5 Minutes With Brian Selznick

The author of 'The Invention of Hugo Cabret' doles out advice for kids who want to write.


 Photo: Jamey Mazzie

Scholastic Parents: Why did you illustrate Hugo so elaborately?

Selznick: When I first started working on Hugo, I didn’t know how I would illustrate it. I just wrote it as a novel. But since the story is about the history of cinema, I decided I wanted the book itself to feel like a silent movie. So I went back and took out all the words I could and replaced them with pictures.

SP: How did that affect the story?

Selznick: The narrative became dependent on both the words that were left behind and the illustrations. A lot of times the pictures just support the text, but with Hugo they tell much of the story.

SP: Do you think your books encourage boys to read more?

Selznick: I know what it means to get the right book into the right kid’s hand. So I’m just thrilled whenever I hear a story about anybody, boy or girl, who likes the book.

SP: What advice would you give to kids who want to write?

Selznick: Be friends with people who are smarter than you are! I’ve gotten a lot of help from wise friends over the years.

Elizabeth Callahan is the assistant editor for Parent & Child.

More From Our 100 Greatest Books' Featured Author Series:

  • Mo Willems (Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus!) on getting past writers' block
  • Grace Lin (Where the Mountain Meets the Moon) on what parents should look for in a children's book
  • Sandra Boynton (Moo, Baa, La La La!) on the coolest part about being an author
  • The Madeleine L'Engle you never knew

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