Friday, June 24, 2011

The Mysteries of Harris Burdick

When I was in the third grade, my teacher, Mrs. McAllister, showed us a book called The Mysteries of Harris Burdick. If you are not familiar with the book, I will give a brief explanation, but it is better to read the whole store here. In 1954, Harris Burdick entered the office of Peter Wender (a children's book publisher) with fourteen pictures and a caption for each picture. The images went with fourteen different stories. Wenders was drawn into the images immediately and asked Mr. Burdick to come back with the full stories.

Here is where the mystery begins. Mr. Burdick never returned and when Wenders attempted to track him down, he had no luck. All that remains are the fourteen drawings and their captions published in a book by Chris Van Allsburg who was also fascinated by the story. So back to third grade where my teacher showed us this book and explained that she wanted us to write our own story for one of the illustrations.

I was so enthralled by the whole story and the interesting (and kind of creepy!) images that I took the book out of our school library several more times until I received my own copy (the portfolio edition where each image is a poster) for Christmas. Recently Van Allsburg created a website where stories inspired by the illustrations can be submitted and read by others. Check out a few of the images below and visit the Uxbridge Library to see the whole book.

[The House on Maple Street - It was a perfect lift-off.]

[Mr. Linden's Library - He had warned her about the book. Now it was too late]

[Missing In Venice - Even with her mighty engines in reverse, the ocean liner was pulled further and further into the canal]

[The Third-Floor Bedroom - It all began when someone left the window open]
[All image credits: Harris Burdick and Chris Van Allsburg, Houghton Mifflin Company Boston]

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