By Chris Van Allsburg

Literary Elements

Because of the amount of text in this book, the illustrations only depict small snapshots of the chaotic action described in the text. The main characters, Judy and Peter, are portrayed as well behaved, curious siblings even though their exposed faces only appear in six of the fourteen illustrations. The majority of the story takes place inside the children's house which, like many other elements of the book, is very plain, organized and lacking in decoration. This helps create a huge contrast to the mayhem released by the game.

Physical Features

Jumanji appears very plain in a variety of ways. The original copy from 1981 has a dull olive green cover with the title spelled out in simple gold letters at the top of the ten inch by eleven inch binding. Both the front matters and end papers are a solid tan hue and the title page continues the non-illustrated trend. This simplistic, uninteresting format is very foreshadowing of the old board game the children find in the park in that it does not appear exciting but proves to be just the opposite.
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Visual Elements

The first picture illustrates the children's first encounter with the wild creations of the game. The bright white of the sheet music and Peter's shirt draw the eye's initial gaze which then brings you to Peter's flabbergasted expression. Following his eyes, you end focusing on the lion trying to blend into the shadows of the background yet still standing out due to the contract between its curved features and the rigid edges of the piano. This contrast also symbolizes the difference between reality and imagination.
The next next picture shows the escalating action of the game as well as the disastrous effect it is having on the previously pristine house. Judy's look of terror seems to not only come from the wild monkeys on her kitchen table, but also the thought of her parents coming home to see such a mess. Not only do the sharp lines of the cupboards, table and door contrast with the monkeys natural curved forms, but the amount of detail put into each does also. The monkeys are expressive, realistic and textured with hair while the rest of the scene is again very bland.
The final picture depicts the pinnacle of all the chaos and destruction created by the game as the rhinoceroses stampede through the living room. This is the only page in which the drawings go outside of the very neat boarders that contain and cut off the rest of the illustrations. This helps create more depth to the image and gives it an almost 3D effect to help the reader understand the children's fright as they saw the beasts charging towards them. Also unlike the other illustrations in which some objects take priority over others, everything presented in this picture is given ample detail so that the eye floats around the page to take everything in.

Artistic Stlye

The illustrations presented are very realistically drawn, however the fantastical plot causes the style to become more surrealistic. Meaning that each object on its own would be considered realistic, yet due to the placement of things outside of their natural settings, it can be considered surrealistic. Because of this artistic style, the theme of imagination, and how it interacts with reality, becomes very apparent. It also make the transition between the two practically seamless.

Artistic Media

Chris Van Allsburg created this book using a special type of pencil called a Conte pencil which is much like a graphite version of a chalk pastel. This grey scale makes the scenes appear dull at first glance, just like the board game, however upon closer examination, the reader can see the range of extreme perspectives used, the vast differences in amount of detail used in order to pull focus to specific objects, and even the use of light to highlight, hide, and create depth. All of these things are more noticeable because there is no color to distract from the purpose of each page.

Elements of Illustration

This book contains a very organized and structured format. Each page of text appears on the left and is centered with a thin gray border that is the same size as the white background bordering the illustration on the right page. There is a large amount of text per page which flows in a chronological order. Thus both the story and its elements are used to show the reader that with the use of imagination, they can create something amazing out of their seemingly dull, commonplace surroundings.

Interplay of Text and Illustration

Because there is such a large amount of text per illustration, the illustrations do not add content to the story but give the reader valuable information pertaining to the setting. Much an be learned from a looking around a person's home, and from these illustrations we can see that Judy and Peter's parents are wealthy perfectionists who are probably very strict and focus on their children's education over any time of fun or creativity. These sort of inferences, drawn from the context clues, add to the background information of the family so that we better understand why the children are the way that the are instead of only what they are doing.


Canow, Joanne. "Surrealism and Dream: Chris Van Allsburg's Picturebooks." The Looking Glass : New Perspectives on Children's LiteratureSurrealism and Dream: Chris Van Allsburg's Picturebooks. Sept. 2003. Web. 11 Feb. 2016. <https://www.lib.latrobe.edu.au/ojs/index.php/tlg/article/view/206/204>.

Allsburg, Chris Van. Jumanji. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1981. Print.

Lukens, Rebecca J. A Critical Handbook of Children's Literature. 9th ed. Boston: Pearson Allyn and Bacon, 2007. Print.