Chris Van Allsburg is as prolific as Pat Hutchins, but very different in his approach to picture books. Well-known for his books that have been
made into movies, such as Polar Express and Jumanji, his stories are much more sophisticated, more complex and for many children quite puzzling. This is a good thing though because they ask the reader to think, to talk and to question and when a class discusses his books they are usually very animated. I love 'booktalking' The Garden of Abdul Gasazi and discussing time and whether there was magic or not. As with the discussion of time in Where the Wild Things Are the audience is usually quite divided in their view but convinced they can support their view by returning to the text. The Sweetest Fig and The Widow's Broom are also good for eliciting heated discussion. Each of these three books has brown and white or black and white illustrations and this always fascinates children in this time of flashing bright colours.
Fritz, the dog in Van Allsburg's first book, The Garden of Abdul Gasazi features in all of his books and an interesting explanation as to why he did this can be found on his website.