When Hugo’s guardian never fails to return home from a typical drunken evening, he is left alone in the bowels of the Paris train station clockwork. Keeping the clocks running as his uncle did, in order to evade the Station Master and the promise of a certain institutionalization, Hugo is left to fend for himself. His only solace is his dead father’s notebook and the mechanical man he saved from ashes of a burning museum. Desperate to know what the machine will write with its mechanized hand, he gradually rebuilds the machine with gears pilfered from the toy shop owner in the train station. His quest to uncover what he thinks is a message from his lost father incurs the wrath of the toy maker and the friendship of the strange girl who is the old man’s ward.
Selznick’s ethereal tale is perfectly rendered as much through words as illustration. Told nearly half through written word and half through beautiful pencil drawings, the world of Hugo and the toy maker unravels gradually as each begrudgingly comes to terms with their own situations. A brief little melancholy story well worth the read.