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Chris Van Allsburg

Author of The Polar Express

43+ Works 26,553 Members 1,440 Reviews 37 Favorited

About the Author

Considered to be one of the foremost authors and illustrators of surrealistic fantasy for children, Chris Van Allsburg was born in Grand Rapids, Michigan, in 1949. He received his B. F. A. at the University of Michigan and his M. F. A. at the Rhode Island School of Design. He married Lisa Morrison show more and currently teaches at the Rhode Island School of Design. Van Allsburg's work is highly praised for the excellent artisanship of his illustrations, which often have a surreal element. His first book, The Garden of Abdul Gasazi (1979), concerning a lost dog found by a magician, and his second book, Jumanji (1981), about a strange board game that comes to life, brought him quick praise. Jumanji won the Caldecott Medal in 1982. The Polar Express (1985), Van Allsburg's most popular book, deals with the idea that the ability to believe in things beyond one's experiences helps to keep a person young. It also won a Caldecott Medal in 1986. Other books by Van Allsburg include The Z was Zapped, and Just a Dream, a story about a boy who learns to be ecological. Van Allsburg's sculptures have also been exhibited at many New York galleries. (Bowker Author Biography) show less
Image credit: Author of children's books Chris Van Allsburg (right) and NASA engineer Jennifer Keyes (center) speak with Digital Learning Network host Rachael Manzer during a live videoconference on Nov. 16 at Langley Research Center. Photo by Jeff Caplan. (nasa.gov)


Works by Chris Van Allsburg

The Polar Express (1985) 9,519 copies
Jumanji (1981) 3,135 copies
The Mysteries of Harris Burdick (1984) 1,598 copies
Just a Dream (1990) 1,280 copies
Two Bad Ants (1988) 1,195 copies
Zathura (2002) 955 copies
The Widow's Broom (1992) 939 copies
The Garden of Abdul Gasazi (1979) 913 copies
The Stranger (1986) 849 copies
The Sweetest Fig (1993) 746 copies
The Wreck of the Zephyr (1983) 684 copies
The Wretched Stone (1991) 639 copies
A City in Winter (1996) — Illustrator — 434 copies
Queen of the Falls (2011) 393 copies
Probuditi! (2006) 368 copies
Ben's Dream (1982) 324 copies
Bad Day at Riverbend (1995) 317 copies
The Veil of Snows (1997) — Illustrator — 238 copies
Z for Zephyr 1 copy

Associated Works

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (1950) — Cover artist, some editions — 45,080 copies
The Chronicles of Narnia (1950) — Cover artist, some editions — 35,202 copies
The Magician's Nephew (1955) — Cover artist, some editions — 28,868 copies
Prince Caspian (1951) — Cover artist, some editions — 26,156 copies
The Horse and His Boy (1954) — Cover artist, some editions — 25,205 copies
The Voyage of the Dawn Treader (1952) — Cover artist, some editions — 25,048 copies
The Silver Chair (1953) — Cover artist, some editions — 23,630 copies
The Last Battle (1956) — Cover artist, some editions — 22,998 copies
Guys Write for Guys Read (2005) — Illustrator — 764 copies
Swan Lake (1989) — Illustrator — 662 copies
Jumanji [1995 film] (1995) — Original story — 642 copies
Zathura [2005 film] (2006) — Author — 170 copies
Jumanji (Novelization) (1995) — Contributor — 161 copies
The Big Book For Our Planet (1993) — Cover artist — 132 copies
Chris Van Allsburg's Polar Express (Music) (1998) — Contributor — 10 copies


20th century (742) adventure (2,543) allegory (1,973) animals (697) British (1,011) C.S. Lewis (2,667) chapter book (726) children (3,568) children's (6,126) children's books (1,021) children's fiction (1,642) children's literature (3,147) Christian (1,838) Christian fiction (1,159) Christianity (1,589) Christmas (1,741) Chronicles of Narnia (3,082) classic (2,703) classics (2,523) fantasy (27,785) fiction (18,105) juvenile (1,173) juvenile fiction (890) kids (774) Lewis (728) literature (1,298) magic (2,074) Narnia (8,638) novel (1,580) own (1,067) paperback (733) picture book (2,233) read (2,497) religion (1,356) series (3,261) sff (696) to-read (2,918) YA (1,535) young adult (2,884) youth (690)

Common Knowledge




Quoting from the book on the verso page, "Summary: A magical train ride on Christmas Eve takes a boy to the North to receive a special gift from Santa Claus. This book was written and illustrated by Chris Van Allsburg. It won the Caldecott Medal for the most distinguished picture book for children for year it was published.
uufnn | 457 other reviews | Feb 24, 2024 |
Like many Chris Van Allsburg books- I’m not sure what I read.

Intentionally dreamy and surreal this book takes you on a ship through the sky that crashes back to shore. Its more like an art book that is narrated than it is a narration that is illustrated.
FamiliesUnitedLL | 23 other reviews | Feb 20, 2024 |
This was my favorite children’s book as a kid. The art is fantastic
Ghost1y | 73 other reviews | Jan 28, 2024 |
We are watching the original movie again today, so I wanted to finally take a look at the book that started it all, and I have to say I am amazed by this gorgeous children's book!

The story itself is more of an obvious childish fancy within the story with the animals and elements showing up and causing a little light mayhem, but nothing that particularly inconveniences the kids and their game. It's more of the chaos and detritus the parents will discover, if it remains after the game is over.

I'm seriously impressed by how much original material went into the film script and the general tone and scale of the movie in general. It's a completely different animal and both are magical and very much their own things.

The art itself is something else! It's all in a black and white, almost photo realistic style with surrealistic elements that fill each illustration with disconcertingly visceral and bizarre whimsy that will delight children and wonderfully perturb adults. I truly recommend checking this book and/ or the art online because it truly is spectacular!
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RatGrrrl | 222 other reviews | Jan 1, 2024 |



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