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Brian Selznick
D03 9553 Brian Selznick.jpg
Born (1966-07-14) July 14, 1966 (age 55)
East Brunswick Township, New Jersey
Occupation Illustrator, writer
Nationality American
Period 1991–present
Genre Children's picture books, historical novels
Subject Biography, history
Notable works
Notable awards Caldecott Medal (2008)
Inkpot Award (2017)
Spouse David Serlin

Brian Selznick (born July 14, 1966) is an American illustrator and writer best known as the writer of The Invention of Hugo Cabret (2007) and The Marvels (2015) and Wonderstruck (2011). He won the 2008 Caldecott Medal for U.S. picture book illustration recognizing The Invention of Hugo Cabret. He is also known for illustrating children's books such as the covers of Scholastic's 20th-anniversary editions of the Harry Potter series.

Life and career

Selznick, the oldest of three children of a Jewish family, was born and grew up in East Brunswick, New Jersey, where he graduated in 1984 from East Brunswick High School. 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 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 cites 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 Lecturer. Other awards include the Texas Bluebonnet Award, the Rhode Island Children's Book Award, and the Christopher Award.


As writer

  • The Hugo Movie Companion: A Behind the Scenes Look at How a Beloved Book Became a Major Motion Picture; with additional material by Martin Scorsese and David Serlin (Scholastic, 2011)

As writer and illustrator

  • The Houdini Box (1991)
  • The Robot King (1995)
  • Boy of a Thousand Faces (2000)
  • The Invention of Hugo Cabret (2007), historical steampunk novel
  • Wonderstruck (2011), a historical novel
  • The Marvels (2015)
  • Baby Monkey, Private Eye (2018), early reader by Brian Selznick and David Serlin

As illustrator

  • Doll Face Has a Party (1994), picture book by Pam Conrad
  • Our House: stories of Levittown (1995), by Pam Conrad — about Levittown
  • Frindle (1996), novella by Andrew Clements
  • The Boy Who Longed for a Lift (1997), picture book by Norma Farber
  • Riding Freedom (1998), by Pam Muñoz Ryan — about Charley Parkhurst, fictionalized
  • Amelia and Eleanor Go For a Ride: based on a true story (1999), by Pam Muñoz Ryan — about Amelia Earhart fictionalized
  • Barnyard Prayers (2000), picture book by Laura Godwin
  • The Doll People (2000), novel by Ann M. Martin and Laura Godwin
  • The Landry News (2000, paperback), novella by Andrew Clements (1999)
  • The Dinosaurs of Waterhouse Hawkins (2001), by Barbara Kerley — about Benjamin Waterhouse Hawkins
  • The School Story (2001), by Andrew Clements
  • When Marian Sang (2002), by Pam Muñoz Ryan — about Marian Anderson
  • Wingwalker (2002), by Rosemary Wells
  • The Dulcimer Boy (2003), novel by Tor Seidler
  • The Meanest Doll in the World (2003), by Martin and Goodwin, book 2
  • Walt Whitman: words for America (2004), by Barbara Kerley — about Walt Whitman
  • Lunch Money (2005), novel by Andrew Clements
  • Marly's Ghost: a remix of Charles Dickens's A Christmas Carol (2006), by David Levithan
  • The Runaway Dolls (2008), by Martin and Godwin, book 3
  • 12: a novel (2009, Feiwel and Friends; ; also Twelve)
  • The Harry Potter series (2018)
  • Live Oak, with Moss; (2019)
  • Llanas, Sheila Griffin. Brian Selznick (Minneapolis: ABDO Pub., 2012; ) — Checkerboard biography library, Children's illustrators, 24 pages
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