Thursday, May 12, 2011

The Invention of Hugo Cabret - Brian Selznick

 My children have had this book on their shelves for years (a gift from the most literary Uncle Kevin) and I've been hearing about the book since I started blogging.  Part storybook, part graphic novel, even part flip-book maybe.  Why on earth I've never read it baffles me.  Maybe it was the size of the book, which is about four inches thick?  The kids both told me I could read it in two hours, so I grabbed it for Dewey's 24 Hour Readathon awhile back, and was exactly what I needed...a charming escape into a world of magic, movies and the innocence of youth.

Synopsis:  Hugo Cabret is an orphan who lives secretly in a train station's clock tower in France.  His mother and father are dead, and his uncle, the clock keeper, disappeared months ago.  Hugo understands that he must keep up appearances and maintain the clocks so the authorities don't discover his lack of parental supervision and send him to an orphanage.  This is no problem, though, because he has a gift with mechanical things.

Hugo's primary obsession is with an old automaton, which is father rescued from an old museum years ago.  The automaton, once fixed, should be able to draw something, and once Hugo figures out what that something is, he thinks it might just change his life.
   

And it does, in ways he never suspects.  Suddenly he is involved with a cranky old shopkeeper, a strange young girl, a mysterious drawing, a secret key, and the legacy of Georges Milies, a magician and famous filmmaker at the turn of the century.

Writer, illustrator and Caldecott winner Selznick was inspired to create the story of Hugo Cabret by two influences.  First was the true story of Georges Milies.  Milies was a visionary when it came to making wonderful and strange movies, like "A Trip to the Moon" (shown below), made in 1902 and was the first science fiction movie ever produced.
 













Selznick was also fascinated with automata, which were constructed by using thousands of tiny clockwork parts to make a figure move automatically, performing any number of complicated maneuvers like dancing or drawing pictures.  Watching an automaton in action is mind-blowing. No wonder Selznick's imagination went wild:




My thoughts:  Do I REALLY need to tell you what I thought?  Selznick has created what I could consider the perfect book.  It incorporates over three hundred gorgeous illustrations, and a magical story.  Then there is the history!  There is the birth of film with the works of Georges Milies and the love of old movies in general.  There is the magic of automata.  My brain was buzzing while I was reading this.  I decided that if I get rich someday, I'm buying myself an automaton.  I sat and watched video after video of them on Youtube.  To heck with the moving and talking Presidents over at Disney's Epcot, I want one of these guys. 

And it gets better.  On November 23, 2011, there will be a movie directed by Martin Scorcese and starring Johnny Depp, Ben Kingsley and Christopher Lee.  My heart is coming out of my chest.  I could cry I'm so excited.   

So set aside a couple of hours for yourself, and read this now.  You will not be disappointed.

5 out of 5 stars

16 comments:

Zibilee said...

Johnny Depp! Oh, how I thank you for sharing this information, because he is my boyfriend, you know. And also, that video of the automaton was just the coolest thing I have seen in awhile. I remember hearing you gush about this book over the book festival weekend, and at that time I made a note to put it one my wish list. I have the idea that I will not be disappointed!

JoAnn said...

A movie?? Yay!! I loved the book, too.

Carrie K. said...

Everyone in our family (except my husband) has read and LOVED this book. Your review is making me want to read it again!

Melissa (Avid Reader) said...

This book sounds amazing! I requested it from PBS a long time ago, but I may need to just buy it.

Martha@Hey, I want to read that said...

My sister and nephew found this book at a garage sale and fell in love with it. I mean really fell in love with it. I've been trying to borrow it to read and he has been hoggin' it for himself. Maybe I can bribe him into loaning it to me by promising to take him to see the movie.

farmlanebooks said...

I loved this book too! It is all so beautiful and such a lovely story. I'm not sure the movie will get close, but I am looking forward to seeing it.

Julie P. said...

Bought this one for Booking Daughter and she isn't interested. Maybe I'll send her the link to your review.

Mr. Chester said...

I'm a little sad that it will be made into a movie. This is one of those books that I love so much, I want it to always stay a book. I don't want a movie, even one that I'll love, to spoil it. The act of turning pages became a part of reading Hugo Cabret for me.

On the other hand, it is a wonderful story; one that deserves a much wider audience than it has had so far.

rhapsodyinbooks said...

I agree with your review. I had no idea a movie is coming - can't wait!!!

Trisha said...

YYYYEEEESSSSSS!!!! Okay, sorry. I just really adore this book, and I get all excited when others read it and love it too.

Kathleen said...

Wow, this sounds incredible. It's going on the list!

Jenners said...

Hmmm...could you be a little clearer about whether you like it or not? It was so subtle.

Must get soon.

C.B. James said...

Phooey! My comment was lost! It was a brilliant bit of insight that no one else has come up with, too. Oh, well......

Love this book. But I don't think I'll go to the movie. This book is one of the few I've read where the act of turning the physical page was so important. It will take some fantastic reviews to get me to see the movie.

Jenny said...

I remember you talking about howuch you lives this when we were at the UCF thing! It looks really good Nf that illustration is beautiful too. I'll hve to read this, especially before the movie comes out!

booksaremyboyfriends said...

This looks abso-freaking-lutely gorgeous. I need to find a small child to be in my life ASAtotheP so I can have an excuse to read said book. Or maybe I'll just dig down deep and find my inner child and let that be my excuse. Thanks for the heads-up on this fantastic-looking find.

Alice Teh said...

This is so interesting! And that movie! With Johnny Depp in it! I want to watch. Actually, if I didn't read this review of yours, Sandy, I would've totally overlooked it.