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Today, I finally "read" The Invention of Hugo Cabret, written and illustrated by Brian Selznick. The use of quotes around the word "read" is purposeful, because as anyone who's opened the book knows, at least half of the book is composed of pencil drawings (and the occasional photograph). The pictures in this book do not illustrate the text, however -- they continue it. It's not a graphic novel, it's not a picture book, it's not even a novel with illustrations. Publishers Weekly called it "an artful blending of narrative, illustration and cinematic technique, for a story as tantalizing as it is touching." I'd have to say they got it just right.

I bought this book the week it came out, only it went into the mountainous TBR pile. Two months ago, M "rescued" it and devoured it. She was so pleased that she could finish such a thick book (over 500 pages) in less than a day, but truly, text takes up significantly fewer pages than that, and where it does exist, it's in a good-sized font with a lot of white space. End result? It took me a little over an hour and twenty minutes to read the whole thing. And no, I don't speed-read. Let me just hint that the magical, cinematical quality of the book is a visual echo of the story it holds.

The story follows Hugo Cabret, son of a watchmaker, who is living inside a train station in Paris, and taking care of all the clocks. He's hoping nobody notices that his drunken uncle (the actual clock-keeper) seems to have disappeared. Hugo has lots of secrets -- not just that his uncle is missing, or that he's living alone, stealing food. He also has a secret project, one that has him resorting to stealing toys from an old man with a booth in the station.

Just as the story involves an actual key that makes things work, the identity of the old man is the true key to the book: suffice it to say that there is more to the old toymaker than initially meets the eye, and that much of the story of the old man is based in fact. Still, this is no biography, nor is it a history lesson, although it will doubtless inspire more than one child to read in both of those categories.

You can read PW's interview with Brian Selznick online.

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( 8 comments — Leave a comment )
Aug. 25th, 2007 08:16 pm (UTC)
I've been thinking about this book because I've been watching a documentary on the old man (I won't mention who since you left his identity out of your review)...very interesting, now I want to read Hugo Cabret again!
Aug. 25th, 2007 08:18 pm (UTC)
I wasn't sure how much to say, and how much to leave unsaid. In such a case, I go with unsaid. But Georges sounds like a really interesting topic -- how was the documentary?
Aug. 25th, 2007 08:32 pm (UTC)
It's good so far (it's 3 hours long so I kind of stopped in the middle)...it has a lot of his films on it, and it talks about how he came up with a lot of his special effects.
Aug. 25th, 2007 10:26 pm (UTC)
great review--i have an ARC of that book. my husband read it and liked it, but it's still on my, what did you say? TBR pile? To be read?
Aug. 25th, 2007 10:36 pm (UTC)
Yes -- To Be Read.
Sep. 1st, 2007 04:33 am (UTC)
It's a great book. The art is amazing. What's really terrific is that my kids liked it a lot too.
Sep. 1st, 2007 09:27 pm (UTC)
Mine too!
Jul. 4th, 2011 04:24 pm (UTC)
this book is amazing been loved alot by loads of peeps it is the best book i have ever read :D <3
( 8 comments — Leave a comment )

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