Chris Van Allsburg

Published September 24, 2009 by Molly

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As a kid growing up in Grand Rapids, Chris Van Allsburg’s interests lay firmly in the math and science camp, though he sketched a bit in his spare time. When a college admissions officer noted that the University of Michigan had an Architecture and Design department during Van Allsburg’s interview, the younger decided to hoodwink his way into the program by claiming that his art skills were too advanced for high school art classes (of which he’d taken none.) The ploy was successful.

Van Allsburg’s first illustrated work was published in 1979, and since then he’s produced 18 books in total, including all-time classics  Jumanji and The Polar Express. Van Allsburg’s illustrations have a soft glow to them, as though each image were viewed through a damp mist. His manipulations of light and shadow are super-expressive, easily conveying wonder, coziness, danger, and a host of other moods. This ability to conjure the nuances of childhood emotion is what establishes Van Allsburg among the great illustrators of his generation.

Today the author lives in Providence, Rhode Island and enjoys tennis, biking, and hanging out with his children. He can also play the recorder with his nose.

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One comment so far

  1. Sam Smith says:

    Yes. Perhaps the success of WTWTA will inspire someone to produce a Van Allsburg movie that isn’t a total disgrace to his work. Shot in black and white, done the right way. I would love a Harris Burdick movie!

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