CEE 365 Author Study

Mo Willems
Author's Study
Emma Lawson
CEE 365

Author Study: Chris Van Allsburg
Mary Grace Robertson
CEE 365
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Slide 1: Slide
English2nd Grade

This lesson contains 25 slides, with interactive quizzes, text slides and 2 videos.

Items in this lesson

Mo Willems
Author's Study
Emma Lawson
CEE 365

Author Study: Chris Van Allsburg
Mary Grace Robertson
CEE 365

Slide 1 - Slide

All About Allsburg
  • Allsburg was born in Grand Rapids, Michigan on June 18, 1949.
  • He has an older sister named Karen, and his parents' names are Doris and Richard.
  • He studied art with a focus in sculpting at the University of Michigan. 
  • He also met his wife Lisa while in undergraduate. 
  • Allsburg later received a master's from Rhode Island School of Design.
  • He began drawing pictures to pass time when his studio got too cold over the winter.
  • His wife would later send these drawings to a friend that worked in publishing to see if Allsburg had a future in illustrating children's books. 

Slide 2 - Slide

How It All Began & Inspirations
  • Once the publisher saw the drawings, he encouraged Allsburg to start writing and illustrating his own children's stories
  • Allsburg had no intention in starting a career in literature, but his wife and her friend inspired him to take a chance. 
  • He saw a slim chance of this working out, but he began drawing and drafting a story immediately, 
  • This led to Allsburg publishing his first book in 1979, The Garden of  Abdul  Gasazi.
  • Since then, Allsburg has written and illustrated 18 books. 

Slide 3 - Slide

Watch the video on the next page to learn more about Allsburg's beginning in illustrating! 

Slide 4 - Slide

Slide 5 - Video

What was the first book Chris Van Allsburg wrote?
The Z Was Zapped
The Garden of Abdul Gasazi
Bad Day at Riverbend

Slide 6 - Quiz

The Garden of Abdul Gasazi 

This book earned Allsburg the Caldecott Honor Medal in 1980! This was the first book he had ever written and after receiving high praises and medals, he was inspired to continue his writing career. 
Jumanji earned Allsburg his first Caldecott Medal. This fasicinating books tells readers a story about two children who are home alone that are discovering their board game comes alive when they play. 
These are the first two books Chris Van Allsburg ever wrote!

Slide 7 - Slide

These are all of the genres Chris Van Allsburg has written in:
  • Fairy Tale
  • Fiction
  • Science Fiction
  • Mystery
  • Fantasy
These are the most common themes Allsburg has used in his writing:
  • Things are not always what they seem (The Garden of Abdul Gasazi)
  • Be kind to everyone (The Widow's Broom)
  • Face your fears (Jumanji)
Some of Allsburgs books do not have a theme and are meant for readers to simply enjoy reading. 
Use this page to discover the different genres and themes Allsburg has used in his writing. 

Slide 8 - Drag question

Boston Globe Horn Book Award
The Garden of Abdul Gasazi
The Mysteries of Harris Burdick
The Polar Express
National Book Award
Caldecott Medal
The Garden of Abdul Gasazi
The Polar Express
An annual award in the U.S. for an outstanding illustrated juvenile book. (Dictionary.com)

Boston Globe–Horn Book Awards are among the most prestigious honors
in the field of children’s and young adult literature.
Winners are selected in three categories: Picture Book, Fiction and Poetry, and Nonfiction. Two Honor Books may be named in each category. (About The Boston Globe Horn Book Awards)
National Book Awards are annual awards given to books of the highest quality written by Americans and published by American publishers. (Encyclopedia Britannica)
Regina Medal
1993 Lifetime Achievement Award
Awards and Honors
Throughout his career, Chris Van Allsburg has received many awards and honors for his works. Click on the stars to learn more about each award. 
The Regina Medal has been awarded annually since 1959 by the Catholic Library Association to “writers, editors, and illustrators who have given unstintingly of their creative genius to children's literature.” (Encyclopedia Britannica, Regina Medal)

Slide 9 - Slide

How Boston Globe Gold Horn Book Awards does Chris Van Allsburg have?

Slide 10 - Quiz

The Polar Express
  • One of Allsburg's most popular books is The Polar Express.
  • This book follows children on their journey on Christmas Eve to the North Pole  and how they were able to meet Santa. 
  • The Polar Express was later adapted into a movie and has become one of the best selling children's books in the world. 

Slide 11 - Slide

On the next page you can watch the movie trailer for The Polar Express!

Slide 12 - Slide

Slide 13 - Video

Literary Skills
1. Vocabulary
2. Inference
3. Comprehension
4. Oral Language Skills
Allsburg's books are for older elementary students, but his works provide challenges and meaningful learning experiences for them. 

Slide 14 - Slide

Other Subjects
  • Allsburg focuses on different fantasy worlds and fairy tales, but his literary works provide many experiences to intergrate other subjects into a lesson.  
  • On the next slide, there is a short list of skills in other subjects that Allsburg works touch on. 

Slide 15 - Slide

Other Subject Skills
1. Describe artisitic expressions
1. Identify different environments
2. Identify messages in artistic works
2. Identify different living animals
3. Use personal experiences to connect to artisitic works
3. Make predictions and inferences about different events

Slide 16 - Slide

  • Allsburg includes a little white dog, Fritz, in every book.
  • The children always have a problem to solve.
  • Each book has a whimsical theme.
  • Some characters do not have faces. 

Slide 17 - Slide

Appealing Features
  • Very detailed illustrations
  • Topics that spark curiosity
  • Variation of many colors or only black and white
  • His newer books use bright colors
  • Pictures take up a majority of each page

Slide 18 - Slide

Activity Time!
  • Use the spinner and choose an illustration from the book. 
  • Use this illustration to create a caption like in The Mysteries of Harris Burdick. (See the next slide for examples if needed)
  • The caption should be intriging and easy for someone else to use as an idea to write a new story. 

Slide 19 - Slide

Under the Rug
"Two weeks passed and it happened again"
The House on Maple Street
"It was a perfect lift-off"

Slide 20 - Slide

Lesson Plan
  •   ALCOS English Language Arts: 31. Use information from a text to determine the author's purpose in different forms of informational and literary texts.
  • ALCOS Science: 7. Obtain information from literature and other media to illustrate that there  are many different kinds of living things and that they exist in different places on land and in water 
  • Students will be able to determine the author's purpose for writing the literary text. 
  • Students will be able to determine the different kinds of living animals and their environments from the text. 
  • The Misadventures of Sweetie Pie
  • Author's Purpose Anchor Chart
  • Author's Purpose Worksheet
  • Slide to a Slice Game

Slide 21 - Slide

Slide 22 - Slide

Lesson Plan Continued
  1.  To begin the lesson, the teacher will review the concept of author's purpose with the students. The teacher will focus on the different reason the author writes the story: persuade, inform, and entertain. The teacher will refer to the anchor chart to reinforce the review.
  2. Next, the teacher will pass out the "Slide to a Slice" game to the students and instruct students to work in pairs to finish the game. The game reviews each author's purpose and helps establish a better understanding before reading the book.
  3. Once the teacher has reviewed the concept of author's purpose, he or she will introuduce the book to the students and remind the students why they are reading the book. The teacher will then read the book and point out important events in the story and ask multiple questions that encourage inferring and comprehension.
  4. Throughout the book, the teacher will also point out and discuss the difference between the hamster's life and the wildlife the hamster encounters in the book. 
  5.  After reading the book, the teacher will have a final discussion on the events of the book and have students discuss in pairs the different animals in the book. After their discussion, each group will share their thoughts. 
  6. the teacher will pass out the author's purpose worksheets and have the students complete them individually to assess students' understanding of author's purpose. 

Slide 23 - Slide

Lesson Plan Continued
  • For students that are struggling with author's purpose, the teacher will pair the struggling students with students that have a good understanding. The teacher will instruct them to have a discussion about the different types of author's purpose and use the key events the class discussed to determine the author's purpose in The Misadventures of Sweetie Pie. 
  • For students that have easily grasped the concept of author's purpose, the teacher will have different types of informational and literary text laid out for them. The teacher will instruct them to read through one or two books and determine the author's purpose of the book. This will be another check-in for teachers to reassess the student's understanding. 

Slide 24 - Slide

About the Boston Globe-Horn Book Awards. The Horn Book. (n.d.). Retrieved March 23, 2022, from
Chris Van Allsburg (1949-) biography - personal, addresses, career, member, honors awards, writings, adaptations, sidelights. Personal,
      Addresses, Career, Member, Honors Awards, Writings, Adaptations, Sidelights - Book, Children, Books, and Review - JRank
Courses of study. ALEX. (n.d.). Retrieved March 23, 2022, from https://alex.state.al.us/browseStand.php 
      Articles. (n.d.). Retrieved March 22, 2022, from https://biography.jrank.org/pages/1110/Van-Allsburg-Chris-1949.html 
Dictionary.com. (n.d.). Caldecott Award Definition & meaning. Dictionary.com. Retrieved March 23, 2022, from
Encyclopedia Britannica, inc. (n.d.). National Book Awards. Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved March 23, 2022, from
Encyclopedia Britannica, inc. (n.d.). Regina Medal. Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved March 23, 2022, from
Van Allsburg, C. (n.d.). Biography. Chris Van Allsburg. Retrieved March 22, 2022, from https://chris-van

Slide 25 - Slide