In 1984, beloved children’s author Chris Van Allsburg (The Polar Express, Jumanji) released a book entitled The Mysteries of Harris Burdick. The book was made up of 14 black and white drawings — each with only a title and a caption.
The book includes a fictional editor’s note, that describes an encounter with a mysterious author/illustrator named Harris Burdick, who provided the pictures and captions as samples of his work. He left with a promise to deliver complete manuscripts, but Burdick was never seen again.
Readers of The Mysteries of Harris Burdick are then challenged to create the real stories behind the illustrations.
For years, children have been doing just that. But now, 14 of today’s best authors tackle the stories behind the Harris Burdick illustrations with tomorrow’s release of The Chronicles of Harris Burdick — a collection of short stories inspired by Van Allsburg’s images.
For more on this clever premise, check out the official book trailer below, followed by the publisher’s synopsis:
For more than twenty-five years, the illustrations in the extraordinary Mysteries of Harris Burdick by Chris Van Allsburg have intrigued and entertained readers of all ages. Thousands of children have been inspired to weave their own stories to go with these enigmatic pictures. Now we’ve asked some of our very best storytellers to spin the tales. Enter The Chronicles of Harris Burdick to gather this incredible compendium of stories: mysterious, funny, creepy, poignant, these are tales you won’t soon forget.
This inspired collection of short stories features many remarkable, best-selling authors in the worlds of both adult and children’s literature: Sherman Alexie, M.T. Anderson, Kate DiCamillo, Cory Doctorow, Jules Feiffer, Stephen King, Tabitha King, Lois Lowry, Gregory Maguire, Walter Dean Myers, Linda Sue Park, Louis Sachar, Jon Scieszka, Lemony Snicket, and Chris Van Allsburg himself.
Van Allsburg’s Harris Burdick illustrations have evoked such wonderment and imagination since Harris Burdick‘s original publication in 1984; many have speculated or have woven their own stories to go with his images. More than ever, the illustrations send off their eerie call for text and continue to compel and pick at the reader’s brain for a backstory—a threaded tale behind the image. In this book, we’ve collected some of the best storytellers to spin them.
You can also head to Who is Harris Burdick? to learn more!