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The Invention of Hugo Cabret
by Brian Selznick
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1.This book is called The Invention of Hugo Cabret. What is Hugo's "invention?" Could the word refer to more than one thing? Could Hugo have "invented" a new life for himself (or for someone else) in addition to a mechanical man?
2.Brian Selznick tells Hugo's story in a unique way. He uses a lot more pictures than you find in most novels. Sometimes he tells Hugo's story in words and sometimes in pictures. Why do you think he did this? How did you like it? What are some advantages and disadvantages of having so many pictures in a novel?
3.Selznick also uses only black-and-white pictures--no color ones. What are some reasons for why he might have done this? Some authors say that they like to use black-and-white art because it lets people use their imagination to fill in the colors in their mind. Did you "fill in" any colors while you were reading the book? What are some of the colors you saw in your mind? Why?
4.A lot of other authors have at times used only black-and-white pictures. What books have you read that have only black-and-white illustrations? How do they compare to The Invention of Hugo Cabret's pictures?
5.You may have noticed that a lot of the drawings in this book look as though they have something draped over them. It's as though you're looking at the pictures through a veil or net. Can you think of any reason why Selznick might have used this technique? Does it make the story seem a little more mysterious? Does it remind you of the lenses you can put on a camera, including a movie camera?
6.Hugo loves a movie called The Million that he and Isabelle go to see in a theater. It has an "amazing" chase scene in it. "He thought every good story should end with a big, exciting chase." (p. 202) Why do you think Selznick wrote that? What happens right after it in the book?
7.Hugo spends a lot of time trying to fix things like clocks or the mechanical man, or automaton, that he finds on the street. He likes machines because each one has a purpose. "Maybe that's why a broken machine always makes me a little sad, because it isn't able to do what it was meant to do," Hugo says. He adds, "Maybe it's the same with people. If you lose your purpose... it's like you're broken." (p. 374) How does this relate to the rest of the novel?
8.The story of Prometheus is important in The Invention of Hugo Cabret. There's a picture of Prometheus on pages 344-345. We learn that he was "finally set free" from his chains. What character or characters in this book does he resemble?
9.Hugo's friend Isabelle loves looking at photographs. She says, "You can make up your own story when you look at a photo." (p. 193) Pick a photograph in The Invention of Hugo Cabret and make up a story to go with it. You might start with the picture of the man hanging from the clock on pages 173-174 or with the picture of the rocket crashing into the moon on pages 352-353.
10.Hugo thinks it's his fault his father died in a fire. (p. 124) Do you agree or disagree with him? Why?
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