An illustration from "The Invention of Hugo Cabret" by Brian Selznick

Martin Scorsese’s film adaptation of Brian Selznick’s The Invention of Hugo Cabret is out in theaters today.

Selznick’s remarkable book won the 2008 Caldecott Medal (the first young adult novel to win the award for children’s book illustration), was a finalist for the National Book Award, and was chosen as the Best Illustrated Book of 2007 by The New York Times. Hugo is a unique hybrid–a picture book for older children, but also a graphic novel of sorts. The story is one of my personal favorites, and next to Goodnight Moon, it’s the book I’ve gifted most often to the young people in my life.

 

An Illustration from "Hugo" by Brian Selznick

The book’s main character, Hugo, is an orphan, a clock keeper, and thief, who lives an undercover life in the walls of a busy Paris train station. A cryptic drawing, a treasured notebook, a stolen key, a mechanical man, and a hidden message from Hugo’s dead father form the backbone of Selznick’s intricate mystery.

If you haven’t read The Invention of Hugo Cabret, you are in for a treat. Selznick’s book is nothing less than a masterpiece (and “masterpiece” is not a term I use lightly). Like the best classics of children’s literature, the book will appeal to readers of all ages. Younger readers will enjoy the characters, the mystery, and striking drawings, and adults will appreciate the author’s homage to cinema, most particularly the films of French filmmaker Georges Méliès and his groundbreaking 1902 silent film Le voyage dans la Lune (A Trip to the Moon).