Have you ever heard of a man named Harris Burdick? I hadn’t, until I learned about The Mysteries of Harris Burdick — a picture book by Chris Van Allsburg. But the illustrations inside aren’t by Chris Van Allsburg, they’re from Harris Burdick… or so Chris Van Allsburg claims! Even stranger: each illustration has just a title and caption — so the reader can make up their own story to go along with it.
And in the newly released The Chronicles of Harris Burdick, 14 award-winning authors did exactly that. Just like school homework, the authors were assigned (or politely fought over) an illustration from The Mysteries of Harris Burdick, and then each author wrote a short story to accompany the picture.
Makes me wonder what kind of grades my 7th-grade Language Arts teacher would have given the likes of Jon Scieszka (author of the Time Warp Trio series) or Lois Lowry (Newbery Medal-winning author of The Giver — no big deal or anything)! Would she have given a gold star to Walter Dean Myers or extra credit to Jules Feiffer, or would she have marked up their papers with red pen?
Jon Scieszka, Chris Van Allsburg, Lois Lowry, and Linda Sue Park
Last week, Karen and I attended an event at a local Barnes & Noble, where authors Jon Scieszka, Lois Lowry, Chris Van Allsburg and Linda Sue Park graced us with their presence and talked about the new book!
For those who missed it, the authors are 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, and Chris Van Allsburg… PLUS an introduction by Lemony Snicket.
I discovered a few things from being approximately 7 feet from the some of the coolest authors, ever:
1. It is impossible NOT to be in awe of them.
2. In a classroom: Jon Scieszka would be the class clown, Lois Lowry would be the sarcastic brainy one, Linda Sue Park would be the thoughtful poetry writer, and Chris Van Allsburg would be the science nerd. Who just happens to be really, REALLY good at drawing.
3. Linda Sue Park has an intense fear of worms, just like me!
As authors were selected to write for The Chronicles of Harris Burdick, the most coveted illustration was “the one with the nun” — which Lois Lowry got!
Jon Scieszka’s first choice was also “the one with the nun,” but in the end, he wrote a story for “Under the Rug” — and he had some interesting things to say about it:
Wish you were there? Check out more videos from the event on the Kidsmomo YouTube channel! Meanwhile, pick up a copy of the book and let us know which illustration most fascinates YOU!
Nancy knows that if it turned out to be a giant worm under that rug, she would totally jump onto that chair and by sheer will and fright, float away to meet up with that nun.
More about Nancy »
Btw, Nancy works at Barnes & Noble, but her job has nothing to do with events like these — or with this book in particular. Unfortunately.