Considered to be one of the foremost authors and illustrators of surrealistic fantasy for children, Chris Van Allsburg was born in Grand Rapids, Michigan, in 1949. He received his B. F. A. at the University of Michigan and his M. F. A. at the Rhode Island School of Design. He married Lisa Morrison and currently teaches at the Rhode Island School of Design. Van Allsburg's work is highly praised for the excellent artisanship of his illustrations, which often have a surreal element. His first book, The Garden of Abdul Gasazi (1979), concerning a lost dog found by a magician, and his second book, Jumanji (1981), about a strange board game that comes to life, brought him quick praise. Jumanji won the Caldecott Medal in 1982. The Polar Express (1985), Van Allsburg's most popular book, deals with the idea that the ability to believe in things beyond one's experiences helps to keep a person young. It also won a Caldecott Medal in 1986. Other books by Van Allsburg include The Z was Zapped, and Just a Dream, a story about a boy who learns to be ecological. Van Allsburg's sculptures have also been exhibited at many New York galleries.