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What's the story?

Two extremely classy picture books offer perfect stimulation material for Years 5 and 6. The Mysteries of Harris Burdick by Chris Van Allsburg (Andersen Press pound;9.99) comprises 14 dreamy, surrealistic black-and-white illustrations (one is shown, left) with no more than a title and caption for each one. Mr Burdick, the illustrator, has mysteriously disappeared and his pictures are presented "in the hope that other children will e inspired by them" and write stories to fit each one.

Once Upon A Place by Robert Ingpen (LothianRagged Bears pound;9.99) is to be savoured for the way in which the Australian artist recreates, among others, the scene from the Tabard Inn at the start of The Canterbury Tales and a number of imaginary banquet tables featuring famous guests from different time periods, based on the Banquet of Heroes in Irish legend.

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