"...this is Hugo Cabret. His head is full of secrets, and he's waiting for his story to begin."
Wow. I hope that I can make this post as coherent and directive as possible, because I have so many wonderful things to say about this historical fiction novel!
Let's start with the plot: we meet Hugo Cabret at the onset of the story, set in Paris in 1931. Hugo's lot is curious; a boy of just 12 years old, Hugo is an orphan who spends his days winding the clocks of the train station and stealing tiny mechanical pieces from an elderly man's toy stand across the street. The reader is drawn in to Hugo's amazing story and the unlikely connections between his most prized invention and the magician who imagined its creation. I found the twists, turns, and unraveling mysteries of the story impressively creative and wonderfully moving.
Selznick reveals the mysteries of Hugo's story in equal parts of text and series of intricate, hand-drawn black and white sketches. As you begin the first chapter, you are led from a lunar scene, to a drawing of the moon over the city of Paris, all the way down to the small boy sneaking in between the walls of a Paris train station. I slowly flipped through the first series of sketches and I was instantly hooked on this novel. Selznick knows just the right moments to show the progression of action as opposed to describing everything in great detail; he wastes no print on scenes that are better revealed visually, and it creates a suspenseful, emotional connection between the reader and the story.
For fear of giving away too much and robbing you of experiencing this book with a fresh, unblemished perspective, I will not go into detail about the historical elements of Selznick's story. It kills me to leave it out (it is my favorite aspect of the story), but I will refrain from describing it. Just know that it will blow your mind. Read the book and let's talk about it :)
5Q Incredibly original and well-written prose; well deserving of the Caldecott Medal
4P I think the story will draw Middle School and YA readers in, but reluctant readers may need a little budge to pick it up at first