Illustrator/Writer Chris Van Allsburg

clouds/flickr/cuba gallaryI just read five Chris Van Allsburg children’s books. I had read that he was a Caldecott Medal winner and asked the library to hold the books in the system for me. Although I didn’t read the ones that had won the Caldecott medal, I did read five others that leave me greatly impressed.

“The Queen of the Falls” is about an elderly woman who sought her fortune by going over Niagara Falls in a wooden barrel. This is a true story about Annie Edson Taylor, born in 1838, a retired charm school teacher old enough to be someone’s grandmother.

“The Wretched Stone” written as a ship’s log about a ship discovering an island with a terrible secret. The crew changed into apes by gazing on a stone found there.

“Zathura”, doubles as the name of a planet on a game board that Danny and his older brother Walter play with their lives at stake.

“The Wreck of the Zephyr” about a sailboat that could fly over the treetops till the boy sailor, who was out to prove he was the best, sailed over his home village and crashed.

“Probuditi”, a magic word used in a hypnotist’s spell to break it. This is about three children and what happens when two of them try to hypnotize a younger sister.

Chris Van Allsburg is one of that fine breed that can both illustrate and write children’s books and get published again and again. He received the Caldecott Medal for “The Polar Express” and “Jumanji”; two books I want to get hold of and read. “Jumanji” was made into a movie in 1995 and I think I’m going to look that up on Netflix, along with “The Polar Express” which was a blockbuster hit in 2004. From reading his website, I found out that “Zathura” was also made into a movie in 2005, so I have my queue filled out.

Chris Van Allsburg’s books are mysterious and elegant. Although they are published as children’s books, they hold a fascination for all ages. In his website along with the usual bio, where I found out how he started his career, there are story submissions by children on a mystery character called Harris Burdick. And in fact, Harris Burdick is the main character of his website and I found more delightful reading there, by the children.

From his bio, I found out he started his writing career out as a sculptor and progressed to drawing with carbon pencil and charcoal. He owes his children’s’ book career to his wife, who showed an editor his illustration of a man biting a dinner plate while his dinner partner looked on. The editor found the illustration so captivating and full of promise that his wife went away with a contract for a book.

Do you find children’s literature fun and relaxing to read and do you have a favorite children’s author?


About ClaraBowmanJahn

Journal writer. Author of "Annie's Special Day" And coauthor of Edmund Pickle Chin, A Donkey Rescue Story." Proud mother and grandmother of wonderful kids. Wife of brilliant husband. Servant of two cats. Member of Pennwriters and SCBWI.
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12 Responses to Illustrator/Writer Chris Van Allsburg

  1. SuziCate says:

    My all time favorite children’s book is “I’ll love you forever”. If you google it, you will find such a beautiful bittersweet story behind the birth of the book as it is such a tender story.


    • Yes, I did google it and the mommy who sings to her son that “she’ll love you forever as long as I live you’re my baby to me” and then he sings the song to her when she grows old and then again when he has a little girl. Sounds beautiful. Mom favs comments all say they can’t read it through without crying.
      Thank you for this comment, Suzicate, the book sounds like a winner. 🙂


  2. Clar,
    My six-year old grandson,Jacob, is a voracious reader and currently
    reading a series called, The Magic Treehouse. I never thought I really was interested in children’s books but between you,Suzicate and Jacob, my curiosity has been piqued. Thanks for the inspiration 🙂


    • Hi Kathy, Mary Pope Osborne the author of “The Magic Treehouse” series is a prolific author having some 28 original books and then wrote ‘fast tracker’ books to go with the originals. There is even a game out called “The magic Treehouse game”. Sounds like I have some reading to do. 🙂
      Thanks for visiting and commenting.


  3. nrhatch says:

    Jumanji (starring Robin Williams, I believe) is a delightful movie. As is The Polar Express. Not sure that I’ve ever seen Zathura, although it sounds familiar.


  4. I love Chris Van Allsburg! I noticed you have a book, Annie’s Special Day, coming out in 2012. Did you self-pub? Nice seeing you at WriteOnCon!


    • clarbojahn says:

      Oh, I’m glad to meet a fellow Van Allsburg fan! 🙂
      No I didn’t self pub but my pub is letting me find an illustrator for it which at moment I’m having issues with.
      So no book till I have an illustrator. The one that may be it says it won’t be finished till 2012, so that’s why I set that date.
      So glad you could stop by and say “HI”.


  5. Patricia Tilton says:

    I haven’t heard Chris Van Allsburg’s name in years and haven’t looked him up. Used to buy his books for my daughter in the 1990s. Loved his work! Will have to look up his more recent books. Of course Polar Express remains my favorite. Also liked the Widow’s Broom and the Wreck of the Zephyr.

    I remain a fan of Patricia Polacco, especially her book, “The Keeping Quilt,” “Thunder Cake,” and all of the books around her heritage. She did booksignings here 4-5 times and was always such a hit with children.


    • clarbojahn says:

      Thank you, Patricia. I’ll have to look up Patricia Polacco. She sounds like someone I’d like to read.
      I’m glad you liked Chris Van Allsburg and I will read the Widow’s Broom if I can find it. Still have to read Polar Express, I don’t think it’s in the library system or I would have seen it. Will keep an eye out. 🙂


      • Oh, I like Patricia Polacco even better than Chris Van Allsburg. My favorites of hers are Thank You, Mr. Falker, and Lightning in a Jar. She has a TON! And ALL are wonderful! You’ll definitely find some of hers at your local library.


  6. clarbojahn says:

    Hi Christie,
    Good to see you! Sounds like I need to see about Patricia Polacco. Next time I’m at the library I’ll check her out. 🙂


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