At the risk of informing you of something you already know, I read Brian Selznick’s The Invention of Hugo Cabret this week (finally) and it was amazing. I know, it’s not like this is news to anyone – the book has already been awarded the Caldecott – but I still wanted to share it with you.
The story is engaging but for me the drawings took center stage – I found myself actually petting some of the pages, as if the pencil marks left a texture on the page. Also, it’s just a beautifully designed book. Though, for me, the colorful front cover doesn’t quite do justice to the smoky, emotional portraits within; I much prefer the drawing of Hugo that stretches across the binding. It reminded of another illustrated novel that I loved – Clockwork by Phillip Pullman, with those gorgeously misty drawings by Leonid Gore. Like something straight out of a winter night’s childhood dream.
Hugo’s story did make me think of my Dad – he was an artist and he also did magic tricks for my birthday parties as a kid. And it was awesome. The book is also a powerful reminder to all artists out there that we are feeding each other with our works – be they in words or pictures or movies or magic tricks or robotic creations from different eras. We can draw on all of this and find our own inspiration, and transform that inspiration into yet another form, and on and on.
Speaking of robotic creations, you really should visit the link that Selznick gives in the book to see videos of automatons in action: http://www.fi.edu/learn/sci-tech/automaton/automaton.php?cts=instrumentation. I love the automaton who can draw pictures and write poems in French and English!