I’ve long been a fan of Chris Van Allsburg’s children’s books. I’ve read The Polar Express on every Christmas Eve for as long as I can remember … my copy is rather tattered and in need of repair. I remember being haunted by the games come to life in Jumanji and Zathura. And I remember being intrigued and enchanted by the images and puzzling illustrations in The Mysteries of Harris Burdick.
So when I first got wind of the concept behind The Chronicles of Harris Burdick, I could hardly contain my excitement. I stalked the Houghton Mifflin booth at BEA to learn more, and pestered the book’s publicist by email before she finally agreed to work with me on this week’s feature. (Well, to be honest, she seemed pretty excited about it, too!)
And I can honestly say, I am quite possibly even MORE excited about The Chronicles of Harris Burdick after reading it than I was beforehand.
The book features 14 short stories from some of my favorite authors, each story inspired by a different illustration from The Mysteries of Harris Burdick. What’s so brilliant about this concept is that it’s something readers have been doing themselves for years … but it’s exciting to see beloved authors tackling the same concept and putting it out there for their audiences to read.
The stories range from the cute and funny, to quirky and morbid, and in many cases are as extremely mysterious as the original illustrations themselves. And while Van Allsburg’s books are usually written for children, The Chronicles of Harris Burdick will appeal to readers of all ages. Yeah, sure, kids will probably like most of the stories. But teens will love seeing some of their favorite YA authors tackling Van Allsburg’s illustrations — and likewise for adults. When authors like Stephen King and Gregory Maguire get involved, it’s hard to ignore a book’s impact.
The Chronicles of Harris Burdick captures all the quirky charm and mystery of the original book from Van Allsburg, while offering readers a new look at the classic illustrations and inviting in an entirely new generation of readers who may not know about the original book.
Whether you are a long-time Van Allsburg fan, or new to discovering his work, The Chronicles of Harris Burdick will delight you from start to finish. These stories are not to be missed!
The Chronicles of Harris Burdick is in stores today. Here is the official synopsis:
An inspired collection of short stories by an all-star cast of best-selling storytellers based on the thought-provoking illustrations in Chris Van Allsburg’s The Mysteries of Harris Burdick.
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.