Brian Selznick
Selznick at the 2018 National Book Festival
Selznick at the 2018 National Book Festival
Born (1966-07-14) July 14, 1966 (age 57)
East Brunswick Township, New Jersey
OccupationIllustrator, writer
GenreChildren's picture books, historical novels
SubjectBiography, history
Notable works
Notable awardsCaldecott Medal (2008)
Inkpot Award (2017)[1]
SpouseDavid Serlin
RelativesDavid O. Selznick (first cousin twice removed)

Brian Selznick (born July 14, 1966) is an American illustrator and author best known as the writer of The Invention of Hugo Cabret (2007), Wonderstruck (2011), The Marvels (2015) and Kaleidoscope (2021). He won the 2008 Caldecott Medal for U.S. picture book illustration recognizing The Invention of Hugo Cabret.[2] 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.[3][4][5][6] He is the son of Lynn (Samson) and Roger E. Selznick.[7] His grandfather was a cousin of Hollywood producer David O. Selznick.[8] 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.[9][10]

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.[3] 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."[11] At the time it was "by far the longest and most involved book I’ve ever worked on."[9] It has inspired students to action, including a fourth-grade class that staged a silent film festival[12] and a group of fifth graders who turned the book into a 30-minute modern dance.[13]

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.[14] The Invention of Hugo Cabret was adapted as a film, Hugo, by director Martin Scorsese and released in November 2011.[15]

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.[14]

Before 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.[16] Other awards include the Texas Bluebonnet Award, the Rhode Island Children's Book Award, and the Christopher Award.


As writer

As writer and illustrator

As illustrator


  1. ^ Inkpot Award
  2. ^ "Caldecott Medal & Honor Books, 1938–Present"
  3. ^ a b Rich, Motoko (January 26, 2008). "Reads Like a Book, Looks Like a Film". The New York Times. Retrieved November 11, 2010.
  4. ^ Bloom, Nate (November 25, 2011). "Jewish Stars 11/25". Cleveland Jewish News.
  5. ^ "Obituaries – Central Jersey Archives".
  6. ^ Makin, Cheryl. "Harry Potter anniversary edition covers designed by East Brunswick's Brian Selznick", Courier News, April 10, 2018. Accessed June 25, 2019. "As a child, Selznick started on his artistic career path by fashioning tin foil sculptures in his parents' East Brunswick kitchen and taking local art classes. A 1984 graduate of East Brunswick High School, Selznick, who went onto study at Rhode Island School of Design, published his first book, The Houdini Box, in 1991 while working in a children's bookstore in New York."
  7. ^ "The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick".
  8. ^ "Brian Selznick: how Scorsese's Hugo drew inspiration from his magical book". The Guardian. February 11, 2012. Retrieved July 7, 2015.
  9. ^ a b "Biography". Brian Selznick ( Retrieved February 20, 2013.
  10. ^ "The Houdini box". WorldCat. Retrieved February 20, 2013.
  11. ^ Selznick, Brian (2007). The Invention of Hugo Cabret: A Novel in Words and Pictures. ISBN 978-0439813785.
  12. ^ Stewart, Andrew (June 22, 2009). "Pupils Call for Silents". Variety. 415 (6): 3. Archived from the original on November 17, 2015. Retrieved November 16, 2015.
  13. ^ Toroian Keaggy, Diane (October 9, 2009). "Selznick earns a gold sticker and kids' acclaim". St. Louis Post-Dispatch (MO). Retrieved October 10, 2011.[permanent dead link]
  14. ^ a b Selznick, Brian (2008). "Caldecott Medal Acceptance Speech: Make the Book You Want to Make". Children & Libraries: The Journal of the Association for Library Service to Children. 6 (2): 10–12. Retrieved October 10, 2011.[permanent dead link]
  15. ^ "Jude Law and Sir Christopher Lee join Scorsese film". BBC News. June 30, 2010. Retrieved November 11, 2010.
  16. ^ "Caldecott Medal & Honor Books, 1938–Present". Awards and Grants. Association for Library Service to Children. American Library Association. Retrieved October 10, 2011.
  17. ^ Summary: "Brian Selznick takes readers on an intimate tour of the movie-making process ..."--
    "The Hugo movie companion : a behind the scenes look at how a beloved book...". LCC record. Retrieved 2013-02-20.
  18. ^ Summary: "A visually driven, widely accessible companion book to the movie adaptation of Brian Selznick's Wonderstruck"-- Provided by publisher [Scholastic].
    "The Wonderstruck movie scrapbook". LCC record. Retrieved 2024-02-21.
  19. ^ Summary: "Twelve prominent children's authors take turns writing the chapters in this novel about a twelve-year-old girl, puberty, and meddling mythological gods and goddesses."
    "12: a novel". Library of Congress Catalog Record (LCC). Retrieved 2013-02-20.
  20. ^ "The Enduring Mystery of Walt Whitman's Meditation on Love and Sexuality". Time. Retrieved June 15, 2022.
  21. ^ "Comics Book Review: Live Oak, with Moss by Walt Whitman". April 1, 2019. Retrieved June 15, 2022.
  22. ^ "Brian Selznick Communicates Wordlessly with Walt Whitman in Abram's 'Live Oak, with Moss', PopMatters". PopMatters. May 17, 2019. Retrieved June 15, 2022.
  23. ^ "'Live Oak, with Moss' | All Of It". WNYC Studios. Retrieved June 15, 2022.

Further reading