The Mysteries of Harris Burdick by Chris Van Allsburg

Recommended Grades: 2-6

In the introduction, we learn that Chris Van Allsburg saw the drawings in this book at the home of Peter Wenders.  Wenders once worked for a children’s book publisher.  Thirty years ago, a man called Mr. Wender’s office, introducing himself as Harris Burdick and leaving 14 drawings with a title and caption for each one.  Burdick promised to return the next day with the stories he had written to go with each picture.  Mr. Burdick was never heard from again. . .

Lesson Idea:

Comprehension Strategies:

Making Inferences: Read aloud The Mysteries of Harris Burdick as part of a unit on making inferences.  Provide students with a picture and ask them to infer what is happening in the picture.  Use this book after modeling and making inferences with other books.     

Six Traits

Idea Development: After reading aloud The Mysteries of Harris Burdick, have students choose a picture from the book and using the first line that is written, continue the story.  How do they envision the story?

Note: Recently many popular children’s authors came together and wrote stories based on these pictures in The Chronicles of Harris Burdick: Fourteen Amazing Authors Tell the Tales / With an Introduction by Lemony Snicket.  After students write their own stories based on the pictures, share some of the author’s ideas and how they envisioned the story. 

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