Jumanji by Chris Van Allsburg

30 years ago, Author Chris Van Allsburg wrote a book that would energize the minds of all the children who read it. That book was Jumanji, and ever since its publication it has been a doorway to places that kids thought existed only in their own heads-or maybe they hadn’t even thought of them yet. Either way, the story does indeed liven up the imagination in a unique and fantastical way.

jumanji by chris van allsburg

What’s Jumanji About?

Young siblings Peter and Judy are left alone in the house one day as their parents go out to the Opera with the parting words “Be good” and “Keep the house neat.” These words, of course, go in one ear and out the other, for what child could resist taking out all their toys and making a perfect mess while Mother and Father are away? But before long they are faced with a common and most dreadful problem-boredom. So they decide that perhaps going to the park would be nice…which is where the boredom ends. Peter finds a long thin box for a game called “Jumanji” with a note taped to it that says “Free game…fun for some but not for all.” Peter insists it will be boring, but Judy insists they should play. So they do, and thus begins an adventure that is anything but boring.

jumanji book chimps

The Book, It’s Illustrations, And The Author

Jumanji is a bit ‘text heavy’ for a picture book, but the vivid storyline and all the things that are happening in the book make up for it. The pictures don’t need to be on the page-they are in your head.

The illustrations aren’t bright, or colorful, but they are wonderful. Richly detailed and perfectly portraying the story, children will quickly forgive any lack ‘flare’ so to speak. The illustrations catch the right angles and parts of each scene that is being written about perfectly, and we can imagine and see the rest of what is going on by ourselves. The pictures are so realistic and three dimensional that it is like a real moment in life was simply frozen, and put on the page.

Chris Van Allsburg has a very distinctive style of writing and illustrating. The stories he comes up with are wonderfully inspiring. They call to every child and to the inner child in every adult because the stories are just so fantastic and original. His books open the door to those worlds we wanted to go to as children, or those imaginative adventuresome things we wanted to happen to us. Van Allsburg brought all of it to life in his stories.

I Couldn’t Resist

I wrote this review shutting out all thoughts of the movie and focusing solely on the book, but now I cant resist piping up about it. I’ll admit it, I saw the movie before I read the book, I didn’t even know there was a book it was based off of, so a little teensy tiny part of me (the part that betrays the writer/reader that I am) thought ‘this won’t really be as good as the movie. It doesn’t look nearly as exciting.’ Ignorant, I know. And of course, I ended up enjoying the book as much if not more than the movie, although they are truly so different there can’t be too much comparison. There is something about books that can never be replicated. Something in the planes of our consciousness is triggered when we read, and that will never be able to be replaced. I always preferred books to movies, but Jumanji simply re enforced that idea.


I thought this children’s book was fantastic. I loved the Polar Express, and I feel the same way now about Jumanji. Both stories are just something that the adventurous part of us longs to imagine may actually happen. Children will gain a new appreciation and understanding of ‘picture books’ when they read Jumanji. They will feel that great force that a good book has that tugs them into it. That force is reminds me a lot of the most important rule in Jumanji “Once a game of Jumanji is started, it will not be over until one player reaches the Golden City.” With a good book such as this one, it is very important to remember: Once a great book is started, you will not be able to put it down until you finish it.

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