Assignment 1: Short Essay – The Invention of Hugo Cabret
The Invention of Hugo Cabret (Brian Selznick, 2007) tells the story of a mysterious young boy named Hugo, living in the walls of a Paris train station in 1931. It follows Hugo’s adventures, dreams, thoughts, and most of all, his quest to answer the many questions he has about his past. The Invention of Hugo Cabret “is a graphic novel that successfully alternates slabs of written texts with pages of black and white illustrations” (Lawn, 2012, Para 4). It is discovered firstly, how words and images work together to portray action and suspense. And secondly, how the words and images together arouse emotion from the reader and draw in the audience. These tools and techniques used by Selznick work together to create a sophisticated and intriguing story.
The book begins in writing, describing to the reader what is about to be witnessed, followed by an array of illustrations “that zoom in from the moon to the tunnels within the Paris metro train station. Hugo Cabret moves amongst the commuters until, unseen, he slips into the tunnels behind the walls and makes his way to his 'home'. Through a peephole Hugo watches an old man selling toys and the text begins” (Maples Magazine, 2007, para 1). Immediately this captures the audience, as it evokes curiosity and allows the reader to form their own perspective, using their own words and imagination.
The way Selznick uses words and illustrations together to tell the story creates action and suspense. This is perfectly portrayed in chapter 12 when it is time for the message to be revealed by the automaton, a machine Hugo recovered from the museum fire where his father had died. “The children watched as the clockwork gears and levers inside the man began to engage. They whirred and turned and spun. Hugo’s heart raced” (Selznick, p.237). This is then followed by a series of images of the automaton drawing the message; it’s the moment Hugo has been...
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