The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick

Published: April 1st 2007
Goodreads badgePublisher: Scholastic
Pages: 525
Format: Book
Genre: Junior Fiction
★   ★   ★   ★   ★ – 5 stars

Half sketches create a story in pictures too, relevant history. Real last-century French pioneer filmmaker Georges Méliès collected mechanical robot-like automata, and, impoverished, worked at a toy booth in a Paris railway station. Here, orphan Hugo fixes his late father’s automata, and meets Méliès through his god-daughter Isabelle.

There are not enough ways and words I can use to tell you all how much I adored this book. It is absolutely spectacular. Do not let the 525 pages frighten you off. It is a fairly quick read, the writing takes up little space on the page and a lot of the story is told in stunning black and white sketches.

This is the story of Hugo Cabret, a young boy living in the walls of a train station who discovers a secret. I will not ruin anything else and I will hint at nothing. This book is touching and heart warming, it is I’m assuming fiction wrapped in an element of reality because a lot of what is mentioned is very true, but the surrounding story is not.

Selznick’s characters are wonderful, even when they appear not to be. They play their parts very well and they are as real and believable as any living person. The actions of this young boy, the adults in the station, everyone who we see in this book you understand completely even before you realise why you do. Children are children and adults try their best at being adults. Secrets and hidden information do not make these characters less real. As soon as Selznick introduces a character you somehow manage to see their entire selves in the small space they are given. Anything else revealed after that only adds more and makes the story even greater and more moving.

What this story does is it draws you into this world, you see everything so clearly even without the help of the pictures. The part truth it tells makes it sorrowful at times but remarkable and fascinating at the same time. Anything based on true stories always makes me that much more involved emotionally because the events were real and did manage to change or impact someone’s life, but even these truths mixed with fiction is enough to get caught up and teary eyed at what Selznick is trying to portray.

Yes I know there was a movie, but read this book, if not first then read it after. They are so close so you won’t have to choose which one was better but this book offers just as much as the movie does if not more. There are pictures, there is writing, there are sketches and photographs, it is everything. What Selznick does is he uses these pictures to tell the story. As I say, don’t be scared of the 525 pages. There are one hundred and fifty eight different pictures and twenty six thousand and fifty nine words and every single one tells this story. Don’t ask me how I know, read the book and you’ll find out.

Top Five of 2012

As I wrote that heading I felt a little disappointed it couldn’t be Top Five 2005 just so I could get it to rhyme. Ah the things I think of. Anyway, I thought since we are still establishing ourselves, and being the new year and all, I would do a list of my favourite books of last year. These were the kinds of books that were completely unexpected. They managed to get me excited, engaged, emotional and some were extremely heartwarming, unexpectedly so too I might add. I have only picked five because I think ten takes away the beauty and the purpose because really, ten is more for ‘Top Authors’ or ‘Favourite Characters’ something that can have multiple entrants that don’t really matter where they’re placed. I say that knowing it is undoubtedly untrue and when I can think of ten Favourite Characters I adore I’ll probably make my own list. But we can’t let facts and truth get in the way of my point.

Let’s do this from 5 to 1 shall we.

5. The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick

I will say that seeing the 2011 film of the same name made me want to read this book. I was a little taken back by the thickness but as soon as I turned to page one it didn’t matter. The beauty of the book was echoed in the film if that is any indication to go by.

4. The Tale of Despereaux by Kate DiCamillo

Straight off the bat, please do not judge this book by its movie. I beg you. I found this book and picked it because I thought the title looked familiar. Once I had finished and fell in love with it I searched and found the movie. I only got past a few seconds of the trailer before I turned it off. This book has such heart and soul entwined into it I knew the movie was not going to show that at all. And despite DiCamillo not making the list again I insist you read her other books as well, they are just as touching I promise.

3. The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde

I had this book recommended to me by a friend and I am so glad that she did. This book was filled with humour, with intrigue, it shows a side to reading and to literature I have never even thought about before. It became great inspiration for some story ideas certainly. I had not come across something like this before and now I will admit I am addicted to Fforde and his writing, and whatever series he dangles in front of me to read.

2. The Library of Shadows by Mikkel Birkegaard

This was another chance discovery that paid off. I have discovered anything with Book or Library in the title is going on my to read list. This one certainly did not disappoint. I had not read anything like this before and I have to say it has me searching out more crime/thriller type novels. It is not heavy with detail and deep with the mystery but it does keep you guessing and it was definitely one I could not put down; I lugged it everywhere until I had finished.

1. The Book of Lost Things by John Connolly

I am extremely aware that I have not shut up about this book since I finished it. I apologise to everyone who has had to listen to me gush about this book but it was 100% worth it. I was so enthralled and moved and overwhelmed by this book as soon as I had finished I wrote to Mr Connolly telling him how fantastic I found his book. I implore you all to find this book and read it. Once again I found it on a fluke in the library and I am unbelievably glad I did. I am now on a hunt to track down his other titles from the very beginning including his Charlie Parker series. Fingers crossed they are just as brilliant.