My New Obsession Is…

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The Chronicles of Harris Burdick, a book of short stories based on Chris Van Allsburg’s 1984 picture book, The Mysteries of Harris Burdick. I have been looking forward to this book for months, but when I received my copy in the mail a few days ago, I put it aside until Thanksgiving weekend. I started looking at it last night and it’s amazing – well worth the wait.

Like many teachers, I’ve used Van Allsburg’s intriguing book for years. It’s perfect for creative writing classes since each picture sparks so many possible stories.  Now, a group of well known authors have collaborated on a volume of stories, 14 different interpretations of the pictures.  Among the contributors are Stephen King, Lois Lowry, Gregory Maguire, and Kate DiCamillo. I haven’t read all of them yet – but it’s only Thursday morning, and the Macy’s parade is on, and there are pies to eat. I still have three days ahead of me to read them all. Judging from last night’s skimming, some of the stories are stronger than others. That’s okay. It’s still a cool book. I don’t think I would share the stories with my students before they wrote their own. The best part of using Van Allsburg’s original book is letting the kids write about whatever they want.

This would be a good holiday gift for a young person who loves to write. The concept is not to provide answers to Van Allsburg’s riddle-like pictures, but to inspire further imaginings.

Over the next few weeks, my blog will focus on gift ideas for all of the readers on your shopping list. I’ll try to answer a few of the most common questions I hear at this time of year, for example: what do I buy for my son who is just learning to read?  or…my daughter who loves princess books, but needs to branch out?  I look forward to writing these lists. Nothing gives me more pleasure than connecting the right book with the right reader.

Happy Thanksgiving.

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