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Zathura Hardcover – October 28, 2002

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Twenty years after Jumanji (1981), Van Allsburg picks up where he left off, with Danny and Walter Budwing discovering an oblong box in the park. Walter dismisses the box as "just some dumb old game," but his curious younger brother takes it home anyway. While Walter watches TV, Danny glances at the game's "jungle adventure" board, then turns his attention to a second board with an outer-space theme and "a path of colored squares leading... to a purple planet called Zathura." Just then, "with a click, a small green card popped out of the edge.... He picked it up and read, `Meteor showers, take evasive action.' " The boys don't act too surprised when a giant meteor falls into their tastefully appointed living room, but they do get excited when they see only stars and dark sky outside their windows. Several dice-rolls later, they're scrambling to evade a homicidal robot and a scaly "Zyborg pirate" climbing backward through the meteor-hole in the ceiling (its face goes unseen). As the boys play, their sibling rivalry gives way to cooperation, and grouchy Walter comes to appreciate his little brother. Van Allsburg illustrates the surreal events in a grainy charcoal-black that seems to shimmer on a rough, cream-colored ground. His deathly quiet images double spreads this time have a frozen stillness that leaves all color and activity to the imagination; with each new threat, the book seems to hold its breath. Van Allsburg reuses some devices, and Zathura, like Jumanji, is a satisfying enigma. The puzzling conclusion, involving a black hole and time travel to an earlier illustration, will have devotees scouring the first book and its sequel for clues. All ages.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

From School Library Journal

Kindergarten-Grade 5-For more than 20 years, readers of Jumanji (Houghton, 1981) have had to wonder what happened when the Budwing brothers opened the box that Peter and Judy had frantically discarded in the park. The wait is over, but the wonder continues in this masterfully executed sequel. Walter's physical torture of his younger brother and Danny's annoying behaviors are classic sibling stuff, but savvy readers will recognize that this lack of camaraderie does not bode well here. The simple jungle board does not appeal to Walter, however, so it is not until another game board is uncovered at the bottom of the box that the action begins. This time, the children face the challenges of space, time, and dimension as they read the game cards: "The polarity on your gravity belt is reversed" and "Your gyroscope is malfunctioning." Their journey to the planet Zathura allows Van Allsburg to depict Walter plastered against the living-room ceiling or being swallowed by a black hole. As ringed planets and spaceships swirl past the windows, the boys find their way to teamwork and even affection. Van Allsburg's choice of highly textured paper adds interest and character; the patterned wallpapers are especially effective as homey counterpoints to the surreal story. The creamy background provides warmth and contrast to the black-and-gray sketches, so convincing in conveying depth of field. One can't help but anticipate the encore.
Wendy Lukehart, Washington DC Public Library
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 4 - 7 years
  • Grade Level: Preschool - 3
  • Lexile Measure: 540L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 32 pages
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin; 1st edition (October 28, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0618253963
  • ISBN-13: 978-0618253968
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 0.4 x 11.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (48 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #42,025 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Chris Van Allsburg is the winner of two Caldecott Medals, for Jumanji and The Polar Express, as well as the recipient of a Caldecott Honor Book for The Garden of Abdul Gasazi. The author and illustrator of numerous picture books for children, he has also been awarded the Regina Medal for lifetime achievement in children's literature. In 1982, Jumanji won the National Book Award and in 1996, it was made into a popular feature film. Chris Van Allsburg was formerly an instructor at the Rhode Island School of Design. He lives in Rhode Island with his wife and two children.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

20 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Roz Levine on November 21, 2002
Format: Hardcover
On the last page of award winning author and illustrator, Chris Van Allsburg's classic, Jumanji, Danny and Walter Budwing are seen running home from the park carrying a board game. Readers are left wondering what will happen to them. Will they play the game? Well, after twenty years Mr Van Allsburg finally answers that question with his latest picture book, Zathura. Danny opens the box and finds not just the Jumanji board, but another game board at the bottom of the box. "It showed flying saucers, rockets, and planets in outer space with a path of colored squares leading from Earth to a purple planet called Zathura and back to Earth. Danny put a token on Earth, then rolled the dice..." Sound familiar? Unfortunately, that's the problem with this book. There's nothing really new here. Mr Van Allsburg has transplanted his story from the jungle to outer space. His text is a bit flat and lacks drama and excitement. It's the intricate and marvelously detailed, black and white artwork that dazzles and makes this book worth a look, and youngsters will want to linger and explore each intriguing illustration before turning the page. Perfect for kids 4-8, Zathura works better as a stand alone for those who haven't read Jumanji, than as a sequel, and many Jumanji fans looking for a new and entertaining adventure, may be disappointed by the rehash of the original.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Guinevere Cuthbert on February 21, 2004
Format: Hardcover
I'm a huge fan of Chris Van Allsburg's stories, and illustrations. As a child, my mother would read me Jumanji fairly often, so I bought it after watching the movie with my kids. When purchasing Jumanji, I saw that Van Allsburg had written this sequel - Zathura, and had to buy it too, although I was unsure how he could make another unique story from the same idea. I shouldn't have doubted.
Finding an alternate game inside the Jumanji box, Danny and Walter Budwing are sucked into a space adventure and have to work together, which is against their nature at the beginning of the book, to get back home. While the story is nice, it ends too abruptly, and could have easily been written into a better, longer, story, which I'm sure my kids would still sit through with rapt attention.
If you like Jumanji, and always wondered what happened to Danny and Walter, then I would recommend this book, even though it's not Van Allsburg's best work.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By caprae on December 31, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Introduced to van Allsburg's work while in design school, I immediately fell in love with his drawing style and unique perspective. I often buy his books as much for the drawings as for the story. Unfortunately, this book falls WAYshort. The drawings are painfully out of perspective - lines don't go to a common horizon line, the younger brother's head is grossly distorted, sometimes hands just don't make sense.
As for the story, this book lacks the real adventure, wonder and excitement of Jumanji. The couple of space creatures are bumbling and not a real threat. There are no great scenes like monkeys in the kitchen or rhinos charging through. My advice is to save your money. If this wasn't a gift, I would return it.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful By P. Crabtree on November 20, 2002
Format: Hardcover
I never thought I'd say this about a Chris Van Allsburg book, but I'm disappointed. I think this is a rip-off of Jumanji, plain and simple. I am a teacher who often uses Van Allsburg's work with my students. I still remember my first reading of Jumanji! I was thrilled with the art, as well as the story and the surprise ending. I had similar reactions to most all of his other books. Zathura's art is substandard Van Allsburg (though still better than many children's book artists!). The story goes nowhere and the ending is weak. I'm sad that my favorite children's book writer seems (even after 20 years) to have gone the way of many successful adult book writers--put something out even if there is nothing new to say.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Preston McClear, Author The Boy Under the Bed on March 16, 2003
Format: Hardcover
Zathura by Chris Van Allsburg is the sequel to Jumanji. However, you don't need to know this in order to enjoy Zathura. Zathura is sort of like 2001 A Space Odyssey for children. Two brothers have mysteriously discovered the Jumanji game board. When you play the game a parallel universe is created in which events on the board occur in real life. This time the two brothers find a new game called Zathura. Zathura is a space board game. What makes this story fascinating and exciting is the way Van Allsburg is able to weave together a story of sibling rivalry with elements of astronomy. Black Holes, parallel universes, time travel Etc.. If the brothers want to survive the game they must learn to work together and put aside their jealousies. The story creates a real sense of danger for them. We aren't sure how things will turn out for the brothers. The ending of the story is a real brain twister. The illustrations of the two brothers flying through outer space in their house are mind blowing. The payoff for this story is in it's big ideas, not in pictures of monkeys storming through a kitchen. Van Allsburg has already done this in Jumanji. In Zathura he wants to break new ground. Zathura is smart and daring in the way it is willing to take risks by presenting large ideas to children.
Preston McClear, author The Boy Under the Bed
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Terrie on November 7, 2002
Format: Hardcover
At long last, 20 years after Jumanji, Chris Van Allsburg's new picture book, the sequel, Zathura, picks up where we left off, with Walter and Danny Budwing opening the long thin mysterious game box containing the amazing and dangerous game called Jumanji. Much to our surprise the box contains more than just the Jumanji game. Danny and Walter are the kind of kids who don't finish their puzzles and don't read the directions before starting a new game. Just like its predecessor, Zathura takes us on a wild ride at break-neck speed and the boys are just one step away from disaster in every second of this suspenseful tale. Van Allsburg's artwork is his characteristic black and white, surreal, humourous and detailed wizardry. The action is edge-of-the-seat and sure to thrill young readers and story listeners in equal measure with Jumanji's jungle adventure as the brothers try to come to terms with the alien environment of the purple planet Zathura. Don't miss this one. It's out of this world!
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