THE INVENTION OF HUGO CABRET is a wonderful hybrid of words and pictures by Brian Selznick. It’s been out for a few years, I bought it back then and truly fell in love. Recently, I decided to read it again and I have to insist, if you are a reader, writer, artist or just want a quick escape, YOU MUST read this (if you haven’t).
I cannot pinpoint ‘why’ I am so in love with this, maybe because I’m an artist — appreciative of the beautiful emotion Selznick’s detailed crosshatch style conveys or maybe because I’m a writer, envious of how Selznick’s economy of words sucks me into another place and time, maybe even it’s the fact that I’m a film maker, thankful of the history Selznick presents or maybe it’s because I’m a designer and the intricate detail of the book’s production makes me never want to put it down, I am a sucker for reverse type. Clearly though, not everyone that reads it, specializes the way I do — so what is the draw for you and others?
It is the story of course, helped by one of those cosmic instances where all of these magnificent things align to make it as near perfection as I’ve seen. Of course it is being made into a movie, by none other than Martin Scorsese. If you’re familiar at all with movies, you may think this an odd choice for what is essentially children’s/family fare. But, Scorsese is a huge supporter of the arts in all form especially film preservation, which plays a big part in Hugo’s story. So it does make perfect sense for him to direct this adaptation and I am fully confident it will be as near perfect as the book.
Here’s an exercise for all of you writers, especially of children’s lit, thumb through one of Hugo’s drawing sequences and see if you can write in words, in the style of Selznick, the sequence of the story they depict (not the thousands they paint mind you, that’s not Selznick’s style!) . The truly remarkable thing about these sequences that start wide and establishing, then escalate until tight and in your face, is they could have easily been one or two larger pictures that are then ‘zoomed in on’ for effect — each one of these is a NEW drawing.
I love that hybrid books are now a popular ‘genre’ among publishers and I’m thankful to Brian Selznick for inventing Hugo Cabret and contributing to the trend.
Here’s a little treat for those of you that read like me.