Houghton Mifflin Harcourt: Boston, 2011.
The whole of The Mysteries of Harris Burdick by Chris Van Allsburg is included in the book.
Short stories by 14 award winning authors (including Chris Van Allsburg himself) and an introduction by Lemony Snicket. All of Chris Van Allsburg's The Mysteries of Harris Burdick is used as a foundation for the stories. Each tale has the corresponding picture, title and caption before it. The Van Allsburg introduction is at the end of the book.
This is a fantastic collection. I have loved Chris Van Allsburg's illustrations for years. They beg to have stories written about them. When my kids were younger, I had two of them write a short story based on one picture of their choice from the book. So, I was excited to see this collaboration.
There is an incredible range of concepts and styles in this book. All of the stories portray a magical experience. All of the stories are wonderful additions to the collection. I cannot believe how creative and original each story is.
Lemony Snicket's intro is like no other. Tabitha King starts the tales with two spirits overseeing a Boy Wonder as he sleeps, or so they think. They speculate about him, and he knows perfectly well why he has the nickname. Jon Scieszka writes about advice a grandmother gives, with the focus being on not sweeping a problem under the rug. Sherman Alexie describes precocious twins (inventive and cruel) who pretend to be triplets. Gregory Maguire writes of a young orphan being controlled for his inheritance. Loose in Venice, he meets a gingerbread lady/sailor, who helps him to settle his future. She is quite a character. Cory Doctorow imagines a tale of time travel and infinite possibilities. Jules Feiffer depicts an author of children's books whose creatures are living in his house. Linda Sue Park tells of two situations in which the young people are in need of a lesson, two bickering sisters and an angry boy feeling abandoned and removed from his home. A wizardly old man provides the lesson. Walter Dean Myers shares a private library with a special, addictive book. Lois Lowry gives an account of levitating chairs, a natural ability of young females, with a rare occurrence of developing the talent. Kate DiCamillo produces letters of a sick orphan girl to her brother, who has been drafted during WWII. M. T. Anderson creates one of the most bizarre and astounding of all. A boy is regularly warned not to leave the neighborhood. Not to keep him from getting lost, but because all is not as it seems. There is a secret that his parents are in on. Louis Sachar reveals a haunting, with the ghost's routine changing through time. Chris Van Allsburg narrates a family's obsession with a physics theory and the search for the proof of the concept. A breakthrough comes where least expected. Lastly, Stephen King shares his story, The House on Maple Street, in which kids attempt to relieve themselves of an abusive stepfather. This story is a reprinting, so I don't know if it was originally inspired by Harris Burdick or not. Is it possible that it spurred the idea of the collection?RL=5th and up; I think this collection would appeal to many ages - far beyond 5th grade.
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