Wednesday, October 26, 2011

The Invention of Hugo Cabret

The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick (NY: Scholastic, 2007).

In 1930s Paris, young Hugo Cabret tends to the clocks in the large train station, fearful that the Station Inspector will notice that his only relative, his uncle--the man who is supposed to be caring for the clocks--has been missing for months.  Hugo knows that he'll be put in an orphanage, or worse, if he's found out.  But then the old man at the toy shop catches Hugo stealing a small toy mouse that Huge needs for its parts, so he can continue fixing the automaton, a machine that ties Hugo to his father, who had died in a museum fire while working on the automaton.  The old man takes away the notebook of drawings that Hugo's father made to help fix the automaton, and Hugo needs the notebook back.  Luckily, the shopkeeper's granddaughter agrees to help Hugo, and then Hugo ends up working at the shop as well to earn parts for his beloved machine.  He has no idea what the completed machine will reveal--about himself and others--and how much it will change his life.

Selnick spins this magical tale in words and meticulously drawn grayscale drawings that fabulously reveal the hidden details of the story. Just as Hugo must attend to the inner workings of the clocks and the amazing mechanical device he's trying to fix, the reader must attend to the details as well to see the whole picture.  It's a heart rending but ultimately satisfying story, and the combination of words and pictures makes it perfect for reluctant readers of all ages.  Although set in the past, Hugo's dilemma will resonate with present-day children as he struggles to overcome his difficulties and learn to trust--and ultimately help--others. 

No comments: