Friday, May 16, 2008

Write On! -- Jay

The Mysteries of Harris Burdick by Chris Van Allsburg is an awesome and creatively inspiring book. For a lot of you, that’s probably not news. Basically, it’s a collection of 14 black and white illustrations, each with a title and a line of text from a different book written and illustrated by the mysterious Harris Burdick. But that’s all we have…a single page from each book!

And that, of course, allows whoever picks up this amazing book to imagine what happens beyond these story prompts.

I was reminded of this book while flipping through the latest Houghton Mifflin catalogue, where they revealed the following website:

It includes stories written by children who were inspired by Mr. Van Alls—…I mean, Mr. Burdick’s artwork. There’s also a story written by Stephen King! Mr. King chose "The House on Maple Street" to inspire his story. In that illustration, a two-story house (with a light on in the attic) is beginning to blast off. It's a cool story prompt with a little bit of personal history for me.

When I was an assistant children’s librarian in Wyoming, I used The Mysteries of Harris Burdick to teach creative writing in an after-school program for elementary school students. The only story I still remember was written by a boy who was inspired by the same illustration as Mr. King. He was so excited to show me what he'd written because…I was the main character. Yes, I was in the house as it began lift-off. Of course, with a house pushing off against the Earth’s gravitational pull, there’s a lot of shaking that occurs. And things began flying off shelves. And one heavy object hit me on the head. And there was blood oozing out of my head. Lots of blood. Pools of blood.

And when I finished reading, I heard the author laugh. “Huh-huh. Heh-heh-huh.”

I don’t know what I’m trying to say with this post, but that laugh still gives me the chills.

- Jay

BONUS COOLNESS: Check out this article from Publishers Weekly regarding Thirteen Reasons Why. It is beyond cool!!!


Anonymous said...

WOW 100K and still growing - great article - especially the last paragraph - history - history - history


SilberBook-Blog said...

Thans for the tip on the Van Allsburg book - and it's always amazing to read how 13 Reasons keeps on growing!


Katie said...

I bought Thirteen Reasons Why yesterday and read it in two and a half hours. I simply couldn't put it down. It's more than just about suicide -- it's about how daily actions impact people in ways deeper than we understand. I'm passing this book on to my male friend, who unfortunately tends to be like Justin when it comes to girls. I hope reading this book will help him understand what he's doing.

Anonymous said...

Hey I loved the book. Are you going to write some more. *gasp* you should write and alternet ending!!