Over the years there have been seven illustrators inducted into the elusive Caldecott Repeaters Club (not a real club, but wouldn’t it be cool?). One of the masters is Chris Van Allsburg.
In 1982, Van Allsburg’s second publish book won the Caldecott. The book, Jumanji, is a fantastic tale of a mysterious board game come to life. (Side note: The movie is one of my favorites). The monochromatic drawings are full of detail. The strands of the children’s and animals’ hair and the scales on the python have a realistic feel to them. The expressive faces of the animals make them more lifelike than cartoonish. The illustrations artfully depict a game full of adventure.
A few years later, Van Allsburg joined the Caldecott Repeat Winners Club with the Christmas tale: The Polar Express. The 1986 winner beautifully tells the tale of a young boy regaining his belief in Santa Claus while on a late-night magical train trip to the North Pole. Colorful drawings show a world that is timeless.
My favorite page is the very last one, which depicts the bell. I feel that I can reach into the page and ring the bell, hearing the delightful tinkling sound that shows that I believe.