The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick.
Scholastic Press: NY, 2007.
Caldecott Medal 2008

This book has created quite a stir in the last year. Many were sure it would win an award-just not sure which one. It's taken a while for me to get my hands on a copy. The coverart and the author's name were enough for me to be excited, because I loved his illustrations in The Dinosaurs of Waterhouse Hawkins (Caldecott Honor of 2002).

My first impression was shock at the length of the book and then amazement (flipping the pages) at the wondrous artwork and how long Selznick must have spent drawing. The story is a novel, though short in terms of text. The style is similar to Chris Van Allsburg's-striking, intense, and mysterious. The photographs added of actual events are also intriguing. The story itself is unusual (an understatement), suspenseful, captivating, and in the end awesome as the threads come together.

It wasn't until the end that I realized the illustrations are a means of reflecting the motion picture industry which factors into the story. In the beginning, the story centers on Hugo's mechanical ability and his orphaned situation with the mystery of the broken automaton he tries to fix. When the maker of the automaton is revealed, the story turns towards a segment of the early history of motion picture.

My oldest son praised the unusual concept. His comment reminded me how much I enjoy stories that are so different from anything else. With the amount of reading I do, I have seen many good books (and series) that follow the same format as others. It's a special treat to read a book that is totally its own.

related-Georges Méliès, robots, clocks, orphans, railroad stations, history of Paris, France, mechanical toys, automatons
RL=4th-8th, read aloud to k-3rd

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