Genre: Animal / Drama / Suspense / Toys / Magic
Year Published: 1981
Year Read: 1998
Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers
“Jumanji” is a Caldecott Award- winning book by Chris Van Allsburg and is the most popular children’s book out of all of his books. In this story, two children, Peter and Judy, discover a strange looking board game and they soon realize that this board game is more dangerous then they thought. “Jumanji” is clearly one of the most inventive and intense children’s book that will surely make children read it for a long time.
Chris Van Allsburg is excellent at illustrating and writing this classic children’s story. Chris Van Allsburg makes the story intense and exciting at the same time when he makes the animals come to life and terrorize the children. I like the idea that Chris Van Allsburg uses a child’s fear about games coming to life as a story arc for this story because I enjoy anything that is often surreal and “Jumanji” is certainly a surreal book to read since it involves a game making everything come to life. Chris Van Allsburg’s illustrations are beautiful and intense, especially of the images of the animals wrecking havoc on the children’s house. The image that probably stood out the most was the image of the lion on the piano as you can only see the lion’s mouth full of sharp teeth as its eyes are shadowed, which brings out the mysteriousness of that scene as the lion looks like it just magically appeared on the piano (which is exactly what happened).
Parents should know that there are some scary scenes in this book mainly involving the animals terrorizing the children. The scene that will probably scare most children would be the scene where the lion is sitting on the piano and starts chasing Peter around the house. Young children would be scared about the lion chasing Peter and they might worry about whether or not Peter can escape from the lion’s clutches. Also, the overall atmosphere of this book will scare young children as it involves a game making everything come to life and children might be frightened about the idea that their board games might make everything come to life, such as those “Clue” games. Parents might want to assure their children that everything that happens in this book is all made up and that such things would never happen to them. Parents might also want to discuss the difference between reality and fantasy with their children before they read them this book.
“Jumanji” is probably one of Chris Van Allsburg’s best children’s books since it has everything that a child would want in a book- drama, fantasy, thriller, and mystery. I would highly recommend this book to anyone who loves adventure and excitement in a children’s book. This book would be suitable for children ages six and up since younger children might not understand the fantasy elements in this book and therefore, will become frighten by the scenes where the animals terrorize the children.
* 1982 Caldecott Medal
* 1983 Kentucky Bluegrass Award
* 1984 Washington Children's Choice Picture Book Award
* 1996 Golden Archer Award for Primary