Friday, May 4, 2012

The Exquisite Corpse Adventure: A Progressive Book Game Played by 20 Celebrated Authors

The Exquisite Corpse Adventure: A Progressive Book Game Played by 20 Celebrated Authors
Various Authors and Illustrators
Candlewick, 2011
$17.99, Hardcover
March 12th, 2012

Genre: Mystery, Fantasy
Age: 9+
Description: Circus orphans Joe and Nancy are on a train—they have just received a clue in the form of a happy birthday card from their supposedly dead parents with a message of “help us.” It turns out their parents were leading scientists who got caught in another time dimension. The twins need to piece together the “Exquisite Corpse”—what they think are remnants of a robot—who will then help them find their parents. The rest of the adventure takes them on encounters with Bobo a narcoleptic evil clown, a mis-fortune teller, a talking pig, creatures for other dimensions, and more craziness.
Opinion: Personally, I am glad I didn’t waste $18 of my on money on this book when it first came out and instead checked it out from the library. This book was written using the rules of the Exquisite Corpse game where one writer begins a story, ends a chapter, and passes it on to another author who continues the story, and so on. This book was originally a literacy project for the National Children’s Book and Literacy Alliance and was originally serialized on, the Library of Congress’s website. You would think with the number of big names who participated—M.T. Anderson, Gregory Maguire, Susan Cooper, Kate Di Camillo, Katherine Paterson, Jon Scieszka, and Lemony Snickett, among others—it would be a good book. Instead, it read like a horribly written penny dreadful. Each chapter ends with a cliffhanger, plot points are begun and then just disappear never to be fleshed out and finished, there is no real plot just action piled on top of more action—it’s just too much. We have no idea who the characters really are—I frankly couldn’t care what happens to them. The illustrations are all over the place since there are multiple illustrators who chose not to look at each other’s work. I also don’t like or understand why each chapter begins with a full-page illustration and then a smaller, cropped section of that illustration is used again in the chapter as an illustration—it is repetitive and boring. This book was hugely disappointing and I couldn’t find anything to like/enjoy/give compliment to.

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