The Invention of Hugo Cabret

Here it is, the 2008 Caldecott medal winner, and it is well deserved. The Invention of Hugo Cabret is sensational! Loosely based on early 20th century French filmmaker Méliès’s life, the author combines his original drawings, historic movie stills, and imaginative ideas to tell the fictional story of Hugo Cabret, a boy who crosses paths with the reclusive filmmaker.

Orphaned after his father dies in a museum fire, 12-year-old Hugo lives in the walls of a 1930’s Paris train station, quietly keeping all the clocks running after his caretaking uncle mysteriously disappears. The story revolves around Hugo’s desperate need to repair a mechanical machine, an Automaton his father had been restoring prior to his death. He steals the little working parts he needs for this from a cantankerous toymaker, and gets busted. The man requires Hugo to make restitution by working at the toy booth, and Hugo soon suspects the toymaker as having a mysterious connection to the automaton. The author delivers with strong characters, a constant air of mystery, heart pounding chase scenes, and stunning visuals that cleverly move the story forward. And, the book will ignite the reader’s curiosity to know more both of the history of film and the works of Méliès. This book is a winner, a marvelous reading experience. If you haven’t already, put it on your must read list for this year.

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