Saturday, November 19, 2011
Books We Love: “The Invention of Hugo Cabret” by Brian Selznick
Book Review by Maggie Hames
Okay—this book was released in 2007, but it is poised for a major revival with this Wednesday’s release of the film version—called Hugo—directed by none other than Martin Scorsese (in 3-D yet). But this book stands on its own as a wonderful and unique hybrid of chapter book, graphic novel, and cinema storyboard. Any reader over the age of ten (including you!) will enjoy this book. I hope the many joys of this book don’t get lost in the film hoopla, because The Invention of Hugo Cabret deserves to be savored for its own sake.
A Trip to the Moon, and features an image of the Man In the Moon, hit in the eye by a space ship. Suffice it to say I have only scratched the surface of the genius of Méliès.
The book’s illustrations are double-page spreads that mimic the 1:1.33 ratio of earlier cinema. And the book has an interesting way of building tension in a cinematic way: pages that lead to an exciting reveal contain only a few words. Turning the page feels like an edit in a film. And certain sequences of the story are told through illustrations that read as storyboards, in black and white to boot, a choice that honors the look of early cinema. The book design wraps each spread in a black frame, the unmistakable frame from a strip of film.
This book would make a wonderful holiday gift. It’s a book to treasure, and I bought mine on Amazon just a few days ago and it’s a first edition(!). The film version may sink or swim, but the book is simply wonderful; a moving tribute to the moving picture, a heart-warming story of a boy who finds a home, and the story of an older man who, Promethius-like, finds an exciting new beginning.
While you’re shopping for holiday gifts, I’d also suggest a dvd of Méliès films. His work is sure to delight anyone on your list. You can find the films of Méliès in any number of collections. A good place to start is The Magic of Méliès.