Have you read books by Chris Van Allsburg? Almost all of his books have sprung into instant popularity, some even made into movies, like Jumanji and Zathura. One of his especially famous books have dominated the 80s. Chris even made a portfolio edition after it. It was…The Mysteries of Harris Burdick.

In the introduction, it clearly states how Peter Wenders (Chris’s editor, from my remembrance) meets the strange Harris Burdick, who, after giving Mr. Wenders a drawing and a brief caption from each of his 14 books, was never heard from again. But the stories Harris had are AS mysterious as his disappearance. The pictures urge the readers to make their own stories to go with the pictures. Speaking of these pictures, they change from “A Strange Day In July” to “Oscar and Alphonse” to “The Seven Chairs”. Sadly, Mr. Burdick passed away in 2000 at 91 years old. Even Beverly Cleary is older than that and she’s still alive, after being born in 1916! Some details about Burdick’s appearance is that he wears a fedora, an overcoat, and glasses above a prominent nose. Here’s a picture to state my proof:

But, before this post gets TOO boring, let me show you a handful of pictures from Chris’s book:

Oscar and Alphonse – She knew it was time to send them back. The caterpillars softly wiggled in her hand, spelling out “goodbye.”

The Seven Chairs – The fifth one ended up in France.

A Strange Day in July – He threw with all his might, but the stone kept skipping back.

Under the Rug – Two weeks passed and it happened again.

See what I mean? These pictures shouldn’t be TOO hard to write stories off of. I’ve been writing stories since the second grade, and my mind is still bubbling with ideas. Don’t sweat it. No story is perfect. You can’t string together a million words on a million pages and call it a masterpiece. Heck, I bet Hugo Cabret took months of proofreading. Speaking of proofreading and months, it usually takes Chris Van Allsburg 7 months to write and draw a book, from start to finish. They even made a Harris Burdick Story Writing Contest, and the winners were in second grade to eighth. But still, you can write a pretty good Harris Burdick story, and even accept the challenge to solve his mysteries. But about that portfolio edition…

I haven’t caught a glimpse of this portfolio book yet, but if you’re really up for the case, slap it on your Christmas wishlist, or check the PDL. Chris Van Allsburg books are in the Preschool Room, since they’re pretty much picture books. But still stay tuned in Sammwak for more heart-racing, spine-chilling, mouthwatering awesomeness…and for Christmas!

L8trs, Sam