The Imaginative Worlds of Chris van Allsburg

You are probably already familiar with author/illustrator Chris Van Allsburg from his best known children’s books: The Polar Express and Jumanji. Both have been turned into extremely successful feature films. They also both earned Van Allsburg a Caldecott Medal for best illustrated children’s book in the year they were published.

Van Allsburg’s work features detailed drawings in a limited range of colors and with unusual perspectives. Look closely and you’ll almost certainly find something surprising, or even other-worldly. Although his books are usually in a picture book format, they are suitable for older kids and adults, as well. You’ll need to spend some time on each page, soaking up the words and the illustrations, to appreciate the richness of the art form.

The Garden of Abdul Gasazi by Chris van Allsburg Jumanji by Chris van Allsburg

Queen of the Falls by Chris van Allsburg Just a Dream by Chris van Allsburg Zathura by Chris Van Allsburg

The Widow's Broom by Chris van Allsburg  Ben's Dream by Chris Van Allsburg

The Chronicles of Harris Burdick by Chris Van Allsburg and others

 

In 1984, Van Allsburg published an unusual book called The Mysteries of Harris Burdick, consisting almost entirely of strange and haunting illustrations. These illustrations were often used in schools as writing prompts. In 2011, a group of young adult authors were asked to write a collection of short stories based on the Harris Burdick illustrations. You can read the stories in The Chronicles of Harris Burdick.