“Al’s Book Club” debuted on the Today Show this morning and chose The Invention of Hugo Cabret (Scholastic), by Caldecott Honor winner Brian Selznick. The book club, which is being co-sponsored by Scholastic, is aimed at inspiring children to read, especially in the summer. Advice on the Today Show Web site includes suggestion for how to set up a book club.

Scholastic’s chief academic officer Francie Alexander appeared on the televised segment and, along with two children from Al’s Book Club, revealed the selection. (A Scholastic spokesperson told PW that book selections can be from any publisher.)

Hugo Cabret, published in March, was deemed a “masterpiece” in a starred PW review. The novel with Selznick’s charcoal illustrations tells the story of Hugo, a 12-year-old orphan who lives in the walls of a Paris train station. Hugo contructs an automaton out of clock parts in order to bring his father back to life. The book has stirred discussion among members of the children’s book world, with some praising Selznick’s mix of text and pictures as innovative, and others criticizing what they see as an over-reliance on illustrations. Selznick will make an appearance on the Today Show on May 18.

Al’s Book Club will pick three more books during the summer, in hopes of inspiring kids in the 9-11 age group to keep reading while school is out. Scholastic will donate up to 50,000 books, through Reading Is Fundamental, to children who might not otherwise be able to own a book of their own.

Also check out PW's interview with Brian Selznick.