Thursday, July 30, 2015

The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick

★★★★★
"If you've ever wondered where your dreams come from when you go to sleep at night, just look around.  This is where they are made."

2.10.2015 - When Hugo Cabret’s father is killed in a tragic accident in the early 1930s, Hugo is sent to live with his uncle who works in a Paris train station.  His uncle teaches him to monitor the clocks in the station, but Hugo is left to take care of himself after his uncle disappears.  With his uncle gone, Hugo focuses on fixing automation machine that was left by his father and steals from the train toy shop to complete the work.  Hugo is caught by the shop’s own named Georges and becomes friends with his goddaughter, Isabelle.  The two work together to fix the machine that Hugo believes will give him a message that will save his life.  Along the way, Hugo and Isabelle learn that her godfather is really Georges Melies, a pioneer filmmaker, a discovery that leads to secrets of the past that they hope will unlock a key to the future.

The novel is a combination of text and images that creates a truly unique and magical story.  The intriguing plot draws readings in from the very first page and the author reveals small details to allow for thrilling journey through Hugo’s adventures and the history of film.  Each element of the story seems careful planted to allow for a beautifully written narrative. 

In an interview with amazon, Brian Selznick states that he enjoyed books where the “very act of turning the pages play a pivotal role in telling the story” and tried to produce this in the book.  This was exemplified stunningly through the almost the over 250 black and white illustrations.  The pictures were extremely detailed and focused on details of the story.  They not only complimented the text, but were used to tell aspects of the plot as well. 

I absolutely loved this book and it is now one of my favorite children’s and young adult books that I have read.  I brought it while my husband and I were staying in the hospital after our daughter was born and read it in one sitting.  I was fascinated by the exceptional storytelling and the unique format that included elements of a novel, picture book, and graphic novel.  I thought all of the illustrations were extremely well done and did a wonderful job of complementing the text.  I would recommend this book to everyone I know who is looking for a truly unique reading experience.

 7.30.2015 - Reread this to Isabelle when she was about 6 months old and loved it the second time around as well.  Amazing combination of works and pictures to tell a fascinating story!

This book was #10 on my top ten list of 2015.

Monday, July 20, 2015

The Museum of Extra Ordinary Things by Alice Hoffman

★★★
"The truth frightens people because it isn't stable.  It shifts every day."

I read the Dovekeepers by Alice Hoffman and love it - but this one wasn't one of my favorites.  Maybe I was expecting too much?  Either way, I found it more creepy than anything and it took me longer than usual to get through (even with a six month old at home!)

I was really excited to read this.  Not only because of the author, but because of the history of Coney Island.  The premise reminded me a bit of The Night Circus: girl grows up surrounded by circus atmosphere, falls in love with the wrong boy, and spend they spend the rest of the book trying to figure out how to be together "against all odds."  I loved the historical references of the time period and the general mood of the novel, but I felt there could have been more setting and character development and less focus on certain secondary characters.  And I'm still not sure how I felt about the ending...