Ann's Reviews > The Invention of Hugo Cabret

The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick
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's review
Dec 04, 08

it was amazing
bookshelves: children-young-adult, historical-fiction
Read in April, 2008

The audience went wild when this book won the Caldecott Medal. But then some said that awarding the prize for best picture book to a 500-plus page illustrated novel was a sign of, if not actually giving assistance to, the decline and fall of the picture book publishing industry.

Well, I don't know about all that. I do know that this is one hell of a book. It is the most beautiful novel I have ever seen, with its 250-plus illustrations and its black-bordered pages and white-on-black chapter heads. The rather Dickensian story is good enough to enthrall children and amuse adults, and the main points of action and emotion are carried by the extraordinary drawings, which I think are Selznick's best ever. You really have to think of the drawings as a film, for reasons that become obvious as the story progresses. (Note to children's lit fans: the drawings of the Toy Seller are portraits of author Remy Charlip, who apparently bears a close resemblance to the man on whom the character is modeled.) Every drawing was apparently done in miniature, in pencil, under a magnifying glass, and then enlarged for publication. Clearly this book, like the creations it describes, was a labor of love, and the love shines through.

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