Wednesday, March 20, 2013

On the Coffee Table: Brian Selznick

Title: The Invention of Hugo Cabret
Author and Illustrator: Brian Selznick
Image via Wikipedia

Just over a year ago, we went to see the delightful movie Hugo (review here). Having now read the book, I'm all the more impressed by how faithfully Scorsese managed to recreate it for the screen.  Selznick combines words and images to create a richly textured world for his characters.  Our sympathy for the protagonist is total and instantaneous.  We know he is fighting to survive and his success in doing so becomes all the more remarkable as details unfold.

There was one aspect of the movie which I found very strange.  I felt, in a sense, that I had watched two very different stories: the one before the discovery of Papa Georges's true identity and the one after.  I liked the second better but appreciated the fact that you need the first for the second to be meaningful.  The book, on the other hand, indicates quite clearly that they are two separate tales: Parts 1 & 2.  I now feel better knowing that it wasn't merely my perception that made it so.

The Invention of Hugo Cabret is neither a traditional picture book, nor a traditional comic book with words and images sharing the page.  Instead it alternates pages of text with pages of art.  I wondered at times if the same story could have been told with just one or the other.  Without the text, the story's more subtle nuances might have been lost.  Without the images, the reader would not have been afforded the same immersive experience.  In tandem, they bring a richness to the telling - a great success.


  1. I liked the movie a lot, but I hadn't read the book. Thanks for reminding of the book!

  2. I did find the movie delightful, I'll have to read this and see how it compares :) Great review!

    Sarah Allen
    (From Sarah, With Joy)