Tuesday Tales – The Invention of Hugo Cabret

Tuesday Tales

When I was teaching 6th grade Language Arts, I tried hard to keep up to date on books that my students were reading. Thanks to the kids, I was introduced to The Series of Unfortunate Events, Harry Potter, and even Twilight. I loved reading the books and keeping up with the latest and greatest children’s chapter books. These days, I am not as in the know, but am working on it since NHL is now 7 and being pushed to read chapter books. I know he likes to read, but the larger number of pages, smaller print, and lack of illustrations scare him. We have found some books and are working our way there since I know he is ready.

A few weeks ago, my friend Nancy (Life with My Boys) mentioned a book on her blog that caught my eye. Her mysterious review made me especially intrigued. Within the comments section, several other people raved about the book. Moments later, I went and requested the book from our local library. Going to pause here to say something quickly. Nancy – Thank you, thank you, thank you!

So, what was the book? It was. . .

The Invention of Hugo Cabret

I purposely read little about the book and just wanted to wait to read it myself.

A little about The Invention of Hugo Cabret:

ORPHAN, CLOCK KEEPER, AND THIEF, twelve-year-old 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 girl and the owner of a small 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 all come together…in The Invention of Hugo Cabret.

This 526-page book is told in both words and pictures. The Invention of Hugo Cabret is not exactly a novel, and it’s not quite a picture book, and it’s not really a graphic novel, or a flip book, or a movie, but a combination of all these things. Each picture (there are nearly three hundred pages of pictures!) takes up an entire double page spread, and the story moves forward because you turn the pages to see the next moment unfold in front of you. (From the web site on Hugo Cabret – which also has details about the upcoming movie)

The Invention of Hugo Cabret – Written and illustrated by Brian Selznick – Scholastic Books – January 2007  – ISBN78-0439813785  – 544 pages – Ages 9-12

What I thought:

As I mentioned, I knew less than I mentioned above about The Invention of Hugo Cabret before reading the book. The only item I knew was that it had won the 2008 Caldecott Medal. This made me even more intrigued since it is not typical for a book of this type to win the Caldecott Medal. If you are not familiar with the Caldecott, here is the criteria for the award (via Wikipedia):

  • The book must be published in English in the United States during the preceding year.
  • The illustrations must be original work.
  • The artist must be a citizen or resident of the United States.
  • The book must be considered for the artistic technique employed; pictorial interpretation of story; appropriateness of style of illustration to the story; delineation of plot, theme, characters, setting mood or information through the pictures; and recognition of a child audience.
  • The book must display respect for children’s understandings, abilities, and appreciations.
  • The book must be a self-contained entity, not dependent on other media for its enjoyment.

The book arrived quickly and I started reading late last week. Within two days, I had finished. I can not recall the last time that I was so engaged in a book. I literally could not put it down and wanted to go further and further into Hugo’s world to solve the mystery of the book. I loved how Selznick incorporated the illustrations and words to create a unique book experience. When you see his simple, yet detailed drawings you will understand. I know that it sounds like I am contradicting myself, but I really am not.

Like Nancy, I think I am going to be vague in my review. All I will say is that I highly recommend this book. I think adults and children will appreciate the unique mix found within this novel. For me, the historical flavor blends well with the storytelling skills of Brian Selznick. If you have read the book, there are also games and items available from Scholastic on their website.

So what have you read recently? Please be sure to link up to your Tuesday Tales and/or leave a comment below. Include something you read on your own, with a child or someone else. Tuesday Tales are all about spreading the love for books. 

** Linky coming soon. The website hosting them is down right now.


Disclosure: I took this book out of our local library compliments of our tax money. The opinions expressed in the review are my own and were in no way influenced by anything. The widget within the review is an Amazon Affiliate where I will receive a percentage of money for the sale of the books should you opt to buy the book mentioned.

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