Chris Van Allsburg Biography


Birthday: June 18, 1949 (Gemini)

Born In: Grand Rapids, Michigan, United States

Chris Van Allsburg is an American illustrator and children’s author who rose to popularity with his books ‘The Garden of Abdul Gasazi’, ‘The Polar Express’ and ‘Jumanji’. After graduating with an MFA in sculpture from Rhode Island School of Design, Chris set up a sculpting studio. However, work was slow to come by and he began sketching in his free time. His wife encouraged him to illustrate for children’s books and soon enough Chris began writing his first book for children. In 1979, he published ‘The Garden of Abdul Gasazi’ and the book was a hit. He won several awards for this and has never had to look back since. His next hit came with his 1981 release of ‘Jumanji’, which won him the Caldecott Medal. In 1985, he published ‘The Polar Express’, another Caldecott Medal winner. The popular children’s book not only catapulted him to international fame, but it was also adapted for the big screen. Other popular books by Van Allsburg include ‘The Mysteries of Harris Burdick’, ‘Zathura’ and ‘Queen of the Falls.’ For his achievements to children’s literature, Chris Van Allsburg has been awarded an honorary degree from the University of Michigan and the Regina Medal for Lifetime Achievement in Children’s Literature.
Quick Facts

Also Known As: Van Allsburg

Age: 74 Years, 74 Year Old Males


Spouse/Ex-: Lisa Allsburg (m. 1974)

father: Richard Van Allsburg

mother: Doris Christianen Van Allsburg

Born Country: United States

Children's Authors American Men

Notable Alumni: Rhode Island School Of Design ( RISD )

More Facts

education: East Grand Rapids High School, Rhode Island School of Design (RISD), University of Michigan

Chris Van Allsburg studied at the University of Michigan. He majored in several fields, including sculpture, bronze casting, wood carving, resin molding, and other design techniques. He graduated with a degree in the arts in 1972. After this, he enrolled at the Rhode Island School of Design and graduated in 1975 with a master’s degree in sculpture. With an inclination towards sculpting, he decided to set up his own studio. However, his business didn’t take off immediately and he started sketching while spending his time at home.
His wife, Lisa Van Allsburg, a primary school teacher, recognized his talent and decided to use some of his illustrations to teach her students. This sparked off an idea of a career as an children’s illustrator. Together, they approached a children’s book editor together and his career as an illustrator was born. This gave birth to his first book ‘The Garden of Abdul Gasazi’, published in 1979. The book was a major hit, and he was awarded the Caldecott Honor Medal in 1980 for the same. Since then, Chris has never had to look back and he embarked on a successful career as an artist. Though Chris spent time sculpting, he also started creating stories and focusing more on illustrations in the meantime.
In 1981, he wrote ‘Jumanji’, which also won the Caldecott Medal. He followed this up with other books such as ‘Ben’s Dream’ (1982), ‘The Wreck of the Zephyr’ (1983), ‘The Mysteries of Harris Burdick’ (1984), and ‘The Enchanted World: Ghosts’ (1984) before writing his greatest hit ‘The Polar Express’ in 1985. The book won him a third Caldecott Medal and it was subsequently made into a major feature film starring Tom Hanks. Following this, he wrote several other books such as ‘The Enchanted World: Dwarfs’ (1985), ‘The Stranger’ (1986), ‘The Z Was Zapped’ (1987), ‘Two Bad Ants’ (1988), ‘Just a Dream’ (1990), ‘The Wretched Stone’ (1991) and ‘The Widow's Broom’ (1992). He also joined the film crews of adaptations of ‘The Little Mermaid’ (1989) as the visual development artist and ‘Jumanji’ as its screenwriter.
In the 1990s, he wrote books such as ‘The Sweetest Fig’ (1993), ‘The Mysteries of Harris Burdick’ (1994), and ‘Bad Day at Riverbend’ (1995). He won the Boston Globe Honor for ‘The Mysteries of Harris Burdick.’ In the 2000s, he wrote ‘Zathura’ (2002) and ‘Probuditi!’ (2006) before embarking on the role of an executive producer for the films ‘How to Deal’ (2003), ‘The Polar Express’ (2004), and ‘Zathura: A Space Adventure’ (2005). His latest books include the 2011 release ‘Queen of the Falls’ and the 2014 book ‘The Misadventures of Sweetie Pie’.
Apart from his own books, Chris has also illustrated books by Mark Helprin. For his contributions and achievements to the world of children’s literature, he has been conferred the Regina Medal for Lifetime Achievement in Children’s Literature. In 2012, he was awarded an honorary degree from the University of Michigan for his outstanding contributions. Currently, Allsburg is busy with the production and development of the next Jumanji movie titled ‘Jumanji: The Next Level’. He also spends his time going on tours and visiting bookstores around the world to meet children and interact with them.
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Family & Personal Life
Chris Van Allsburg was born on 18 June 1949, in East Grand Rapids, Michigan to Doris Christianen and Richard Van Allsburg. He has an older sister. The family grew up in the Grand Rapids, and he graduated from East Grand Rapids High School. While studying at art school, he met his future wife Lisa Morrison, who was also a student in the same college. The couple married in 1974 and currently live in Beverly, Massachusetts. They have two children: Sophia and Anna. His hobbies include riding his bike, playing the recorder, and playing tennis.

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