Sunday, April 17, 2005

Author: Chris Van Allsburg

If you are a fan of Chris Van Allsburg's books you will not want to miss this article by Hilary Waldman. The piece describes his studio, home and inspiration for his unique storytelling.
Scattered on the drafting table these days are the typed, pencil-scratched pages of a new screenplay. Van Allsburg is adapting his 1995 story “The Widow’s Broom” as a movie scheduled for release by Paramount next year (a movie based on another of his books, “Zathura,” is due out late this year).

He works when his children, Sophia, 13, and Anna, 9, are in school. The studio is quiet. Music would interrupt his creative juices. Inspiration for Van Allsburg comes from the vacuum of a clear mind.


Mental multivitamin said...

From an entry I posted late last year (

That same year, 2000, in late November, we met Chris Van Allsburg.

The award-winning author and illustrator did not read his classic, The Polar Express, aloud. Rather, a professional storyteller gave a reading and Mr. Van Allsburg waited (imperiously) outside, deigning to sign books as frustrated children and their annoyed parents flooded out of the stuffy auditorium at the Museum of Science and Industry. (Do I sound a little uptight about this? Even now? Four years later? Call it the anal-retentive in me. The event was advertised as an author reading. It was not.)

Still, our two minutes with the author actually became a passage in the family narrative: Van Allsburg spoke to each of us and expressed (seemingly) genuine interest in the fact that we regularly used The Mysteries of Harris Burdick (which we brought for him to sign) for story-starters and writing prompts. And Miss M-mv(i) (who was a few months shy of 5 by then) had an opportunity to tell her then favorite artist how much she admires his "artwork."

Van Allsburg: How are you today?

Miss M-mv(i): Fine, thank you. And how are you?

Van Allsburg: Very good, thank you.

Mr. M-mv: Gabby is our resident artist, and she really admires your books.

Miss M-mv(i) (with her trademark animation): Yes, Mr. Van Allsburg! I just love your artwork! It's so wonderful! You do. Such. Good. Work!

Van Allsburg (a little taken aback): Well, Miss M-mv(i). I think you have a future on the stage.

(This remark on the heels of Master M-mv's orthodontist talking with an (as usual) animated Miss M-mv(i) just a few days before and concluding, "She's going to be an actress, no?")

This morning, I opened The Mysteries of Harris Burdick to a page at random.

He had warned her about the book. Now it was too late.

He does. Such. Good. Work.

Camille said...

How interesting...I would be the same way...uh... an "author reading" = an author who reads their work. Sounds like it was an "author viewing."

It is always interesting to see which authors/illustrators really do try to make a connection with their readers. I had the pleasure of watching Brian Jacques interact with young fans at a book signing and his kindness to them was tremendously moving.