The Mysteries of Harris Burdick by Chris Van Allsburg

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The Mysteries of Harris Burdick by Chris Van Allsburg

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Buy The Mysteries of Harris Burdick by Chris Van Allsburg at Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com

Category: For Sharing
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: Keith Dudhnath
Reviewed by Keith Dudhnath
Summary: A collection of illustrations, captions and titles, supposedly from fourteen undiscovered stories. It'll spark all sorts of creativity and story-writing in children of a wide range of ages. Recommended.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 32 Date: March 2011
Publisher: Andersen
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-1849392792

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Thirty years ago, Harris Burdick walked into a book publisher's office with samples of his work. He had fourteen stories ready for publication, but just brought one picture and caption from each. Burdick was never heard of again. The publisher spent many years trying to track down Burdick, showing the pictures to people - many of whom were inspired to write their own stories. (Shh about The rights of Chris Van Allsburg to be identified as...).

The Mysteries of Harris Burdick can't help but grab your attention. Under The Rug: Two weeks passed and it happened again, accompanied by a bald man in a cardigan wielding a chair at a lump under a rug. What is under the rug? Why does it keep happening? Every page tantalises, sparks ideas, plays with your mind, intrigues and inspires. At first, I thought it was one of those books that adults love and children sort of quite like but aren't blown away by. However, having given it an airing, it really seems to capture the imagination of a range of ages, sexes and interests. Even if they don't rush off to write their own stories, with a few gentle questions, you can get their minds bubbling.

Chris Van Allsburg's... umm... Harris Burdick's illustrations are beautifully detailed monochrome offerings. The softness, the shadows, the light all add to the magic and mystery. Much like The Polar Express, the pictures have at once everything going on, and yet also have a direct simplicity that has to be admired. Mr Linden's Library is a definite favourite, with the sleeping (dead?) girl with arm crooked around a book sprouting leaves, and her hand interestingly positioned as if she'd been turning the pages before somehow being overcome by the book. It's a fascinating picture, and would be beautifully observed even if it wasn't for the magical leaves growing from the book.

Whilst Harris Burdick can appeal to many children, there's something about it that almost demands it receives its perfect audience: a creative child, keen to play with magical ideas, intelligent yet playful, perhaps even willing to scare and be scared. There are some children for whom it could be an absolute favourite book. Others might just read it with you a couple of times and talk about some of the potential stories, but it's still worthy of a place on the bookshelves. Recommended.

My thanks to the publishers for sending it to Bookbag.

Play The Shape Game by Anthony Browne also encourages you to join in, this time with the illustrations rather than the words. For other beautiful illustrations, check out The Snow Queen by Hans Christian Andersen, Naomi Lewis and Christian Birmingham.

Buy The Mysteries of Harris Burdick by Chris Van Allsburg at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Mysteries of Harris Burdick by Chris Van Allsburg at Amazon.co.uk


Buy The Mysteries of Harris Burdick by Chris Van Allsburg at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Mysteries of Harris Burdick by Chris Van Allsburg at Amazon.com.

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