Chris Van Allsburg
Chris Van Allsburg has been named one of the most intriguing authors and illustrators of children’s books. He has a unique style that captivates children and adults alike. Often, a person’s background and experiences influence their work. Imagination has many roots into the childhood of an individual.
Chris Van Allsburg grew up in a quiet suburban setting in Grand Rapids, Michigan. During the 1950’s, when he was a child, the town was a place that seemed like a haven for any young boy. There were open fields that provided places for the children to enjoy a baseball game in the spring. The houses were not separated by fences, but rather blended together by the yards. The setting in which he grew up provided activities and locations that fostered imagination. He used to go down to the edge of a river and tried to catch tadpoles. Walking around in the wilderness that surrounded his town could be very relaxing and allow for the mind to conjure up many ideas. The child’s mind has a great ability to make up stories, but when you are constantly “practicing” at make-believe, you tend to become better and better at it. You also come to develop your own unique style.
As a young boy Chris Van Allsburg enjoyed drawing. He loved to sit down and put his imaginative ideas to paper for his own viewing pleasure. In school and with his family he was not encouraged to spend so much time drawing and painting. Since he was a boy, he was encouraged to participate in sports more often. Chris Van Allsburg abandoned his passion for drawing and went along with the pressures of his family and friends. He would not discover his passion for a few more years.
When Chris Van Allsburg entered college he took a freshman course in drawing. There at the University of Michigan he came to rediscover his love of art. He went on to major in fine arts and then received a degree in sculpture from the Rhode Island School of Design. His style was that of works that had a narrative feeling to them. The storyteller in him started to become evident when they became available for display in New York City.
His big break as a children’s book writer came as a result of his wife. She was a producer of a television show and invited one of the show’s guests home for dinner on night. After dinner she and Chris Van Allsburg showed him some of his illustrations as part of a casual after-dinner conversation. He was immediately impressed and gave the number of Walter Lorraine, an editor with Houghton Mifflin Company, to him and asked him to call him. When he finally contacted Mr. Lorraine, the man was so impressed with his drawings that he convinced Chris Van Allsburg that he should venture into children’s book writing.
His first book was The Garden of Abdul Gasazi in 1979. He showed the world that he was a talented storybook writer. The public responded by buying more than a million copies. This book also received a Caldecott Medal Award. He would...