Thursday, March 22, 2012

The Invention of Hugo Cabret

A couple of years ago, one of the members of my book club chose The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznik as that month’s book. 
hugocabretAfter checking it out from the library, I was stunned.  The book was giant, at 533 pages, and it was a children’s book.  The size of it concerned me because 1. I primarily read at night so can only get through a few pages before falling asleep and dropping the book on my head…that’s a heavy book.  And 2. Only getting through a few pages a night meant it would take longer to get through…time I didn’t have.  I’m always reading something, but I’m not terribly quick about it (see #1).  Also, I read so many children’s books that I look forward to the grown up books we read for book club. 

After learning a bit more about the book, I came up with a plan…I decided to use it as a read-aloud in my classroom.  Everyday, right before dismissal, I read a novel of some kind aloud to my class.  This plan let me kill two birds with one stone.   It turned out to be a brilliant plan.  My class that year loved it.  I also loved it, in fact it is at the top of my “Most Loved Children’s Books” list as well as my “Most Loved Grown Up Books” list.  The book is wonderful.

The Invention of Hugo Cabret is a cross between and picture book and novel.  About half of it is pictures.  Pictures is actually an understatement.  The drawings in the book are incredible and take on a big part in telling the story.
376-377-hugo-large-27kmliwThis is the only novel that has been honored with the Caldecott Medal – a picture book award.

It takes place in Paris in the early 1900s.  Based on historical facts about Georges Melies, an early filmmaker, magician, artist, inventor, and maker of automata
georges-melies-as-seen-in-brian-sleznicks-the-invention-of-hugo-cabretThe story centers around an orphan boy named Hugo who “discovers” Georges Melies in a toy booth at the train station.hugo-cabret
Since the first time reading it, I have made the book a yearly read-aloud in my classroom.  I very much enjoy watching the students become completely engulfed in the story.  They beg for me to start reading it earlier in the day and groan when the chapter ends, and it’s time to go home.  And after finishing the book each year, the kids ask me to “borrow” it.  This year, I even had a to make a list of who wanted to see it so everyone has a turn. 
stuffThe reading level is too difficult for most of the students – it’s written at a 4th-5th grade level - but they want to just hold it and look at the pictures.  I love that.

When the movie Hugo came out this past winter, I looked forward to seeing it.  A friend and I went to the theatre, but the projection equipment broke so we had to get our money back.  We never made it to the theatre again.  The movie came out on DVD a couple of weeks ago.  Last night I had a chance to watch it.  It was a very nice movie.  I don’t watch movies very well at home because I get distracted with other things to do, but I got through it while working on some school work and mostly paying attention.  As with most movies that come from books, I am never terribly impressed.  The books are always so much more than the movie can hope to be.  However, Hugo is a very beautiful movie, and fairly true to the story. 

A few of the students in my class have also had a chance to see the movie, but the others are dying to.  Just this week, the class earned a marble party for good behavior.  They chose to watch Hugo as their reward.  This Friday, I’ll pop them some popcorn, and we will turn the classroom into a theatre for the afternoon.  I hope they enjoy it as much as they did the book. 

Have you read the book?  Seen the movie?  If not, the book is a must read!


  1. Nope; I was going to go to John Carter last week but the Cinema wouldn't answer the phone and I then forgot about it.
    But I expect with you not seeing films would be like not having a carpet in Axminster or drinking beer in Bordeaux.
    As to the book. My last foray with a lately published was with a Dan Browne something or other. It takes a while for stuff to get to the bookshops I frequent.

  2. Ted Danson has joined one of the CSI's. He must be stuck for cash if he will take Direction in such schlock. I know he's not exactly Shakespearean but he is certainly better than this ruddy rubbish. NCIS is worth a watch by comparison.

    I cannot find the e-mail box.

  3. Oh...I always learn something from you...I just saw the dvd when my husband rented it. This summer I will have to read the book.
    Happy Thurday!

  4. @Vince - If the book weren't so darn heavy, I'd send you a's so good. I like Dan Browne books, but between the three I've read, the first one was my favorite. I've been addicted to Michael Connolly's books recently...I download them onto my phone and listen while walking the dog. I like NCIS when I can watch. I don't care for CSI either, but not because of the acting - I've never made it that far since most of the program just makes me want to throw up, blech!
    As for the email, I don't think there's a box for blogger - that's part of your settings and what not whether you want it shown via your account. I have to put mine in when I comment on your posts though. :)

  5. @Marey - you'll love it and it's a quick read, about half of it is pictures so for summer reading it'll just take a day or two. Did you like the movie?
    This week is crawling by on all fours I tell you, but only one more day until 3 weeks spring break. Hooray! Are you off soon?

  6. We all read it at night because of you. The girls didn't want to but then loved it. The movie didn't hold their attention as much. I liked the movie but liked the book far better. I'm curious if I would have liked the movie more if I hadn't read it and known what was going to happen. enjoy your popcorn party and movie day. Sounds like you need it!

  7. Thanks Jilly! I'll be in touch this weekend.
    The book was def way better however I had just finished reading it to the kids last week so it was really fresh in my mind. I don't know if someone hadn't read the book...maybe a little hard to follow. I always prefer the book anyways. :) Glad you guys read and liked it.

  8. No one likes a I-phone show-off. >:-b

  9. @vince - ha ha! Never thought I'd like to listen to a book, but it's been a life saver with this puppy! :)

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  11. I enjoyed the movie quite a bit. I'll bet I'd like the book better. You do a great job of convincing me it is something worth while to do with my time. I am always looking for good, interesting books to read. Thanks! :)

    1. Definitely read it! Even to your kids if they're not too old for that.