Logo Title Quebec Reading Connection

The Invention of Hugo Cabret

Selznick, Brian (Author/Illustrator)
Scholastic 2007. 534 pages
First published: 2007
ISBN: 9780439813785 (hardcover)
Original language: English
Book type: Novel
Book genre: Fantasy

Text Elements:

characterization, multimodal, setting

Award

Caldecott Medal – 2008

Reading Range

 
Cycle
Elementary
Secondary
 
1
2
3
1
2
ELA
K
1
2
3
4
5
6
1
2
3
4
5
ESL Intensive & Enriched
5
6
1
2
3
4
5

Description:

Hugo Cabret, a 12-year-old orphan, lives secretly in a Paris train station. Obsessed with fixing the automaton his father left behind, he steals the parts he needs. When caught, his life serendipitously interlocks with Isabelle and her godfather who runs the station’s toy booth. The secret lives of both Hugo and the older man reveal hidden messages and lives shaped by illusions and dreams.

The magic of friendship and a relentless pursuit of truth transform the lives of the characters. “Isabelle picked up the mouse, wound it again and set it down. ‘Maybe it’s the same with people,’ Hugo continued. ‘If you lose your purpose … it’s like you’re broken.’”

Illustrations include meticulously researched historical details on the early story of film and the work of George Méliès. The illusionist truly creates magic with hundreds of films, such as the renowned 1902 film “A Trip to the Moon,” described in the novel. Like the book’s character, Méliès suffered a decline.

Beautiful, finely drawn pencil sketches and black-and-white photos communicate much of the narrative. Double-page spread drawings replace words, pulling in the reader, powerfully creating anxiety, sadness and awe. The illustrations are balanced with clear, straightforward dialogue and sharply descriptive text that energetically propels the plot to its conclusion, where “the machinery of the world lined up.”

  •  

    Conventions of film, graphic novel and fictional narrative are used to create the world of Hugo Cabret. As the introduction is read aloud, visualize the events being described. As a group, discuss how to most effectively read the illustrations and written narrative in the first chapter.

  •  

    In small discussion groups, consider how the illustrations and text work together. How do they complement and contradict each other? 

  •  

    Use the book as a model for a multimodal story in which the illustrations tell parts of the story. Use a production process to create multimodal narratives.

  •  

    Skim the novel and pause to appreciate several illustrations. Discuss why the author/illustrator might have been awarded The Caldecott Medal.

  •  

    Create a timeline to record each time Hugo steals something. Write an accompanying sentence to explain the reason for each theft. In small teams, discuss why you might pardon all, some or none of them.

  •  

    Hugo’s father says that seeing his first movie was like seeing dreams in the middle of the day. Make a short video of a fanciful dream.

  •  

    Research movies of the turn of the twentieth century. Create a fun and factual slide presentation.

  • To use information
  • To use information and communications technologies
  • Social Sciences
  • Visual Arts