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The Invention of Hugo Cabret Hardcover – January 30, 2007
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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.
A Letter from Brian Selznick
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.
More from Brian Selznick
The Boy of a Thousand Faces
From Publishers Weekly
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Top Customer Reviews
Without Hugo Cabret, none of the clocks in the magnificent Paris train station he lives in would work. Though he's only a kid, Hugo tends to the clocks every day. But there's something even more important in the boy's life than gigantic mechanics. Hugo owns a complex automaton, once his father's, that was damaged in a fire and it is his life's goal to make the little machine work again. To do so, he's been stealing small toys from an old shopkeeper in the station. One day the man catches Hugo in the act, and suddenly the two are thrown together. Coincidences, puzzles, lost keys, and a mystery from the past combine in this complex tale of old and new.Read more ›
Hugo is a 12-year-old boy strapped with responsibility beyond that which a child should have to shoulder. After his uncle--a hopeless drunk in charge of tending the station's clocks--disappears, Hugo takes it upon himself to maintain the clocks in hopes that his uncle won't be missed and he can keep his dwelling and enjoy the freedom of coming and going, living within the walls, and repairing an artifact cherished by both Hugo and his late father. The artifact at the center of the tale is a forgotten automaton discovered among the dust and rot of a museum storage room. It is a mechanical man, pen in hand, poised to deliver a message; Hugo feels certain that if he can repair the automaton by using his late father's notes, the mechanical man will write a message from beyond the grave. Hugo resorts to stealing toys from the toy booth in the train station, and soon finds himself working off his debt to the shopkeeper, a man with secrets of his own. What follows involves a stolen notebook, an oddly familiar drawing, unlikely friends, the magic of silent film, and a giant in cinema, Georges Melies (the most recognizable of his films being A Trip to the Moon or Le Voyage dans la Lune, 1902).Read more ›
The story lives up to the promise of the packaging. It is immediately engaging and ultimately touching. Hugo is the orphaned son of a clock-maker, living in the walls behind a Parisian train station, maintaining the station's clocks, stealing bread and milk to survive, stealing nuts, bolts, and gears to complete a project his father was working on when he died. His secret existence is threatened as his life becomes entwined with a bitter, old man and a bookish young girl. It's part graphic novel, part mystery, part coming-of-age. There are echoes of Pinocchio but with a twist as here it is a lonely boy building an automaton father figure.
This is a timeless book about, among other things, time. This is a book for the ages, and a book for all ages. The story, the artwork, the writing style, the overall design, all first rate parts of a greater whole, like the precisely crafted mechanism of a fine Swiss clock.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
The Invention of Hugo Cabret is the basis for the Martin Scorsese film "Hugo." I saw the movie first and then read this book. Read morePublished 11 days ago by Nancy A
I like how the story and pictures are woven together, but the story was rather dull, in my opinion. My kids liked it okay, but wouldn't recommend it to anyone.Published 19 days ago by Dr. T.
Maybe the best book ever and not only for kid... the combination drawings and story is a masterpiece. Very well written and keeps you on your toes until the end. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Auriolette
Amazing books and video. We bought three sets for grandchildren and they love them almost as much as their parents!Published 1 month ago by Pat Murray
I enjoyed this book a lot. Having seen the movie "Hugo", I knew the story although some changes were made. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Aunt Dot