Once upon a time a quiet, non-descript man by the name of Harris Burdick walked into the office of a Mr. Wenders, book seller. Mr. Burdick offered a series of images he had drawn along with companion stories. He brought only the images but not the stories behind them. Mr Wenders was enthralled and mystified by the pictures. Each posed an impossibly fantastic, wondrously eerie concept. Wenders asked Harris Burdick to return immediately with the stories, but alas, when Harris Burdick walked out of Mr. Wenders office, … he was never heard of again.
So begins and ends Chris Van Allsburg enigmatic childrens literature tale, “The Mysteries of Harris Burdick.” Happily for readers, Chris Van Allsburg was able to provide the images or Mysteries of Harris Burdick, along with a small quixotic note, only a sentence really that leaves readers with a tiny clue to each of the original stories that never surfaced. And so he gave writers and readers the most delicious mystery story starters ever!
So, if you gasped in awe over the Chris Van Allsburg book and movie “The Polar Express” or hung on to the edge of your chair in thrilled terror over “Jumanji” or if you thought nothing could surpass the drawings of Chris Van Allsburg in “The Garden of Abdul Gazabi” you are in for a treat with “The Mysteries of Harris Burdick.” Get your pen ready as you’ll want to fill in the stories behind these amazing free printable story starters from childrens literature.
Written in 1984, I initially discovered this childrens literature olume as a young teacher and shared its tingling secrets with my 4th grade students. Needless to say they were agog. The world of childrens literature is the richer for Chris Van Allsburg from who readers can always expect a magnum opus. He wowed childrens literature critics with “Jumanji” winning the prestigious Caldecott Medal in 1982. Those 4th graders are parents of their own now and The Mysteries of Harris Burdick are 32 years old. But his timeless masterpiece has the same power to evoke fantasy, horror, suspense, drama and mystery. So, teachers, homeschool parents, here are free printable Mysteries of Harris Burdick story starters and lesson plans.
First, check out the free printable Mysteries of Harris Burdick. Print a set of free printable Mysteries of Harris Burdick pictures as story starters and have students choose their favorite. Mine is “Missing in Venice” I think. Or maybe it’s “The Seven Chairs?” Wait, how could I forget “Mr. Linden’s Library” or “Captain Tory?” Aiyy! See how hard it is?? Anyway, have students explore samples of student writing to explain these mysterious pictures. Then let them try their hand at penning a plausible ending. Compile these stories into a book or website. Use these free printable Mysteries of Harris Burdick story starters. Share the joy of puzzling out these wondrous stories.