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The Invention of Hugo Cabret [Hardcover]

Brian Selznick
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
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Book Description

March 1 2007 Caldecott Medal Book
Orphan, clock keeper, and thief, Hugo lives in the walls of a busy Paris train station, where his survival depends on secrets and anonymity. But when his world suddenly interlocks — like the gears of the clocks he keeps — with an eccentric, bookish girl and a bitter old man who runs a toy booth in the train station, Hugo's undercover life, and his most precious secret, are put in jeopardy. A cryptic drawing, a treasured notebook, a stolen key, a mechanical man, and a hidden message from Hugo's dead father form the backbone of this intricate, tender, and spellbinding mystery.

With more than three hundred pages of original drawings, and combining elements of picture book, graphic novel, and film, Brian Selznick breaks open the novel form to create an entirely new reading experience. Here is a stunning, cinematic tour de force from a boldly innovative storyteller, artist, and bookmaker.

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From Amazon

Book Description
Orphan, clock keeper, and thief, Hugo lives in the walls of a busy Paris train station, where his survival depends on secrets and anonymity. But when his world suddenly interlocks with an eccentric, bookish girl and a bitter old man who runs a toy booth in the station, Hugo's undercover life, and his most precious secret, are put in jeopardy. A cryptic drawing, a treasured notebook, a stolen key, a mechanical man, and a hidden message from Hugo's dead father form the backbone of this intricate, tender, and spellbinding mystery.

Amazon.ca Exclusive:
A Letter from Brian Selznick

Dear readers,

When I was a kid, two of my favourite books were by an amazing man named Remy Charlip. Fortunately and Thirteen fascinated me in part because, in both books, the very act of turning the pages plays a pivotal role in telling the story. Each turn reveals something new in a way that builds on the image on the previous page. Now that I’m an illustrator myself, I’ve often thought about this dramatic storytelling device and all of its creative possibilities.

My new book, The Invention of Hugo Cabret, is a 550 page novel in words and pictures. But unlike most novels, the images in my new book don't just illustrate the story; they help tell it. I've used the lessons I learned from Remy Charlip and other masters of the picture book to create something that is not a exactly a novel, not quite a picture book, not really a graphic novel, or a flip book or a movie, but a combination of all these things.

I began thinking about this book ten years ago after seeing some of the magical films of Georges Méliès, the father of science-fiction movies. But it wasn’t until I read a book called Edison's Eve: The Quest for Mechanical Life by Gaby Woods that my story began to come into focus. I discovered that Méliès had a collection of mechanical, wind-up figures (called automata) that were donated to a museum, but which were later destroyed and thrown away. Instantly, I imagined a boy discovering these broken, rusty machines in the garbage, stealing one and attempting to fix it. At that moment, Hugo Cabret was born.

A few years ago, I had the honor of meeting Remy Charlip, and I'm proud to say that we've become friends. Last December he was asking me what I was working on, and as I was describing this book to him, I realized that Remy looks exactly like Georges Méliès. I excitedly asked him to pose as the character in my book, and fortunately, he said yes. So every time you see Méliès in The Invention of Hugo Cabret, the person you are really looking at is my dear friend Remy Charlip, who continues to inspire everyone who has the great pleasure of knowing him or seeing his work.

Paris in the 1930's, a thief, a broken machine, a strange girl, a mean old man, and the secrets that tie them all together... Welcome to The Invention of Hugo Cabret.

Brian Selznick

Amazon.ca Exclusive:

Brian Selznick on a "Deleted Scene" from The Invention of Hugo Cabret

This is a finished drawing that I had to cut from The Invention of Hugo Cabret. I was still rewriting the book when I had to begin the final art. There was originally a scene in the story where this character, Étienne, is working in a camera shop. On one of my research trips to Paris I spent an entire day visiting old camera shops and photographing cameras from the 1930's and earlier, as well as the facades of the shops themselves. I researched original French camera posters and made sure that the counter and the shelves were accurate to the time period. I did all the drawings in the book at 1/4 scale, so they were very small and I often had to use a magnifying glass to help me see what I was drawing. After I finished this drawing I continued to rewrite, and for various reasons I realized that I needed to move this scene from the camera shop to the French Film Academy, which meant that I had to cut this picture. I tried really hard to find ANOTHER moment when I could have Étienne in a camera shop, but, as painful as it was, I knew the picture had to go. I'm glad to see it up on the Amazon website because otherwise no one would have ever seen all those tiny cameras I researched and drew so carefully!
--Brian Selznick

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Here is a true masterpiece—an artful blending of narrative, illustration and cinematic technique, for a story as tantalizing as it is touching.Twelve-year-old orphan Hugo lives in the walls of a Paris train station at the turn of the 20th century, where he tends to the clocks and filches what he needs to survive. Hugo's recently deceased father, a clockmaker, worked in a museum where he discovered an automaton: a human-like figure seated at a desk, pen in hand, as if ready to deliver a message. After his father showed Hugo the robot, the boy became just as obsessed with getting the automaton to function as his father had been, and the man gave his son one of the notebooks he used to record the automaton's inner workings. The plot grows as intricate as the robot's gears and mechanisms [...] To Selznick's credit, the coincidences all feel carefully orchestrated; epiphany after epiphany occurs before the book comes to its sumptuous, glorious end. Selznick hints at the toymaker's hidden identity [...] through impressive use of meticulous charcoal drawings that grow or shrink against black backdrops, in pages-long sequences. They display the same item in increasingly tight focus or pan across scenes the way a camera might. The plot ultimately has much to do with the history of the movies, and Selznick's genius lies in his expert use of such a visual style to spotlight the role of this highly visual media. A standout achievement. Ages 9-12. (Mar.)
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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
4.6 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Ultimate Page Turner June 5 2007
By Donald Mitchell #1 HALL OF FAME TOP 50 REVIEWER
Fans of thrilling books are fond of calling them "page turners." Why? Because you can hardly wait to see what happens next. Those are the books that keep you up late at night to get to the end.

The Invention of Hugo Cabret delivers a whole new kind of pager turner, one where you not only want to see what happens next . . . but where the act of turning the page often gives you powerful glimpses into the story. How? Hand-drawn images tell a story in motion using many motion picture techniques (close-ups, fades, and pans). A sequence of images might go on for 40 pages (as the opening sequence does) before providing any dialogue. Unlike a graphic novel, there is no dialog or narration on the images. Since you don't know if the next turn of a page will reveal an image or text, you also have that extra dimension of surprise. The other difference from the traditional page turner is that this book won't take you that long to read. It's more like the duration of a motion picture than of reading a 525 page novel. So don't let the book's bulk intimidate you.

The story takes place in the early days of the Depression in Paris. Hugo Cabret is a 12-year-old boy who loses his parents and is taken in by his uncle, a timekeeper in a railway station. The uncle makes Hugo do all of the work, but won't even feed Hugo who has to turn to stealing in order to eat. When the uncle disappears, Hugo is left to fend for himself. But Hugo has a dream. He will repair an automaton (an early type of robot) that he rescued from a museum fire. Part of his thievery is aimed at taking parts from a tiny toy store in the station to help rebuild the automaton. One day Hugo is caught! That capture sets new wheels in motion that will change the lives of the key characters permanently.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful, Captivating Oct. 18 2007
By Nicola Mansfield HALL OF FAME TOP 50 REVIEWER
This is a wonderful book! It is a beautiful, captivating story. I hadn't realized beforehand that it was about a real person involved with the first movies ever made. The time period and the movie history was fascinating, the characters sweet and the story was fast paced. The book itself is also an invention of a new way of reading. Illustrations propel the story along and are used in such a unique way to show the action. Near the end of the book there is a chase scene which is told completely through pages of illustration and it is a brilliantly intense part of the story. I hope others will take the cue from the book and would really like to see more books told in this fascinating new format.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Is it in English? Sept. 3 2007
Format:Audio CD
That was the comment thrown at me by someone who randomly saw the cover of this book and thought I was reading a book in Spanish. Yes, the cover is very mysterious looking and eye catching. As a grade 3/4 English teacher, I started reading this book to see if it could be of interest as a "read aloud" to my students in grade four on the first day of school. Well,... maybe not exactly the very first day, ... but YES... I found out that it is a great book for children of that age. It is full of mysteries and darkness, but the appropriate kind where I don't feel like I need to censore any parts in order to move ahead. However, you never know if you'll end up with a student in your class whose parents don't allow them to even read Harry Potter books. I highly reccommend this book for the younger junior readers (10-11-12). The story line has a good VOICE and VISUAL EFFECTS to allow for the child's imagination to roam. Special parts where the robot (mechanical automata man) starts to pick up a pen and draw/write things down... creates a very exciting atmosphere and good "teaching moment" for creative writing.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Drawing a story. Aug. 31 2007
By maya j
I was initially drawn to The Invention of Hugo Cabret by its incredibly beautiful cover, and after checking inside, I realized it was quite a wonder of a children's book. Hugo Cabret is a celebration of a variety of artistic media, with the author infusing his writing with charcoal drawings and some very interesting still pictures taken in the early part of the 20th century. It is a lovely book to look at and hold, and we read Hugo Cabret as a family, enjoying the drawings that oftentimes told the story without any words at all; however, the actual story of Hugo Cabret seemed a bit hackneyed. The story is of a young boy living alone in a train station after his parents have died. It conjures images (and there are the drawings to support it) of a young Dickensian orphan and his hijinks, which include stealing, sneaking food and being the master of evasion. The author adds his twists to the story, incorporating shady figures, chase scenes and mysterious robot-like machines, but the story falls a bit flat, and suspenseful episodes dead-end, leaving the reader unfulfilled and wanting more. The ending is sort of anticlimactic, and although Brian Selznick's heart was in the right place conjuring up this story, the story itself is the least compelling part of the book. The drawings and photos and the way they are cast throughout the story are what redeem the book. The charcoal drawings are magnificent, yet if there had been no illustrations or images at all, the storyline of Hugo Cabret would have fizzled out and would not have been engaging enough to finish. It is fun to read out loud, and children really appreciate the images; however, it's not for every child, as very young children may be a bit frightened by some of the creepy charcoal drawings and odd photos from a time long gone. I honor Brian Selznick for his creativity in creating Hugo Cabret, and we appreciated it for its grand effort and uniqueness, but I recommend it with a few reservations.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
9 year old loved this book!
Published 10 days ago by Rachel
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing
I might be bias as a film graduate, but I absolutely loved this book. The first page asked to "picture yourselves sitting in the darkness, like the beginning of a movie"... Read more
Published 2 months ago by Book Cupid
5.0 out of 5 stars So pretty!
I loved the story, but particularly the pictures in the book. They add so much to the story and it's obvious that the author spent a lot of time making them... Read more
Published 4 months ago by Fleur
5.0 out of 5 stars Be geared up for a graphic experience
By now you know what you are about to purchase. However I am not so sure I was. I have to confess I did not know of this book until I saw the trailer for the movie. Read more
Published 11 months ago by bernie
5.0 out of 5 stars awesome
My kids have read this many many times. That must be the true gage of an awesome book!!!
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Published 12 months ago by Emily
5.0 out of 5 stars Impressed
Arrived in record time. The book was exactly what I wanted. Much easier than driving to a store to look for it!
Published 22 months ago by Catherine Munn
5.0 out of 5 stars Another World Beyond the Walls
I enjoyed this comic-book novel so much that I decided to buy a copy for my son. It is a tale that, like a never-ending story, takes the reader on a journey through time and space... Read more
Published on April 6 2012 by Ian Gordon Malcomson
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing Play of Written and Visual
This was such a fun book to read, so rich with the perfect combination of text and drawings. My eight year old son and I took turns reading this one to each other and we both loved... Read more
Published on March 4 2012 by Coreena
3.0 out of 5 stars be careful
The picture along side the product made it look like there is a paper back version of the story with the dvd but there isn't one. Not worth the price as a result.
Published on Jan. 15 2012 by sara
4.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful!
It is such a great book. I like how there are many pictures, with great detail. It has that,"comfy" feeling, except for some parts. Read more
Published on Jan. 12 2012 by Jong Uk
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