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A Fuse #8 Production
Inside A Fuse #8 Production

Fuse 8 n’ Kate: The Mysteries of Harris Burdick by Chris Van Allsburg

MysteriesHarrisBurdickTruly a book for our times. Is there any other picture book out there that causes kids to question what they’ve been told right from the start, more than this one? I make the argument in the podcast that this book is timely. It prepares children, in an era of news that is not always reliable, to not take everything at face value.  Kate does initially believe what the book tells her at the beginning. Later, when reading it, she tries to tie all the stories into a single tale. If you know of anyone who has managed to actually do that, please let us know. By the way, I find it fascinating that Kate finds the nun one so creepy.

Warning: At one point during the end of the podcast I do briefly mix up Zul and Zod. Children of the 80s, please forgive me.

Listen to the whole show here on Soundcloud or download it through iTunes, Stitcher, Google Play, or your preferred method of podcast selection.


Show Notes:

– Here is the highly strange Wikipedia entry for this book. As I mention on the podcast, I’m fine with the first part of the writing here. But when the entry goes on to 1993 I get highly confused. Yet another example of not believing everything you read? Considering that we’re talking about Wikipedia, that would follow.

– The website for this book is called Who Is Harris Burdick?   Highly worth your time. It’s filled with so much fun stuff! It may not have been touched since 2011, but it’s still fun and fantastic. Educator guides, tips for writers, tips for teachers, kids stories, etc.

– Kate’s Top Three pictures in this book:

A Good Day in July


Another Place Another Time


The Seven Chairs


– I mention Captain Tory. Note the way the man is holding the boy’s arm.


– Here’s The Chronicles of Harris Burdick, which I reviewed back in 2011. Here’s the video they made of it and awww! Walter Dean Myers! Stay for the end:

– You can see some animations for two of the stories here. The animation for The Seven Chairs isn’t too bad, but Uninvited Guests is creeeeepy

– Watch this song inspired by The Seven Chairs instead:

– The 2008 musical of the show did indeed exist. Here’s a song for “Under the Rug” performed at the 92nd Street Y.

– A fun one. In all my running around and searching, I stumbled on this website of “Daly’s 5th Graders” where they wrote their own stories. So fun!

– I wasn’t too far off. Flight of the Conchords came out originally in 2007. So . . . 11 years ago then.

About Elizabeth Bird

Elizabeth Bird is currently the Collection Development Manager of the Evanston Public Library system and a former Materials Specialist for New York Public Library. She has served on Newbery, written for Horn Book, and has done other lovely little things that she'd love to tell you about but that she's sure you'd find more interesting to hear of in person. Her opinions are her own and do not reflect those of EPL, SLJ, or any of the other acronyms you might be able to name. Follow her on Twitter: @fuseeight.


  1. Years ago (before modules!) we used the pictures from The Mysteries of Harris Burdick by Chris Van Allsburg each year as creative writing prompts. Students chose an illustration. The students LOVED the photos and loved to read the stories created by their peers.