It is wonderful.
Take that overused word literally: Hugo Cabret evokes wonder. At more than 500 pages, its proportions seem Potteresque, yet it makes for quick reading because Selznick’s amazing drawings take up most of the book. While they may lack the virtuosity of Chris Van Allsburg’s work or David Wiesner’s, their slight roughness gives them urgency. The result is a captivating work of fiction that young readers with a taste for complex plots and a touch of magic — think Harry H., not Harry P. — can love.
The New York Times
Selznick's unique, visually arresting illustrated novel is transformed into an equally unique audiobook-plus-DVD presentation here. The story of 12-year-old Hugo Cabret—orphan, clockmaker's apprentice, petty thief and aspiring magician—and how a curious machine connects him with his departed father and pioneering French filmmaker Georges Méliès is full-bodied material for Woodman. The narrator dives in, reading with both a bright energy and an air of mystery—befitting the adventurous plot. Listeners will likely cotton to Woodman's affable tone and be fascinated by all the unusual elements here, including the sound-effects sequences (footsteps, train station noises) that stand in for Selznick's black-and-white illustrations, which appear like mini–silent movies in the book. Selznick himself takes over as host on the making-of style DVD, in which he divulges his love of film and his inspiration for the book, discusses (and demonstrates) his drawing technique and even performs a magic trick. The "chapters" of his interview are interspersed with excerpts from the audiobook, as he explains how the recording was a translation of both his words and pictures to sound. This inventive audio-visual hybrid will be a welcome addition to both home and classroom libraries. Ages 9-12. (Mar.)Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
VOYA - Sarah Squires
Orphaned twelve-year-old Hugo Cabret lives in a train station in Paris in 1931, managing to survive by stealing food and keeping his uncle's disappearance a secret. Hugo runs the clocks in the city for his uncle and pilfers small toy parts in the hopes of fixing an automaton that he received from his father. Eventually his plan of surviving on his own fails, and he befriends a young girl and her grandfather, who owns a toyshop in the train station. The grandfather recognizes Hugo's talent for repairing machinery and employs him at the toy store. The girl's grandfather turns out to be the famous filmmaker Georges Melies, who adopts Hugo and fosters his love for magic. Selznick's artwork in this "novel in words and pictures" is stunning. Beautiful, full-page black-and-white illustrations are interspersed throughout the book and advance the story, often in critical areas of the plot. Readers will also love the still film images that are used when the characters discuss Melies's films. The novel is loosely based on the actual French filmmaker, and the credits section at the end gives more information about Melies, films from the early movie era, and automatons. Part mystery, part feel-good drama, and part picture book for older readers, this novel will fly off the shelf simply because of its visual appeal.
Children's Literature - Heidi Hauser Green
Hugo Cabret is upset when his unusual notebook is confiscated by the owner of the wind-up toy stand at the Paris train station. When the old man says he intends to burn the notebook, Hugo is beside himself. It is, after all, the only connection he has left with his father. It is the key to a critically important mystery. Within its pages lies the reason why Hugo Cabret, recently abandoned by his uncle, continues to hide in the Paris train station, tending the clocks and hoping nobody notices him. He must get it back! So we have the beginning of the end for Hugo's life to this point…and the beginning of something more. Brian Selznick's book is a lush hybrid of a creation, a blend of novel and graphic novel that invites you to linger over each page, but also inspires a hunger to know more that keeps you turning the pages. This unforgettable work is homage to early cinema, to human curiosity, and to magic, that manages to evoke, in even the most the modern, high-tech, wired reader a sense of wonder at the splendid creations of the world in 1931.
School Library Journal
Brian Selznick's atmospheric story (Scholastic, 2007) is set in Paris in 1931. Hugo Cabret is an orphan; his father, a clockmaker, has recently died in a fire and the boy lives with his alcoholic Uncle Claude, working as his apprentice clock keeper in a bustling train station. When Hugo's uncle fails to return after a three-day absence, the boy decides it's his chance to escape the man's harsh treatment. But Hugo has nowhere to go and, after wandering the city, returns to his uncle's rooms determined to fix a mechanical figure-an automaton-that his father was restoring when he died. Hugo is convinced it will "save his life"-the figure holds a pen, and the boy believes that if he can get it working again, it will deliver a message from his father. This is just the bare outline of this multilayered story, inspired by and with references to early (French) cinema and filmmaker George Méliès, magic and magicians, and mechanical objects. Jeff Woodman's reading of the descriptive passages effectively sets the story's suspenseful tone. The book's many pages of pictorial narrative translate in the audio version into sound sequences that successfully employ the techniques of old radio plays (train whistles, footsteps reverberating through station passages, etc.). The accompanying DVD, hosted by Selznick and packed with information and images from the book, will enrich the listening experience.
Daryl GrabarekCopyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
From Selznick's ever-generative mind comes a uniquely inventive story told in text, sequential art and period photographs and film. Orphaned Hugo survives secretly in a Parisian train station (circa 1930). Obsessed with reconstructing a broken automaton, Hugo is convinced that it will write a message from his father that will save his life. Caught stealing small mechanical repair parts from the station's toy shop, Hugo's life intersects with the elderly shop owner and his goddaughter, Isabelle. The children are drawn together in solving the linked mysteries of the automaton and the identity of the artist, illusionist and pioneer filmmaker, Georges Melies, long believed dead. Discovering that Isabelle's godfather is Melies, the two resurrect his films, his reputation and assure Hugo's future. Opening with cinematic immediacy, a series of drawings immerses readers in Hugo's mysterious world. Exquisitely chosen art sequences are sometimes stopped moments, sometimes moments of intense action and emotion. The book, an homage to early filmmakers as dreammakers, is elegantly designed to resemble the flickering experience of silent film melodramas. Fade to black and cue the applause! (notes, film credits) (Fiction. 9-12)
Children's Literature - Jeanne K. Pettenati J.D.
An orphan boy named Hugo is on a mission. He lives in a Paris train station, stealing food and toys. But the toys he steals are not playthings. He needs parts for a mechanical man that he is reassembling, in the hope that he can solve a mystery left by his dead father. This goes on for some time until the old man who owns the toy booth catches Hugo stealing. Then Hugo's father's notebook, which helps him make sense of his mission, goes missing, and Hugo is bereft. Hugo and Isabelle, the old man's goddaughter, become friends and soon find a hidden connection between them. Magic, secrets, and betrayals keep this entertaining story moving swiftly. Listeners will care more and more about Hugo and Isabelle as their secrets are unraveled and the mystery of Hugo's father's invention is solved. The narrator does an excellent job of giving distinct personalities to each character; his tone and pace sets each scene just right. For example, when a shopkeeper catches Hugo stealing milk and thunders after him, enlisting help from the police, listeners will feel as if they are right there in the train station, boots pounding and heels clicking after Hugo, who is running for his life. A bonus DVD is included with the three CDs that make up this unabridged audio book. The CDs total two hours and 51 minutes of listening time. The Martin Scorsese movie Hugo, based on this book, won several Oscars at the 2012 Academy Awards. Reviewer: Jeanne K. Pettenati, J.D.