Review for The Invention of Hugo Cabret, by Brian Selznick (kidslit):
The amazing...the beautiful...the strange...it's The Invention of Hugo Cabret! This is a kids' book that can only have come from an illustrator. Hugo Cabret is about equal parts words and pictures, but at over 500 pages long, it can hardly be called a picture book. I'd say it's a mix between your typical picture book and comic book.
The story is set in 1930's Paris, and the title character is a young orphan boy who lives in a train station and keeps the numerous clocks running. Thanks to his father and uncle, both horlogiers, Hugo knows all about the mechanisms behind clocks and gears of all sorts. That's why he dedicates all his free time to restoring a small, robotic man, whom he believes holds a message for him from beyond the grave.
I don't want to give too much away about the story, because the surprises and the twists are all so delightful. But I will say that Selznick brings in a bit of cinematic history that really brings the reader back to that decade. And the way he mixes different visual formats--photography, drawing, and more--is also stunning. The visual aspect of the book obviously dominates, perhaps because it is so unusual, but this word-lover loved every second of it. He tells a great story while illustrating it beautifully and innovatively, and mixes in some fascinating history, as well.
Go read this book. I recommend it absolutely, 100%, to anyone who has an appreciation of kidslit. The drawings will captivate you, the format will surprise and even expand you, and the story will endear itself to you. Go. Go on, now. What are you still doing here?