Book Review: “The Invention of Hugo Cabret”

I read an article recently on the internet called “50 Books Every Parent Should Read to Their Child”. Many of the suggestions I had already read, like “Where The Wild Things Are” and “The Paper Bag Princess” (a personal favourite), but I decided to make my way through the others on the list.

When I got handed  “The Invention of Hugo Cabret” by my local librarian, I could not believe it. This was supposed to be a book for readers under 10?! The book was over 500 pages. Surely someone had made a mistake!

Then I took a closer look at the book written by Brian Selznick, and I realized that many of the pages were pictures and other pages had only a few words written on them. So don’t be turned off by the size.

The story was inspired by a true character, Georges Melies, an early film pioneer, who also had a collection of automata (non-electronic moving machines). The author then based his story on a boy finding an automaton.

The main character, Hugo, is convinced that the automaton that he is trying to fix holds a message from his late father. But when the message is finally received, it leads to some unexpected results.

I enjoyed the format. The book is meant to be told like a movie. I originally thought that having words interrupted by pictures would be jarring. But the page turns are brilliant, and at times even heart stopping.

“The Invention of Hugo Cabret” won the Caldecott Medal in 2008. To read Brian Selznick’s acceptance speech, click here.


For more on automata, Brian Selznick recommends The Franklin Institute:


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