The Mysteries of Harris Burdick

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The Mysteries of Harris Burdick
Author Chris Van Allsburg
Illustrator Chris Van Allsburg
Country United States
Language "
Genre Children's, Fantasy novel
Publication date
Media type Print (Hardcover)
Preceded by The Wreck of the Zephyr
Followed by The Polar Express

The Mysteries of Harris Burdick is a 1984 picture book by the American author Chris Van Allsburg consisting of a series of seemingly unrelated, highly detailed images in Van Allsburg's distinctive style. Each image is accompanied by a title and a single line of text, which compel readers to create their own stories. Many famous writers have tried to put their own little twists on the pictures.[1]

The book is available in a Portfolio Edition which includes another image/caption pair from the story "Missing in Venice."

An additional drawing signed by Chris Van Allsburg and dated 1985 is titled "What Happened to Harris Burdick?" It can be seen at

In 2011 a new book titled "The Chronicles of Harris Burdick" was published, featuring stories by high profile writers like Stephen King and Louis Sachar, inspired by the illustrations in the original "The Mysteries of Harris Burdick" book.[2]


  • Archie Smith, Boy Wonder
  • Uninvited Guest
  • The House on Maple Street
  • Missing in Venice
  • Under the Rug
  • The Harp
  • A Strange Day in July
  • Another Time, Another Place
  • Mr Linden's Library
  • The Seven Chairs
  • The 3rd Floor Bedroom
  • Just Dessert
  • Captain Tory
  • Oscar and Alphonse


The short story "The House On Maple Street" which appears in Stephen King's Nightmares & Dreamscapes is inspired by the last image/caption in The Mysteries of Harris Burdick.

The cover illustration of The Mysteries of Harris Burdick—featured inside the book with the caption "Another Place, Another Time"—appears to have been inspired by, and based on an Erich Lessing photograph from the June, 1959 issue of National Geographic magazine. The photograph, which accompanies a feature article about post-war Germany, shows a group of children riding a sail-powered rail car on tracks linking the mainland with the Halligen, a group of islands in the North Sea.[3]


  1. ^ Byrne, Terry (June 22, 2008). "They are hoping for a storybook ending". The Boston Globe. Retrieved November 18, 2011. 
  2. ^ Marcus, Leonard S. (November 10, 2011). "The Chronicles of Harris Burdick - 14 Amazing Authors Tell the Tales - By Chris Van Allsburg and others.Illustrated by Chris Van Allsburg - Book Review". The New York Times. 
  3. ^ Conly, Robert Leslie/Lessing, Eric "Modern Miracle, Made in Germany". National Geographic 1959 115(6): p.783.

External links[edit]

  • The official site - Has a section where readers can write their own stories for the pictures. Winners get a copy of the Portfolio Edition of the book.