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4.1 out of 5 stars
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on July 9, 2004
Chris Van Allsburg used to be my favorite picture book artist, and in many ways he remains so to this day. And it's books like, "Jumanji" that remind me why I love his work as strongly as I do. For some reason, Van Allsburg's picture books are so popular and so evocative that they are continually adapted into full screen motion pictures. "Polar Express" has just been turned into a computer animated extravaganza, and "Jumanji" was a Robin Williams vehicle once. Just the same, nothing compares to the original tale. Using his uber-realistic illustrations to highlight how incredibly bizarre the storyline is, this book is fully worthy of the 1982 Caldecott Medal it was awarded.

Peter and Judy have been left home alone by their opera going parents and boy are they boredy bored bored. After playing with their toys and making a mess they decide to take a run to the park. Once there, they discover an abandoned board game called Jumanji sitting beneath a tree. On a note taped to the bottom of the box read the words, "Free game, fun for some but not for all. P.S. Read instructions carefully". The kids don't know what to expect but they take the game with them anyway. After reading the instructions they find that once a person begins Jumanji they cannot stop until someone has won the game. The first roll of the die leads to a space that reads, "Lion attacks, move back two spaces". Suddenly there's a real live lion in the room, and it's regarding Peter hungrily. The kids realize, to their horror, that whatever happens on the board happens in real life. If they want to finish the game (and remain alive) they're going to have to continue.

The book really plays on the old idea of "when the parents are out the kids will get up to all kinds of unwitting mischief". There's a lot in this story that's similar to "The Cat in the Hat". Two bored kids. The magical entity that destroys their home but (undeniably) occupies their time. Getting everything cleaned up before mom and dad walk in the door. You get the idea. The story is surreal and skirts the edges of the disturbing. With illustrations created with Conte dust and Conte pencils, Van Allsburg makes the pictures especially realistic. You can make out every strand on Peter's head or observe the rubber bands holding together Judy's braids. As a child, I was always fascinated with realistic images of fantastical situations. Van Allsburg fits this bill perfectly.

"Jumanji" was later given a sequel of sorts entitled, "Zathura". I haven't read it myself, but I think my loyalties will always lie with the original. There's something about Van Allsburg's clean lines and startled expressions that really chill the reader to the bone. If you have a child that likes to be ever so slightly freaked out from time to time, I can't think of any picture book artist that does a better job of this than the master of the pencil drawing: Chris Van Allsburg. And "Jumanji" is his masterpiece.
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on March 11, 2003
In the book, Jumanji, you enter into a day in the lives of Peter and Judy, whose last names are unknown to the reader. Thier parents leave home to go to a party, they bring out all thier toys which they werent supposed to do, and then get bored. They walk to the park to go for a walk when they come accross a small game box under a tree. They play with the box, only to find out the true nature of jumanji is that when you land on a square and you are read your fate, the action actually happens. Eventually, they play through the game and have quite an adventure. The book is nothing like the movie.
I enjoyed the book, it was very well illustrated and the story amused me. Anyone who enjoys childrens books will enjoy this book, young people especailly, and is a great book for younger readers just starting to learn to read. If you read the book expecting it to be like the movie you will be sorely dissappointed however, because the book is much shorter, has less of a plot, and is set up basically for younger readers. But it is still a very well done book.
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on March 31, 2001
When two children are left home alone for the afternoon, they find a mysterious board game named "Jumanji: A Jungle Adventure" in the forest. As they begin to play, Peter lands on a spot marked "Lion attacks, move back two spaces." Judy has a look of horror on her face, when a real lion appears in the living room! Peter quickly manages to get the lion locked up in the bedroom. Judy then lands on "monkeys steal food" and finds live monkeys tearing apart the family's kitchen. The children go on to face other dangerous obstacles, including a rhinoceros stampede, during the course of the game. Read to find out if their adventure ever ends before the children's parents arrive home to a disaster!
Van Allsburg won a Caldecott Medal for this wonderful story. The illustrations are done in grays with shading. The pictures of people, animals, and the setting are very realistic. Most of the pictures are at eye level, so the reader feels like he or she is in the house along with the characters. The story itself is so colorful and adventurous that the black and white pictures complement the mystical aspects of this fantastic story!
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on February 20, 2000
In Jumangi, Chris Van Allsburg details the story of Peter and Judy's afternoon. Through his words and pictures, he describes their eventful afternoon. On a boring afternoon, these two siblings are left alone. Before their parents leave, the two children are warned not to disorganize the house. However, once the children find an interesting board game, their once boring and uneventful afternoon becomes full of action and a bit of chaos. In this picture book, the author, who is also the illustrator uses black and white illustrations that are full of depth. Through his descriptive words and pictures, one can clearly witness the children's afternoon. The simple, yet detailed illustrations add to the characters, sets the setting, and mood. Jumanji's award winning illustrations are unique and add to the concept of fantasy in the book. Many children will enjoy this story or anyone who has experienced a boring afternoon or played an imaginative board game. The book may be slightly scary for younger children, but will encompass the attention of older readers. This book takes the reader along with the children on a wonderful adventure. JUMANJI!
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on May 20, 2004
Have there ever been monkeys jumping around in your kitchen, or a lion destroying your bedroom, with a huge volcano irrupting in your house? Was there ever a large stampede of rhinos running crazy in your living room? Well that is what happens to Judy and Peter in the sensational book, Jamanji. When they were both left home alone, Judy and Peter got really bored. They decide to take a stroll in the park. On their way to the park, they discover a game named "Jamanji" sitting under a tree. They take it home and immediately start to play. All of the sudden, the creatures from the game came to life, in their very own house! How will Peter and Judy get this jungle cleaned up before their parents come home? Will they clean up in time? This book is a great mystery for kids' ages 4 to12. It has a great plot and brings wonderful excitement to the reader. Each topic makes you eager to read more and find out the result of the mystery.
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on March 31, 1999
Jumanji is an unusual book due to Chris Van Allsburg stunning illustrations and unique story. He takes such a simple activity of playing a board game and uses his extraordinary and creative imagination to turn it into an adventurous path through a jungle. This book is well written, for it is simple and short in length and each sentence does not go wasted. The illustrations defnitely capture your imagination because the drawings are so intense and magical. I also adore the creative spot where Van Allsburg includes his signature trademark. For all of the collectors of Chris Van Allsburg's literature this book is a must have, for it follows suite of his original and mystical stories. And to be honest, I wouldn't dare see the Jumanji movie, I couldn't see how any movie could do justice to this fantasy story.
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on April 18, 1999
This story, about the havoc created by animals released by a game that children find, has been made into a popular movie. I think most of the people who watch the movie are unaware that this book existed first. My Mom always found it a bit disturbing though, and didn't like reading it to us. There is a distinct impression that the game is evil, or at least not interested in the people's well being. At the very least, it is creepy. So, I'd recommend that parents who are concerned about such things read it to themselves first, but I really think that kids enjoy the story, perhaps because of the hint of evil will. After all, good triumphs, so in that sense, this is a traditional type of story, even though the subject is quite original.
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This children's book is about two children who find a board game based on a jungle setting that actually comes "alive" when they begin playing it. The book was expanded and made into a film in 1995 starring Robin Williams (and a paperback novel with this same title was based on the screenplay of that film). This book won the 1982 Caldecott medal for best illustrations in a book for children. The reviewer of April, 1999, from the University of Delaware mentioned that some parents might be concerned of the "hint of evil will." Personally, I don't see any of that at all. When kids (and even adults) play board games, they can get really involved. This book is an expansion of that concept.
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on October 11, 2000
This is such a magical book. It really takes you back to your childhood and lets you imagination run wild. You get such a warm fuzzy feeling when reading this book. All the sweet memories of Christmas flutter into your head. It brings you back to your childhood and you remember believing. You believed in all the wonderful mysteries such as Santa Clause,the Easter Bunny, and even the Tooth Fairy. It is a wonderful thing for a child to believe in these things while they are young. Read this book to a child some evening and let them sleep dreaming of magical places.
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on January 19, 2000
This book is one you can go back to year after year, but be warned, it's not at all warm and fuzzy. The illustrations are absorbing and satisfying in depth and detail, pulling you into the surreality. The story is deliciously scary -- maybe a bit too powerfully so for very small picture-book readers. The end is nicely reassuring, but with a slightly Hitchcockian barb in it.
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