Marvelous Machines in Real Life and in Brian Selznick Books

Marvelous Machines in Real Life and in Brian Selznick Books

Did you know that Brian Selznick’s grandfather’s cousin is the storied Hollywood producer and screen writer David O. Selznick, best known for producing Gone with the Wind (1939) and Rebecca (1940)? I only bring that up because Brian Selznick’s books have that same old-timey film quality despite being books. It’s like Brian Selznick himself is out of time; in our timeline but really from the past.

The Marvels by Brian Selznick

It’s Brian’s storyline as well as his illustrations that look like storyboards for a movie that give that same old Hollywood film glamour to his books. It should be noted that his books look deceptively long, but three fourth of the book is illustrations (without words). In a future world where books are a multimedia event, I would like to see his illustrations made into stop motion animated movie to accompany the text. That would bring his book down to a slim volume, enticing even the most reluctant of readers.

The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick

Today’s book musing is courtesy of these two videos that I found through The Kid Should See This. Each video, not related, is a marvelous mechanical wonder. They both remind of me The Marvels. I hope you enjoy them too.


Rowland Emett lived and worked in Birmingham for 30 years, designed the machines for Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, and was a successful illustrator throughout his life.

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang

“In a forgotten old penny arcade a wooden doll is stuck in place and time.”

This is Ma’agalim (Circles), a beautifully animated music video by Tel Aviv-based band Jane Bordeaux and director Uri Lotan.

Confession. My 11 year old son read The Invention of Hugo Cabret but it was not his cup of tea. He likes Percy Jackson, what can I say? I couldn’t get him to read The Marvels or Wonderstruck (yet…). How about you? Do your kids like this hybrid of book: part chapter book, part wordless picture book fantasy-like realistic fiction?

 To examine any book more closely at Amazon, please click on image of book.

Marvelous Machines in Real Life and in Brian Selznick Books

I am an Amazon affiliate which means if you buy anything through my blog, I get a very small kickback at no cost to you. I use this money to pay for postage and handling for my giveaways.

This is an interesting melding of creativity with science, engineering, and technology … just like STEAM!


By Mia Wenjen, PragmaticMom


  1. Beth Elliot

    Would just like to let you know how much I appreciate your blog.
    I am a self confessed chn’s literature nut, being both a teacher and a grandmother.
    I appreciate the breadth of interests in your lists as well as the multicultural nature.
    It gives me lots of fresh stimulus for teaching and a constant stream of worthwhile literature to meet the needs of my grand kids (and me!!), who are all very different.
    Hard to imagine how you could improve on what you do, but I live in New Zealand which has a rich culture of children’s literature which would be worth your investigation. Older authors like Margaret Mahy, Joy Cowley and Maurice Gee are classics for us, but there is a plethora of newer writers who are just as good. Much of our writing, especially over the last 20 years or so, is very diverse, particularly in a Maori/Pacific Island sense. A lot of the books in your lists are available in NZ libraries so hopefully the reverse is true.
    Keep doing what you so well, there are those of us out here who really love it!
    Thanks so much Mia

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