is hard to describe.  It is part picture book, part novel, part graphic novel, and part silent movie.  Hugo Cabret is an orphan and clock-tender hiding and living in a French railway station in 1931, whose secretive life is shattered when he's caught stealing a toy from a bitter toy seller at the station.   Soon Hugo is on the run, while trying to solve the mystery of a broken automaton (robot-like machine) poised with pen in hand ready to deliver a message.  With the help of new friends Isabelle and Etienne, Hugo repairs the automaton and discovers its link to Georges Méliès, a giant of silent film, known for one of the first science fiction movies, A Trip to the Moon (1902).  The revelations and plot twists throughout the story are surprising yet inevitable and satisfying.

My 9-year old loved the book, and it inspired us to watch A Trip to the Moon on YouTube.  My 6-year old, however, found some of the pictures too strange and disturbing.  Here's a nice website about the book and movie.


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