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Book Review

Jumanji by Chris Van Allsburg has been reviewed by Focus on the Family’s marriage and parenting magazine. Though not a series, it has a sequel named Zathura.

Plot Summary

Judy and Peter’s parents leave them home for the afternoon and attend an opera with friends. They have instructed the kids to keep the house tidy, as they’re bringing their friends over afterward. The children are bored and restless. They decide to go to the park across the street, where they find a game someone has left beneath a tree. The game is titled, Jumanji: A Jungle Adventure Game.A note in a child’s handwriting, taped to the box, says it is a game that’s fun for some, but not for all. It urges the players to read the instructions carefully.

Back at home, Judy reads the instructions aloud. The first player to escape the jungle and reach the Golden City wins. She also notes a rule marked “very important.” It says once the game has begun, it will not be over until one player reaches the Golden City.

With little enthusiasm, Peter rolls a seven and reads that lions are attacking. He’s shocked when Judy urges him to turn around slowly. A real lion is lying on their piano! Peter runs from the lion and manages to trap it in his room. He’s ready to stop playing, but Judy reminds him they can’t.

Next, the children roll the dice and find monkeys destroying the kitchen. Then a monsoon rolls through the living room. When the board mentions a guide getting lost, a man appears and mutters to himself about which direction to take. A tsetse fly bites Peter, giving him sleeping sickness. Rhinos stampede, trampling all the furniture in the living and dining rooms.

A python appears, and a volcano erupts. Amid the destruction, Judy rolls the dice and enters the Golden City. Suddenly, all of the animals and signs of disaster are gone. The house is just as it was when their parents left. The kids quickly box up the game and return it to the park. Exhausted, they fall asleep on the sofa until their parents return.

Their parents’ friend, Mrs. Budwing, brings the children a tray of food for dinner. Judy and Peter look out the window to see Mrs. Budwing’s sons picking up the Jumanji game at the park. The boys are not known for following directions, so the children know the Budwing boys will be in for some surprises with their new game.

Christian Beliefs


Other Belief Systems


Authority Roles

Judy and Peter’s parents bid them goodbye when leaving for the opera. They laugh when, on their return, Peter starts talking about floods, volcanos and stampedes.

Profanity & Violence

Gosh appears once.

Sexual Content


Discussion Topics

Get free discussion questions for this book and others, at FocusOnTheFamily.com/discuss-books.

Additional Comments

Author/illustrator note: Chris Van Allsburg’s books, including Jumanji and The Polar Express, have garnered many awards, particularly for their bold, detailed, realistic pencil drawings.

You can request a review of a title you can’t find at [email protected].

Book reviews cover the content, themes and worldviews of fiction books, not their literary merit, and equip parents to decide whether a book is appropriate for their children. The inclusion of a book’s review does not constitute an endorsement by Focus on the Family.

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