The Mysteries of Harris Burdick

The Mysteries of Harris Burdick

by Chris Van Allsburg

Other Format(Portfolio Edition)

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Fourteen black-and-white drawings, each accompanied by a title and a caption, entice readers to make up his or her own story.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780395827840
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Publication date: 10/28/1996
Edition description: Portfolio Edition
Pages: 16
Sales rank: 386,459
Product dimensions: 12.10(w) x 16.10(h) x 0.25(d)
Age Range: 4 - 8 Years

About the Author

Chris Van Allsburg is the winner of two Caldecott Medals, for Jumanji and The Polar Express, as well as the recipient of a Caldecott Honor Book for The Garden of Abdul Gasazi. The author and illustrator of numerous picture books for children, he has also been awarded the Regina Medal for lifetime achievement in children’s literature. In 1982, Jumanji was nominated for a National Book Award and in 1996, it was made into a popular feature film. Chris Van Allsburg is a former instructor at the Rhode Island School of Design. Visit him at 


Providence, Rhode Island

Date of Birth:

June 18, 1949

Place of Birth:

Grand Rapids, Michigan


University of Michigan College of Architecture & Design, 1972; Rhode Island School of Design, MFA, 1975

Customer Reviews

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The Mysteries of Harris Burdick 4.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 46 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I think that this is a wonderful book, so my Language Arts teacher is having us do a report on it and I think that it is a good idea for a report.
SADAMS30 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The illustrations are mesmerizing, especially to kids. It triggers their imagination and they are able to come up with amazing stories to complement the pictures. I used the portfolio edition with 7th graders as a jumping off point for mystery writing. The stories that they came up with were completely varied and the students loved this unit. The focus that they had throughout the unit was something I'd never seen before in middle school writing. I loved it and so did the kids.
cmurph1 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The fantastical and creepy black and white drawings will entice English Learners and reluctant readers to want to write a story of their own based on the sketch's caption.
athenamilis on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The Mysteries of Harris Burdick is a collection of 14 pictures with titles and captions. All of the pictures, mysterious in nature, invite the reader to think up a corresponding story. The pictures are intricately detailed and offer much to the imagination. My mind began to pump for meaning within the details of each black and white drawing. The titles and captions were even more mysterious. Students of all ages could be asked to write stories to go with these very creative pictures. I know I would like to use the book with my child someday to help her learn to tell a narrative. This book can be used with English language learners, reluctant readers, and highly gifted students because it connects to the imagination in all of us.
julie_savage on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is such an intriguing book. It really captures your attention. The author's note grabs you and makes you wonder if it is a fiction or non-fiction book. The illustrations are full of details that not everyone would be able to catch on a first glance. Everytime I look at a picture, I notice another detail.
cvyork on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Was this produced before Jumanji? If so, I beleive I may have found a source of motivation for it! Amazing pictures and thought provoking captions! This would be great to read in front of a class and hear what the children think!
kdemott on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A different kind of picture book. It would be a great writing prompt for the classroom. Excellent illustrations, as usual.
HeatherSwinford on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This book is great for children to be able to imagine their own stories from the illustrations. There are minimal words listed in this book, so it allows for children to use their own skills as writers and create their own.
ReplayGuy on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Vivid images with a back story that you can use to help start imagination flowing. The pictures are part mystery, part scary. Harris Burdick left the nearly wordless pictures without telling the stories, so you can make them up. The drawings are excellent and the black and white adds another creative dimension as you have to color them in your mind.
jessicabrin on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A series of unrelated, fantastical images paired with intriguing titles guide young imaginations into creating stories of their own to accompany the pictures. According to Van Allsburg's author's note, the images have a mysterious past, having been left with a book publisher by an author (Harris Burdick) who later vanished.
etwinney on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A collection of thought provoking pictures with a short sentence that will inspire the reader to think about each picture. Each page is a great story started that will allow children to free write about "What if?".
alliecipa on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This book is a collection of black-and-white pictures and titles left at a children's book publisher by the mysterious character Harris Burdick. Burdick was never seen or heard from again, which adds to the suspense of the book. These pictures are great for children to look at and create their own stories to go along!
EllieGiles on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
An awesome book inspired by a set of paintings. Each one contains a short sentence or couple of sentsences that lead the reader to wonder what happened in each of the pictures. These are great stories to allow children to free write about "what if?".
derbygirl on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
(easy, picture, young reader fiction with non fiction elements) What an interesting book! On the first page is an introduction explaining who Harris Burdick is and the origin of the illustrations you are about to look at. In a nutshell, (you'll have to check it out for yourself, it's just too interesting), Mr. Burdick left fourteen illustrations with a children's publisher. These fourteen illustrations only had a title and a caption. Mr. Burdick told the publisher that he had fourteen stories to go with the illustrations and that if the publisher liked the illustrations he would bring the accompanying stories the next day. Of course the publisher wanted to see the stories right away. Well, Mr. Burdick was never seen or heard from ever again. As a matter of fact, there has never been any information found about him. So all we have left are these mysterious illustrations and our imagination. This book explores all fourteen of the illustrations. Also in the introduction we are told that the publisher's family and friends that saw the illustrations took the liberty of writing their own stories to go with the pictures. Now, that would be an interesting book too...hmmm....! A fun activity would be to invite your readers/ listeners to pick one of the illustrations and write a story about it.
rileykoch on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Strange book -- fascinating text and illustrationg.
shoebacca on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This book is marvelous for so many reasons. It is really a book about what it is like to be a reader of books. There are a number of illustrations, each one for a story. You know the title of the story, the illustration, and the caption for the illustration. That's all. The whole rest of the book is in your head: YOU are the one who has to decide how the story got from the title to the picture, and where it goes from there. This makes the book one of the longest very thin books I have ever read. In fact, since every time I read it, I make up different stories, I have yet to reach the end.
susan.suihkonen on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This book is full of intriguing pictures that are explained only through a single caption. Not only are the pictures mysterious, but so are their origins.
kirkonly on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Harris Burdick is one of the best books that has only captions!!!! This book has an introduction that explains the reasoning behind the book and then just pictures and a title to go with the picture. This book is a great book for your imagination!!I loved this book as a reader. I loved being about to use my imagination to figure out what "happened" in the picture and the story behind it. The pictures are vintage Allsburg and are essentually the book itsself. Highly recommended.This book is a creative writing project dream!!! You could use this book every single day of the week and get a different response to every picture every time! I am going to use this book when i am a teacher to help create creativity and originality in my students writing. Perfect book for writing!!!
grizzly.anderson on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is a collection of single page illustrations with a short sentence or phrase caption. There is no plot, no story, just a series of Van Allsburg's wonderful illustrations, each of which offers such a wealth of detail that you'll have no trouble making up a story to go with it. Or several.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I use these large-format images in my 4th grade reading class. Students write their own stories to go with the images, title and caption. Inspires wonderful creativity! I then share stories from "The Chronicles of Harris Burdick" with students. Highly recommended!
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Deb-chan More than 1 year ago
Every child will love a book that allows them to imagine new or unusual things. This is just what The Mysteries of Harris Burdick does for its readers. One cannot help but make up stories about the beautiful black and white pictures done in pencil are displayed throughout the book. Two pictures that stand out are the one of the woman about to cut into the glowing pumpkin and the one with the nun in a chapel on a floating chair. Who wouldn't come up with wild stories about either of these pictures? The captions lead the reader on a journey into to depths of imagination just because of the strange circumstances surrounding each illustration. This is definitely a book to share with any inquisitive child. If nothing else is charming enough for a reader, it should be the mystery surrounding Harris Burdick himself. Imagine an author that doesn't want recognition of any sort, who just somehow disappears even after gaining the attention of a publisher. Something must have happened for him to not have gotten back in touch with the publisher, but what?