The Artwork of Michael Divine

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The Invention of Hugo Cabret

December 27th, 2008

And today, a book recommendation: The Invention of Hugo, a Caldecott-winning book by Brian Selznick. It’s a kid’s book, so to speak. Though it’s 550 pages might make one think otherwise. Half of it is told in pictures – lovingly rendered black and white pencil drawings – and when I say "told in pictures" i mean it just like that. It’s not that the pictures illustrate the story but, rather, the story is both in pictures and words – a narrative told at times with words because they, in those moments, most ideal for telling a story with words – and other times told with pictures because they help to create a cinematic narrative quality. The words are simple and direct and occasionally tap into more existential sort of ideas and concepts. The drawings are beautiful and, when need be, complex. At the same time – it’s not an overwhelming complexity but, instead, nicely done and simple.

Next tho, is the story. The story is lovely and I don’t want to give too much away. Essentially, the main character, a young boy living a train station as a clockkeeper (through some unfortunate circumstances), has a mysterious invention that he is struggling to get working…. and what happens when it works? Fantastic, believable, very human, a well-rounded slew of characters – a young boy, a yong girl, an elderly man, an elderly woman…  a constable… 

More about the book: The Invention of Hugo Cabret

The Artwork of Michael Divine

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