Big Tree: A Conversation With Author and Illustrator Brian Selznick

Episode 145 · April 20th, 2023 · 30 mins 16 secs

About this Episode

In this episode, we introduce you to siblings Merwin and Louise. They are two tiny sycamore seeds, living in a world filled with dinosaurs, asteroids, and volcanoes. Merwin and Louise are the creation of author and illustrator Brian Selznick, who discusses his new novel, Big Tree, with host Suzanne McCabe

The siblings’ story began with an idea from filmmaker Steven Spielberg. It evolved into Big Tree, an epic adventure of more than 500 pages. In the episode, you’ll hear a clip of the audiobook, which is narrated by Meryl Streep.

Brian is a #1 New York Times bestselling author and illustrator whose books have sold millions of copies, garnered countless awards worldwide, and been translated into more than 35 languages. He broke open the novel form with his genre-defying thematic trilogy, beginning with The Invention of Hugo Cabret, which was adapted into Martin Scorsese's Academy Award-winning movie, Hugo.

→ Resources

Big Tree: The fate of all life on Earth may depend on the bravery of two little sycamore seeds, Louise and Merwin, in this epic adventure.

Big Tree audiobook: The audio version of Big Tree is narrated by Meryl Streep and features music composed by Ernest Troost.

→ Highlights

Brian Selznick, author, Big Tree
“[Steven Spielberg] realized he had never seen a movie told from the point of view of nature—a movie about nature from nature’s point of view.”

“The pandemic hit, and it became very clear that the movie was never going to happen…. But I had fallen in love with these characters and the story.”

“When you begin Big Tree, it looks like we’re in a forest today, but then you eventually discover there’s a dinosaur walking by, and you realize we’re 66 million years in the past.”

“The anthropomorphizing that I’m doing is all based in scientific ideas.”

“We’re facing a real threat to the environment today. The world is in real danger.”

“I really do hope that [readers] take away a love for the characters because that’s the main thing I feel about Merwin and Louise.”

→ Special Thanks

Producer: Constance Gibbs
Sound engineer: Daniel Jordan
Music composer: Lucas Elliot Eberl

→ Coming Soon

Betty C. Tang: Parachute Kids

Scholastic Art & Writing Awards