by Brian Selznick
Selznick's book is like a treasure box full of early twentieth-century delights: magic lanterns and mechanical men, clockworks and secret histories. It's also somewhere between a graphic novel and young-adult literature: the two forms are beautifully integrated and both essential to the storytelling. Hugo Cabret is an orphaned boy carving out an existence in the walls of a Paris train station, continuing his dead uncle's job of setting all the clocks twice a day. If he fails to keep them running, the station master will discover that his uncle had died, and Hugo will evicted from the timekeeper's apartment. With his resources nearly exhausted, Hugo's fate becomes intertwined with those of a mysterious shopkeeper and his granddaughter. The plot is full of exciting twists and turns, some of them revealed only through the moody, atmospheric drawings. Despite its 500 pages, it's just long enough for one breathless night. In the morning, you'll think you dreamed the whole thing.