by Brian Selznick, published 2007
“Hugo had become a thief to survive and help the automaton. What would his punishment be? Was he now going to spend the rest of his life behind the counter of this toy booth like the old man?…There had to be something else.”
Before you send your children to the movie version of this book, please let them enjoy the enchantment of this children’s book. To spend time with this children’s book is a one-of-a-kind experience. The full-page illustrations complement the text, so that you experience the book at the same time that you follow the very dramatic unfolding of events. A very unusual combination to find illustrations in a chapter book that’s written for ages 9 and up. Yet it works. The drawings are spectacular, and placed in such a way that the adventure simply continues on from the drawings.
The book has a wonderful young boy at the heart of it, who not only learns survival skills, but discovers his own talents by necessity. At the same time, his kind heart always comes through, as he learns to navigate the unusual events in this story. Everything about the book is very magical, thus it was surprising to find that it is based on a historically true person, a collector, and I presume inventor, of automatons in the nineteenth century. However, it’s hard to separate fact from fiction in the book, as the entire story is seamlessly constructed. A terrific book, and could possibly be a read-aloud book for mature 8-year-old kids, as the illustrations are so supportive. It’s also a fabulous way for a young child to conquer a ‘fat book’, because the added pages of illustrations make the book pretty large.