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The Invention of Hugo Cabret
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The Invention of Hugo Cabret

4.6 244
by Brian Selznick

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2008 Caldecott Medal winner

The groundbreaking debut novel from bookmaking pioneer, Brian Selznick!

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


2008 Caldecott Medal winner

The groundbreaking debut novel from bookmaking pioneer, Brian Selznick!

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 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.

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 and artist.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

Awards and Praise for The Invention of Hugo Cabret:

2008 Caldecott Medal winner
National Book Award Finalist
#1 New York Times Bestseller
New York Times Best Illustrated Book
Los Angeles Times Favorite Children's Book of the Year
TIME Magazine's 100 Best Children's and Young Adult Books of All Time

“It's wonderful. Take that overused word literally: Hugo Cabret evokes wonder.”--New York Times Book Review

“Evokes wonder . . . like a silent film on paper.” --The New York Times

“A fast-paced treat.” --People Magazine

“Distinctive.”--The Wall Street Journal

“Cinematic.”--Parenting Magazine

“Captivating.”--Los Angeles Times Book Review

“If your kid loves the J.K. Rowling series, then [they are] bound to enjoyThe Invention of Hugo Cabret. . .”--Good Housekeeping

*“A true masterpiece.”--Publishers Weekly, starred review

*“Fade to black and cue the applause!”--Kirkus, starred review

*“Complete genius.”--Horn Book, starred review

*“Breathtaking . . . shatters conventions.”-- School Library Journal, starred review

*“An original and creative integration of art and text.”--The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, starred review

“Visually stunning . . . raises the bar.” --San Antonio Express-News

Orphan Hugo Cabret lives in a wall. His secret home is etched out in the crevices of a busy Paris train station. Part-time clock keeper, part-time thief, he leads a life of quiet routine until he gets involved with an eccentric, bookish young girl and an angry old man who runs a toy booth in the station. The Invention of Hugo Cabret unfolds its cryptic, magical story in a format that blends elements of picture book, novel, graphic novel, and film. Caldecott Honor-winning author-illustrator Brian Selznick has fashioned an intricate puzzle story that binds the reader like a mesmerist's spell.
John Schwartz
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
Publishers Weekly

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

Gr 3-6
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.

Kirkus Reviews
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.

Product Details

Scholastic, Inc.
Publication date:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.90(w) x 8.40(h) x 2.00(d)
820L (what's this?)
Age Range:
8 - 12 Years

Meet the Author

Brian Selznick is the Caldecott Medal–winning author and illustrator of the #1 New York Times bestsellers Wonderstruck and The Invention of Hugo Cabret, which was adapted into Martin Scorsese’s Oscar-winning movie Hugo. His latest book, The Marvels (September 2015), has already received numerous starred reviews and been hailed by the Huffington Post as “a gorgeous work of art.” Selznick’s books have garnered accolades worldwide and have been translated into over thirty-five languages. He has also worked as a set designer and a puppeteer. He lives in San Diego, California, and Brooklyn, New York.

Brief Biography

Brooklyn, New York, and San Diego, California
Date of Birth:
July 14, 1966
Place of Birth:
New Jersey
Rhode Island School of Design

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The Invention of Hugo Cabret 4.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 244 reviews.
Balina More than 1 year ago
this book is amazing. I couldn't put it down and was captivated. will buy more
Book-Worm_x3 More than 1 year ago
I immensely enjoyed this book. I promise that you'll find yourself engaged in the story. It was really captivating. If you think it starts out slow or is confusing in the beginning, keep on reading! The story just gets better and better, with one suspenseful moment after another. The drawings in the book are absolutely MASTERPIECES. They really help you picture the story. I think that Brian Selznick has a very creative, imaginative mind for thinking up this story and making its illustrations. FIVE STARS! A GREAT READ! HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!
CRESTeacher More than 1 year ago
This book was our school-wide (elementary) selection for January's Reading Month. This amazing book was enjoyed by children from first through fifth grade - as well as their teachers and the staff who heard all the buzz and wanted to read it for themselves.

The book itself crosses the genres of graphic novel and historical fiction. The author/illustrator does an amazing job of actually telling the story with pictures as well as text - not nearly having pictures that visual text for you. And the intricacies of his drawings are exquisite. (I've used a document camera, so my students can get the full feel of each stroke).

The book is captivating. The series of unknowns keep you glued to the book wanting and waiting for answers. The complexity of the characters, the historical realism, the wonderment of little-known automatons, and the ability to have the reader feel each and every one of Hugo's emotions makes this book a journey worth taking. My students even asked me to read it in place of recess!!!

The book is an easy and fairly quick read - almost half of its 584 pages are drawings. It lends itself to curious discussions, predictions, and text connections. There are even automaton paper models available online that go along with the story. I plan on sharing this book in the coming years with each new group of students. And I look forward to their enjoyment and wonderment.
SJKessel More than 1 year ago
Selznick, B. (2007). The Invention of Hugo Cabret. New York: Scholastic Press. 0439813786 This Caldecott winner redefined what a picturebook is. Over five hundred pages long, The Invention of Hugo Cabret interweaves illustrations and text to create deeper meaning, many deeper meanings. Set in Paris in the 1930s, Hugo Cabret is an orphan living in the walls of the city's train station, winding the clocks after his alcoholic uncle has disappeared. Involving magicians, silent films, dreams, trains, imagination and family, this books seeks to show the interconnections among various objects and people to create meaning and a fabulous invention. While working in a museum, Hugo's father, also a watchmaker, had discovered a mechanical man that a magician would have used to impress audiences in a show. The watchmaker becomes obsessed with trying to repair the machine. After his father dies in a fire, Hugo is taken in by his uncle and decides to take up his father's work on the mechanical man, guided only by his father's old notebook. That is, until the notebook is taken by an angry old shop owner in the train station. Having caught Hugo stealing mechanical parts, the old man takes the notebook from Hugo. To regain it, Hugo must partner with the goddaughter of the old man. The book is split into two parts, in similar fashion to how some older movies contained two acts. I have read this book three times. Each rereading has revealed more connections among the various elements of the text. Despite this, it is the presence of the illustrations that make this story extraordinary. Activities to do with the book: This is a wonderful book to share with students to encourage them to seek connections and make meaning of the text. Since the book is so huge, but also consists of so many illustrations and pages only half-filled by text, it can bolster young or struggling readers' confidence in their ability to read. This book could be used to trigger lessons about Western culture in the 1930s. Students could research the history of movies, trains, magic shows, and even the rise of the Nazi party. Favorite Quotes: "I want you to picture yourself sitting in the darkness, like the beginning of a movie. On screen, the sun will soon rise, and you will find yourself zooming toward a train station in the middle of the city" (Introduction). "But another story begins, because stories lead to other stories, and this one leads all the way to the moon" (p. 255). "If you've ever wondered where your dreams come from when you go to sleep at night, just look around. This is where they are made" (387). For more of my reviews, visit sjkessel.blogspot.com.
livie_loo95 More than 1 year ago
I cam upon this book at my school when I was in the Newberry Club. It seemed rather big and I had never read or experienced a book of this size. So I checked it out and started reading it.
I first noticed the beatifuly detailed pictures that were inside. I al descovered that their was at least 2 to 5 pages of reading, than 1 or 3 pages of pictures to show the story in sequence instead of words.
As I read through the book I oved how Hugo had taken responsibly for the cocks in the train station, since his uncle who had been taking care of him due to a fatal fire that toook his parnts away had misterously vanished.
As I read about how Hugo dealed with life and responsiblites about the train station, I occured to me that this was a wonderfull book and awsome for teaching kids not steal or how life was for less unfourntant people.
It was also neat to lean how Hugos dad- a magic man and invtor had left a machine for hugo to try and fix that would soon become the center of Hugos life and what he did to finish it!
You must read this book!
hugocabretreader More than 1 year ago
This book is the BEST BOOK EVER!!!! I LOVE IT! I can't stop reading it! This book is for people who like to read books with a big mystery. You also don't know what is going to happen next! Like it doesn't give you any little hints! It also has alot of illustrations. You have to look at the pictures in order to understand the book! I recomend this book to people who are about 10-15! I'm 12 and I love it!
ChrisNgov More than 1 year ago
The Invention of Hugo Cabret is a great book. My favorite chapter in it was the last one, in which Hugo, the main character of the book tells us about his invention, soon to find that the invention itself is the book. What the author did in the book that I found interesting was the use of many pictures, which helps me visualize the story going on more. I liked everything about the book, and would only suggest to the author that he make a continuation of the book. I really liked this book, because it was the first book I have ever read that was this long, but surprisingly I finished it in 2 weeks, which for me is amazing. The age group I would recommend this book to would be for young teens.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The Invention of Hugo Cabret: A Novel in Words and Pictures By: Brian Selznick. I personally loved this book because it was an amazingly mysterious and adventurous book and I can&rsquo;t see why anyone wouldn&rsquo;t like it. In this book the main character is Hugo Cabret. This 12-year old boy is an orphan who is also a part-time clocksmith in a train station. Hugo is infatuated with the continuation of building his and automaton that his father was building before he passed away. As a summary this book is simply the book is simply about a boy who continues to build on an automaton that he believes when he completes the task of building it that it will reveal a message from his deceased father. I really didn&rsquo;t have a favorite part in this book because I enjoyed every part of the book equally. I absolutely loved this book and I still do. I recommend this book to anyone who likes drawings and pictures because, Brian Selznick&rsquo;s pictures are very vivid, detailed, and descriptive. This was a very exciting book. It was also an excellent book and I would love to read it again. To me the theme of this book is never give up on what you believe in.  Mr. Brian Selznick definitely deserves this Caldecott Medal. 
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The Invention of Hugo Cabret is a wonderful book full of many detail filled pages of pictures which make up almost half the book. The mix of pictures and text that describe the story were portrayed excellently. This book may be confusing at times but eventually everything will come to one single conclusion which will satisfy your needs. I love the way the pictures zoom in as you flip through them revealing the suspense of the scene before your eyes. Overall this book is a must read and I recommend reading it with a partner. I find this book one of the most creative ones I have ever seen and it deserves all the positive feedback.
Captain-Wonder-Bread More than 1 year ago
I truly enjoy this book. I&rsquo;ll tell you that if you read it you will truly be amazed. At first you might think it&rsquo;s confusing but it gets better and better as you go on. It&rsquo;s about a boy who is an orphan and a thief; he has to keep up with the clocks in the train station. Later he meets a girl who loves books. So one day the girl gets Hugo to read his first book ever! Then he works for the girls grandpa .I&rsquo;m not going to give much detail because I don&rsquo;t want to spoil the ending. The author is the best drawler ever he has a creative mind, and I thank him for creating a wonderful book I give this book two thumbs up. It&rsquo;s the BEST BOOK I EVER READ!!!!!!!!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Many people in my school are drawn to this book because it is "easy" and has a lot of pictures. If this is so when you first looked at this book , think again! This book has one suspenseful moment after another! All of the illustrations are absolutely fantastic! I'd recommend this book to anyone who likes suspense and an action-packed, pleasant story with a boy of an interesting personality! This is a 5 star must-read for anyone for ages 10 and up!
AnonymousBK More than 1 year ago
Brian Selznick¿s novel The Invention of Hugo Cabret is filled with sadness, and exciting adventure. This great book is about a little boy named Hugo Cabret. Shortly after losing his father Hugo has to live with his uncle at a Paris train station, where he new home lye within the walls. His uncle works on trains during the day. One day when Hugo¿s uncle doesn¿t arrive home, Hugo finds out he won¿t be coming home for ¿awhile¿. Later that night Hugo finds one of his father¿s inventions in a box. But he can¿t seem to figure out what it does. This suspicion leads Hugo on his great journey to finding out what this creation¿s function is. After finding the invention Hugo, stared at it all night, but he still couldn¿t figure out what it does. The next morning Hugo goes to the library and meets a little girl. They talk and become close friends. Hugo looks for ways to activate the invention. He finally gets the man¿s arm to move, and it begins to sketch him a picture. Hugo believed that it would leave him a message from his dad, but what it turned out to be wasn¿t what he expected at all. I truly believe that book really did make its goal, and it kept me wanting more. It met its goal because it had very good description, events, and very interesting characters. I really never wanted to put it down; I constantly had that book in my hand. Towards the end of the book Hugo and his new friend find out what Hugo¿s father¿s creation did, but they don¿t really understand why it does what it does. The invention leaves him and the reader with many questions like: why did his father make this, did it really leave him some kind of message or did the picture have to do with his uncle¿s disappearance? This book had me asking all kinds of questions, but I really enjoyed this book. Overall this book really surprised me, because it has a lot of pictures so I didn¿t think it would turn out as good as it did. In my opinion this is a really good interesting book, and anyone should read it. This book was one of my favorites, and I recommend this to anyone that loves adventure, and mystery.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
My daughter checked this book out in the library and loved it so we bought it for her. I also loved reading the book, very artistic!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
THe use of beautiful illustrations to advance this story is unique and wonderful --the illustrations are literally part of the text. 8 and 10 year old grandchildren both enjoy the book immensely - well deserving of it's Caldecott medal.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
My daughter started reading this at school. When she saw it in our local B&N, she begged for it like I've never her seen before. She has read and re-read the book at least 5 times already and loves the drawings. The "librarian" at the store also raved about the book and told us how wonderful a selection it is. Enjoy.
Anonemous1 More than 1 year ago
If you enjoy reading fascinating and unique novels, then The Invention of Hugo Cabret is a great read for you! This novel is completely different than any other book you've ever read! I enjoyed The Invention of Hugo Cabret mostly because of its extravagant illustrations. The great storyline of this book hooked me into reading the whole day! Two factors in The Invention of Hugo Cabret that also make it interesting are that it is mysterious and quite creative. The images also a unique effect that no other book has to offer! They create a new motion-picture presentation. Some things that I didn't like about this book was that it the pictures overwhelmed the text at some times. Also, at some points in the book, it was too confusing. Overall, I thought this book was a must-read!
grandmajeanette More than 1 year ago
My Granddaughter broght this book home from school and I read it with her. I was so impressed with this Author and book that I had to buy it for my library at home. I believe everyone will enjoy the illustrations as much as the book. What a creative and impressive Author Brian Selznick is. Highly recommend this book to those who like something different and unique.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
My 8 year old loved this book. She loved the story, the mystery and the illustrations. I can not say enough about this book. I enjoyed every moment of it as much as she did. I think boys and girls will love this book equally.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Hugo Cabret (pronounced Ca-ber-ay) Is a good book. Their wasn't much writing but really great pictures. Brian Selznick is a good drawer. Hugo's father dies so Hugo tries to fix his fathers machine. An old man (who he works for) grandchild befriends Hugo and they together find out how the old man really was like as a moviestar.
Woodchuck90 More than 1 year ago
This book is great for young readers because the words just fly by. It is filled with pictures so the reader can follow along very well.

I recomend this book for anyone who loves to find twists and turns in a book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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 ...
Guest More than 1 year ago
Hugo Cabret lives in a train station in Paris, France.One day his father finds an automan in the attic of the museum.Then his father is killed in a fire.Hugo finds the auto man one day. Will Hugo fix the automan?What will the automan do? Read The Invention of Hugo Cabret.
Guest More than 1 year ago
this book has suprises around every corner non stop secrets. With an exiting twist to the story
Guest More than 1 year ago
The Invention of Hugo Cabret is a great book! It is full of crazy surprises! Anybody would like it!