Author: Brian Selznick
Illustrator: Brian Selznick
Publication Date: April 1st 2007
Length: 525 pages (Hardcover)
Synopsis from the Back:
An orphan and thief, Hugo lives in the walls of a busy train station. He desperately believes a broken automaton will make his dreams come true, but when his world collides with an eccentric girl and a bitter old man, Hugo’s undercover life are put in jeopard. Turn the pages, follow the illustrations and enter an unforgettable new world!
Up until recently, I had never heard about this book. I hadn’t seen the cover, never heard the title….even the movie had passed me by, completely unnoticed. To my defense, though, up until recently, I didn’t even think I liked children’s books at all, so I guess that’s why it managed to slip under my radar for so long.
If it weren’t for some of my favourite booktubers, The Invention of Hugo Cabret probably would have stayed in the shadows, out of sight, for all eternity. As they mentioned it on their channels, though, the book was suddenly brought to my attention…but I still never really intended to pick it up.
So why did I, then?
Well, it was one of those days where I just strolled about the library, as one does, picking up books at random. Then, out of the blue, I saw and recognised it, shrugged, tucked it under my arm along with some other books, “checked out”, and went home. Later, as I sat in my room that evening, I realised that I not only wanted to read it, but needed to.
So I did.
As soon as I started flipping through the pages, I also realised that The Invention of Hugo Cabret, actually was a really cool and special book.
As you might, or might not know, out of the 525 pages in this book, more than 280 of them are pictures and illustrations. This means (among other things), both that it’s a very quick read, and also that it gives you a very different reading experience. I, at least, had never read anything like it before.
While the language isn’t a bit complicated, these amazing pictures show you so much more than can be told in words. The whole book is constructed so that it almost plays out like a movie, and being able to really see the expressions on the characters faces when they’re scared or sad…well, it brings so much more life, depth, and emotion to the book. It makes this novel almost….magical.
The story itself is very beautiful, cute, and cosy, with a lot of surprises, and I can absolutely imagine it being well appreciated by smaller children.
What I think makes it fit so well just as a bedtime story, though, apart from well, the plot and the lovely pictures, is a quality it shares with a lot of animated movies, which is a nice collection of small jokes and references that can only be understood by grown-ups. This makes it enjoyable to both the listener, and the reader, which, in my opinion, is very important. As C.S. Lewis once said:
“A children’s story that can only be enjoyed by children is not a good children’s story in the slightest.”
All in all, it was a very interesting and fun book to read, though I personally would have wanted more depth when it comes to the characters. I know it’s a book for children, but sometimes I found the dialogue fell a bit flat. I still enjoyed it very much, though, and highly recommend it to both younger and older people. If you want a quick, easy, and cute read with a different twist, you should give this one a try. :)
“ If you lose your purpose … it’s like you’re broken. ”
“Time can play all sorts of tricks on you. In the blink of an eye, babies appear in carriages, coffins disappear into the ground, wars are won and lost, and children transform, like butterflies, into adults.”