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The Mysteries of Harris Burdick
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The Mysteries of Harris Burdick

4.54 of 5 stars 4.54  ·  rating details  ·  4,135 ratings  ·  429 reviews

Fourteen black-and-white drawings, each accompanied by a title and a caption, entice readers to make up his or her own story. A fictional editor's note tells of an encounter with an author and illustrator named Harris Burdick, who provided the images and captions as samples, each from a different picture book he had written. He left with a promise to deliver the complete m

Unknown Binding, 16 pages
Published October 28th 1996 by HMH Books for Young Readers (first published 1984)
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Aug 24, 2009 Kathryn rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommended to Kathryn by: Q--thank you!
Beautifully illustrative and wonderfully imaginative, not only in the execution but in the way it will inspire readers to think of "the rest of the story." Each illustration is accompanied by just a few words of text--they are supposedly taken from manuscripts by "Harris Burdick" and are only one piece to the whole story... so it is left to the readers to imagine the rest. Almost like visual "story starters." The illustrations contain a variety of themes, from mysteries to joys to sorrows to mys ...more
Charlie Fan
14 illustrations. 14 captions. A picture book, then? Yes, but each scene is a loaded gun and you are the trigger.

It's introduction is somewhat apocryphal: the author is not the actual author but merely a messenger of sorts. Chris Van Allsburg discovered the set of drawings whilst visiting the home of Peter Wenders. Thirty years ago (as of 1984), these drawings were presented to Peter Wenders by a man named Harris Burdick with the intent of publishing 14 stories for a children's book. Harris Bur
Love this book! It's a picture book, but doesn't exactly tell a story--rather, it's a collection of detailed, sepia-colored illustrations, apparently unrelated, each with a title and a sentence. For example, there might be a picture of a house blasting off like a rocket, and the sentence would be something like "It was a perfect take-off." Absolutely wonderful imagination-sparkers--each illustration just begs for a story to be made up about it! Of course, you can interpret the pictures any way y ...more
Turn it into a party game for smart ppl who want to get to know one another better. Use it in your writers' group. Exercise your own brain to stave off senility. Give it to a child who's spending too much time passively consuming entertainment, and encourage them to gift you back by creating a story for you from one of the images.

But, don't use it too directly to create a book you'll sell, cuz I bet Van Allsburg still has plenty of copyright protection.

Yay for thrift stores!
Jennica Munden
Picture Books
Critical analysis: This is a collection of images produced by a mysterious man named Harris Burdick. Mr. Wenders, though he is retired now, once worked for a children’s book publisher. About 30 years ago, Mr. Burdick came to Mr. Wenders office to offer 14 written stories for which he had drawn many pictures for, and had brought one for each story to see if Mr. Wenders liked them. Mr. Wenders did like them, and requested to see the stories as soon as possible. However,
Each year at my school we host a visiting author. As a part of that author visit, teachers create workshops that focus on different aspects of writing. Over the years, I've tried a variety of workshops -- none of them particularly interesting or well attended. This year, I decided to try something new!

The Mysteries of Harris Burdick by Chris Van Allsburg is a truly unique book. The preface to the story is that the drawings that followed were a part of a book that was lost. Unfortunately, no one
“The Mysteries of Harris Burdick” is a brilliantly surreal book from Chris Van Allsburg and it is full of various stories that a mysterious man named Harris Burdick leaves behind for Chris Van Allsburg’s friend Peter Wenders to read over and the stories that the mysterious man leaves are only drawings that have titles and small captions under the titles. “The Mysteries of Harris Burdick” is a beautifully surreal book that will enchant children for many years.

Chris Van Allsburg had done a magnifi
Picking up this book, I was drawn in by the mysteriousness of it all. Is the introduction about the author and illustrator, Harris Burdick, true or was it created to set the mood of the book? It is up to the reader to decide what they believe. I choose to believe the story of Burdick is true because I think it gives the illustrations a deeper and more mysterious meaning. It makes you wonder: what really were his stories behind these illustrations? Each of the dark and ominous fourteen illustrati ...more
Stuart Willy
The Mysteries of Harris Burdick by Chris Van Allsburg

The brilliance of anything someone recommends is that there is the slim chance you might just have that little connection when you both love it as much as one another. It’s something that is surprisingly rare but when it happens, it’s a joy. Not only do you get the experience of the recommended item but also the shared connection. When this happens with a book it is all the more rewarding for all the reasons that lead us as adults to love book
For the illustrations alone I give 5 stars and this wonderful book really opens your imagination without effort. This book really brings out the kid in me. The excitement I felt imaging what could possibly come next and knowing that I can come up with my own ending is just priceless. I forget sometimes how fun it is to read great children's books.
There was a great range of emotion in this book. Some images were whimsical, others angry, others adventurous or frightening. This book is better because it's in black and white because it leaves more room for the imagination and allows the for more drama and intensity from the way the artist plays with light.
I could easily see children playing making up huge narratives from these pictures (because of their active imaginations and love of stories). It's great that the author gave one a title an
Elizabeth Menchaca
The introduction to this book is a letter written by the author Chris Van Allsburg, in the letter he explains to the reader how he came across the mystery of the disappearance of Harris Burdick and his bizarre unfinished stories. According to Allsburg thirty years ago a man named Harris Burdick met with a friend of his who used to work for a children’s book publisher. The man brought with him fourteen samples of his books they consisted of captivating black and white drawings with only a title ...more
I'm left with few words after reading this, but I will try to reel as many bookworms/art enthusiasts in. Rather "the mystery of Harris Burdick"; this is the work of an artist in the fifties whom history never heard of again. Here's an excerpt from the introduction:

The story of Harris Burdick is full of mystery. Burdick once went to the office of a man who was a children's book publisher. He showed Peter Wenders, the publisher, 14 drawings and explained that he had written stories for each pictur
The attendant in B&N pulled this book down for me. She noticed that I, an adult with no child in toe, was occupying the children's literature section, stack of books in hand, and asked if I needed help. A bright-eyed 4/5/6 grade teaching student, I eagerly replied, Yes! I was looking for fantasy picture books for an assignment. I justified these trips to the book store instead of to the library because, well, we have a young child who would love the books I brought home, I myself love kids b ...more
Danielle Boles
The Msyteries of Harris Burdick could not have been titled any better than it was. Each page has an image with a title of the image listed by it. I think this is an awesome book because it allows the readers to come up with their own story. Each image has it's own story portrayed by lights, mood, and subtext under the title of the story. Everything is so dramatic throughout the story and each image is meant for the reader to be left with cliffhangers and mysteries. Even though it does not have a ...more
Beautiful evocative drawings, each with a caption that implies a mysterious 'lost' narrative. A bit like the hand drawn children's picture book version of a bunch of Gregory Crewdson photographs. It is such a great concept and, as the book suggest, probably great for an inspiring children's or fantastical creative writing. I only wish the book was twice as long.
Oct 25, 2009 Courtney added it
Recommends it for: creative people
This is an intriguing picture book. There are no words but it has well-crafted pictures that capture a moment of mystery. This book could be used from 3rd grade through high school to trigger the imagination. Students could work on there own storytelling/writing skills through a response to this book.
Van Allsburg, C. The Mysteries of Harris Burdick. HMH Books for Young Readers (1996).

This picture book is compiled of 14 pictures without words, that invite the reader to create their own version of what is going within the picture. Harris Burdick was the original creator of the photographs, but disappeared mysteriously before ever giving an explanation of the photos.

The reading level is ages 9-13. While younger students could make up their own stories, some of the pictures are not appropriate f
I never knew it was not a story book or novel. But it as good. I like the story prompts especially the ideas about Captain Tory and Oscar and Alphonse.
So fun, and am already delving in to some of the stories that were inspired by these interesting and creepy images!
Heather Brownlee
The real story in this book is in the introduction written by Chris Van Allsburg. A man named Harris Burdick has left these pictures with a publisher only one line of text, and a title accompany the pictures. Harris Burdick never returns with the rest of the story. This leaves the reader to become the author. The reader can decide what they believed to have happened to Harris Brudick. They can also use the pictures to start a story. What a great idea for a book. Chris Van Allsburg not only creat ...more
This book is brilliant! I love the idea of having just a picture and the title and allowing children to make up their own story. For sure, this is a book I would use in teaching (and with my own children). This book would be excellent at teaching children to develop and exercise their creativity because, unlike what children are usually read, this story is not spelled out for them in detail. This book would also be excellent to use in a classroom to have all the students work to create a story t ...more
The Mysteries of Harris Burdick is an exquisitely illustrated picture book that successfully inspires both terror and intrigue. It's a series of unconnected black and white pencil illustrations, each depicting an eerie or foreboding scene straight out of a classic horror film: monsters under the floorboards, visitors from outer space, inexplicable objects with supernatural qualities. This book is filled with the fiends that menaced your childhood dreams.

Each image is accompanied by a simple tit
The Mysteries of Harris Burdick really is a book like no other. I first became aware of it when my teacher shared it with our class in second grade, and the short beginning fragments of narrative that entirely make up the book have played with my mind ever since then.

Each "story" is actually only a single line of text, accompanied by a shadowy picture that sheds just the smallest amount of light upon what is said in the text. A hint of a story, usually something dark and a little bit frighteni
While I don't normally play the superlative game, this is probably my favorite Chris Van Allsburg book.

The premise of this is that Harris Burdick dropped off 14 drawings to a children's book publisher back in the 1950s. Each had a title and a caption. Burdick promised to return with the stories that accompanied each drawing. He never returned.

So what we are left with are 14 highly interesting illustrations with captions that act as story starters. I used to have each image in poster size for my
Kellie Wagner
I am unbelievably intrigued by this book and the mystery behind it. The book is completely made up of black and white photos with only a sentence of information. The photos are nothing you would see in everyday life. They include images to encourage creative thinking, and I can't wait to use this book for writing prompts in my creative writing workshops. You MUST get your hands on it!

For example, one of the photos includes a room with a window open and the curtain blowing in the breeze. The wall
The Mysteries of Harris Burdick by Chris Val Allsburg is quite a mystery indeed. Chris stumbled on Harris Burdick through a friend named Peter Wenders. Burdick called upon Wenders to publish stories he had written, along with pictures that he had drawn for each story. Wenders asked Burdick to bring in the stories the next day, but he never returned and was never heard from again. Who was Harris Burdick? Van Allsburg published this book in honor of Burdick. The snippets of text from each story al ...more
Morgan Elliott
This a story mostly told with the pictures. Each illustrations is somewhat related it but it is up to the reader to specifically use their imagination and broaden the story. I love that the pictures are in black and white but I think if it was in color it could have brought more imagination to the pages. I rate this book a 5 out of 5 because of how different it is. Another reason this book is mostly told through pictures is because of how little words there are. Each spread is titled with a capt ...more
I love the concept and the background story to this book, it is a reflection of Van Allsburg's genius once more. However, I feel that this book will either be a hit or a miss with readers. I feel that kids would enjoy this book because they like mysteries; the disappearance of Harris Burdick is nothing short of a mystery. Readers who enjoy using their imaginations will also love trying to invent stories to go along with each page; it is almost a childhood instinct to see a vague statement and a ...more
Chris Van Allsburg has created a book that is one-of-a-kind! This is a book that one must read the introduction for. The introduction develops many more questions than it does answers, but does make the rest of the book make sense. One of the main questions is.. Is the introduction fiction or nonfiction. According to the introduction, Van Allsburg visited a friend of his, Peter Wenders, who was a book editor who showed him 14 pictures. These fourteen pictures were given to him by Harris Burdick. ...more
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Chris was born in Grand Rapids, Michigan on June 18, 1949, the second child of Doris Christiansen Van Allsburg and Richard Van Allsburg. His sister Karen was born in 1947.

Chris’s paternal grandfather, Peter, owned and operated a creamery, a place where milk was turned into butter, cream, cottage cheese, and ice cream. It was named East End Creamery and after they bottled the milk (and made the ot
More about Chris Van Allsburg...
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