Photo of an author and Scholastic kids news reporter posing together

Quade Kelley with Brian Selznick

Scholastic Kids Press (Quade Kelley); (background)

A Big New Book

A Scholastic Kid Reporter talks to award-winning author Brian Selznick about his latest book. 

Scholastic, Inc.

How can two tiny seeds make a big impact on the planet? Readers will find out in author and illustrator Brian Selznick’s new novel, Big Tree

It’s the story of Louise and her protective brother, Merwin—two sycamore seeds that live in a prehistoric forest. After being separated from their mother, the siblings must find their way in a strange new world. The story takes place over tens of millions of years.

“While working on Big Tree, I learned that what feels like a long time to us isn’t long at all for nature,” Selznick explains.

Two of his previous best-sellers, The Invention of Hugo Cabret and Wonderstruck, were turned into movies. But Big Tree started out as a movie script. Filmmaker Steven Spielberg had asked Selznick to write a movie about nature from nature’s point of view. The project was put on hold during the Covid-19 pandemic. Selznick ended up reimagining the story as an illustrated novel that’s more than 500 pages.

Creating Communities

Although Big Tree is fictional, Selznick wanted everything he described to be scientifically accurate. He visited the New York Botanical Garden and spoke with a paleobotanist, a scientist who studies ancient plants. He taught Selznick about fossil species—plants, like sycamore trees, that have been on Earth since before the time of the dinosaurs. 

A park ranger later explained that an underground network of fungi and roots connects all the trees in a forest, enabling them to share resources.

Those experts gave Selznick the ideas for Big Tree’s main characters and one of its key themes—the importance of working together to survive.

He says, “Forests are really communities.”

Selznick hopes readers will make their own connections to nature after reading Big Tree. He also wants them to find inspiration in the story of two little seeds that want to save the planet.

“We all can do something to help,” Selznick says. “No matter how small you feel, there’s always something you can do.”

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