I discovered the book The Mysteries of Harris Burdick, by Chris Van Allsburg, long ago when I was teaching school. (If that author sounds familiar, he wrote The Polar Express, and Jumanji.) As it is one of my favorite books of all time, I'm wondering why on earth I don't own it. I think I'll fix that soon.
The premise of the book is that Harris Burdick, an author/illustrator, brought a portfolio of his work to a children's book publisher. He said he had fourteen stories, and brought one illustration from each to show the publisher. As said publisher was very interested, Mr. Burdick agreed to return the next day with the stories. He was never seen again. What follows in this picture book are the drawings "left behind" by Harris Burdick, each one with a title and caption. These illustrations are phenomenal, as befits a Caldecott winning artist. A full page drawing of something mysterious or fantastic draws you in, while the title and caption spark your curiousity and imagination. One of my favorites shows the inside of a towering gothic cathedral. A nun, sitting in a chair, floats high in the air above two priests' heads. The title reads "The Seven Chairs." The caption says, "The fifth one ended up in France." What's the story? How did that nun in the chair get there? What happened next?
I think this book was in the back of my mind when I started writing my own stories that will be in Cliffhanger Writing Prompts. I imagined a picture book where each page turn would show a new story with a full-color illustration. Well, that concept didn't fly, but stories that leave the reader to imagine what happens next did. I'm looking forward to teachers using my book in the classroom the same way I used The Mysteries of Harris Burdick. And that is very cool!