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The Invention of Hugo Cabret (2007)

by Brian Selznick

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
8,898652739 (4.3)1 / 548
When twelve-year-old Hugo, an orphan living and repairing clocks within the walls of a Paris train station in 1931, meets a mysterious toyseller and his goddaughter, his undercover life and his biggest secret are jeopardized.

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» See also 548 mentions

English (635)  French (3)  Portuguese (Portugal) (2)  Italian (2)  Spanish (2)  Swedish (1)  Dutch (1)  German (1)  Danish (1)  Catalan (1)  All languages (649)
Showing 1-5 of 635 (next | show all)
Part Picture book, part novel, part dreamy Chris Van Allsburg-esque adventure.

While you're reading it to your kids at night, following the streaming pages of illustrations flow past you like it's got some cinema DNA in there too. ( )
  Chuck_ep | Jul 18, 2022 |
A very unique story that is told completely through detailed pen and ink illustrations. So different from other books it just need to be experienced. captivating.
  lmannsch | Jul 17, 2022 |
Juvenile Fiction
Grades: 3-8
Age: 8 - 13
Themes: creativity & imagination, death/grief/loss, film & animation, friends & friendship, intergenerational relationships

I love the way Selznick switches between text and art to tell the story, not blended as with a graphic novel, but entire segments told only in art and others only in text. In particular given the role art and films play in this story, it is appropriate.

Lovely as the images were, the story didn't quite catch me. However, I think I'd have felt differently at a younger age. Some tales can be enjoyed equally at all ages, this one is best at the appropriate time of life. ( )
  Zoes_Human | Jul 16, 2022 |
The most memorable thing about this book is how written work and graphic novel style meet to tell a story. Very clever. The drawings alone are amazing. When I read the inspiration part at the end of the book, a former professer of mine from UWT was mentioned as helping with some of the more technical filmography mentions. ( )
  BarbF410 | May 22, 2022 |
I first read this book as a galley proof when it was first released in 2007 -- without all of its pictures finalized. The big was thick at over 500 pages -- but it was a first of its kind (that I remember) being partially full of pictures (like a comic book) with each picture taking up a two page spread. This was way before graphic novels became popular. I also took note that this thick chapter book won the coveted Caldecott Medal for children's book for best illustration -- again the first that I can remember happening because it usually went to a children's picture book. -- I recently watched the movie HUGO which was based on the book. I decided I needed to read the book again.

A book like no other -- 1st of its kind -- the Introduction tells the reader how to interact with the pictures herein (beginning t0 page 45) -- beautiful design of the pages in black and white with a bold border to look like an old movie screen based around the real images produced by Melies.

SUMMARY: The main character of Hugo looses his father at the early age of twelve. He is very much like his clock making father and tinkers with mechanical things -- especially the neglected little man (the automaton) that his father finds in the attic of the museum where he works and brings it home to repair and bring it back to life. When his father dies in a tragic fire at the museum, Hugo is taken in by an uncaring uncle who stays intoxicating and only wants Hugo to train as an apprentice so the uncle doesn't have to work too hard. Hugo's new home is in the secret passages and apartment behind the walls of the train station in Paris where he learns to take care of the clocks. His world changes when gets caught trying to steal a clockwork mouse from the toy booth at the train station and he enters the world of Georges Melies -- magician, filmmaker, and creator of dreams.

Georges Melies was a real person -- magician and filmmaker -- one of the first to quickly realize how to capture dreams to show on the movie screen. The author got the idea for the story from a book he read and created this unique story (p354-355; 360)

Difference between the book and the movie -- #1) in the book Hugo hurts his hand and Isabelle injuries her foot (in the movie Hugo is the only one I remember with an injury) -- #2) the movie has a little more focus on some of the other people that work in the train station including the Station Inspector (which is given a much larger role) who is a wounded war veteran -- obsessed with catching all the thieving, homeless orphans hanging out in the train station. -- #3) Mama Jeanne's role is bigger in the book and it shows her role in the making of the early movies -- she was an actress in everyone of them #4) the book has an additional chapter that shows an additional ending showing Hugo's discovered purpose #5) Georges Melie's response when shown that one of his movies did survive and that there are people that remember him and his work.

Features an Automaton -- sole purpose of the machines was to fill people with wonder, and they succeeded (p115)

I learned a new word -- horologist -- means clock maker -- there are many scenes in the book that compare what is happening to a working machine with cogs and wheels that turn -- for example: ...he could feel the cogs and wheels in his head spinning in different directions (p165)

CAUSE AND EFFECT: Georges Melie didn't like to hear the sound of shoes echoing off the flooring -- do you remember why?

The title of the book is elusive until the final chapter.

NOTE: The book and the movie make a great companion set -- the movie is a little on the long side -- there are a few things that I don't like about the Station Inspector and two of the adult conversations were not necessary and could have been left out of the movie. ( )
  pjburnswriter | May 5, 2022 |
Showing 1-5 of 635 (next | show all)
The story is an engaging meditation on fantasy, inventiveness, and a thrilling mystery in its own right. No knowledge of early cinema is necessary to enjoy it, but for those who do know just a little, the rewards are even greater.
The carefully selected details make Hugo Cabret feel like, well, a machine, full of tiny interlocking parts, built to fuel a curious child’s lifelong infatuation with wonder.
The Invention of Hugo Cabret is full of magic ... for the child reader, for the adult reader, the film lover, the art lover, for anyone willing to give it a go. If you’re scared of the size or the concept, don’t be. Open your mind, pour Selznick’s creation in, and be reminded of the dream of childhood.
With The Invention of Hugo Cabret, the American illustrator/author Brian Selznick seems to have invented a new kind of book. It's at once a picture book, a graphic novel, a rattling good yarn and an engaging celebration of the early days of the cinema. All in black and white.
It is wonderful.

» Add other authors (9 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Selznick, Brianprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Paracchini, FabioTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Santen, Gert vanTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Woodman, JeffNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

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For Remy Charlip and for David Serlin
First words
From his perch behind the clock, Hugo could see everything.
Hugo felt sure that the note was going to answer all of his questions and tell him what to do now that he was alone. The note was going to save his life.
The coffee was hot, and as Hugo let it cool, he looked around the cavernous station at all the people rushing by with a thousand different places to go. When he saw them from above he always thought the travelers looked like cogs in an intricate, swirling machine. But up close, amid the bustle and the stampede, everything just seemed noisy and disconnected.
Hugo though about his father’s description of the automaton. “Did you ever notice that all machines are made for some reason?” he asked Isabelle. “They are built to make you laugh, like the mouse here, or to tell the time, like clocks, or to fill you with wonder, like the automaton. Maybe that’s why a broken machine always makes me a little sad, because it isn’t able to do what it was meant to do.”
“I like to imagine that the world is one big machine. You know, machines never have any extra parts. They have the exact number and type of parts they need. So I figure if the entire world is a big machine, I have to be here for some reason. And that means you have to be here for some reason, too.”
When you wind it up, it can do something I'm sure no other automaton in the world can do. It can tell you the incredible story of Georges Méliès, his wife, their goddaughter, and a beloved clock maker whose son grew up to be a magician.
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When twelve-year-old Hugo, an orphan living and repairing clocks within the walls of a Paris train station in 1931, meets a mysterious toyseller and his goddaughter, his undercover life and his biggest secret are jeopardized.

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