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Originally published in 1984, Andersen Press have reissued this stunning masterpiece as a brand new hardback with all the original illustrations. I’m going to be honest here…I’d never heard of this book until a few days ago when I saw it propped up on display at work and of course, it immediately caught my eye. I love picture books for older children; you can guarantee a beautiful tale, often haunting in its illustrations and ‘The Mysteries of Harris Burdick does not disappoint.

I think you can forgive me for sidelining this book for so long because we have been treated to so many other fabulous titles by Chris Van Allsburg…Jumanji and The Polar Express being the first two that spring to mind.

‘The Mysteries of Harris Burdick’ is quite unique in its storytelling.

The book features sixteen illustrations and an elusive sentence pertaining to how the author got the illustrations. That one sentence and one illustration, together create endless possibilities for the imagination. And even if you don’t consider yourself as very imaginative or creative…you will after exploring this book. Because that’s what it is; not so much a reading experience but an exploration of the possibilities of literature. You just have to look at the cover to know it’s going to be an adventure. You don’t know where the book will take you but you know it’s going to be good.

And yes, in this case DO judge a book by its cover!

‘The Mysteries of Harris Burdick’ by Chris Van Allsburg is published by Andersen 3rd March 2011      9781849392792

Be sure to check out the authors website…it’s just beautiful http://www.chrisvanallsburg.com/

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I watched the film version the other day and I just had to revisit this classic picture book by Chris Van Allsburg. Undoubtedly, most children will have seen the film before they even knew the story existed in book form but I urge anyone, fan of the film or not to read this book if only for the wonderous illustrations.

This book is quite simply, magical. It advocates everything I believe to be important to Christmas; the belief that magic exists. For the protagonist of the book, a young boy who boards a magical train, this story ends up being far more of a fairy tale than any of us could realise. The boy is disarming in nature and will certainly bring a smile to the reader’s face for his quiet modesty. The double page illustrations let us share with the young boy the true magic he experiences on the Polar Express. Because really, who DOESN’T want to be served hot chocolate by all singing all dancing waiters. Beautiful.

This is a timeless story which has the power to reunite the child with the magic and possibility that Christmas brings.

The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg is published by Andersen Press, £6.99 and is winner of The Caldecott Medal

9781842709498

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