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The Chronicles of Harris Burdick: 14 Amazing Authors Tell the Tale

Review

The Chronicles of Harris Burdick: 14 Amazing Authors Tell the Tale

In the introduction to THE CHRONICLES OF HARRIS BURDICK, Lemony Snicket asks the question: “Who is Harris Burdick?” He then recaps the story of Burdick’s creations and his “long and strange shadow across the reading world.” In a playful voice, Snicket ponders what has become of the mysterious stranger and offers his own theory about Burdick’s disappearance.

According to the legend, 25 years ago a man named Harris Burdick visited Peter Wenders and left behind 14 intriguing drawings and captions. Burdick promised to return the following day with even more illustrations and the stories to match. Alas, he never did, but the illustrations and captions were published as a single book, THE MYSTERIES OF HARRIS BURDICK, by Chris Van Allsburg. Readers were invited to invent their own stories using the illustrations for inspiration.

A quarter-century later, 14 authors --- 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 --- have united to create THE CHRONICLES OF HARRIS BURDICK. These stellar writers bring their individual interpretations, voices and styles to the collection. The stories are as unique as the original drawings: intriguing, disturbing, haunting, mysterious, bizarre, whimsical and thought-provoking.

Among my favorites is “Captain Tory” by Louis Sachar, a sweet and supernatural tale about a ghostly gentleman-sailor, and “Just Desert,” a creative and unexpectedly sobering story from M. T. Anderson that questions what is known and unknown, real and imagined.

While some of the stories might not be suitable for younger readers, adults can pre-screen them to determine which are age-appropriate. Beyond the tales themselves, what I also value and find intriguing is the lesson in creative writing from some truly amazing storytellers.

Reviewed by Donna Volkenannt on November 9, 2011

The Chronicles of Harris Burdick: 14 Amazing Authors Tell the Tale
by Chris Van Allsburg

  • Publication Date: October 25, 2011
  • Genres: Adventure, Fantasy
  • Hardcover: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Trade
  • ISBN-10: 0547548109
  • ISBN-13: 9780547548104