Society diversity

Music Hall and Portsmouth Historical Society bring author-illustrator Chris Van Allsburg to Portsmouth

On Sunday, July 31 at 2:00 p.m., Chris Van Allsburg, Caldecott Medalist and best-selling author of Jumanji and The Polar Express, visits the Music Hall Lounge in collaboration with Imagine That! exposure.

The 2:00 p.m. event includes a discussion moderated by the author with Monte Bohanan, Director of Communications and Community Engagement at the Music Hall, followed by a question-and-answer session with the audience. It will be held at the Music Hall Lounge at 131 Congress St., in Portsmouth, New Hampshire.

“We are so proud to partner with the Portsmouth Historical Society for this very exciting event!” says Brittany Wason, literary producer at Music Hall. “Chris Van Allsburg has written and illustrated some of the best-known children’s books, and we are delighted to welcome him to the Music Hall Lounge.”

“For Chris, making books is about chasing something in your imagination without worrying about what happens when you catch it,” says Nina Maurer, guest curator of Imagine That! exposure. “He has enchanted readers with his hauntingly beautiful illustrations for generations. We are thrilled to have his original art in our galleries and to welcome him to the new Music Hall performance space.”

The Portsmouth Historical Society is a proud partner in this event, having assembled a collection of extraordinary illustrations for children’s picture books by a “who’s who” of New England illustrators, from Maxfield Parrish and NC Wyeth to Robert McCloskey and HA Rey, plus contemporary illustration artists Chris Van Allsburg, Mo Willems, Grace Lin, Tomie dePaola, and more. Over 100 illustrations, including reflections on diversity and inclusion, allow children and adults to explore the imaginative world of picture books and read together. The exhibit includes a book-making station, a play area to build a house, a toy theater and a reading corner. The exhibition is accompanied by an impressive “Journey Box” initiative that takes picture books, reading and bookmaking to local schools, libraries and underserved families. More information is available at:

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 Award for The Garden of Abdul Gasazi. Author and illustrator of numerous children’s picture books, he also received 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 illustration professor at the Rhode Island School of Design. He lives in Beverly, Massachusetts.

The ticket package for Literary in the Lounge: Chris Van Allsburg on Sunday, July 31 at 2 p.m. is $10. The ticket package includes a reserved seat, a conversation with the author and a Q&A session with the audience. Tickets and autographed books (a selection is available for purchase) are available online at or through the B2W Box Office by phone at 603.436.2400.