by Cristy Meiners, producer
I first discovered illustrator and writer Brian Selznick on a trip to New York City. It was 2007 and I wandered into the big Scholastic store on Broadway where a salesman shared with me a brand-new book called The Invention of Hugo Cabret. I’m sure he explained the premise, the marriage between illustrations and words, and how Selznick was inspired by silent movies of the ‘20s, but mostly, I just remember loving that book right then and there. I liked the weight of it. It felt full of promise. When I finally did get my own copy and read it one rainy afternoon (I was unemployed at the time and looking for work), this story of a young boy who wanted to create something meaningful resonated with me.
A few months later, I was producing for The Bob Edwards Show and learned that Selznick had won the Caldecott. We interviewed him from San Diego and I had a chance to tell him how what his book had meant to me at that low point in my life. As Bob says in today’s interview, The Invention of Hugo Cabret is a hard act to follow, but Selznick did something I didn’t think was possible: he moved beyond that beautiful book and created perhaps something even more extraordinary. Wonderstruck is another weighty book—I think this was is even heavier than Hugo; the two of them together would provide you with a good workout. Some of the things Wonderstruck touches on are a bit weighty, too: loss, friendship, discovery, finding your place in the world. But Selznick isn’t heavy handed. While any adult would appreciate its stories and images, this is a book of childlike wonder and curiosity.
Read Selznick’s Caldecott speech here.