The Invention of Hugo Cabret – Brian Selznick
Genre: Children’s; Historical Fiction; Sequential Art
Caldecott Medal – 2008
Summary: Told through a series of pictures and text, The Invention of Hugo Cabret is the story of an orphan boy named Hugo in 1930s Paris . It’s a struggle for Hugo to survive day in and day out, and he often resorts to thievery just to keep himself alive. When he steals from the wrong person and meets a girl, however, Hugo’s world is turned upside down. Will Hugo be able to remain hidden in the train station where he lives, or will his secrets be uncovered?
Review: I decided to give The Invention of Hugo Cabret a try after I read and loved Selznick’s other book, Wonderstruck. My expectations going into this book were high, which may not have been entirely fair because Wonderstruck was such a beautiful story, and while I ultimately enjoyed and devoured Hugo Cabret, I didn’t like it quite as much as Wonderstruck.
I suppose the main reason that Hugo Cabret didn’t captivate me as much as Wonderstruck was because I had a more difficult time connecting to the story. The characters weren’t as well-developed as I had hoped for. I did, however, like Hugo quite a bit and found his story interesting, but Isabelle tended to get on my nerves.
The wonderful thing about this book that kept me absorbed throughout, however, and ultimately led to a four star rating from me, was the pictures. I absolutely loved the story the pictures told, and the images themselves were beautifully done. Selznick is truly a talented individual, and his pictures are vivid and stunning.
While The Invention of Hugo Cabret is labeled as a children’s title, I think older readers may be able to appreciate its nuances a bit more than younger readers. Kids will love the artwork, and adults will love both the pictures and the hidden layers of meaning in the text. If you’re looking for an absorbing read with striking images, or if you enjoyed any of Selznick’s other work, look no further than The Invention of Hugo Cabret.
Other Books by Brian Selznick: Wonderstruck, The Houdini Box, The Boy of a Thousand Faces