Detroit Today

Author & Michigan Native Chris Van Allsburg

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Photo courtesy of WBUR

"Because I'm in this nostalgic frame of mind, thinking about my nine-year old self and the story I want to hear... I open up the door and look outside and see what the street looks like. But it's the door that I would have opened up when I was nine years old. I see a midwestern street."

-Chris Van Allsburg

Laura speaks with Chris Van Allsburg, East Grand Rapids native and author of the modern Christmas classic, “The Polar Express.” Van Allsburg, who now lives on the East Coast, is also the author of "Jumanji," and tells Laura about the influence that Michigan has on his work. Van Allsburg says he grew up when most of the roads in East Grand Rapids were still dirt, and as a child, watched The Twilight Zone and read Mad Magazine.

Laura tells Van Allsburg that when she sees his drawings and reads his stories, she is reminded of her own Midwestern upbringing. Van Allsburg explains that he approaches his stories and artwork organically and with a bit of nostalgia.

"I never think about if my books will be a great success," he tells Laura. When his books "The Polar Express" and "Jumanji" were made into major films, Van Allsburg was involved in the process. He says he advocated for some material in "The Polar Express" movie that strayed away from the original story.

Van Allsburg's new book is called "The Misadventures of Sweetie Pie".

Listen to the Polar Express here:

Extended Interview: