Genre: Historical Fiction
Format: Audio book
Recommended Ages: 8+
Author: Brian Selznick
Read by: Jeff Woodman
Paris, 1931, Hugo Cabret has been orphaned and left to live with his drunken uncle in the walls of train station where he and his uncle maintain the stations clocks. Hugo’s uncle mysteriously disappears and Hugo must continue to maintain the station’s clocks to keep his uncle’s disappearance a secret so that he would not be sent to the orphanage.
Hugo misses his father terribly and vows to finish fixing his father’s automaton. Hugo is convinced the automaton holds a special message for him from his father. In an effort to find parts to fix this machine, Hugo must steal from a toy booth. Once caught by the owner, he must work for the man in order to earn back his father’s notebook which holds valuable notes on the fixing the automaton. Soon enough though, Hugo finds an important connection between his father’s beloved automaton and the owner of the toy booth.
I accessed this audio book through the Fraser Valley Regional Library’s Overdrive system. Using my iPad, I was able to navigate easily through the chapters, change the volume and bookmark my progress through the story. This is my first experience with an audio book and I must say that I had forgotten how nice it is to be the recipient of a read aloud! Woodman’s cadence and tone are easy to listen to and the transitions in voice from narrator to characters were polished and natural-sounding. Sound effects were used periodically throughout the reading but in my opinion, there could have been more such as when the automaton begins to write out its secret message for Hugo, I would have loved to hear the scratching of quill to paper at that point.
I suggest that this audio book be used as a companion with the hard copy edition as the illustrations in the hard copy are a large part of the experience (and magic) of the story. Selznick himself states, “the images in my new book don't just illustrate the story; they help tell it."(Selznick,nd)