|The Invention of Hugo
Cabret by Brian Selznick
This book impacts me as a writer. It impacts my teaching. Here are a few teaching points I can see using Hugo for in minilessons or conferences:
- Pictures and words work together to tell the complete story. There is information in the pictures you can’t get from words and information in the words you can’t get from pictures.
- The details Selznick selects — both in pictures and words — are remarkable. I’ve found myself thinking about how he is intentional about the bits he decides to disclose. The emotions and clothes and setting and conversations are all very intentional. I think this is a crucial discussion to have with young writers. So often we just want them to add more. Writing is about selecting what you’re going to add and being intentional about the details.
- The way internal and external conflict work together is impressive. I want to do this more as a writer. Hugo’s world is balancing on a sliver. He is barely keeping it all together and Selznick makes us live in this place as readers. The external conflict piles and so does the internal conflict. It is the source of tension for the reader and is developed with sophistication and subtlety.
- In the final chapter the point of view changes from third person to first person. It is powerful. I want to try this as a writer — shifting the point of view within a story. I’d love to see what kids can do with this technique as well.