Book Review: The Invention of Hugo Cabret

9673436Title/Author: The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick

Genre: Juvenile Fiction, Historical Fiction, Mystery, Caldecott Winner

Published: April 1st, 2007 by Scholastic

Hardcover, 525 pages

How I Got This Book: It was given to me as a Christmas present by my in-laws a couple of years ago.

Why I Picked It Up?: I have always been interested in reading this book, and since it was assigned reading for my children’s class, I was happy to have an excuse to read it!

Book Jacket Blurb: “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–like the gears of the clocks he keeps–with an eccentric, bookish girl and a bitter old man who runs a toy booth in the train 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 spell-binding mystery.

With 284 pages of original drawings, and combining elements of picture book, graphic novel, and film, Brian Selznick breaks open the novel form to create an entirely new reading experience. Here is a stunning, cinematic tour de force from a boldly innovative storyteller, artist, and bookmaker.”


I have had this book sitting on my shelf for a couple of years, just looking for an excuse to pick it up. And then I got into my Materials and Services for Children class and IT WAS ON THE SYLLABUS! Yippee!

I honestly don’t know why I have waited so long to read this book, because it is simply a treat. A hybrid of a novel in a hybrid genre, this book is so unique in so many ways. Don’t worry, I’ll take some time to address them.

What type of book is it?: This was the question on the Caldecott committee when this book was nominated. Is it a picture book? Well, yes, because it has illustrations that help tell the story. Without them, the story would only be half told. But at the same time, this story is more than just a picture book, because there are pages and pages of chapter prose as well. It’s definitely more than an illustrated chapter book, since the pictures are so incredibly integral to the story. But it is not a graphic novel, because the illustrated pages are wordless. Thus, we have a hybrid picture novel, which is really unique and makes a VERY COOL read!

What type of story is it?: This is a historical fiction novel, as it takes place in the early 1900s. Hugo lives in a train station in Paris and has taken over his uncle’s job of taking care of the clocks while his uncle is missing. But Hugo’s secret also makes this novel Steampunk, because I feel like the technology is a little advanced for the time period. And the plot of the story is a mystery, as Hugo and his new friend Isabelle are trying to figure out Mr. Melies’ secret past. All of these genre elements integrate so beautifully to build a really entrancing story.

The Magic of the Invention: I really don’t want to spoil anything more than what I have already described. I truly feel that each and every reader who picks up this book will have their own unique magical experience while reading. The actual invention of Hugo Cabret is even bigger than you can imagine, and that only adds to the depth this novel offers. The language of the story-telling and the beautiful illustrations really make this a magical read.

The Invention of Hugo Cabret is an intricate, exciting, and magical tale. Do not be intimidated by its DAUNTING thickness. This story is a quick and easy read that will take each and every reader on a magical journey through time and movies.

My Bookshelf Rating:

4shelfA Fourth Shelf Book.

With undertones of magic and intrigue, this Caldecott winner earns its medal through the integrated use of vivid imagery to tell a wonderful story of determination and hope. I love the integration of pictures. Hugo is a brave boy who only wants to connect with his father again, and that goal takes him on a journey to find a new place to belong. I also love the integration of film history! Such a lovely story.

Love and Hybrid Novels,


5 thoughts on “Book Review: The Invention of Hugo Cabret

  1. Kailana says:

    I am glad you enjoyed this! I bought it on a whim at Costco when it first came out. I didn’t know anything about it, but it just looked so pretty! I am so happy that I did!

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