Christopher Quimbley Van Allsburg

Chris Van Allsburg was born 18 June 1949 in East Grand Rapids, Michigan, the son of Richard and Doris (Christiansen) Van Allsburg.

When he was about nine years old the family moved to 910 Floral Avenue SE.

He graduated from East Grand Rapids High School in 1967.

Chris majored in sculpture at the University of Michigan where he graduated in 1972. He then continued his education in sculpturing at RISD, a graduate school known as Rhode Island School of Design.

After earning his master in fine arts degree in 1975, he set up a studio in Providence, R. I.

He had met Lisa Morrison while attending the University of Michigan and they were married at this time. Lisa was an art student and became a elementary school art teacher in Providence.

Chris began exhibiting his sculpture and also began drawing pictures in their small apartment at night. Lisa encouraged him to think of doing illustrations for a story book. She showed some of his work to an editor at Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston, Massachusetts. The editor suggested that Chris should think up stories of his own.

His first book, "The Garden of Abdul Gasazi", was published in 1979 and he received the Caldecott Honor Medal for it in 1980. He continued writing and illustrating more books including "The Polar Express" which won him a 1986 Caldecott Medal and was made into a movie in 2004, directed by Steven Spielberg with Tom Hanks starring in it. Another of his 14 books to win a Caldecott Medal in 1982 was "Jumanji".

Lisa and Chris became parents in 1991 when Sophia was born and then again 1995 when Anna was born.

Chris continues to draw and write and also teaches a course in "Design Your Own Country" which is his own creation.

His artwork has been exhibited at the Whitney Museum of American Art and the Museum of Modern Art in New York.

Books that he has written and illustrated are:

1979 – The Garden of Abdul Gasazi
1981 – Jumanji
1982 – Ben’s Dream
1983 – The Wreck of the Zephyr
1984 – The Mysteries of Harris Burdick
1985 – The Polar Express
1986 – The Stranger

1987 – The Z Was Zapped
1988 – Two Bad Ants
1990 – Just A Dream
1991 – The Wretched Stone
1993 – The Sweetest Fig
1995 – Bad Day at Riverbend
2002 - Zathura

Transcriber: Evelyn Sawyer
Created: 29 January 2005