Orphan, Clock Keeper and Thief

The Invention of Hugo Cabret
Brian Selznick
525 pages, published 2007

When Hugo Cabret's father, a clockmaker, dies in a museum fire, the young Hugo is taken in by his Uncle Claude. Employed and boarded by the train station, the drunken Claude teaches Hugo how to run and maintain the stations various clocks ... which, as it turns out, was fortunate, for when his Uncle Claude suddenly disappears, Hugo has to maintain the clocks in order to hide the disappearace and keep what little home he has.

Unable to cash his uncle's pay checks for fear of discovery, Hugo must (grudgingly) resort to stealing - both to survive and to aid his secret and most determined project. Hiding away within the walls of the station, Hugo squirrels away small mechanical components that he uses in his attempt to fix the mechanical automaton discovered by his father.

His attempts (and dodging of the Station Master) run smoothly until the day he is caught stealing a wind-up mouse from the station toy store. The store keeper is rightly upset by the boys ongoing thievery, but when he sees Hugo's notebook, filled with his father's sketches of the automaton, he reacts severly: taking the boy's notebook and threatening to burn it.

Why is the old man so upset? What does he know about Hugo's machine? And why won't he give him back his notebook?

The Invention of Hugo Cabret was an interesting read - nice story, reasonably developed characters and just enough of a mystery to keep you interesting. But what turns this book from an 'okay' book to a 'fantastic' book is that is is 90% pictures. The written text itself is actually very limited; most of the story is told through closely sequential (and full page) illustrations. I'm not quite sure I'd call it a graphic novel, but it is certainly a unique way of story telling. Definately worth a look at. 4.5/5