If you look in a bookstore or a library today you will see a lot of alternative formats from graphic novels, novels that are told through both text and pictures, novels told through the texting and chat rooms, as well as books told almost completely through images (look for my post on Chopsticks by Jessica Anthony and Rodrigo Corral later this week). These alternative formats are reaching out to a new age of readers that have learned to process information differently. I don’t see these new fun formats going away anytime soon.One example of a novel told through pictures and text is The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick . This novel contains over 150 pictures and all together is 533 pages. Selznick skill comes into play on where he chooses to place the illustrations and photo graphs, a key element in this choice of alliterative format. Selznick places the illustrations and photographs in times of tension where words can distract. Many times the illustrations zoom in on each other (page after page) directing the viewers eyes to an important clue. Or in the case of the train station and Hugo being on the tracks, showing the action of the train getting closer. The illustrations are fantastic and the photographs are classics. Everything is strung together to create a novel that feels both like a book and like burst of short movies.
The Invention of Hugo Cabret is about a young boy who is mechanically inclined and has lost his father in a fire. Before his father’s death they were working on restoring an automaton. Later Hugo discovers the automaton in the ashes of the museum were his father died. He takes it to his new living quarter where he lived with his uncle who is responsible for taking care of the clocks at the train station, that is until he disappeared. Hugo left with no family, manages to keep the clocks working and hide the fact that his uncle is missing. While he does this he desperately tries to repair the automaton in hopes that it will write a message from his father. While he steels the parts from a toy shop he is caught by an old man (Georges Melies) who makes him work to pay off what he stole. While he does this he meets the man’s goddaughter (Isabelle). Isabelle tries to help Hugo recover the journal his father created that the old man stole. From here the story becomes more intense as the children begin to uncover clues that will uncover a secret that Georges Melies is hiding, one that begins with the message from the Automaton.
Other titles by Brian Selznick: