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Children's Fiction General

The Chronicles of Harris Burdick

Fourteen Amazing Authors Tell the Tales / With an Introduction by Lemony Snicket

by (author) Chris Van Allsburg

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Initial publish date
Oct 2011
  • Hardback

    Publish Date
    Oct 2011
    List Price

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Recommended Age, Grade, and Reading Levels

  • Age: 10 to 12
  • Grade: 5 to 7


An inspired collection of short stories by an all-star cast of best-selling storytellers based on the thought-provoking illustrations in Chris Van Allsburg’sThe Mysteries of Harris Burdick.
For more than twenty-five years, the illustrations in the extraordinaryMysteries of Harris Burdick by Chris Van Allsburg have intrigued and entertained readers of all ages. Thousands of children have been inspired to weave their own stories to go with these enigmatic pictures. Now we’ve asked some of our very best storytellers to spin the tales. EnterThe Chronicles of Harris Burdick to gather this incredible compendium of stories: mysterious, funny, creepy, poignant, these are tales you won’t soon forget.
This inspired collection of short stories features many remarkable, best-selling authors in the worlds of both adult and children's literature: Sherman Alexie, M.T. Anderson, Kate DiCamillo, Cory Doctorow, Jules Feiffer, Stephen King, Tabitha King, Lois Lowry, Gregory Maguire, Walter Dean Myers, Linda Sue Park, Louis Sachar, Jon Scieszka, Lemony Snicket, and Chris Van Allsburg himself.

     Van Allsburg's Harris Burdick illustrations have evoked such wonderment and imagination sinceHarris Burdick's original publication in 1984; many have speculated or have woven their own stories to go with his images. More than ever, the illustrations send off their eerie call for text and continue to compel and pick at the reader's brain for a backstory—a threaded tale behind the image. In this book, we've collected some of the best storytellers to spin them.

About the author

Contributor Notes

Chris Van Allsburg is the winner of two Caldecott Medals, forJumanjiandThe Polar Express, as well as the recipient of a Caldecott Honor Book forThe Garden of Abdul Gasazi. The author and illustrator of numerous picture books for children, he has also been awarded the Regina Medal for lifetime achievement in children's literature. In 1982,Jumanjiwon the National Book Award and in 1996, it was made into a popular feature film. Chris Van Allsburg was formerly an instructor at the Rhode Island School of Design. He lives in Rhode Island with his wife and two children.Sherman Alexie is the author of several novels and collections of short fiction including the National Book Award WinnerThe Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian (2007) andWar Dances, winner of the 2010 PEN / Faulkner Award for Fiction. Alexie lives with his wife and two sons in Seattle, and has published 14 books of poetry and short stories about life on a contemporary Indian reservation, and Indian-white relationships.M. T. Anderson is the author ofThe Game of Sunken Places,Burger Wuss,Thirsty, andFeed, which was a finalist for the National Book Award, a Boston Globe-Horn Book Honor Book and the winner of the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Young Adult Fiction. Anderson also received the Printz Honor and the National Book Award forOctavian Nothing. He lives in Boston, Massachusetts.Kate DiCamillo is the author ofThe Magician's Elephant, a New York Times bestseller;The Tale of Despereaux, which was awarded the Newbery Medal; Because of Winn-Dixie, a Newbery Honor book; and six books starring Mercy Watson, including the Theodor Seuss Geisel Honor Book Mercy Watson Goes for a Ride. She lives in Minneapolis.Cory Doctorow ( is a science fiction author, activist, journalist and blogger -- the co-editor of Boing Boing ( and the author of the bestselling Tor Teens/HarperCollins UK novelLittle Brother. He is the former European director of the Electronic Frontier Foundation and co-founded the UK Open Rights Group. Born in Toronto, Canada, he now lives in London.Jules Feiffer's artistic sensibility permeates a wide range of creative work, from his Pulitzer-winning comic strip in theVillage Voice, to his Obie Award-winning playLittle Murders, to his Oscar-winning anti-military short subject animation,Munro, to his beloved illustrations forThe Phantom Tollbooth. Feiffer’s cartoons have appeared inThe New Yorker, Esquire, Playboy, and The Nation, and he has recently reinvented himself as a children’s book author. His first book,The Man in the Ceiling, was selected byPublisher’s Weekly and theNew York Public Library as one of the year’s best children’s books.Stephen King has since published over 40 books and has become one of the world's most successful writers. Stephen lives in Maine and Florida with his wife, novelist Tabitha King. They are regular contributors to a number of charities including many libraries and have been honored locally for their philanthropic activities.Tabitha King has published eight novels (the eighth in 2006 with Michael McDowell as co-author), all of which were released in hardcover and paperback by Macmillan and New American Library. She has also published two works of non-fiction, one of which was published in paperback by Dendrite.Lois Lowry is the author of more than thirty books for children. She has received countless honors, among them the Boston Globe-Horn Book Award, the Dorothy Canfield Fisher Award, the California Young Reader's Medal, and the Mark Twain Award. She received Newbery Medals for two of her novels,Number the StarsandThe Giver. Her first novel,A Summer to Die, was awarded the International Reading Association's Children's Book Award.Gregory Maguire is the author of five novels for adults, including the best sellerWicked, and more than a dozen novels for children. Mr. Maguire has been the recipient of several awards and fellowships. He lives in Massachusetts.Walter Dean Myers is the critically acclaimed New York Times bestselling author of more than 80 books for children and young adults. His award-winning body of work includesunrise Over Fallujah,Fallen Angels,Monster,Somewhere in the Darkness,SLAM!, Jazz andHarlem. Mr. Myers has received two Newbery Honors and five Coretta Scott King Awards. In addition, he is the winner of the first Michael L. Printz Award. Mr. Myers lives in Jersey City, New Jersey.Linda Sue Park is the author of Newbery Medal title A Single Shard as well as numerous other novels, picture books, and poetry. She lives in Rochester, NY, with her familyNewbery Award-winning authorLouis Sachar is the creator of the entertaining Marvin Redpost books as well as the much-lovedThere's a Boy in the Girls' Bathroom, winner of 17 child-voted state awards. His bookHoles, winner of the 1999 Newbery Medal, the National Book Award, and the Boston Globe-Horn Book Award, is also an ALA Best Book for Young Adults, an ALA Quick Pick, an ALA Notable Book, and was made into a major motion picture.

Jon Scieszka was appointed the first National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature in January 2008. He is the author of several bestselling children’s titles, includingThe Stinky Cheese Man, which won a Caldecott Honor medal,The True Story of the Three Little Pigs and theTime Warp Trio, a chapter book series. Scieszka is the founder of Guys Read, a nonprofit literacy organization.Lemony Snicket is the author of several other unpleasant stories, including those in the bestsellingA Series of Unfortunate EventsandThe Lump of Coal.

Editorial Reviews

“Engaging, with strokes of brilliance”—Kirkus

“This star-studded exercise in creative writing tests the wits of favorite authors and shows readers how even the big shots hone their craft.”—Publishers Weekly, starred review

“The stories embrace a range of styles and subjects, but, like their enigmatic and mysterious inspirations, each touches on the strange, the odd, and the fantastic.”—The Horn Book Magazine

“While the stories are distinct—by turns funny, sinister, and touching—they have much in common, sharing an arch tone, a curious metaphysicality, and some familiar folk-tale tropes, and the authors’ commitment to the original conceit gives the volume additional cohesion.”—Booklist


Other titles by Chris Van Allsburg