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4.0 8
by Chris Van Allsburg

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On the last page of the Caldecott-winning book Jumanji, young Danny Budwing is seen running after his brother, Walter, with a game tucked under his arm. Now after twenty years, Chris Van Allsburg is ready to reveal what happens when Danny and Walter roll the dice. This time the name of the game is Zathura and the battling Budwing boys are in for the ride of their


On the last page of the Caldecott-winning book Jumanji, young Danny Budwing is seen running after his brother, Walter, with a game tucked under his arm. Now after twenty years, Chris Van Allsburg is ready to reveal what happens when Danny and Walter roll the dice. This time the name of the game is Zathura and the battling Budwing boys are in for the ride of their lives.

Zathura unleashes intergalactic challenges that require even the quarreling Budwing brothers to work as a team.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
On the twentieth anniversary of Jumanji, Van Allsburg picks up right where his Caldecott Medal book left off, with similarly terrifying adventure set this time in outer space.
Booklist, ALA, Starred Review

"Van Allsburg illustrates the surreal events in a grainy charcoal-black that seems to shimmer on a rough, cream-colored ground...Zathura, like Jumanji, is a satisfying enigma." Publishers Weekly

“Van Allsburg is a terrific illustrator, and his images here, including one where the boys open their front door and are greeted with a breathtaking views of the cosmos, are memorable.” The New York Times Book Review

“The angles of view, are, as always, wonderfully dramatic…” Kirkus Reviews

“The shadowy black-and-white tones of Van Allsburg’s illustration recall 1950’s science-fiction films…” The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books

“One can’t help but anticipating the encore.” School Library Journal

The Barnes & Noble Review
After 20 years, acclaimed author Chris Van Allsburg follows up his Caldecott Medal winner Jumanji, conjuring up out-of-this-world playtime for two adventure-prone Bundwing boys.

A new universe opens up when Danny discovers a second, hidden board tucked snugly at the bottom of the Jumanji game box. The new game is covered in curious decorations: various space objects and a "path of colored squares leading from Earth to a purple planet called Zathura and back to Earth." Of course, Danny can't resist throwing the dice, which results in a pop-up card that warns of a meteor shower. Not long after, a giant space rock lands in the middle of the boys' living room. Each new roll of the dice brings more surprises: the house is suddenly transported to outer space; a lack of gravity forces Danny to tie his brother to the couch; a murderous robot tries to destroy the boys and scares away Zyborg space pirates; and Walter gets swallowed by a black hole. Fortunately, though, Walter's trip brings him and us strangely back to an early scene in the book, with Jumanji getting purposely dumped in the trash.

With his trademark grainy black-and-white illustrations tickling our imagination (strangely placed objects and perplexing perspectives abound) and the mysterious energy that runs through all his books, Van Allsburg again delivers a winner that will send fans into orbit. The action-packed plot of Zathura fits with its predecessor like the missing piece of a puzzle, leaving readers with the fantastic feeling that Van Allsburg is the ruler of a marvelously crafted world in which these boys -- and every reader -- can find adventure. Truly far out. Matt Warner

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.
School Library Journal
K-Gr 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
Kirkus Reviews
A trite, knock-off sequel to Jumanji (1981). The "Jumanji" box distracts Walter Budwing away from beating up on his little brother Danny, but it's Danny who discovers the Zathura board inside-and in no time, Earth is far behind, a meteor has smashed through the roof, and a reptilian Zyborg pirate is crawling through the hole. Each throw of the dice brings an ominous new development, portrayed in grainy, penciled freeze frames featuring sculptured-looking figures in constricted, almost claustrophobic settings. The angles of view are, as always, wonderfully dramatic, but not only is much of the finer detail that contributed to Jumanji's astonishing realism missing, the spectacular damage being done to the Budwings' house as the game progresses is, by and large, only glimpsed around the picture edges. Naturally, having had his bacon repeatedly saved by his younger sibling's quick thinking, once Walter falls through a black hole to a time preceding the game's start, his attitude toward Danny undergoes a sudden, radical transformation. Van Allsburg's imagination usually soars right along with his accomplished art-but here, both are just running in place.

Product Details

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Publication date:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
9.20(w) x 12.00(h) x 0.50(d)
540L (what's this?)
Age Range:
4 - 7 Years

Meet 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 was nominated for a National Book Award and in 1996, it was made into a popular feature film. Chris Van Allsburg is a former instructor at the Rhode Island School of Design.

Brief Biography

Providence, Rhode Island
Date of Birth:
June 18, 1949
Place of Birth:
Grand Rapids, Michigan
University of Michigan College of Architecture & Design, 1972; Rhode Island School of Design, MFA, 1975

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Zathura 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 8 reviews.
SleepDreamWrite More than 1 year ago
I didn't even know there was a book. Same with Jumanji. Saw the movie first and it was alright. Interesting but alright. This one was good.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is great for children, I think, in grades first through fourth. Definitely read this and Jumanji..... By the way, I know Van Allsburg uses his brother-in-laws dog in every book, do the names Walter, Danny, Peter and Judy have any significance to family members or something???
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Brandon7 More than 1 year ago
This game is just like the children's book called " JUMANJI". But jumanji is about thing in the jungle like bats and monkeys. This book is about space like big robots. I thing young children should read it. It is one of my favorites and so is Jumanji.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Fans of Chris Van Allsburg's books have come to expect the unexpected when pouring over his amazingly illustrated picture books. For years I have enjoyed reading his books to my students in the library, especially Jumanji, because of their unexpected plots twists. At the conclusion of Jumanji, every reader's imagination is tweaked wondering what Danny and Walter Budwing will do with this unusual game found abandoned in the park. When I heard Chris Van Allsburgh had written a sequel, I couldn't wait to read it for myself and to my classes. I find his picture books really resonate with fourth and fifth graders although anyone would enjoy them. Needless to say, this one does not disappoint. Not wanting to give too much away, just let me say that any fans of Jumanji will not be disappointed. The story and illustrations provide the perfect read aloud. Van Allsburg does it again!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Another smash hit for adults and children alike. From text to illustrations it's the best. He never let's us down. The long wait was worth it. Do not miss this masterpiece.