Tuesday, August 5, 2008

The Invention of Hugo Cabret

I came across this "children's" book while doing some research for a project. Brian Selznick does a spectacular job of weaving true events with his fictional story in this sort of graphic novel. Actually, I don't think this book has a category yet. It's a deliciously chunky 526-page hardcover book with about 300 pages of full-spread illustrations.

The writing and illustrations are mesmerizing, but what really intrigued me was his description of an invention, an automaton or self-operating machine.

The one in this book is a man at a desk, like an 18th century robot. Here's the thing, HE WRITES, more importantly HE DRAWS. . . ELABORATE PICTURES! I got goose bumps when I read about it, and when I heard that these objects are real—well, I just had to tell y'all.

"Automata" were made with mechanical parts similar to those you find in a music box. See more here. They are things of true beauty and wonder. In a time saturated with virtual technology, it's nice to see an invention that is so tangible.

1 comment:

Jenna said...

I fell in love with the book when it won the Caldecott award for children's illustrations. You may want to check out Shaun Tan's, The Arrival. I bought this and Hugo Cabret because the books' illustrations are so moving and full of stories within themselves that I find I look through them often finding more and more, especially from Tan's The Arrival. It gives a whole new spin on immigration. It allows the reader to know what it actually feels like to be a foreigner, and all with no words!! Incredible!