Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Mysteries of Harris Burdick” as Want to Read:
The Mysteries of Harris Burdick
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Mysteries of Harris Burdick

4.53  ·  Rating Details ·  5,159 Ratings  ·  518 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)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Mysteries of Harris Burdick, please sign up.

Popular Answered Questions

Spela Hi! You can unfortunately not read books through this platform, you can only view and rate them... :)
Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice SendakThe Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric CarleThe Giving Tree by Shel SilversteinGreen Eggs and Ham by Dr. SeussGoodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown
Best Children's Books
318th out of 3,721 books — 5,303 voters
Harry Potter Boxset by J.K. RowlingThe Giver by Lois LowryThe Hunger Games by Suzanne CollinsHoles by Louis SacharThe Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan
Top 100 Middle School Must-Reads
273rd out of 1,136 books — 2,534 voters

More lists with this book...

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Charlie Fan
May 25, 2009 Charlie Fan rated it it was amazing
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 really liked it
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 ...more
Shawn (ThatOneEnglishGradStudent)
Initially I was going to just mark this as "read" without giving it a rating, but I figure, why not?

I don't know if the story about how this book came to be (included by Van Allsburg at the beginning) is true or not, but the images inside speak for themselves--or, rather, they invite viewers to speak for them. Some of the pictures are fantastical, some are strange, some are downright creepy, but all of them could be any of these things depending on who is looking at them.

This would make an aweso
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
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 ...more
Jun 09, 2015 Marta rated it it was amazing
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 ...more
Stuart Willy
Mar 26, 2013 Stuart Willy rated it it was amazing
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
Sep 23, 2016 Agne rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
3.5 out of 5
Breathtakingly gorgeous illustrations with mysterious captions and an intriguing story of origin.

This is one of my favorites:

The fifth one ended up in France.

“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
Sep 21, 2016 Rodney rated it it was amazing
Absolutely the greatest 14pp book in the world.
May 06, 2012 Jennica rated it it was amazing
Shelves: short-stories
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,
Jun 26, 2010 Kristin rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2010
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
Sep 13, 2011 Katie rated it it was amazing
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 ...more
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.
Jun 17, 2014 Cynthia rated it it was amazing
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.
May 02, 2016 Neva rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Много съм впечатлена: мистификация, приключение, прозорец към зрача на фантастичното. Свободно реещо се въображение в няколко миниатюрни объркващи изречения, придружени с още по-объркващи картини. Не съобщава, а отключва. Ако трябва да извадя имена от най-личната си практика, до които да го наредя, веднага го слагам между Будзати и Шон Тан.
Dec 16, 2015 Peter rated it it was amazing
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.
Sep 04, 2016 Deyanne rated it it was amazing
One of the best writing prompt books I ever used in the classroom. Always, always I got some marvelous writing.
Dec 15, 2012 J.cuevas rated it it was ok
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.
Apr 09, 2012 Candis rated it really liked it
So fun, and am already delving in to some of the stories that were inspired by these interesting and creepy images!
Jan 12, 2016 Kat rated it it was amazing
Short but dense. Loved this.
The Bougie Twins
Great book for older kids.
Jessica Barton
Oct 22, 2016 Jessica Barton rated it really liked it
Nice book
Olavia Kite
Oct 11, 2016 Olavia Kite rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Magníficas ilustraciones. Es un juego a la espera de ser jugado.
Oct 05, 2016 Garren rated it really liked it
Beautiful posters.
Jul 09, 2013 Karen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Tiffany Fox
May 23, 2015 Tiffany Fox rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

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
Sep 13, 2011 Traci rated it it was amazing
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 ...more
Elizabeth Menchaca
Nov 05, 2014 Elizabeth Menchaca rated it it was amazing
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 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
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
  • Imagine a Day
  • Zoom
  • Sector 7
  • Weslandia
  • Voices in the Park
  • The Black Book of Colors
  • The Red Book
  • The Eleventh Hour
  • The Memory String
  • The Tin Forest
  • Rocket Writes a Story
  • Wave
  • Squids Will be Squids: Fresh Morals, Beastly Fables (Picture Puffin)
  • Spells
  • The Tenth Good Thing About Barney
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...

Share This Book