Saturday, November 13, 2010

The Exquisite Corpse

Mr. Richards loves the Library of Congress website. He is fascinated by their digital collection of old photographs, phonograph recordings, and early films. And I mean really old, items from the dawn of their respective technologies. It is truly fascinating and I recommend you spend some time wandering around there. One day he came across The Exquisite Corpse Adventure and discovered it was also a podcast that could be downloaded from iTunes, and because we both love podcasts, he told me about it. I spent today listening to it.

The Exquisite Corpse is a progressive story. You know, like that old party game where someone writes the beginning of a story and folds the paper over to cover it and hands it to the next person who writes the next bit, folds the paper over and passes it on to the next person, etc, until the page is full and you have a hilariously disjointed story to read aloud. I used to love to play this game (still do, in fact) but had a very hard time getting people to play it with me. Anyway, this time the game is played with a great handful of favorite children's authors and illustrators. Such recognizable names as Jon Scieszka -Stinky Cheese Man, Time Warp Trio, Katherine Paterson - The Bridge to Terabithia, The Great Gilly Hopkins, Kate DiCamillo - Tale of Despereaux, Lemony Snicket - A Series of Unfortunate Events, Jack Gantos - Joey Pigza Loses Control, Megan MacDonald - Judy Moody to name just a few.

The story is available at as an illustrated ebook or as downloadable audio files. The project was kicked off at the 2009 National Book Festival and a new chapter was released every two weeks for an entire year. The last chapter was put up September 29, 2010. Jon Sciezska, who at the time was the National Ambassador for Young People's Literature, wrote the first chapter of the story, setting up the other authors for a crazy ride of a story which would have to include such things as werewolves and mad scientists, a roller skating baby, creatures from another planet, a monkey disguised as a pirate, a real ninja, two meatballs and a bad egg, plus a whole lot more. And each subsequent writer somehow worked all of these things in to the story. The only other requirement was that the authors had to use references to children's literature in their stories. In the final chapter, it was all wrapped up by this year's National Ambassador for Young People's Literature, Katherine Paterson.

This was really fun to listen to. Each chapter was action packed and it was also a great way to compare the writing styles of each author. Some author's have very distinctive writing styles, like Lemony Snicket or Gregory Maguire and you could probably recognize them right away. And some author's I enjoyed much more than others. Anyway, I highly recommend this very entertaining adventure and it's free so you have nothing to lose.

No comments: