Title: The Invention of Hugo Cabret
Writer: Brian Selznick
Publisher: Scholastic Children’s Books (2007)
Bought at: Kinokuniya Ngee Ann City (SGD 37,60)
Age appropriate: 7 yo and up
I bought this book when I went to Singapore last year but I avoided reading it because I wanted so much to reserve it. I felt I didn’t have the heart to open its wrapper and flip into the beautiful pages. Does it make any sense? 😀
Anyway, I decided to read Hugo because I wanted to see the movie (I haven’t watched it, shame on me), and I think it’s better to tackle the book first before seeing it on screen.
What can I say? Brian Selznick is a pure genius. He could combine a wonderful storyline, some interesting historical facts, and magnificent pictures. I love the way he described this book: A novel in words and pictures. Because it’s true, some pictures replaced the words, but still became a perfect part of the story.
Hugo Cabret lives behind the walls of a train station in Paris. He was an orphan, his father died in a fire in the museum where he worked to maintain the clocks. Hugo was taken by his uncle to help him taking care of the clocks in the train station. But one day, Hugo’s uncle, who was a drunk, didn’t come to their place in the station and just disappeared.
Hugo had to take care of his own life, pretending to become his uncle and work by himself, stealing food from here and there. Hugo’s only consolation was a wind up figure, or automaton, that his father gave him before he died. Hugo believed that if he could repair the automaton, it will reveal a secret that could save his life. But things got complicated when Hugo’s life collided with a grumpy old man who owned a toy shop in the station, and somehow had a connection with the automaton. Helped by the old man’s adopted daughter, Hugo tried to open up the secret of the automaton- and enter the beautiful but sad secrets of the old man’s past.
This is a wonderful, simple story that could make you smile long after you close the book. I love how the narrative of this book flows beautifully between words and pictures, complimented each other flawlessly. The details of the pictures also mesmerized me. From the crowded station, the cold Parisian street, to the precise little parts of the clocks and automaton, they are all amazing!
I also love how Selznick included forgotten historical facts about the olden days cinema and film history, it really suited the tone of the book. I can’t wait to read Wonderstruck, another Selznick’s masterpiece, that is still wrapped neatly on my shelf, waiting to be discovered….