Who woulda thunk that big, bad Hollywood needs humble children’s book publishing to bring some razzle-dazzle to the 2012 Oscars? But included in Tuesday morning’s announcement of the 84th annual Academy Award nominations were a whopping 21 nods for films based on kids’ books, demonstrating that children’s books rule in Hollywood – for this year at least.

Hugo, based on The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick, leads the pack with the most – 11– nominations, including Best Picture. War Horse, based on Michael Murpurgo’s 1982 novel, is not far behind, with six nominations (also including Best Picture). Both books were published by Scholastic. Only The Artist garnered more nominations than War Horse, with 10, while Moneyball is tied with it at six.

In addition to the Best Picture category, Hugo and War Horse will compete head to hoof for awards in Art Direction, Cinematography, Music (Original Score), Sound Editing, and Sound Mixing. Hugo also nabbed nominations for Costume Design, Visual Effects, and Writing (adapted screenplay).

Although both had powerhouse directors (Martin Scorsese and Steven Spielberg respectively), only Scorsese received a directing nomination. Nor did Spielberg get the nod for his other movie based on a children’s book: The Adventures of Tin Tin, which was pretty much snubbed, getting only one nomination – for Music (Original Score).

Though Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 was the highest-grossing movie of the year, with more than $1.3 billion in worldwide ticket sales, it got only three nominations, all of the not-so-glamorous I think-I’ll-grab-a-snack-while-they-announce-them variety: Art Direction, Make-up and Visual Effects. Still, Harry was one of very few sequels that the Academy deigned to notice at all.

Apparently children’s books provide such great movie fodder that it doesn’t matter who the actors are. Of the four films based on children’s books that were nominated, not one captured a nomination for best actress, best actor, best supporting actor, or best supporting actress. And now with children’s books snagging so many nominations, perhaps we’ll soon see a new award: Best Children’s Book Author Whose Book Was Adapted to Film. Here’s hoping...