My Mum, being the literary trendsetter that she is, gave me a copy of 'Hugo' when it first came out in 2007. I loved the combination of illustrations and words - a perfect blend where, as in all good picture books, the illustrations tell the story when the words are silent.
Over the Christmas holidays, I read it to Tom and Annalise. It was really for Tom (age 8), but like most second-born kids, Annalise (age 5) did not want to miss out on anything that Tom was doing. They both felt that listening to the whole thick book of over 500 pages was quite an achievement, and like me, they loved the combination of illustration and words. Needless to say, there has been quite a bit of detailed cross-hatching drawing going on!
While I promised both the kids I would take them to see the movie once we had read the book, I decided to take just Tom. That's one of the differences between a book and film - the scary parts of a film are really magnified. I was glad that Annalise stayed at home, cooking with her Dad, rather than seeing the film - I think it would have been too complex for her.
Tom and I were both enthralled! I loved all the Paris scenery and Tom loved the cogs and wheels of the clocks. Being a fix-it, muck around with bits of wire and wood sort of kid, he was fascinated with the mechanical man.
We both liked the way the characters were portrayed - I can forgive differences in the plot but I dislike changed characters from the book to the film.
I'm glad the film used one of my favourite scenes from the book, where Hugo and Isabelle look out over Paris from one of the largest clocks in the station.
Hugo tells Isabelle: I like to imagine that the word 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.
Quite a liberating thought, isn't it, that we have exactly everything we need and that there is nothing else necessary. Parenting seems to require a spare part for everything - extra lolly bags in case an extra kid turns up to the party, the ubiquitous set of spare clothes in the car, small packets of tissues in every pocket, handbag and backpack, prepared snacks in case we are ever stuck anywhere without food ... Although I am reluctant to give up my extra tissues, perhaps I can take comfort in the fact that just maybe I have everything necessary within to parent my kids?