"A house without books is like a room without windows." -Horace Mann

Saturday, October 9, 2010

The Mysteries of Harris Burdick

by Chris Van Allsburg

I've loved the artwork and stories of Chris Van Allsburg since I was young and read many of his strange and intriguing children's books.  If you don't know who this author/artist is, he's the one that did such stories as Jumanji and The Polar Express, now made more famous from movies (although definitely NOT made any better by the movies).  As always, read the books first!

One of my favorites is a mysterious book that is a great one to read near Halloween, aptly titled The Mysteries of Harris Burdick.  You must read the introduction to understand the interesting nature of this book.  I won't give it away because you honesty cannot appreciate any of it without seeing the illustrations.  Its not even really a story book.  Basically on each 2-page spread is a black and white illustration, the Title for the story that the illustration is for, and one line or phrase from the story.  That's it.  And yet, those 3 simple things can say a whole lot and still leave much to the imagination.  Allsburg's real talent truly is in his artistry, done mostly in black and white and with details that let your senses wonder.

I still remember one family night activity where mom had us each pick one of the illustrations and using the 3 elements provided, write our own story about what was happening.  There were some funny stories, scary stories, and downright strange stories, especially since the majority of us were still in elementary school.  We enjoyed sharing our creativity and appreciating everyone else's amazing ideas.  Get this book and solve your own Harris Burdick mystery this Halloween.

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