This is a two part review.
Do any of you guys remember the original book The Mysteries of Harris Burdick? I remember being in love with this particular picture book as a kid and pouring over each detail on every page and imagining my own stories to accompany the glorious black and white illustrations.
I was so excited when my older daughter was the right age to purchase this book and I honestly do not know how many copies of this book I have bought for birthday parties. If you haven’t looked this book over, you need to check it out for you and your child. It truly inspires.
Here is a little background on the original book published in 1984. The Mysteries of Harris Burdick begins with an introduction by Van Allsburg, or more of a background of how this book came to be. The introduction explains how one Mr. Burdick dropped off a series of illustrations to Mr. Wenders, a children’s books publisher, for him to review. The illustrations were part of a series of his stories, with each illustration containing the title of the story that it derived from along with a single line from the book.
Each line accompanying each illustration is magical and is a direct gateway to your imagination. Intrigued by the illustrations, Mr. Wenders requested to read the stories, to which Mr. Burdick agrees to bring the following day. And then Mr. Burdick disappears is never heard from again, and his work is kept in hopes of his return.
If you are familiar with any of Van Allsburg’s drawings, you know that they are usually done in pencil and eerily realistic. [SPOILER] The introduction is, of course, completely fabricated, but the entire story complete with the illustrations is really wonderful.
I encourage you to read this book with any child that has a vivid imagination. HERE is link to the author’s website to better get acquainted the original book.
So, let us fast forward to 2011 and the The Chronicles of Harris Burdick. Louis Sacher, Stephen King, Lemony Snicket as Lemony Snicket, Jon Scieszka (see how I snuck him in there), Kate DiCamillo, and Lois Lowry, among others, are just a few of the incredible authors who came together to write a story providing a beginning, end, characters, plots and details that each illustration so deservingly needs!
Now, the original book is for a mature five and up. Both my daughters love it at this age. The second book is for an older child. My eight year old and I read one story out of it from time to time and she really appreciates and understands what this dream-team of authors have done.
My six year old is still not ready for this book, but still very much appreciates the original books and makes up her own stories to accompany each drawing on each page. I love reliving the wonders of this book with both of them!