The tale takes place Paris in the 1930s and features an automaton as a central element. Profusely illustrated, the pictures are critical to the telling of the tale...they don't just decorate the text. By all accounts -- and I have had dozens of individuals write to me directly to say so -- this is a classic.
From the author, Brian Selznick:
I began thinking about this book ten years ago after seeing some of the magical films of Georges Méliès, the father of science-fiction movies. But it wasn't until I read a book called Edison's Eve: The Quest for Mechanical Life by Gaby Woods that my story began to come into focus. I discovered that Méliès had a collection of mechanical, wind-up figures (called automata) that were donated to a museum, but which were later destroyed and thrown away. Instantly, I imagined a boy discovering these broken, rusty machines in the garbage, stealing one and attempting to fix it. At that moment, Hugo Cabret was born.
If you need a gift for a young person or someone young-at-heart, you should consider The Invention of Hugo Cabret.