CALDECOTT MEDAL WINNER – 1982
Chris Van Allsburg, author and illustrator
Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1981
ages 4 +
Interests: board games, jungle creatures, magic and mayhem
By the same author: The Polar Express, Zathura (another magical board game story)
A brother and sister are bored one afternoon while their parents are out. They find a mysterious board game in the park and decide to play. The only problem is that the events in the game actually happen in real life as well, as jungle animals run amok through their house with every role of the dice. The game cannot be stopped until someone has won, so they rush to the finish. Miraculously order is restored at game’s end. Seriously shaken up, they return the game to a spot in the park for someone else to find… the perfect cure for boredom!
Black and white (grey mostly) drawings render this story even more surreal; the animal intruders are colourless, almost mundane… the lion lounging on top of the piano, the monkeys in the kitchen, etc. The style of the drawings are also strangely static, there’s no sense of motion at all, which only adds to the atmosphere of suspense and general weirdness.
(Doesn’t have much to do with the movie that was made later, as far as I can see. Much simpler.)