Van Allsburg, Chris

Van Allsburg, Chris, 1949–, American writer and illustrator of children's books, b. East Grand Rapids, Mich., B.F.A. Univ. of Michigan, 1972, M.F.A. Rhode Island School of Design, 1975. Originally a sculptor, Van Allsburg began creating black-and-white art with pencil and charcoal, becoming a master draftsman. This led to his first picture book, The Garden of Abdul Gasazi (1979), which was followed by Jumanji (1981; Caldecott Medal), a tale of a magical board game that became the basis for a film (1995). The Wreck of the Zephyr (1983), a fantasy novel about a boy and a boat, was followed by The Mysteries of Harris Burdick (1984), whose 14 illustrations invite readers to create stories around them, and The Polar Express (1985; Caldecott Medal), which was made into an animated film (2004). His other books include The Widow's Broom (1992), The Sweetest Fig (1993), and Zathura (2002; film, 2005), a Jumanji sequel set in outer space.

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