I 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?
- Queen of the Falls (nonfiction) (planetesme.blogspot.com)
- Polar Express Train Comes To Life At Great Smoky Mountains Railroad (prweb.com)
- Children’s Books: Picture Books (telegraph.co.uk)