The Mysteries of Harris Burdick is simply a reproduction of those illustrations, each for a different story, and each with a compelling caption and title. The idea is that you supply the story yourself.
It's an awesome concept, and Van Allsburg's, excuse me, Burdick's drawings are wonderful, of course. My fifth grade teacher, Mr. Allen, introduced my class to them by forcing us to write some of the missing stories. I don't know what everyone else thought of the idea; I was too enthralled to notice. Never had I had so much fun doing schoolwork. My renditions always came out disturbing and dark with happy endings—or so it seemed to me at the time. I was ten years old. I fell in love with writing.
My parents bought me my own copy of the book. I wrote a few more stories, but either because typing was so arduous at the time or due to my short attention span, there are still stories that I haven't written. The worst part is that I don't know what happened to my copy of the book. I think one of my sisters may have borrowed it to use in their own classroom, or possibly my Dad. (There are a lot of teachers in my family.) Hmm?
Anyway, now I have a daughter who loves writing stories. I know she'd love the book. Not surprisingly, it's not available through paperbackswap.org, so I'll have to shell out for a new copy if I can't find mine. I want to give her what Mr. Allen and the mysterious Harris Burdick gave me so many years ago.
(Man, I'm tearing up just thinking about it. *sniff*)