Monday, January 21, 2008

The Invention of Hugo Cabret

Title: The Invention of Hugo Cabret
Author: Brian Selznick
Primary Audience/age group: 9-12
Genre: Fiction, Mystery
# Of pages: 533
Year of Release: 2007
Part of a Series? No
Rating: 4

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. (

Review: I was completely impressed with the great creativity and uniqueness in the way this author told this story! Illustrator Brian Selznick uses illustrations, graphics, movie shots and words to move this story along. It’s a feast for the eyes…just really neat! The story itself is a good one, but it’s all the different components that really make it stand out. This book has been awarded the 2008 Caldecott Award for illustration.

Positive: Even though Hugo is a thief and a liar, he does have the trait of perseverance. He diligently works to repair a found automaton. Using his knowledge of clockworks, he is able to make the necessary parts to make the repair.

Several friendships are formed in the book. Though they start out shaky, they all grow into good relationships. One friendship that stands out in my mind is that of Etienne. He was able to see past Hugo’s circumstances and appearance and was eager to help him when others were not.

Spiritual Elements: At one point Hugo and Annie are discussing Prometheus. Hugo learns that Prometheus stole fire to help the people survive and was then punished. He acknowledges that he has stolen to survive and to fix the automaton…he starts to wonder what his punishment will be. Later on, Papa Georges points out to Hugo that Prometheus is eventually released. Reminds me of sin and forgiveness! I also think it would be a great lead-in to a discussion about whether or not it is ever ok to steal.

Violence: Toward the end of the story, Hugo is captured by the Station Inspector and thrown into a cell.

Language: The Lord’s name was used in vain once.

Sexual Content: none

Other: I bought this book for my 11year old son who is a reluctant reader. It was my hopes that he would read this “chunkster” (thick book) and be proud of himself upon completion. It was a perfect book for him because of all the different layers used…and just as I had hoped, he was quite excited about finishing the book and has asked if we would buy him another book to read!

Rating: 4 for stealing and lying

Recommendation: I would certainly encourage others to read this book. I feel that the unique format of the book is just wonderful. The story itself introduces several opportunities to discuss some hard issues.


Appliejuice said...

My daughter, age 10, has enjoyed reading this book. She is now reading it allowed to her younger sisters, age 8 and 6. All three like the mystery involved and most of all the pictures. They take turns picking out and noticing different things about the pictures. It is amazing what you can notice in the pictures when you take the time to really look at them. We give this a thumbs up. :D

Jessica said...

I was amazed at how good this was. I was expecting a really plain and simple plot line and found myself wrapped up in the twists and turns and beautiful pictures.