Brian Selznick

American illustrator and writer Brian Selznick was born July 14, 1966. Selznick, the oldest of three children of a Jewish family, was born and grew up in East Brunswick Township, New Jersey. He is the son of Lynn (Samson) and Roger E. Selznick. His grandfather was a cousin of Hollywood producer David O. Selznick. He graduated from the Rhode Island School of Design and then worked for three years at Eeyore’s Books for Children in Manhattan while working on The Houdini Box, about a boy’s chance encounter with Harry Houdini and its aftermath. It became his debut work, a 56-page picture book published by Alfred A. Knopf in 1991.

Selznick won the 2008 Caldecott Medal from the American Library Association for the year’s best-illustrated picture book, recognizing The Invention of Hugo Cabret.Its Caldecott Medal was the first for a long book, 533 pages with 284 pictures. Selznick calls it “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. At the time it was “by far the longest and most involved book I’ve ever worked on. It has inspired students to action, including a fourth grade class staging a silent film festival, and a group of fifth graders who turned the book into a 30-minute modern dance.

The Invention of Hugo Cabret follows a young orphan named Hugo Cabret in Paris in the 1930s as he tries to piece together a broken automaton. The book was inspired by a passage in the book Edison’s Eve by Gaby Wood recounting the collection of automata that belonged to Georges Méliès. After his death they were thrown away by the museum that he donated them to. Selznick, a fan of Méliès and automata envisioned a young boy stealing an automaton from the garbage. The Invention of Hugo Cabret was adapted as a film, Hugo, by director Martin Scorsese and released in November 2011. Selznick cited Maurice Sendak, author of Where the Wild Things Are, and Remy Charlip, author of Fortunately, as strong influences on his books The Invention of Hugo Cabret and Wonderstruck.

Prior to winning the 2008 Caldecott Medal, Selznick had been a runner-up for the award, winning a Caldecott Honor in 2002 for The Dinosaurs of Waterhouse Hawkins: An Illuminating History of Mr. Waterhouse Hawkins, Artist and Lecture. Other awards include the Texas Bluebonnet Award, the Rhode Island Children’s Book Award, and the Christopher Award. Apart from Writing the Invention of Hugo Cabret and Wonderstruck Selznick has written the Buried History of Paleantolgy and illustrated Doll Face Has a Party, Our House: stories of Levittown by Pam Conrad, Frindle by Andrew Clements, The Boy Who Longed for a Lift, by Norma Farber, Riding Freedom by Pam Muñoz Ryan, Amelia and Eleanor Go For a Ride by Pam Muñoz, Ryan, Barnyard Prayers by Laura Godwin, The Doll People by Ann M. Martin and Laura Godwin, The Landry News by Andrew Clements, The Dinosaurs of Waterhouse Hawkins by Barbara Kerley, The School Story by Andrew Clements, When Marian Sang by Pam Muñoz Ryan, Wingwalker, by Rosemary Wells, The Dulcimer Boy by Tor Seidler, Walt Whitman: words for America by Barbara KeRiley ,Lunch Money by Andrew Clements, Marly’s Ghost: a remix of Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol by David Levithan and The Runaway Dolls by Martin and Goodwin.

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