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The Mysteries of Harris Burdick

4.54 of 5 stars 4.54  ·  rating details  ·  4,427 ratings  ·  456 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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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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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
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
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
Klaudia Maniakowska
I find this book totally amazing. The only word that comes to my mind after reading it is MYSTERY. Not only is the whole story of Mr. Burdick who never returns to Mr. Wender mysterious. In fact, every picture in this book is baffling. Due to the fact that the drawings are black and white, the author skillfully plays with light making the illustrations appear uncanny. The captions are so puzzling that they allow the readers to come up with a multitude of possible stories. I enjoyed the fact that ...more
Loved it. The old-fashioned tradition of the past returns: the author purports to believe that the real author of the pictures has disappeared and the quest to unearth some details from his life still continues. That is an efficient method to capture the reader's attention and heighten a sense of mystery. The pictures are silent stories that have a chance to flourish in our imagination: we have no plot but a short caption. A splendid chance to stimulate our imagination. After all, we can spend m ...more
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.
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Agnes U
I agree with you Klaudia. The book is quite amazing; in fact it pushes the reader into breaking the boundaries of one’s imagination. The art is done in black and white (and of course shades of grey), yet the illustrations pushes you to question what is in them. I think even people who lack imagination are led to fantasize about the story behind each picture. The pictures are simple, yet not quite- mysterious elements attached to mundane objects and situations have this (like you said) uncanny ef ...more
Ms.Tina  Stone
I thought that this book was extremely interesting and one that you can use a lot of different ways in the classroom. This book is really different in the sense that each page only includes an image, a title and a quote and each page is completely different from the next! This allows the reader to come up with their own fantasy and story for each picture, predicting what will happen next after reading each caption. This book fosters and enhances student's critical thinking and creativity that's ...more
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
Tiffany Pennington

Title: The Mysteries of Harris Burdick
Author: Chris Van Allsburg
Illustrator: Harris Burdick
Publisher/Date: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt/ 9/24/1984
Pages/Format: 32/ Hardcover
ISBN: 9780395353936

"His disappearance is not the only mystery left behind. What were the stories that went with these drawings? There are some clues..."

Who is Harris Burdick? Where did he disappear to? And how was he going to finish his stories?

Chris Van Allsburg presents a series of loosely related drawings each accompanied by
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 not only has beautiful illustrations, but it sparks something within the readers and listeners alike and before you know it, you are writing your very own story. Not only are these stories unique, but they can change by the day based on who is reading it or the mood of of the reader. I loved that when my class read it, there were horror stories and fairy tales that sprouted form the same picture. This book truly captures the essence of not judging a book by the cover because you never ...more
Jill Duford Peterson
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
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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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