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This classic opens with a mysterious note from beloved children’s book author Chris Van Allsburg: The illustrations on the following pages were left at a publishing house by one Harris Burdick. Burdick delivered his portfolio for consideration, left, and was never heard of again. All that remains are fourteen illustrations for fourteen unknown stories. Each picture is accompanied by a title and a caption. In The Seven Chairs, for example, a dainty nun flies through ornate halls on a straight-backed chair while a pair of men in long robes gaze up her sedately. The caption reads, “The fifth one ended up in France.” There’s a blank spot on the dove-covered wallpaper of The Third Floor Bedroom, accompanied by the line, “It all began when someone left the window open.” Look closer, and you'll spot another dove, paper-wing lifted, about to take flight. All this mystery and fantasy is conveyed through Van Allsburg’s trademark style that can convey realism and whimsy in a single stroke. The Mysteries of Harris Burdick has been firing the imaginations of readers since its publication in 1984. A portfolio edition is now available with a new author’s introduction and one more “discovered” drawing. The interactivity of the book continues at The Mysteries of Harris Burdick website where Van Allsburg posts stories sent to him by his legions of fans, who include Stephen King (writing a solution to The House on Maple Street, where a neatly-gabled neighborhood home blasts into the sky on rocket boosters with the caption “It was a perfect lift-off”) as well as school children, amateur writers, and non-writers who couldn’t resist the lure of a good mystery. We dare you NOT to be inspired.
posted Jun 22, 2010 at 1:32PM
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