Thursday, June 7, 2007


I basically read The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznik within 28 hours, and that was not because I was having one of my Harry-Potteresque blindness-inducing marathons. It's 550 pages, but many of those are only pictures, and some pages have very little text on them. The artwork is spectacular. Selznik has filled the book with his dusky pen and ink drawings as well as old photographs and still shots from early silent films. Much of the action is conveyed wordlessly via his drawings. It's a fairly simple but affecting story about a boy, Hugo, who lives in the Paris train station and secretly takes care of the clocks there. He is something of a mechanical genius and is trying to reconstruct an automaton that his father (a clockmaker) discovered before he died.

Selznik includes some historic characters in his novel, and I was fascinated to read in his afterword more about magicians, filmmakers, and machines from the early 20th century. Selznik actually found an old automaton in a Philadelphia museum that could write multiple messages and draw a number of pictures, as well as sign its creator's name to them, so you'll be surprised how much of this seemingly fantastical tale is true to life. This story is great for children but adults will appreciate it equally.

No comments: