Sunday, April 5, 2009

The Invention of Hugo Cabret

I finally bought The Invention of Hugo Cabret for my classroom. I attended a Title I conference last fall where Megan Lambert, Instructor of Children's Literature Programs at the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art, conducted a great workshop on using picture books in the older grades to develop visual thinking. Someone mentioned this book, and she remarked that it was an "essential" book for struggling teen readers. I returned from the conference, got it at the library and read it aloud with two of my students. Instant hit.

Brian Selznick's artful words and charcoal sketches combine to tell the unforgettable story of Hugo, a French orphan boy who lives in the walls of a Paris train station in the 1930's. Hugo lives a lonely life maintaining the station's clocks and repairing the automaton, a strange mechanical man he rescues from a burned out museum. When he repairs the automaton, Hugo believes it will write a note that will save his life. Hugo's world is disrupted when the old man who runs the train station's toy shop confiscates his precious notebook--the one in which Hugo records notes on the automaton. Without it, he can't repair the mechanical man, upon whose existence Hugo's life now depends.

Hugo Cabret is a story of magic, survival, hope and triumph. Because it is equal parts novel, old movie, graphic novel and flip book, Hugo is a one of a kind experience that is sure to hook even the most reluctant reader.

I had planned on bringing Hugo into the classroom tomorrow, but when my sons, who are eleven and six, saw me tucking it into my school bag, they both cried out, "HUGO!" The pleading looks that followed said it all. There's no way I can refuse. Classics are meant to be read again and again, aren't they?

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