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The Invention of Hugo Cabret
by Brian Selznick

Published: 2007-01-30
Hardcover : 533 pages
2 members reading this now
9 clubs reading this now
5 members have read this book
Recommended to book clubs by 2 of 3 members
Orphan, clock keeper, and thief, 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, bookish girl and a bitter old man who runs a toy booth in the station, Hugo's undercover life, ...
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Introduction

Orphan, clock keeper, and thief, 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, bookish girl and a bitter old man who runs a toy booth in the 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 from Hugo's dead father form the backbone of this intricate, tender, and spellbinding mystery.

Editorial Review

Book Description:
Orphan, clock keeper, and thief, 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, bookish girl and a bitter old man who runs a toy booth in the 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 from Hugo's dead father form the backbone of this intricate, tender, and spellbinding mystery.


Amazon.com Exclusive

A Letter from Brian Selznick

Dear readers,

When I was a kid, two of my favorite books were by an amazing man named Remy Charlip. Fortunately and Thirteen fascinated me in part because, in both books, the very act of turning the pages plays a pivotal role in telling the story. Each turn reveals something new in a way that builds on the image on the previous page. Now that I’m an illustrator myself, I’ve often thought about this dramatic storytelling device and all of its creative possibilities.

My new book, The Invention of Hugo Cabret, is a 550 page novel in words and pictures. But unlike most novels, the images in my new book don't just illustrate the story; they help tell it. I've used the lessons I learned from Remy Charlip and other masters of the picture book to create something that is not a exactly a novel, not quite a picture book, not really a graphic novel, or a flip book or a movie, but a combination of all these things.

I began thinking about this book ten years ago after seeing some of the magical films of Georges Méliès, the father of science-fiction movies. But it wasn’t until I read a book called Edison's Eve: The Quest for Mechanical Life by Gaby Woods that my story began to come into focus. I discovered that Méliès had a collection of mechanical, wind-up figures (called automata) that were donated to a museum, but which were later destroyed and thrown away. Instantly, I imagined a boy discovering these broken, rusty machines in the garbage, stealing one and attempting to fix it. At that moment, Hugo Cabret was born.

A few years ago, I had the honor of meeting Remy Charlip, and I'm proud to say that we've become friends. Last December he was asking me what I was working on, and as I was describing this book to him, I realized that Remy looks exactly like Georges Méliès. I excitedly asked him to pose as the character in my book, and fortunately, he said yes. So every time you see Méliès in The Invention of Hugo Cabret, the person you are really looking at is my dear friend Remy Charlip, who continues to inspire everyone who has the great pleasure of knowing him or seeing his work.

Paris in the 1930's, a thief, a broken machine, a strange girl, a mean old man, and the secrets that tie them all together... Welcome to The Invention of Hugo Cabret.

Yours,

Brian Selznick




Amazon.com Exclusive

Brian Selznick on a "Deleted Scene" from The Invention of Hugo Cabret

This is a finished drawing that I had to cut from The Invention of Hugo Cabret. I was still rewriting the book when I had to begin the final art. There was originally a scene in the story where this character, Etienne, is working in a camera shop. On one of my research trips to Paris I spent an entire day visiting old camera shops and photographing cameras from the 1930's and earlier, as well as the facades of the shops themselves. I researched original French camera posters and made sure that the counter and the shelves were accurate to the time period. I did all the drawings in the book at 1/4 scale, so they were very small and I often had to use a magnifying glass to help me see what I was drawing. After I finished this drawing I continued to rewrite, and for various reasons I realized that I needed to move this scene from the camera shop to the French Film Academy, which meant that I had to cut this picture. I tried really hard to find ANOTHER moment when I could have Etienne in a camera shop, but, as painful as it was, I knew the picture had to go. I'm glad to see it up on the Amazon website because otherwise no one would have ever seen all those tiny cameras I researched and drew so carefully!

--Brian Selznick


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Excerpt

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Discussion Questions

Suggested by Members

The author does not use color in any of his drawings in this book. What are some reasons why he might have done this? If the drawings were in color, how would that have changed the tone of the book?
How did the mixture of words and pictures affect the pacing of the story? Did the pictures flow seamlessly into the paragraphs and vice versa? Was the pacing steady or did it rush or lag in places where it shouldn’t have?
This book has also been produced in an audiobook format, with sound effects in place of pictures. Do you think reading the audiobook version instead of the novel would have changed your enjoyment of the story?
by [email protected] (see profile) 09/04/16

Discuss how the book is similar to and different from a silent film.
Discuss the use of historical figures in children's books versus books written for adults.
Did Hugo have other options? Why did he maintain such a high level of secrecy?
by barblibrarian (see profile) 06/29/14

Notes From the Author to the Bookclub

No notes at this time.

Book Club Recommendations

Watch the movie
by [email protected] (see profile) 09/04/16
You could watch the movie and compare the book to it.
Watch silent films prior to discussion.
by barblibrarian (see profile) 06/29/14
If possible, find one of the earliest silent films to watch prior to discussing the Invention of Hugo Cabret. Of particular interest would be the first film - Train Arriving at a Station. Or, Georges Melies Trip to the Moon.

Member Reviews

Overall rating:
 
 
  "The Invention of Hugo Cabret"by barblibrarian (see profile) 06/29/14

We have intentionally been selecting children's books for our last few book club meetings. This title won a Caldecott award for illustration. I felt the story was interesting, the concept unique, and... (read more)

 
  "The Invention of Hugo Cabret"by kdangle17 (see profile) 03/12/12

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