27 November 2011

The Magic of Movies, I Mean Books

Isaac and I are reading The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick.  There was a lot of buzz about this book when it came out.  It is hard to define what genre it is -- it is a picture book in the sense that the story is told with pictures as much as it is with text, but it is also a novel.  It even won the Caldecott, which was rather controversial, since it doesn't fit the category as neatly as some would like.

I read the book the first time soon after it was published.  I remember being fascinated by the format.  Last summer, when we went to see the final Harry Potter movie, there was a preview for a movie called "Hugo."  As soon as I saw the title, I knew what was coming.  And, of course, I was conflicted.  I knew that the movie could never live up to the book, no matter how much I would like it to.

When it was originally reviewed, people likened the experience of reading the book to seeing a movie -- Selznick used cinematic-like methods in his illustrations to make it almost feel like the reader zoomed in to the pages and much of the story is told without words.  You watch the characters as much as you read what they are doing.

I had been planning to read Hugo to Isaac at some point, but the movie opens this week, so I decided now was a good time.  Even though I expect to be disappointed, I would like to take him to see it.  It is a fast read and we are moving through it quickly.  Isaac seems to be really enjoying it.  We are only a quarter of the way through, though, so we will see if it holds his attention.

Many librarians, and others who love the book, would argue that making a movie of a book like Hugo defeats the purpose of the book itself.  It is as much experience as it is literature.  I have not checked, but I was wondering if the book is available in an electronic format and how that would change the experience.  These are the kinds of questions and debates I am sure that we will be engaging in more frequently.  For now, though, Isaac and I will finish the book and then decide if we will see the movie.  It will be his call.

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