Brian Selznick (born July 14, 1966) is an American illustrator and writer best known for illustrating children's books. He won the 2008 Caldecott Medal for U.S. picture book illustration recognizing The Invention of Hugo Cabret, which was his first long work as a writer.
Selznick, the oldest of three children, was born and grew up in East Brunswick Township, New Jersey. 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 that tells of 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.
Selznik 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 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.
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