The Invention of Hugo Cabret is very special. It is unlike any other children’s book I’ve read. Selznick masterfully intertwines illustration with words to create a captivating story. When I first opened this book with my son years ago, I was amazed by the illustrations. As my son and I turned the pages, he was completely taken in by the story, as was I.
This year, I had a student who was reading easy chapter books. As a very bright fifth grader, I knew he needed to challenge himself with more difficult books. I suggested this book and watched as it opened up the world of literature for this child. He devoured the book in two days, brought it back and checked out Wonderstruck, Brian Selznick’s next book. These two books led him to explore many different books in my library. I was amazed at this student’s transformation from a child who liked books to a child who became an insatiable reader.
Hugo is an orphan, living in a train station in Paris. Hugo’s father and his uncle had a talent for fixing mechanical things, particularly clocks and taught Hugo their trade. After Hugo’s uncle passes away, Hugo hides in the train station in his uncle’s old apartment, maintaining the station clocks in order to fool the station master into believing his uncle is still alive. But, Hugo has an even bigger secret. Before he died, Hugo’s father was trying to repair a mechanical man that he and Hugo believed would draw a picture or write a message once he was repaired and able to write again. Hugo’s one wish is to complete his father’s work and read the mechanical man’s message. This endeavor leads Hugo to meet new friends and unravel more than the mystery of the message, but the mystery of of the mechanical man and his inventor.
This book won the 2008 Caldecott Medal and is unique and memorable. It’s perfect for tweens, middle school students and adults. Don’t miss it.