The Invention of Hugo Cabret
I have a ‘to read’ pile of books that could be stacked up to create a ladder to the moon. I once tried to visit the moon this way, but was distracted by a Charles Dickens book somewhere around the ozone layer, and turned back.
One of the books in this pile, that I have now just finished, is The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick. Martin Scorsese has made a film version of the book, titled Hugo, and this is the reason I read the book now – I much prefer to read books before their movie adaptations come out because otherwise you are stuck with the images from the film in your head. I am so happy I do this because even though I’ve heard the movie is really good, it could never be as beautiful as this book.
The design of the book alone is reason enough to buy it – the book (a solid 530 page brick) features stunning layouts on black paper and has 284 pages of drawings that in places take over the narrative. It is not a picture book, it is not a novel, it is not even a graphic novel, it is sort of a hybrid between all three, and also a little bit like watching a silent movie. Also, don’t be intimidated by the size because with all the pictures, it really does fly by.
Of course none of this would matter so much except that it has this wonderful story, set in the exotic world of early 20th century Paris. It is both magical, adventurous, yet also very real and touching. I am also a sucker for a story about an orphan. As is my custom, I won’t mention anything about the plot, because you should read it and find out for yourself what it is about, but I can highly recommend it for ages 9 and up.
Don’t just see the movie, get thee to a bookshop or library now!