Dust from the Book Fairy

What’s next? Audio versions of graphic novels? The Invention of Hugo Cabret

Posted on: 19 June 2008

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After getting the grant to order some Playaway audio books for my library, I got to do the fun part: SHOPPING! (Shopping for books with NOT MY MONEY is my favorite part of this job). Poking around Follett Titlewave, I noticed that this year’s Caldecott was available on Playaway.

If you’re unfamiliar with The Invention of Hugo Cabret, you really must at least flip through it. It’s set in Paris, where Hugo lives in the walls of train station with his uncle and learns to are for the clocks of the station from him—until he disappears, abandoning Hugo to care for the clocks alone. Recently orphaned, all Hugo has of his father is a broken automaton (clockwork man) that he is determined to fix by stealing parts from the station’s toyshop. He’s caught by the toyshop owner who takes his father’s notebook of plans for fixing the automaton. In getting them back, Hugo discovers a secret about the toyshop owner, his automaton, and his love of movies.

So much of the story is told in gorgeous silvery pencil illustrations that I wondered how in the world Scholastic would manage to translate this to audio. We got it, and it has turned out to be one of the most popular audio titles at my library. For the most part, music and sound effects substitute for illustrations, but occasionally there are verbal descriptions that aren’t in the text. It is very interesting to follow along in the book while listening to the audio, which most of the kids seem to do.

I wonder if they consulted with the author about the audio version?

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