By Brian Selznick
Hugo Cabret is an orphan secretly living in a Paris train station where he makes sure all of the clocks run properly. Hugo has a secret that he needs to complete in order to “find” himself, but in order to do so, he must steal to get the items necessary. He is eventually caught steeling, but with the help of Isabelle and her godfather Georges, Hugo is able to complete the machine (his secret) and help uncover Georges secret as well.
Hugo recently won the Caldecott medal and might seem a bit intimidating because of its size – over 500 pages. The book is totally worth it, and the medal is well deserved. A good chunk of the story is told through pictures, which keeps the story moving right along. The text is very easy to read, and I found the story simply fascinating; it captured my imagination.
I loved the pictures in this book. I am not sure as a kid I would have liked them; they are all pencil drawings, and I was more a fan of the smooth Disney style pictures. However, the pictures are amazing and I think the pencil drawings add to the story. Disney style, smooth pictures would not have worked as well. My 11 year old brother really liked the pictures – so this might not be an issue for most kids; I didn’t have much taste or imagination as a kid.
I found the information about automatons fascinating. I had no idea that machines like that existed 100 years ago.
If the thieving is of concern to you, please don’t let it be. Hugo hates that he has to steal and mentions it several times. He also talks about how he only steals when he has to, like when there is no other food for him, or the cogs needed to finish his automaton. If he can, he takes food from the trash instead of from the store.
Overall, I highly recommend this book to kids of all ages. Because of its award winning status, it may be difficult to find at the library, but it’s worth the wait.
** The picture is of Hugo and Isabelle looking over Paris and belongs to Brian Selznick**