Tuesday, November 1, 2011

The Chronicles of Harris Burdick



The Chronicles of Harris Burdick: 14 Amazing Authors Tell the Tales
by Chris van Allsburg, et. al.
Houghton Mifflin, 2011. 195 pgs. Short Stories

Can the Newbery be awarded to an anthology? One can only hope this year's committee is giving The Chronicles of Harris Burdick a close look. Based on Chris van Allsburg's artful, enigmatic The Mysteries of Harris Burdick (1984), this new volume allows authors the likes of Walter Dean Myers, Gregory Maguire, Sherman Alexie, Lois Lowry, Cory Doctorow, and many more the chance to extrapolate stories from the enigmatic evidence of Burdick's (van Allsburg's)
original pictures. Why is that ocean liner barging down the canals of Venice? And what on earth (or elsewhere) allows a nun on a straight-backed chair to float mid-air in the middle of a French cathedral? Kate DiCamillo's story of the wallpaper bird pulling free is particularly affecting, and Stephen King's of the middle-class house blasting off from a tree-lined street, particularly satisfying. Ranging from deeply touching to very scary, these stories should very quickly become classic companions to the classic pictures from which they derive. Huzzah!

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