Monday, January 14, 2008

The Invention of Hugo Cabret

And the winner is....

The Caldecott Awards have been announced. The winner is not really a picture book, but I like it immensely, so I'm going to bend the rules today. The Invention of Hugo Cabret, by Brian Selznick, is really a novel, but most of the pages are illustrations, causing a great deal of discussion as to whether it qualifies for the Caldecott, the Newbery, both, or neither.

Hugo Cabret is an orphan who lives in the walls of a train station. He maintains the station's clocks, his uncle's job until he disappeared without anybody knowing. He has an automaton, a mechanical robot (not a computer) that, when turned on, draws an elaborate picture. He meets a sad old toy maker and a nice young girl, and after a series of misunderstandings and revelations, finds that all of their lives are connected. Silent film plays an important role in both the story and illustrations.

In between periodic bunches of text, there are pages and pages of gorgeous ink sketches that you mustn't rush over. A great portion of the story happens in the pictures, which are so unbelievably creative. It's a very thick book, but don't let that scare you. For those of you with school-age children, it won't take that long to read, depending upon how much time you spend pouring over the illustrations.

There were four honor books, two of which we've mentioned previously:

Henry's Freedom Box: A True Story from the Underground Railroad, illustrated by Kadir Nelson, written by Ellen Levine
First the Egg by Laura Vaccaro Seeger
The Wall: Growing Up Behind the Iron Curtin by Peter Sís
Knuffle Bunny Too: A Case of Mistaken Identity by Mo Willems

Go out and get them at your library while you can. Until tomorrow.

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