Published by Scholastic, 2007
Hardcover, 534 pages
Genres: adventure, children's fiction, fantasy, graphic novels, historical fiction, mystery, YA
Synopsis (via Goodreads): 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.
My review: This was a fantastic introduction into the world of the author, Brian Selznick. The Invention of Hugo Cabret is highly imaginative and well executed, with a plethora of haunting illustrations to boot. The characters are very relatable and complex enough to allow the reader to get to know them better and better throughout the story's evolution, and yet simple enough that the story can be enjoyed by children and adults alike. Hugo, the main protagonist, is very likable: intelligent and loyal to the friends he makes as well as to the memory of his father. He is the kind of character who brings out the strongest maternal instincts in me, and I wanted to wrap him up in my arms and bring him home through the whole story. I particularly like Isabelle, the spunky little girl he meets early on in the narrative. She has the makings of a heroine about her and I can't say I would turn down the opportunity to read more of her adventures if the author feels so inclined to write them.
The truly unique feature about this book is, of course, the illustrations, the The Invention of Hugo Cabret being a true traditional prose/graphic novel hybrid. Each element complements the other and enhances the story in a way that would not have been possible otherwise. The fact that Mr. Selznick both wrote the narrative and drew the illustrations himself also adds a new, and wonderful, facet to the story as it is rare, outside of some picture books, for the author to convey to his audience exactly how he has envisioned the characters and their surroundings.
This book looks big at 534 relatively thick pages, but it can be read very quickly because a large proportion of those are illustrations. I would recommend this book to readers of all ages who enjoy adventure stories and graphic novels with a touch of mystery.