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The Invention of Hugo Cabret

November 3, 2008

Chers Amis,

Every so often a new invention, crafted of dreams and magic, enrobed in the written word engages our imaginations and topples us spellbound out of the box of literary convention.  Brian Selznick’s The Invention of Hugo Cabret,is such a book -a delightful ride, a carnival of unexpected pleasures, part novel, part picture book in the stylish black and white frames of a silent movie. This is our October Book Club selection.  While I am not leading the October meeting, I still wanted to share a few ideas for rabbit trails that Dr. P sent to the group (with a few additions of my own). If you haven’t read this (WHY NOT?), go directly to the bookstore or library and obtain a copy. Today.  You will LOVE it!

The book for October is remarkable in an of itself.  Here are rabbit trails and lesson ideas to go with the reading.  I have highlighted those items I would like every book club member to do and have with them at the October meeting.  Hope the ideas will inspire you to go beyond and work hard while having fun!

  • Start literally by looking at the book’s front cover. What do the wheels, cogs and gears mean?  Is the keyhole there to unlock the inside story? Are the characters like separate cogs, each with a unique secret?  Alone, what could each character have figured out?

“In an old house in Paris that was covered in vines….”

  • So begins a series of famous tales about a young girl named Madeline living in Paris.   Located the text of that introductory poem and write an introductory poem for this month’s book club selection which is also set in Paris – The Invention of Hugo Cabret.  Be creative!

  • Visit the NPR site to hear the author reading from the book:

Take a look at Antique Wind-up Toys at this site:

  • For a brief history of automatons:

  • This movie on You Tube shows a 1895, black and white silent movie – a precursor to modern 3D movies.  Audiences screamed and scrambled to get out of the way.  Tie this movie to a scene in the book.

“Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” –Sir Arthur C. Clarke.


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