Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Tuesday Talk: Chris Van Allsburg

525995Chris Van Allsburg is my favorite picture book author/illustrator.  I think his artwork is beautiful and his stories are unforgettable.  Most of his books have an air of mystery and the unexplained about them.  There is always a bit of the extraordinary in his books, and the pictures that accompany them are out of this world.  He once said, “I don't think ordinary things are very interesting, so I try to imagine a world that is less ordinary.” (as quoted from Goodreads).  Besides his own books, he has also illustrated a variety of other books.  For instance, an edition of C.S. Lewis' The Chronicles of Narnia (all seven titles) and  A Kingdom Far and Clear: The Complete Swan Lake Trilogy by Mark Helprin.  His popular and bizarre Mysteries of Harris Burdick, a picture book that leaves the reader either scratching her head or dreaming of fantastical tales, inspired a collection of short stories by various popular authors, each depicting a different picture in the book.  If my memory is correct, the stories were chosen through a writing contest sponsored by The New Yorker. 

420282Van Allsburg's very first book, The Garden of Abdul Gasazi, won him a Caldecott Honor in 1980.  FYI, the little dog in that book appears in every single one of his books.  His second book, Jumanji, won him the Medal in 1982.  He was awarded his second Caldecott Medal in 1986 for The Polar Express.  He has had three of his picture books turned into movies (Jumanji, Polar Express and Zathura).  Although the Caldecott committee has failed to recognize his work since 1986, he continues to write and illustrate marvelous books.  His last book came out in 2008.  I'm hoping he hasn't retired.  I can't wait for my daughter to be a little older so I can share his work with her.  If you haven't read his books, I highly recommend giving them a try today.  Happy reading!

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