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Friday, November 19, 2010

The Invention of HUGO CABRET

I am consistently amazed by how much my wife and my son are alike.  Sometimes I think my son and I have nothing in common.  He likes action figures.  He likes comic books.  He's got a super-hero complex.  The only reason he likes Legos is to play with the final product--nothing to do with the joy of building.  I liked to draw.  He likes to color.  I play the drums.  He prefers to sing (or his version of singing, and only themes from Star Wars, Indiana Jones, Iron Man, etcetera).  How great it was then when my sister came along for a visit over the weekend of my brother's wedding and dropped off, "for you and Jacob to read together," she said, The Invention of Hugo Cabret, by Brian Selznick.  Jacob and I both sunk our teeth into it, and, for us, devoured it in near record time (about five sittings of an hour or so each).

The story is that of Hugo Cabret (duh), adolescent time-keeper and local thief, clandestine both, for a train station in Paris.  An inventor he is, which talent he inherited from his dead father, which he maintains through repair work on a discovered magician's automaton, which subsequently, he believes, will reveal some final words of wisdom or life-answers from his father; the automaton was originally discovered by his father, who began its repair and left it to Hugo upon his death.

As Hugo, via parts stolen from a train station toy shop, finalizes the repairs on the automaton, the book starts weaving into its plot the early history of cinema, which becomes the primary subject of the book, and the hook of its mystery.

The things most attractive to my boy: the fantastic illustrations, blended with stills from old movies, but mostly the action and mystery.  The story is great for the action and mystery.  He loved it.  I loved.

The things I liked best: the same.  And the early cinema history was really cool, too.  (Woo-hoo!  Something in common!)

Two thumbs up from each of us.

As far as the old movies go, check out Georges Melies, and his most famous flick, A Trip to the Moon.  Even after all the adventure and intrigue of the read, the culminating moment for Jacob and me, and here my daughter joined us, and with slightly more fervor than for the actual reaing (though she did like the pictures), came after having finished the book.  We found A Trip to the Moon on youtube.  (And I never thought I'd say this:) heaven bless the youtube!


  1. i'm so glad you enjoyed the book! i did too. and your review--very well-written, of course.

  2. Don't you wish you had an accent like the narrator's?

  3. Hmm. There wasn't supposed to be a narrator. I didn't re-watch. I thought they were the same that we watched on youtube....

  4. Narrator with a heavy French accent. It is lovable.

  5. Oo -- maybe it's Melies himself! The book claims he's still ALIVE.

  6. Just looked it up, and it is him. Don't know when your book was written, but he died in 1938. lol

  7. The book takes places in the earlier 20th, so it's alright, I think. Cool that it's really Melies. Now I really do need to watch it again.


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