The Invention of Hugo Cabret, by Brian Selznick, is a magical tale of a quiet secretive boy named Hugo, an orphan who lost his father in a fire and is forced to live with his uncle, the keeper of the clock towers until one day he disappears altogether. Hugo is all too relieved and worried at the same time.
He has no money and has to steal food to avoid starvation. He never leaves the station because if anyone finds out he is living by himself he will be sent to the orphanage. And if anyone catches him stealing food he will be sent to jail.
But Hugo has a much deeper mission than just staying alive. Hugo’s father was on the verge of completely reconstructing an old discarded automaton which could have revealed something extraordinary. Coincidence? Hugo is convinced otherwise. By the end of his journey, Hugo’s persistent curiosity leads him to new discoveries about his past, present, and future.
This book won the Caldecott Medal in 2008. It reads like a story with traditional written sentences but also like a graphic novel. The full page successive drawings flip like a slow motion movie complete with close-ups and distance shots. This would be a great book for adventure-seeking fourth to eighth graders.
Frindle, written by Andrew Clements and illustrated by Brian Selznick, is the story of Nick, a clever fifth grader, who likes to stir up trouble from time to time. Mrs. Granger sees right through his antics and shows him who’s boss. He retaliates by making up a new word and inspiring the whole school to join him in defying Mrs. Granger by using the new word despite punishment and detention.
This stirs up a lot of commotion and soon gains nationwide media attention. Nick realizes that all this fame isn’t what it is cracked up to be. He becomes changed, more reserved, and wishes that things would return back to normal. Eventually the fame dies down and Nick bounces back to his old self. I enjoyed the story until the very last word. I think this would be a good book for third to sixth graders.
Ahwoooooooo!, written by Yannick Murphy and illustrated by Claudio Munoz, tells the story of Little Wolf who wants to learn to how to howl but no one has time for him. He finally asks Grandpa Wolf and realizes that’s who he should have asked all along! With his help, Little Wolf howls the greatest howl ever heard and everyone comes running to join him. This would be a really fun book to read to preschoolers through second graders and let them howl along.