Brian Selznick Author of the Month Transcript

Our January Author of the Month, Brian Selznick, author of the 2008 Caldecott Medal-winning illustrated novel The Invention of Hugo Cabret, joined Scholastic to answer some student questions.He also gives some suggestions for discussion topics that teachers can use too!

Brian Selznick Author of the Month


Rlotto asks: Our parent child book club is reading Hugo Cabret. What would be some very important questions or discussions we shouldn't skip over?
Let's see, what would be some good questions?  How about: 

  • Why is the story told partly with pictures? 
  • How is the book like a silent movie? 
  • Is it ok to steal if you feel you have no other choice? 
  • Which characters do you relate to most? 
  • Hugo's special skill is fixing machines; do you have a special skill? 
  • Can you think of other fictional stories that are based on historical facts (almost everything about Melies in the book is true). 
  • It might also be fun to find a DVD of A Trip to the Moon and watch it with the book club.  Flicker Alley made a great collection of all his surviving films (almost 300).  You can buy them, Netflix them, or check them out from a library.  Melies is the star of the movie, as well as the director and designer.  That might be fun to talk about as well.



Books102 asks: Why are there so many pictures in The Invention of Hugo Cabret instead of words?
I wanted the book to read like a movie because the story is very much about the history of cinema.  I used different techniques from film, like close ups, edits, pans, long shots, to help tell the story.


Thejackman asks: Hi. How are you? I am your biggest fan. Why did you make Georges Melies mean?
Georges Melies is based on a real person.  He was once a famous film maker, and he ended up losing all his money and worked at a cold dreary toy booth in a train station in Paris.  I tried to imagine how sad and upsetting that would be for him, and I imagined that he would become mean because he was so unhappy.


AliceS12 asks: What do you think would have happened to Hugo if he hadn't met Georges or Isabelle? Do you think he would have ended up in an orphanage?
I don't know what would have happened to Hugo if he hadn't met Georges or Isabelle!  What do you think would have happened to him?  Do you think he would have ended up in an orphanage?  I hope not!  That was the main thing that Hugo feared.  Do you think something else could have happened to him?


Susanstan asks: You came to our school whenWaterhouse Hawkins was released.  We loved you then and we love you now.  My question for you is when the movie of Hugo Cabret is coming out.  I loved how your book was like a movie.  I only hope that the movie will do your book justice.  A fantastic black and white movie would be great to see.
There is a team of people working on making Hugo into a movie right now!  I don't know how long it's going to take, but I think it is going to be good.  I don't think it will be a black and white movie, but hopefully there will be parts that are black and white, and lots of references to old films.  It's going to be exciting to see the Hugo's world come to life on screen, from the interior of the train station walls to the Film Academy Library and the theater where Melies has his tribute.  It will be fun to have a book about movies become a movie!


Poseystar asks: I loved how the pictures in Hugo Cabret tell the story as much as the words. Will you make another book like this with different characters?
Thanks Poseystar!  I am working on a new book right now that will also be told with words and pictures, but it's going to be very different than Hugo.  Hugo took me two and a half years to create, and it was really hard to do.  A lot of the time I didn't know if the whole thing was going to work because it felt so complicated.  That's where I'm at with the new book, not sure if it's all going to come together!  But I like the ideas and the characters so I'm going to keep working on it and hopefully it'll be done in about two years!