Reading level: Middle Grade
Genre: Historical Fiction
Size: 533 pages
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Release Date: January 30th, 2007
Stand Alone or Series: Stand Alone
Rating: 5/5 stars
I already read Wonderstruck and after reading that really wanted to read the Invention of Hugo Cabret. So, when I got this book for my birthday I was thrilled! This was a wonderful read. Selznick does such a wonderful job writing a story in pictures; he has a knack for bringing multiple generations of characters together to tell a wonderful mystery.
Hugo lives in a train station. He used to live with his uncle who winded the clocks in the station, but when his uncle disappeared he was left winding clocks on his own and hoping that no one would notice his uncle’s absence and throw him out. Hugo has a side project too; he trying to rebuild an automaton that he and his father found in the attic of a museum. In his search for parts for his automaton he ends up involved with a bookish young girl and a bitter old toy maker. Little does he know that the mystery behind the automaton may be wrapped up with the new people in his life.
This was another wonderful story by Selznick. I continue to be amazed at how well he can tell a story in pictures. The story is told half in pictures, half in words. The pictures are beautiful and match the tone of the story perfectly. As with Wonderstruck, this book portrays a sense of nostalgia (it is set in Paris in the 1930’s). I love how Selznick makes the story cross multiple generations by having a young boy solve the mystery behind an older man’s past.
Although this is more of a mystery driven novel than a character driven novel you can’t help but love Hugo. Hugo is hard working and has wonderful dreams of finishing the automaton and presenting it to the rest of the world; the whole time you are really hoping that things will work out for him. The automaton he is working on is a wonderful mystery; you can’t help but desperately wonder what the automaton is going to write when Hugo finishes fixing it. Then when he does fix it and it writes for him, what it writes creates a whole mystery all in itself.
The story is very engaging and hard to stop reading. I personally didn’t know much about Georges Méliès and his movies; so it was wonderful to learn about this and makes me want to learn even more! What a wonderful thing to dedicate a book this creative and imaginative to a film-maker who first tried to bring fantasy to the big screen. As with Wonderstruck you can tell that Selznick did a ton of research when writing this book (he lists all of his references in the back). You can tell this book took a lot of time and dedication to write/draw and I enjoyed every second of it.
Overall this is just a wonderful book for all ages. Not only does the reader get help Hugo solve a magical mystery involving automatons, they get to learn more about Paris in the 1930’s, and are introduced to the movies are Georges Melies. Readers young and old alike will find this to be a beautiful, intriguing, and creative read. It’s a glimpse into the past with a bit of mystery thrown in. Highly recommended (as is Wonderstruck) to everyone. I can’t wait to see what Selznick comes up with next.