Author bio

Chris Van Allsburg

Chris Van Allsburg - book author

Chris was born in Grand Rapids, Michigan on June 18, 1949, the second child of Doris Christiansen Van Allsburg and Richard Van Allsburg. His sister Karen was born in 1947.

Chris’s paternal grandfather, Peter, owned and operated a creamery, a place where milk was turned into butter, cream, cottage cheese, and ice cream. It was named East End Creamery and after they bottled the milk (and made the other products) they delivered it to homes all around Grand Rapids in yellow and blue trucks.

When Chris was born, his family lived in an old farm house next door to the large brick creamery building. It was a very old house that, like the little house in Virginia Lee Burton’s story, had once looked over farmland. But by 1949, the house was surrounded by buildings and other houses. Chris’s father ran the dairy with Chris’s three uncles after his grandfather Peter retired.

When Chris was three years old, his family moved to a new house at the edge of Grand Rapids that was part of a development; a kind of planned neighborhood, that was still being built.

There remained many open fields and streams and ponds where a boy could catch minnows and frogs, or see a firefly at night. It was about a mile and a half to Breton Downs School, which Chris walked to every day and attended until 6th grade, when the Van Allsburg family moved again.

The next house they lived in was an old brick Tudor Style house in East Grand Rapids. It was a street that looked like the street on the cover of The Polar Express. The houses were all set back the same distance from the street. Between the street and the sidewalk grew enormous Elm trees whose branches reached up and touched the branches of the trees on the other side of the street. Chris moved to this street with his mom, dad, sister, and two Siamese cats. One named Fafner and the other name Eloise.

Chris went to junior and senior high school in East Grand Rapids. He didn’t take art classes during this time. His interests and talents seemed to be more in the area of math and science.

Chris Van Allsburg is the author of books: The Polar Express, Jumanji, The Chronicles of Harris Burdick: 14 Amazing Authors Tell the Tales, The Mysteries of Harris Burdick, The Widow's Broom, Queen of the Falls, The Garden of Abdul Gasazi, The Sweetest Fig, Two Bad Ants, The Stranger


Author books

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Title
Description
01
The Polar Express is a treasured holiday tradition. This lavish gift set includes a CD audio recording read by Liam Neeson, a keepsake "All Aboard" ornament, and a note from author Chris Van Allsburg.

Awarded the prestigious Caldecott Medal in 1986, The Polar Express has sold more than 7 million copies, become a classic holiday movie, and been translated into stage productions that take place across the United States during the holiday season.
02
Left on their own for an afternoon, two bored and restless children find more excitement than they bargained for in a mysterious and mystical jungle-adventure board game. "Mr. Van Allsburg's illustrations have a beautiful simplicity of de-sign, balance, texture, and a subtle intelligence beyond the call of illustration." -- New York Times Book Review
03
Who is Harris Burdick?

For more than twenty-five years, readers have been puzzling over the illustrations by this enigmatic artist. Thousands of children have been inspired to weave their own stories to go with his intriguingly titled pictures. And now, some of our most imaginative storytellers attempt to solve the perplexing mysteries of Harris Burdick.

Enter The Chronicles of Harris Burdick to read this incredible compendium of stories: magical, funny, creepy, poignant, inscrutable, these are tales you won't soon forget.
(front flap)
04

Fourteen black-and-white drawings, each accompanied by a title and a caption, entice readers to make up his or her own story. A fictional editor's note tells of an encounter with an author and illustrator named Harris Burdick, who provided the images and captions as samples, each from a different picture book he had written. He left with a promise to deliver the complete manuscripts if the editor chose to buy the books. Burdick was never seen again, and the samples are all that remain of his supposed books. Readers are challenged to imagine their own stories based on the images in the book.

05
A widow finds herself in possession of an extraordinary broom left by a witch who fell into the widow's garden.
06
She could remember standing in a park near the falls, hypnotized by the sight and sound, and holding her father’s hand as they took a walk that would lead them closer. That’s what everyone wonders when they see Niagara . . . How close will their courage let them get to it?

At the turn of the nineteenth century, a retired sixty-two-year-old charm school instructor named Annie Edson Taylor, seeking fame and fortune, decided to do something that no one in the world had ever done before—she would go over Niagara Falls in a wooden barrel. Come meet the Queen of the Falls and witness with your own eyes her daring ride!
07
THE GARDEN OF ABDUL GASAZI, the imaginative Van Allsburg tale of a boy, a dog, a duck, and a nasty old magician.
08
"These figs are very special," the woman whispered. "They can make your dreams come true." -- Thus Monsieur Bibot, the cold-hearted dentist, was given two ordinary-looking figs as payment for extracting a tooth from an old woman's mouth. Monsieur Bibot refused to believe such nonsense and proceeded to eat one of the figs for a bedtime snack. Although it was possibly the finest, sweetest fig he had ever tasted, it wasn't until the next morning that Monsieur Bibot realized it indeed had the power to make his dreams come true. While dragging his poor dog, Marcel, out for his walk, he discovered that his strange dream from the night before was becoming all too real. Determined to make good use of the second fig, Monsieur Bibot learns to control is dreams. But can he control Marcel? Once again Chris Van Allsburg explores the mysterious territory between fantasy and reality in an uncanny tale that will intrigue readers of all ages.
09
The three-time Caldecott medalist tells the tale of two ants who decide to leave the safety of the others to venture into a danger-laden kitchen.
10
The enigmatic origins of the stranger that Farmer Bailey hits with his truck and brings home to recuperate seem to have a mysterious relation to the weather. Could he be Jack Frost?