I started seeing this book pop up on recommended lists about six months ago, heard it plugged by several authors at the UVU conference I went to and finally found it at my local library. The idea behind the book was interesting, but I did hesitate for a moment because it is a BIG book. Really big. I didn't know if it was something I wanted to tackle right now, but I my curiousity got the best of me and I checked it out anyway.
A couple of things to note about this book. First, it won the Caldecott Medal. Now, if you aren't up on the various medals for books, you should know that the Caldecott medal is for illustration only, not words. And, it is given to children's and young adult books.
The first dozen or so pages of this book are pictures. Big, full page pictures. What Selznick has done is take the idea of a graphic novel to the extreme. Many of the pictures are there to depict what the narrator is talking about, but equally if not more of the pictures are there to tell the story. It is truly a novel and the graphics play a very important role.
This is the story of Hugo, a boy who lives in an apartment in a train station, is responsible for maintaining the intricacies of many different clocks and he is a theif. He steals his food, clothes and various little things along the way. He meets a girl that he doesn't want to, is trying to avoid the train station security and make several intriguing discoveries throughout the course of the book.
I had so much fun with this book. It probably took me two hours to read - I know, right? This book has 544 pages. Like I said, lots of it is illustration. But the thing I really like about this book is that you could give it to a kid - let's say 4th grade and up, especially a reluctant reader, and he/she could have the satisfaction of finishing a really big book. I can't help but think it would build the self-esteem of any reader. It is currently being offered along with the Benedict Society books - if you liked those, you will like this. If you haven't read them, just trust me, you will like this. I can't think of another reading experience I had that allowed me to have so much just plain fun.