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The Invention of Hugo Cabret



Last updated Thursday, January 8, 2009

Author: Brian Selznick
Date of Publication: 2007
ISBN: 0439813786
Grade Level: 4th    (GLCs: Click here for grade level guidelines.)
Date(s) Used: Jan. 2009

Synopsis: Orphan, clock keeper, and thief, Hugo lives in the walls of a busy Paris train station, where his survival depends on secrets and anonymity. But when his world suddenly interlocks with an eccentric, bookish girl and a bitter old man who runs a toy booth in the station, Hugo's undercover life, and his most precious secret, are put in jeopardy. A cryptic drawing, a treasured notebook, a stolen key, a mechanical man, and a hidden message from Hugo's dead father form the backbone of this intricate, tender, and spellbinding mystery.

Discussion topics for before reading:
•  The pictures are part of the story, and you need to see them to understand setting, characters, emotions, etc. For each picture: what do you see? Where is the character going?

Discussion topics for during/after reading:
•  Where does the story take place?
•  What is the importance of the clock and the eye?
•  What is an "inspector"?
•  What work does Hugo do for his uncle?
•  Why does Hugo need his notebook back?
•  What is an automaton (look at the pictures)? Why would you need one? (For example, an automaton that could write something - it could sign checks over and over again for you)
•  Would the automaton write the same thing over and over again or write different things?

Craft ideas:
•  Draw a scene, then draw the more detailed parts of the scene (like the book); you can draw a viewfinder
•  Draw/make an automaton. What would yours do?
•  Create a viewfinder. Cut out 2 large circles the same size. Divide one circle into 4 quadrants. Draw a picture in the first quadrant and draw the same scene closer up in the remaining 3 quadrants. Cover the drawn circle with the other circle. Make a small hole in the center of both circles. Knot a string/yarn and thread it though the hole and knot again. On the top circle (not the one you drew on), cut out a pie wedge shape. Do not cut all the way to the hole in the center. Swivel the view finder to zoom into your scene.

*Note: These craft ideas are just suggestions. You can use them, but you don’t have to use them. You can expand upon them, or add your own twist. Remember, though, that the focus of your time should not be on the development and execution of a craft; the focus should be on the read-aloud and the enjoyment of the book!