Rating 4 Stars
With 284 pictures between the book’s 533 pages, the book depends equally on its pictures as it does on the actual words. Selznick himself has described the book as “not exactly a novel, not quite a picture book, not really a graphic novel, or a flip book or a movie, but a combination of all these things.” The Caldecott Medal is for picture books, in 2008 this was first novel to receive.
The primary inspiration is the true story of turn-of-the-century French pioneer filmmaker Georges Méliès, his surviving films, and his collection of mechanical, wind-up figures called automata. Selznick decided to add automata to the storyline after reading Edison’s Eve by Gaby Wood, which tells the story of Edison’s attempt to create a talking wind-up doll.
Méliès actually had a set of automata, which were either sold or lost. At the end of his life Méliès was broke, even as his films were screening widely in the United States. He did work in a toy booth in a Paris railway station, hence the setting. Selznick drew Méliès’s real door in the book.
I really enjoyed this book. the images gave it a movie like vibe (now making me really interested in the film) and I loved the combination of sketches and photo’s. the ending was incredibly clever and although it did not take me long to read it fully immersed me while I was there. plus it feels good to say I have read a 500+ page book in under 3 hours (shorter time than some movies). it is not the sort of story that would have captured my attention had it not been for the images (which make up half the book) but the images lifted it out of the expected story and turned it into an experience that is not quite reading a novel or a picture book and yet not quite watching a movie but was truly enchanting.
“I like to imagine that the world is one big machine. You know, machines never have any extra parts. They have the exact number and type of parts they need. So I figure if the entire world is a big machine, I have to be here for some reason. And that means you have to be here for some reason, too.”
“ If you lose your purpose … it’s like you’re broken. ”
“Time can play all sorts of tricks on you. In the blink of an eye, babies appear in carriages, coffins disappear into the ground, wars are won and lost, and children transform, like butterflies, into adults.”
“If you’ve ever wondered where your dreams come from when you go to sleep at night, just look around. This is where they are made. ”
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