All About Adolescent Literacy

All about adolescent literacy. Resources for parents and educators of kids in grades 4-12.
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A video interview with

Brian Selznick

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From the time Brian Selznick was a young boy, it was clear that he had a gift for drawing. On his kindergarten report card, Brian's teacher noted that he was a good artist. At school Brian's classmates liked to gather around to see what he was sketching. During his childhood in New Jersey, Brian's parents encouraged him to take art classes. At the end of high school, Brian decided to attend art school instead of a traditional liberal arts college. Brian's father, an accountant, worried that his son wouldn't be able to make a living as an artist.

After high school, Brian Selznick attended the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD). While at RISD, Selznick wanted to design sets for theatre productions. Yet after graduating, he realized that he actually wanted to become a children's book illustrator. To learn about children's literature, Selznick took a job at Eeyore's Books for Children, a popular bookstore in Manhattan. For three years he read books, sold books, and worked on his own. Selznick's first book, The Houdini Box, was published in 1991 while he was still working at the bookstore.

Soon Brian Selznick earned a reputation as a talented up-and-coming illustrator. He earned awards for illustrating books written by authors such as Pam Muñoz Ryan, Andrew Clements, and Barbara Kerley. In 2002 Selznick's illustrations for The Dinosaurs of Waterhouse Hawkins earned him a prestigious Caldecott Honor. In 2007 Selznick branched out into new territory when he published the first novel-length book that he both wrote and illustrated. This breakthrough masterpiece, The Invention of Hugo Cabret, immediately jumped to the top of The New York Times Best Sellers List.

Brian Selznick currently divides his time between Brooklyn, New York and San Diego, California.

Selected Books

from Brian Selznick

The Invention of Hugo Cabret

Age Level: 9-12

Image and text combine in a unique presentation to tell the story of an orphan boy who lives between the walls of a Paris train station and repairs its clocks. Monochromatic illustrations change perspective and move in and out, and alternate with text to tell this mysterious, breathtaking, and riveting tale. Winner of the 2008 Caldecott Medal.

Buy The Invention of Hugo Cabret

The Robot King

Age Level: 9-12

Lonely and isolated, Lucy and Ezra build a robot that comes alive to become the Robot King. The Robot King leads the children on a fantastic, almost surreal adventure until the children return home when they see their father. Handsome illustrations make a complicated tale become tangible and real.

Buy The Robot King

The Boy of a Thousand Faces

Age Level: 9-12

Though only 10 years old, Alonzo King wants to be the "boy of a thousand faces" just like his favorite actor Lon Chaney is the "man of a thousand faces" in the horror movies that Alonzo watches on late-night television. As Halloween approaches, Alonzo becomes an expert in using make-up and knowledge of The Beast.

Buy The Boy of a Thousand Faces

Houdini Box

Age Level: 9-12

When he was 10 years old, Victor wanted to be just like master magician Harry Houdini. For years Victor did not realize what magic he held in his hands with a box initialed "E.W." What happened years later when Victor discovered that Houdini's given name was Ehrick Weiss creates a plausible and captivating glimpse at a major historical figure.

Buy Houdini Box


Age Level: 9-12

Two stories of different young people, one told wordlessly using illustration, the other in narrative, converge in this uniquely told, riveting book.

Buy Wonderstruck

The Marvels

Age Level: 9-12

The journey begins at sea in 1766, with a boy named Billy Marvel. After surviving a shipwreck, he finds work in a London theatre. Nearly a century later, runaway Joseph Jervis seeks refuge with an uncle in London. Albert Nightingale's strange, beautiful house captivates Joseph and leads him on a search for clues about the house, his family, and the past. A gripping adventure and an intriguing invitation to decipher how the two stories connect

Buy The Marvels