Aug 15, 2011
The Mysteries of Harris Burdick
The Mysteries of Harris Burdick by Chris Van Allsburg
The Mysteries of Harris Burdick is a very special book. Chris Van Allsburg, author of classic books like The Polar Express, Zathura and Jumanji, opens The Mysteries of Harris Burdkick with a long introdution. In it he explains that the fourteen pictures we're about to see inside the book belong to Harris Burdick. Harris Burdick brought the paintings to a children's book publisher explaining that each painting belonged to a different story and that if the publisher was interested in more, he would bring the stories the following day. But he never came back and he was never heard from again. And that's the mystery. Are those seemingly unconnected pictures Burdick's? or is Van Allsburg telling a story?
The pictures are all in black and white and each one is accompanied by a title and a caption. For example, the text "A Strange Day in July: He threw with all his might, but the third stone came skipping back" accompanies a gorgeous picture of a boy and a girl standing by a lake shore with the boy holding a pebble in his hand. Each picture is a wonderful launching pad for our imagination. This is a fantastic book to use in the creative writing classroom. In fact, there is a special edition (The Mysteries of Harris Burdick (Portfolio Edition)) which offers loose pages of each "prompt" and picture which can be displayed around the classroom. At home, you can spend hours coming up with different stories for each image. This is a book you have to own.