Monday, July 31, 2017

MMGM: The Invention of Hugo Cabret

Today's Marvelous Middle Grade Monday pick:

The Invention of Hugo Cabret, by Brian Selznick
The Invention of Hugo Cabret

Written and illustrations by Brian Selznick

Scholastic, 2007
Ages 8-12, Lexile 820
533 pages, 26000 words

orphans, film, history, inventing

The opening is wordless. You can find it on the official site.

Hugo Cabret is a 12 year-old boy living in France during the magical fin de siecle. His father was a museum director with an aptitude for tinkering and his uncle was a clock-keeper in the Gare de Montparnasse. Hugo inherits his family's gifts plus an iron determination to rebuild the automaton his father left behind. With the help of an adventurous bookworm and the interference of her grandfather, a mysterious old toymaker, Hugo uncovers one family's deepest secrets.

I was blow away by this book when it first appeared and frankly still am. I was familiar with Brian Selznick's picture book work (The Dinosaurs of Waterhouse Hawkins) and fascinated by the visual nature of the novel (and I use that word loosely.) With wordless, illustrated segments comprising over half the book, it almost feels like a graphic novel, or a flip book, both of which I was fascinated with in my youth. Selznick immerses the reader in the narrative in a way I hadn't seen before. And when the main character began to reveal the book's historical moorings, I was delighted to find links to other people and events I cared about.

Unlock the magic yourself...but do yourself a favor. Invest in the Hardback paper version. The cinematic nature of the book doesn't lend itself to a digital format.

Last Friday I compared the book with the movie version, Hugo.

1. I love the interview with Brian Selznick on The National Center for Children's Illustrated Literature. You can also find one on Reading Rockets and a bibliography and bio on KidsReads.

2. Brian has built a career out of his quirky taste. Wonderstruck and The Marvels are not to be missed.

3. Brian Selznick lists 20 of his favorite books for kids on Gwarlingo.

4. How Brian Selznick's drawings became a book.

5. The Invention of Hugo Cabret was also reviewed by Jasmine Marie, the Bookish Mama

6. If you liked The Invention of Hugo Cabret, other MMGM bloggers recommend

The Search for Wondla,
by Tony DiTerlizzi
The Search for Wondla, by Tony DiTerlizzi
Reviewed by Shannon Messenger on Ramblings of a WannaBe Scribe, Night Writer, and The Hopeful Heroine

Circus Mirandus,
by Cassie Beasley
Circus Mirandus, by Cassie Beasley, illustrated by Diana Sudyka,
Reviewed by
Geo Librarian
My Brain on Books
Middle Grade Mania

Echo, by Pam Ryan
Echo, by Pam Munoz Ryan, cover art by Dinara Mirtalipova
Reviewed by
Writer in the Rain
Children's Books Heal
Susan Uhlig

The Amulet, book 1,
The Stonekeeper
by Kazu Kibuishi
The Amulet series by Kazu Kabuishi,
Reviewed by Night Writer

I highly recommend Matt Phelan's books including Around the World and Bluffington.
Also check out Rapunzel's Revenge, by Shannon and Dean Hale and Nathan Hale.

Around the World, a pictorial novel
Bluffington, an illustrated book about young Buster Keaton

Check out all the recommended titles for Marvelous Middle Grade Monday for July 31, 2017 available on Shannon Messenger's Ramblings of a Wannabe Scribe.

Feel free to leave your MG recommendations in the comments. Thanks!


  1. I've read and enjoyed THE INVENTION OF HUGO CABRET. Thanks for all of your other recommends. More books for the TBR list!

  2. I've heard lots about this book, but now I have to read it! Thanks so much for the review!

    1. Brian's books are unique, an immersive experience. Thanks.

  3. Hugo Cabret is one of the greats!

    1. Thank-you for commenting. I think it has all the elements to endure. And I think Selznick's follow-up books have bottled a similar kind of magic.


Thank-you for taking time to share your thoughts!