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Fall 2003 Chris Van Allsburg Bookstore Tour

"His remarkable pictures suggest mysterious worlds unseen but impending." — People

"What can I say? I have run out of superlatives for the books of Chris Van Allsburg." — Philadelphia Inquirer

America's most innovative storyteller reaches new generations of readers, with beloved books and remarkable film adaptations.

Chris Van Allsburg burst onto the children's book scene in 1979 with the publication of his first book, The Garden of Abdul Gasazi. Today, the provocative and occasionally unsettling realities he creates (rarely encountered in children's picture books) have made him one of America's most beloved storytellers, an author whose timeless tales continue to reach new generations of readers and their parents.

The Polar Express, the most cherished of Van Allsburg's titles, will be released as a major film by Warner Bros. Pictures in fall 2004, directed by Robert Zemeckis and starring Tom Hanks in the role of the train conductor.
The Garden of Abdul Gasazi, a Caldecott Honor Award winner, marks its twenty-fifth anniversary in 2004. "This is without question one of the best — and most original — picture books in years." — New York Times
Zathura, Van Allsburg's most recent book, was a New York Times bestseller in 2003, and a script has just been completed for its screen adaptation.
Jumanji, a Caldecott and National Book Award winner, was the source for the 1995 movie blockbuster starring Robin Williams and Bonnie Hunt.

The Garden of Abdul Gasazi was a remarkable achievement for a first-time author/illustrator, but Van Allsburg barely gave critics a chance to catch their breath before he released Jumanji in 1981. Jumanji tells the story of two bored children who discover a game that transforms their home into a jungle full of volcanoes, marauding monkeys, and stampeding rhinoceroses. In a clever final twist, the board game finds its way into the hands of two brothers unaware of its surprises. According to the New York Times Book Review, Jumanji contains "a beautiful simplicity of design, balance, texture, and a subtle intelligence beyond the call of illustration."

The year 1985 marked a third triumph for Chris Van Allsburg — the publication of The Polar Express and the start of a publishing phenomenon. The Polar Express was awarded a Caldecott Medal, Van Allsburg's second, a rare achievement in the children's book field, and made the New York Times bestseller list. Since that time, more than four million copies have been sold — it is one of two children's books held by most public libraries in the United States — and every December it faithfully reappears on national bestseller lists. Told as a first-person recollection and richly illustrated in oil pastels, The Polar Express is the story of a Christmas Eve when a little boy boards a mysterious train to the North Pole. There he meets Santa and gets to choose the first gift of Christmas — a reindeer bell from Santa's sleigh that rings only for those who truly believe in Christmas. It's a story of the faith that children bring into the world and that slowly vanishes with emerging adulthood. A favorite of adults as well as children, The Polar Express achieved the status of contemporary classic within just a few years of its publication.

In fall 2004, Warner Bros. Pictures will release The Polar Express movie. Shot in full CG animation through Sony Pictures Imageworks' next-generation motion-capture process, which allows live-action performances to drive the emotions and movements of the digital characters, The Polar Express is destined to be the movie event of the season. For more information, please contact Debbie Miller at Warner Bros. Pictures, (818) 954-2873.

Last year, Van Allsburg released Zathura, the sequel to Jumanji and his first original publication in several years. It soared right up the New York Times bestseller list as curious readers rushed to bookstores to find out what happened when Danny and Walter Budwing got Jumanji home and discovered another game — Zathura — wedged in the bottom of the box. A fantastic ride through time and space, Zathura won the praise of critics and fans.

For the fifteen titles that spread over his twenty-five-year career, Van Allsburg, besides having been awarded the Caldecott Medal twice, has received the National Book Award, a Caldecott Honor Award, seven New York Times Best Illustrated Books of the Year designations, a Boston Globe – Horn Book Award and Honor Award, and the Regina Medal.

Van Allsburg once said, "The idea of the extraordinary happening in the context of the ordinary is what fascinates me." That could describe any one of his books and his own extraordinary success. With the release of The Polar Express at the movies next fall, the continued interest in his books, and the new ideas that flow from the otherworldly fountain of his imagination, Chris Van Allsburg has become a national treasure.

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