Book Review by Aarene Storms: The Chronicles of Harris Burdick

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

The Chronicles of Harris Burdick (edited by) Chris Van Allsburg
with an introduction by Lemony Snicket

In 1984, enigmatic images and snippets of story supposedly created by a man called Harris Burdick were released in a book called The Mysteries of Harris Burdick. According to Chris Van Allsburg, drawings and captions belonging to fourteen unusual stories were left with a children's book publisher by Mr. Burdick, who promised to return the next day with the remainder...a promise that was never fulfilled.

The images and their unusual captions have intrigued many people since that time, and many children--and adults--have written their own tales to accompany the pictures. Now, in The Chronicles of Harris Burdick, well-known authors take up the Harris Burdick challenge: Tabitha King, Stephen King, Jon Scieszka, Sherman Alexie, Gregory Maguire, Cory Doctorow and others have constructed their own tales in order to delight and mystify.

I am delighted by these stories, but I hope that their publication doesn't stifle the creativity inspired by the original Harris Burdick picturebook. Read the stories, and enjoy them...and then, perhaps, try writing a tale of your own to accompany the strange pictures. Here's one from the original book to get you started:
Captain Tory He swung his lantern three times and slowly the schooner appeared.

Recommended for ages 10 to adult.

The events may not have happened; still, the story is true. --R. Silvern
Aarene Storms, youth services librarian
Richmond Beach Library, KCLS


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