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The Invention of Hugo Cabret

Reading Discussion Guides

The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick

About the Book

Hugo’s uncle maintained the clocks in a Paris train station. When his uncle disappears, Hugo must keep the clocks running smoothly to keep his secret life. As he keeps his hidden existence, he befriends a girl he meets at the toy store, and, eventually, the man who runs the toy store. Together, they find a much greater mystery to solve.

Though the size of the book might immediately frighten some readers, many pages are dedicated to fabulous black/white illustrations that make the book read like a movie (or at least a flip book!) Brian Selznick is best known as an illustrator, but here he has created one of the most original books of the year, winner of the Quill Award for Best Children’s Chapter book of 2007.

Discussion Questions

  • Are the words or the pictures more important to this story? Or are both necessary?
  • This book has also been produced in audiobook, with sound effects in place of the pictures. Listen to a little bit of it. Does this change your view of the story? How?
  • There was a real person named Georges Melies, who was one of the earliest film directors. The old films mentioned in the story were real, too. You can watch some of them here:
  • How are the book’s illustrations similar/different from these movies?
  • Hugo sometimes lies and steals so he can stay in the train station and solve the mystery. Was this right or wrong to do? Could Hugo have done things differently?
The Invention of Hugo Cabret

The Invention of Hugo Cabret

Brian Selznick
Age Level:
Middle Grade
Fiction, Mystery / Crime