Tuesday, June 01, 2010

The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick

The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick is another of the Caldecott Medal winning children’s books I am committed to reading.  However, this one is hardly a picture book;  it is a surprising confluence of typical story telling with graphic novel like pages that flow from one to the next, classic hero tale with an homage to cinema, all told with a precise metaphor of clockwork imagery.  There is often a subtlety to the visuals that one typically finds in poetry. From the very first page where the reader is invited to first image a movie theater screen and then follow as a young boy moves through the crowd, one knows something special is about to happen.  Selznick's use of images to communicate emotion without words is especially remarkable.  (I am thinking in particular of a visual effect he creates when an old man looks at a drawing in a notebook with only slight changes from page to page but the changes communicate as much, if not more, than words could convey.)

All of the main characters are complex, each with his or her own agenda, often conflicted, occasionally even unlikable.  Yet the honesty of Selznick’s creation, whether visual or oral, is undeniable.  This book is a treasure above and beyond, a bold means of storytelling one rarely finds presented let alone appreciated in children’s books.  This is a book I plan on buying and sharing with the young readers in my life.

For those who share this book with a young reader, this link will be a wonderful surprise after the book is finished.  Enjoy!

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