Winner of the 2008 Caldecott Medal
Winner of the 2008 Caldecott Medal
Synopses & Reviews
Intrigue, danger, chess, and a real-life hoax combine in this historical novel from the author of The Shakespeare Stealer
Philadelphia, PA, 1835. Rufus, a twelve-year-old chess prodigy, is recruited by a shady showman named Maelzel to secretly operate a mechanical chess player called the Turk. The Turk wows ticket-paying audience members and players, who do not realize that Rufus, the true chess master, is hidden inside the contraption. But Rufuss job working the automaton must be kept secret, and he fears he may never be able to escape his unscrupulous master. And what has happened to the previous operators of the Turk, who seem to disappear as soon as Maelzel no longer needs them? Creeping suspense, plenty of mystery, and cameos from Edgar Allan Poe and P. T. Barnum mark Gary Blackwoods triumphant return to middle grade fiction.
"Here is a true masterpiece an artful blending of narrative, illustration and cinematic technique, for a story as tantalizing as it is touching.Twelve-year-old orphan Hugo lives in the walls of a Paris train station at the turn of the 20th century, where he tends to the clocks and filches what he needs to survive. Hugo's recently deceased father, a clockmaker, worked in a museum where he discovered an automaton: a human-like figure seated at a desk, pen in hand, as if ready to deliver a message. After his father showed Hugo the robot, the boy became just as obsessed with getting the automaton to function as his father had been, and the man gave his son one of the notebooks he used to record the automaton's inner workings. The plot grows as intricate as the robot's gears and mechanisms: Hugo's father dies in a fire at the museum; Hugo winds up living in the train station, which brings him together with a mysterious toymaker who runs a booth there, and the boy reclaims the automaton, to which the toymaker also has a connection. To Selznick's credit, the coincidences all feel carefully orchestrated; epiphany after epiphany occurs before the book comes to its sumptuous, glorious end. Selznick hints at the toymaker's hidden identity (inspired by an actual historical figure in the film industry, Georges Mlis) through impressive use of meticulous charcoal drawings that grow or shrink against black backdrops, in pages-long sequences. They display the same item in increasingly tight focus or pan across scenes the way a camera might. The plot ultimately has much to do with the history of the movies, and Selznick's genius lies in his expert use of such a visual style to spotlight the role of this highly visual media. A standout achievement. Ages 9-12." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"With characteristic intelligence, exquisite images, and a breathtaking design, Selznick shatters conventions related to the art of bookmaking....This is a masterful narrative that readers can literally manipulate." School Library Journal (Starred Review)
"It is wonderful. Take that overused word literally: Hugo Cabret evokes wonder....The result is a captivating work of fiction that young readers with a taste for complex plots and a touch of magic...can love." John Schwartz, The New York Times Book Review
"This hybrid creation...is surprising and often lovely....[B]ookmaking this ambitious demands and deserves attention..." Booklist
"Brian Selznick's book is a lush hybrid of a creation, a blend of novel and graphic novel that invites you to linger over each page, but also inspires a hunger to know more that keeps you turning the pages." Children's Literature
"There is a lot to like in The Invention of Hugo Cabret, and for young film buffs reading it, it is worth studying for the deft use of perspective and the scenes of great tension, as effectively fleshed out in pictures as words." San Francisco Chronicle
"The problem is that Selznick...is really not much of a writer....[M]ost of the time, the prose has a one-foot-in-front-of the-other quality that's about as interesting as watching a clock hand move..." The Washington Post Book World
"Beautiful, full-page black-and-white illustrations are interspersed throughout the book....Part mystery, part feel-good drama, and part picture book for older readers, this novel will fly off the shelf simply because of its visual appeal." VOYA
The Shakespeare Stealer
2000-2001 Mark Twain Award
1999 ALA Best Book for Young Adults
1999 ALA Notable Childrens Book
1999 NCSS-CBC Notable Trade Book in the Field of Social Studies
1999 Crickets Choice
1999 Reading Circle of Missouri State Teachers Association selection/Grades 5-8
1999 Heartland Award for Excellence in YA Literature
1998-1999 Dorothy Canfield Fisher Award Master List
1998 Golden Kite Award Shortlist
1998 VOYAs Books in the Middle Oustanding Title of 1998
1998 CCBBC Choices
1998 Best Childrens Books/Bank Street College Ages 12-up
2001 ALA Best Book for Young Adults
2001 New York Public Library Books for the Teen Age List
2001 Parents Guide to Childrens Media Awards
2000 Smithsonian Magazine Notable Childrens Book
2004 CBC Notable Social Studies Trade Books for Young Readers
The Year of the Hangman
2002 ALA Notable Book
2002 School Library Journal Best Book of the Year
Around the World in 100 Days
2010 Best Books for Teens by Kirkus Book Reviews
2010 Smithsonian's Notable Books for Children
"A thrilling look at the 19th-century age of automata—“a time of curiosity-seekers”—and the riveting story of a likable Philadelphia boy whose life of the mind helps him transcend his extraordinary, oft-cruel circumstances." - Kirkus Reviews
, starred review
* "The museum and curiosity show setting—as well as the cameo appearances by Edgar Allan Poe and P. T. Barnum—make this historical novel a delight." - VOYA, starred review
"The layered narrative should appeal to history buffs, gadget lovers, and fans of The Invention of Hugo Cabret." - Publishers Weekly
"Readers will no doubt find [Rufus] a compelling protagonist and likable hero....the Dickensian cast of characters and tightly constructed plot will resonate with fans of Laura Amy Schlitzs Splendors and Glooms." - School Library Journal
"Blackwood excels in writing historical fiction that is as informative as it is entertaining. The period details, including cameos by famous people, bring the era to life, but its the vivid characters and the inventive plot, told through Rufuss sympathetic first-person narrative, that drive our interest in the story." - The Horn Book
"With a cast of fictional and historical figures including grand showman P. T. Barnum; Edgar Allan Poe and his teenage wife, Virginia; and the real-life owner of the Turk, Maelzel—this Dickensian coming-of-age story from the author of Around the World in 100 Days offers a glimpse into quaint corner of American history." - Booklist
"Blackwood constructs a plot with appeal to several readerships: the gearheads who enjoy the mechanical workings of these robotic oddities, à la Selznicks The Invention of Hugo Cabret; those who shiver at the possibility of life force within the machine, à la Schlitzs Splendors and Glooms; those who gravitate toward plucky orphan stories; and of course, those who appreciate a solid historical fiction riff on a real-life invention, the Turk itself. Rufus self-effacing narration is thoroughly engaging." - Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books
Gary Blackwood's The Shakespeare Stealer was the winner of the Mark Twain Award. It was also an ALA Best Book for Young Adults, an ALA Notable Childrens Book, a Golden Kite Award Shortlist Book, a CCBBC Choice, and one of the Best Childrens Books for ages 12 and up as chosen by Bank Street College.
Orphan, clock keeper, and thief, Hugo lives in the walls of a busy Paris train station, where his survival depends on secrets and anonymity. But when his world suddenly interlocks with an eccentric, bookish girl and a bitter old man who runs a toy booth in the station, Hugo's undercover life, and his most precious secret, are put in jeopardy. 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 this intricate, tender, and spellbinding mystery.
With more than three hundred pages of original drawings, and combining elements of picture book, graphic novel, and film, Brian Selznick breaks open the novel form to create an entirely new reading experience. Here is a stunning, cinematic tour de force from a boldly innovative storyteller, artist, and bookmaker.
When twelve-year-old Hugo, an orphan living and repairing clocks within the walls of a Paris train station in 1931, meets a mysterious toyseller and his goddaughter, his undercover life and his biggest secret are jeopardized.
Living in the walls of a busy Paris train station in 1931, clock keeper and orphan Hugo Cabret must constantly work to keep his secrets safe, but when an inquisitive girl and an old man who owns a toy store begin probing, he must do all he can to keep them at a safe distance. 150,000 first printing. $150,000 ad/promo.
Combining elements of picture book, graphic novel, and film, Caldecott Honor artist Selznick breaks open the novel form to create an entirely new reading experience in this intricate, tender, and spellbinding mystery. Illustrations.
Orphan, clock keeper, thief: Hugo lives in the walls of a busy Paris train station, where his survival depends on secrets and anonymity. Combining elements of picture book, graphic novel, and film, Caldecott Honor artist Selznick breaks open the novel form to create an entirely new reading experience in this intricate, tender, and spellbinding mystery. Illustrations.
Identical twins Sonja and Charlotte are musical prodigies with extraordinary powers. Born on All-Hallows-Eve, the girls could play music before they could walk. They were found one night by Tatty, the Tattooed Lady of the circus, in a pail on her doorstep with only a note and a heart-shaped locket. Since then, theyve grown up with Tatty in the circus that roams from place to place in the Outskirts.
But lately, mysterious things are starting to happen when they play their instruments. During one of their performances, the girls accidentally levitate their entire audience, drawing too much unwanted attention. Soon, ominous Enforcers come after them, and Charlotte and Sonja must embark on a perilous journey through enchanted lands in hopes of unlocking the secrets of their mysterious past.
About the Author
In addition to The Invention of Hugo Cabret, Brian Selznick is the illustrator of the Caldecott Honor winner, The Dinosaurs of Waterhouse Hawkins, and The New York Times Best Illustrated Walt Whitman: Words for America, both by Barbara Kerley, as well as the Sibert Honor Winner When Marian Sang, by Pam Muñoz Ryan, and numerous other celebrated picture books and novels. Brian has also worked as a set designer and a puppeteer. When he isnt traveling to promote his work all over the world, he lives in San Diego, California, and Brooklyn, New York.