My 79-year-old father is a voracious reader but I've never known him to read fiction. His tastes run to science, history, languages, and investing. At his local bookstore yesterday, he bought "Irreligion : A Mathematician Explains Why the Arguments for God Just Don't Add Up" by John Allen Paulos but he also bought "The Invention of Hugo Cabret'' by Brian Selznick (profiled in the New York Times). It recently won the Caldecott Medal for the most distinguished picture book for children.
My father, who had read a review of "Cabret,'' wrote in an e-mail to me yesterday that "the first line of the book jacket blurb had me hooked: 'Orphan, clock keeper, and thief, Hugo lives in the walls of a busy Paris train station, where his survival depends on secrets and anonymity.'" The book is 535 pages in length but more than one-half consist of black and white drawings. At the bookstore, the clerk he asked to direct him to "Cabret" said she, her husband, and her children had all read and loved it.
In a second e-mail last night, my dad continued, "I began reading the book this afternoon, stopped reading for supper, and then couldn't put it down until I finished it. It is by far the most engaging children's book I have ever read -- wonderful imagery, very instructive of human feelings, having a goal and working to make it happen -- just grand."