The Invention of Hugo Cabret

The Invention of Hugo Cabret
by Brian Selznick.

Let me add my voice to the large chorus of appreciative sounds from readers all over.  This book is something special.  Hugo is a boy who lives in the walls of a train station in Paris.  He keeps the intricate clocks of the station running ever since his father died and his uncle disappeared.  He can’t cash his uncle’s paychecks, so he is forced to steal from throughout the train station.  Hugo’s world revolves around an automaton that his father discovered in a museum attic.  Hugo discovered the automaton half-destroyed after a fire at the museum that killed his father.  Hugo devotes all of his extra time restoring the automaton to see what message it holds.  As he transverses the station, he encounters a grumpy elderly toy seller who creates intricate toys and a girl his age who loves books and wants to know Hugo’s secrets. 

This book is an amazing combination of art and story, where the art sets a tone and tells a large part of the story.  The art is black-and-white and done with such skill that it is very lifelike and beautiful.  The art is as much a part of the story as the words themselves.  It is impossible to think about this book without the illustrations which are done so vividly that my memory has changed them into full color almost photographic images.

The book is large at over 500 pages, but reads very quickly and is made accessible by the amount of white space as well as the illustrations which are primarily done on double-page spreads.  The language of the writing is fresh and makes the reading quick and fun.  Readers will be caught up in the mystery of the automaton and his creator. 

The entire book, story and images, are a complete work of art.  I look forward to more books by this author with high hopes that he will continue to illustrate them this richly.  Recommended for readers who enjoy graphic novels, boys who may not usually warm to full novels, and children who still want some pictures in their books.  But also warmly recommended to all readers of all ages who want a glimpse of art combined with some magic all its own.