Module 2: The Invention of Hugo Cabret

27 06 2010

Book Cover

Summary: This is the story of twelve-year-old orphan Hugo Cabret in Paris in the beginning of the 20th century. Hugo lives in the train station, secretly tending to its many clocks and stealing food and sometimes items from the toy shop. Hugo needs the things from the toy shop because he is secretly rebuilding an automation that his father had been working on before his death. However, the owner of the toy shop discovers Hugo as a thief and Hugo’s secret is in jeopardy. With the help of a couple friends Hugo discovers an even greater mystery, one that will affect him and those around him greatly.

Citation: Selznick, Brian. (2007) The Invention of Hugo Cabret: A novel in words and pictures. New York: Scholastic.

My Impressions: When I worked at Barnes and Noble I would see this in the picture book section, but I honestly thought it was either placed there mistakenly or put there to fill up some space. I never thought a 500+ page book would be considered a picture book…but then I read Hugo Cabret. The pictures in this book do not even necessarily support the text, at times the pictures replace the text and tell the story just as clearly and vividly. The black-and-white sketches are done with skill and emotion, and the story itself is filled with mystery. It’s truly unlike any book I’ve ever read. It’s somewhere between a picture book and a chapter book, it’s creative, and the connection between illustrations and text is remarkable. I very much enjoyed it.


The Invention of Hugo Cabret is foremost good storytelling, with a sincerity and verbal ease reminiscent of Andrew Clements (a frequent Selznick collaborator) and themes of secrets, dreams, and invention that play lightly but resonantly throughout.” —Horn Book Magazine review excerpt

“This hybrid creation, which also includes movie stills and archival photographs, is surprising and often lovely, but the orphan’s story is overshadowed by the book’s artistic and historical concerns… Nonetheless, bookmaking this ambitious demands and deserves attention—which it will surely receive from children attracted by a novel in which a complex narrative is equally advanced by things both read and seen.”–Jennifer Mattson, Booklist Online review

Library Use Suggestion: This book deals a lot with movies, invention, and machinery. A couple activities could be done with this book. Children could create their own movie using a mix of real life and magic and fantastical elements. Or children could design their own automation and explain what it would do.


Module 2: Jumanji

27 06 2010

Book Cover

Summary: One afternoon two restless children discover a board game that has been abandoned in the park and they decide to play. However, they soon discover that this is no ordinary board game, this is a board game that comes to life, causing a stampede of rhinos, a pack of rhinos, and other outrageous things to come to life right in their house. The children must hurry and finish the game before their house is destroyed, or worse their parents come home to find what has been unleashed on the house!

Citation: Van Allsburg, Chris. (1981) Jumanji. Boston: Houghton Mifflin

My Impressions: Although I’ve seen the movie a long time ago, I don’t remember reading Jumanji. This was a very entertaining book with great black-and-white illustrations that enhance the text and bring it to life. I thought the characters were believable as well as the scenario–I for one remember clearly the intense boredom that overcomes children with too much time on their hands. Jumanji also reminded me of one of my favorite childhood books, also by Chris Van Allsburg, The Polar Express. Obviously the style of illustration is very similar, but the idea that kids can experience fantastical adventure that is unique to childhood and that adults do not understand is also what I love about both books.


“A beautiful simplicity of design, balance, texture, and a subtle intelligence beyond the call of illustration.” —New York Times Book Review

Library Use Suggestions: A fun story time activity to go along with this book is to have children create their own “board” games on a piece of paper.