'Hugo' got 11 Oscar nominations. But the Oscars are only the most recent acclaim for Hugo, the movie and, Hugo, the children's book by Brian Selznick
The film “Hugo” made headlines Tuesday when it received 11 Oscar nominations, the most of any film this year and just squeaking ahead of silent film “The Artist” with 10.
But, for Hugo, that’s nothing new. Every incarnation of the story – of a boy who lives at a Paris train station – has been buoyed by good word of mouth since the novel by author Brian Selznick was published
Selznick's book, “The Invention of Hugo Cabret,” came out in 2007, and was adorned with an intricate cover that shows a hole that could fit a key set against a Paris skyline. In the novel, an orphan named Hugo Cabret lives inside a train station, working to keep the clocks running so the trains can depart on time. He meets a crotchety toymaker and the toymaker’s goddaughter, Isabelle, as he works to find a key that he believes could start an automaton that belonged to his father and which he thinks could contain a secret message.
The book has almost 300 illustrations for its 533 pages and was the first novel to win the Caldecott Medal, a prize given to picture books. Selznick was moved to write the story after hearing of the filmmaker Georges Méliès, who is portrayed by Ben Kingsley in the film and plays a large part in the story. As in the book, Méliès had no money in the later years of his life and ran a booth selling children’s toys in a station in Paris. He also had automata, as seen in the book.