The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick

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I was at the library with my kids when this unusually thick children’s book caught my eye. Someone at the library had placed a Caldecott sticker on the spine, and I thought it was odd that a novel would win an award for its pictures, so I picked it up and was fascinated by the vivid pencil drawings throughout the book. I soon realized that the pictures tell parts of the story instead of merely providing illustrations. The story looked interesting enough for my eight-year-old, and the pictures would keep my almost-six-year-old engaged, so I checked it out.

All three of us loved this book. There was a bit of a mystery, and there was suspense throughout the story in that you weren’t sure what would happen to Hugo in the end. He is a likable character despite his secrecy, and you don’t want any harm to come to him.

We learned a great deal about early theater and how magicians made some of the early movies. The story takes place in a train station in Paris, which provided a unique setting and a behind-the-scenes look at how some parts of the station worked. This book is based on the work of a real person, so we were able to do a little research and find out more about him.

I would highly recommend this book as a read-aloud for younger kids and for older kids to read on their own.

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3 thoughts on “The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick

  1. And now that you’ve read it, I also highly recommend the film adaptation, directed by Martin Scorsese in 2011, which was nominated for a Best Picture Oscar. It’s so rare to have a movie adaptation of children’s lit that doesn’t “Disney” it up (talk down to the audience by oversimplifying and sanitizing). Both this book and the movie are simply terrific, the difference being you get to see the original Melies films that are an integral part of the plot.

    • I found the movie info this morning and plan to watch it with my kids. Several people gave it poor reviews (boring, no plot, should have just made a documentary), so I’m glad to hear that it is a good adaptation of the book. I am looking forward to watching it.

      • Opinions being like, well, you know how that saying goes – everyone has one.

        The film holds a 94% “Fresh” rating on aggregate review site Rotten Tomatoes based on 224 reviews, with an average score of 8.4. The site’s main consensus reads “Hugo is an extravagant, elegant fantasy with an innocence lacking in many modern kids’ movies, and one that emanates an unabashed love for the magic of cinema.”

        Similarly, Metacritic gave the film an average score of 83 based on 41 reviews, indicating “universal acclaim”

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