Brian Selznick's 6 favorite children's books
The award-winning author and illustrator who inspired the film Hugo recommends more stories that will capture kids' imaginations
Fortunately by Remy Charlip (Aladdin, $7). A wonderful, hilarious story that embraces the joy of turning the page. Each page turn brings a surprise, as the story swings from fortunate to unfortunate events. "Fortunately there was a parachute on the airplane. Unfortunately there was a hole in the parachute...."
Thirteen by Remy Charlip and Jerry Joyner (out of print). A grand experiment in storytelling. Thirteen stories unfold simultaneously on 13 double-page spreads. Some simply depict abstract shapes transforming from page to page; some offer more traditional narratives. (The sinking ship in a bottle is my favorite.)
The Juniper Tree translated by Lore Segal and Randall Jarrell (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, $28). The definitive edition of the Grimms' fairy tales, accompanied by some of Maurice Sendak's most brilliant and haunting images. Each picture is filled with strange allusions and unforgettable characters. You'll feel like you've never heard (or seen) these stories before.
My Daniel by Pam Conrad (HarperCollins, $6). A woman brings her grandchildren to the American Museum of Natural History in New York City to show them a dinosaur skeleton she and her brother discovered in Nebraska when they were young. One of my two favorite books set in a museum. The other, of course, is...
From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E.L. Konigsburg (Atheneum, $7). The ultimate museum fantasy book for generations of children. Who wouldn't want to run away to the Metropolitan Museum of Art? Who wouldn't want to bathe in a fountain and sleep in a king's bed?
King Matt the First by Janusz Korczak (Algonquin, $14). A king dies, leaving his young son in charge of the country. What would you do if you were a child with unchecked power? Send the grown-ups to school and the children to work, of course! But this whimsical premise gives way to a serious look at the importance and intelligence of children. Korczak ran an orphanage in Warsaw. When offered the chance to escape the Nazis, he refused to leave his children behind and perished with them in the camps.
— Brian Selznick has written and illustrated several award-winning children's books, including The Invention of Hugo Cabret, which inspired the multi-Oscar-winning film Hugo. Hugo was released this week on DVD and Blu-ray.