Caldecott Honor artist Brian Selznick’s lavishly illustrated debut novel is a cinematic tour de force not to be missed!
ORPHAN, CLOCK KEEPER, AND THIEF, Hugo lives in the walls of a busy Paris train station, where his survival depends on secrets and anonymity. But when his world suddenly interlocks with an eccentric, bookish girl and a bitter old man who runs a toy booth in the station, Hugo’s undercover life, and his most precious secret, are put in jeopardy. A cryptic drawing, a treasured notebook, a stolen key, a mechanical man, and a hidden message from Hugo’s dead father form the backbone of this intricate, tender, and spellbinding mystery.
I came across a physical copy of this book at the local Walmart. I stared at it for a long while before picking it up and flipping it open. Then I promptly fell in love. I swear you probably heard me going “splat!” on the nasty floor as I fell. I wanted that book. I wanted it immensely. And on my birthday I got it.
It languished on my bookcase for a long while until I decided, in a somewhat noncommittal manner, that I was going to read it this summer. It probably would not have happened had I not suddenly got a hankering to watch the movie. Obviously, this meant that I needed to read the book. So I started it before saheri (the morning meal before dawn during Ramadan), picked it up after Fajr (first prayer) and read it until the sun was in a position in the sky it should not have been and I had not slept a wink that night. It was magical. Beyond magical.
The story itself is quite simple and would not merit as much mention were it not accompanied by the illustrations which are magic. No, seriously, they are. It took me a while to realize that they were actively narrating the story and were not just a part, an extra part, of the novel. The illustrations made the novel. The beautifully bound book with the black pages constructed for greatest contrast with the illustrations also contributed to my reading experience. I also found the plot to be very intriguing as before reading this novel, I had not been aware of the filmmaker and now I am curious enough to look him up – and this is the best part about reading.
I don’t know whether the movie lives up to the book but considering the number of Oscars, it won, I have a feeling that it does. Do I recommend this book? Yes, I do. A hardcover copy that you can pick up in your hands and read and experience because anything else would be a shame.