Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Exquisite Corpse Adventure Mystery Author Contest Starts Today

The NCBLA Has Added a New Author to Team Corpse!
Can your class guess who he or she is?

Play Twenty Questions with other Exquisite Corpse Adventure readers around the country to help identify The Mystery Author!

Every class that solves the mystery and emails in the correct guess will be entered into a drawing to win a collection of books valued at over $500 for their classroom or library, plus a phone conversation with The Mystery Author! One classroom winner will be chosen at random from all correct entries received.

Here's Today's Clues:

Clue #1
What does the Mystery Author think you should do if you want to be a great writer?
A.) Watch at least four hours of TV a day.
B.) Practice belching all weekend.
C.) Read everything you can get your hands on--great picture books, comics, newspapers, nonfiction, poetry--everything and anything!

Clue #2
In which state was the Mystery Author born?
A.)Keystone State.
B.) Sunshine State.
C.) Garden State.

Find the answers and the next two clues this Friday on!

You can send your guess to anytime, but you can only guess once! And we will be posting 18 more clues until we post the final clue on April 21, 2010. Check here every Monday and Wednesday and check every Friday to find the remaining clues.

For more information and complete rules, please visit

In the meantime, be sure to read The Exquisite Corpse Adventure on Read.Gov!

And check out coordinating educational materials and The Exquisite Challenge Writing Contest!

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

In case you missed it!

The NCBLA Shares a 
Roundup of Thought
Provoking News Articles and Essays from the Weekend: 

Edward Rothstein: Monkey Business in the World of Evil,  
The New York Times 

"You don’t really think about Curious George saving the day, as the title of the new exhibition at the Jewish Museum puts it. A “good little monkey,” he is called in the classic series of picture books by Margret and H. A. Rey, but he was no savior. He was a mischief maker, an innocent, born in the jungle and lured into the strange world of humans. ...

His misadventures, particularly in the early books, are ignited by impulse and inquiry, the consequences of wanting to see and to know, and the books’ charm is that they don’t condemn this curiosity; they relish it. Reality’s hard knocks — the chases, the falls, the breaking of limbs and objects — are ultimately taken care of by the nameless man in the yellow hat, who never seems to learn that you don’t leave such a childlike creature alone with a new bike, saying, 'Keep close to the house while I am gone.'"

Nicholas Kristof: The Boys Have Fallen Behind,  
The New York Times 

"Around the globe, it’s mostly girls who lack educational opportunities. Even in the United States, many people still associate the educational “gender gap” with girls left behind in math.
Yet these days, the opposite problem has sneaked up on us: In the United States and other Western countries alike, it is mostly boys who are faltering in school. The latest surveys show that American girls on average have roughly achieved parity with boys in math. Meanwhile, girls are well ahead of boys in verbal skills, and they just seem to try harder."

David Elkind: Playtime is Over,  
The New York Times 

"A Nielsen study last year found that children aged 6 to 11 spent more than 28 hours a week using computers, cellphones, televisions and other electronic devices. A University of Michigan study found that from 1979 to 1999, children on the whole lost 12 hours of free time a week, including eight hours of unstructured play and outdoor activities. One can only assume that the figure has increased over the last decade, as many schools have eliminated recess in favor of more time for academics.

One consequence of these changes is the disappearance of what child-development experts call “the culture of childhood.” This culture, which is to be found all over the world, was best documented in its English-language form by the British folklorists Peter and Iona Opie in the 1950s. They cataloged the songs, riddles, jibes and incantations (“step on a crack, break your mother’s back”) that were passed on by oral tradition. Games like marbles, hopscotch and hide and seek date back hundreds of years. The children of each generation adapted these games to their own circumstances"

NCBLA Sidebar

Virtual View of Michelangelo's Greatest Work 

If you and your kids cannot travel to Rome to see Michelangelo's masterpiece, the Sistine Chapel, you can now share this virtual tour with the young people in your life! Go to


And check out Diane Stanley's superb children's book about Michelangelo, at left, at your local public library or neighborhood book store and share it with the young people in your life this week!

Haiti Earthquake Severely Damaged It's Libraries

Haiti's Libraries Need Your Help!

From an article written by Madison Smartt Bell  in The Huffington Post,
"The Saint Martial compound was hit hard by the earthquake, though not completely destroyed. One of the school buildings fell to the ground. The church has been severely damaged. The building housing the library was structurally compromised, though it didn't collapse; in the weeks following the earthquake the current librarian, Patrick Tardieu, managed to get the collection boxed and removed.

So now the collection is in the same situation it was during the Duvalier days, when the dictatorship might well have destroyed it--because of its inspiration to freedom. Books don't do well in boxes in Haiti, whose climate is extremely hard on paper. I once received by mail an old book I had searched for long time. Though carefully sealed in a plastic wrapper, the paper was shot through with worm holes. When I took the plastic off, I found that the pages were uncut. No one had read this book, so far, but the worms.

The Bibliothèque Haïtienne, like the other collections which are also in danger, won't directly feed or clothe or shelter Haitian people. But it contains a spark of the spirit they need to keep going. More than an archive of their past, it holds the promise of their future"

The John Carter Brown Library at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island, has established a fund, "Saving Haiti's Libraries." To make a donation, and view a special online exhibit of Haitian cultural treasures, visit
For more information about Haiti's libraries, go to:

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Can YOU Guess the Identity of the Mystery Author???

Attention NCBLA Exquisite Corpse Adventure Readers:
Play Twenty Questions to Identify

and Win BOOKS for Your Classroom or Library!

A new author will soon be joining Team Corpse, and The National Children’s Book and Literacy Alliance invites young people in classrooms across America to make their best guess at the Mystery Author’s identity by playing a game of Twenty Questions with other Exquisite Corpse Adventure readers.

Beginning Wednesday, March 31, 2010, the NCBLA will launch the Twenty Questions Exquisite Corpse Adventure Mystery Author Contest by posting the first of twenty clues here on the NCBLA’s blog. Subsequent clues will be posted three times a week throughout the contest. You can find clues every Monday and Wednesday on the NCBLA’s blog and every Friday at The final clue will be posted Wednesday, April 21, 2010.

Each clue will be presented as a multiple-choice question, just like the classic Twenty Questions game. You know the game, the one that starts, "Are you thinking of an animal, vegetable, or mineral?" So, what do you think--Is the Mystery Author an animal, vegetable, or mineral?! 

Be sure to check this blog next Wednesday to discover the first clues! We invite classrooms across the country to play along by reading The Exquisite Corpse Adventure on Read.Gov and keeping up with the clues to help them identify the Mystery Author!

Every class that solves the mystery and emails in the correct guess will be entered into a drawing to win a collection of books valued at over $500 for their classroom or school library, PLUS a phone conversation with The Mystery Author! One classroom winner will be chosen at random from all correct entries received.

The NCBLA can accept entries only from teachers and librarians who are submitting a guess on behalf of a class or group of students. Classes from pre-school through Grade 12 are eligible to enter. Parents and grandparents, aunts and uncles—please share this information with your young people’s teachers!

Remember to read The Exquisite Corpse Adventure on Read.Gov. And don't forget to check out the NCBLA's coordinating educational materials and the Reading Rockets/ writing contest The Exquisite Prompt Challenge.

Sneak Peek: Episode 14 Goes Live Friday, March 26

Latest Exquisite Corpse Adventure Episode Written by Linda Sue Park

In our last episode of The Exquisite Corpse Adventure 13, by M. T. Anderson, Nancy and Joe had fallen back into time, where they met their parents and themselves-as babies. And what cute babies they were! Their parents explained that monsters from another dimension were coming to get them and they had to save the babies. Of course Nancy and Joe suggested the circus, because that's where they ended up. After the parents and babies skedaddled, Nancy and Joe prepared to fight the monsters. Searching for weapons, Joe found Arm's robot torso. He screwed Arm into one socket while Nancy secured the second arm (which she happened to have with her). Just as the monsters closed in, the headless and legless robot moved!

In Episode 14 by Linda Sue Park, our heroes, Nancy and Joe, come face to face with one of the monsters. A "slobbering, slavering, panting..." wolf. Do they get away? What kind of circus-like plan do they attempt? What about the robot?

Read the Episode  and see James Ransome's illustrations at !

Award winning author Linda Sue Park says that her childhood love of the public library led her to consider herself a reader first and a writer second. Find her inspiring and heart-warming stories at your local library or bookstore. And be sure to visit her website.

Stories illustrated by award-winning illustrator, James Ransome, have been featured on Reading Rainbow and PBS. His artwork can be found in many mediums including murals, historical paintings, and a Board of Education poster. Find more of James' colorful illustrations for the Exquisite Corpse in Episode 2, Episode 6, and Episode 10.

Visit James' website for a full list of his fabulous books!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

USA National "Report Card" Released

The nation's students are mired at a basic level of reading in fourth and eighth grade . . . . 

From The New York Times: “The nation has done a really good job improving math skills,” said Mark Schneider, a former official with the Department of Education that oversees the congressionally-mandated test, known as the National Assessment of Educational Progress, or the nation’s report card. “In contrast, we have made only marginal improvements in reading skills.”

The article continues: "In seeking to explain the lagging reading scores, some experts point to declines in the amount of reading children do for pleasure as they devote more free time to surfing the Internet, texting on cellphones or watching television. Others say undemanding curriculums in reading may be to blame. 

For example, Susan Pimentel, an expert on English and reading standards who is a member of the governing board that oversees the test, said that American schools were fairly efficient at teaching basic reading skills in the early grades, but that as students matured they need to be consistently challenged to broaden those skills by reading not only complex literature but also sophisticated nonfiction in subjects like history and science. 

'We’re not asking them to read nearly enough, and we’re especially not asking them to read enough complex materials,' Ms. Pimentel said." 

From the Washington Post: The report from the National Assessment of Educational Progress showed that fourth-grade reading scores stalled after the law took effect in 2002, rose modestly in 2007, then stalled again in 2009. Eighth-grade scores showed a slight uptick since 2007 -- 1 point on a scale of 500 -- but no gain over the seven-year span when President George Bush's program for school reform was in high gear.

From Education News: Reading scores stayed flat for 4th graders and rose only slightly for 8th graders on the most recent National Assessment of Educational Progress, results that some find disappointing after many years of intensive attention to improving the reading skills of American students.

Read more about the "NATIONAL REPORT CARD" at:

Read more news articles at:   

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Share this video and spread the joy!

Read Across America- 
Hurrah for Ocoee Middle School in Florida!!

The Ocoee Middle School-- the kids and the teachers created this amazing video celebrating the joy of reading! So spread it around everywhere, spread the joy!


Is the MYSTERY WRITER a friend or enemy of Joe and Nancy?
Is the MYSTERY WRITER a real live writer or an exquisite corpse?
Is the MYSTERY WRITER a figment of the strange, and some would say whacky imagination of the infamous Jon Scieszka? 

Will the NCBLA have a GUESS THE MYSTERY WRITER CONTEST so that the hundreds of thousands of kids across the country who are reading The Exquisite Corpse Adventure can have a chance to win over $500  of books for their school or public library!  
(Yes the NCBLA is going to have a GUESS THE MYSTERY WRITER CONTEST!!!, and yes, hundreds of thousands of kids across American are reading The Exquisite Corpse Adventure-- and we're not kidding!)

Stay tuned here for the details  . . .
Check out The Exquisite Corpse Adventure at: 

And check out the NCBLA's educational support materials for The Exquisite Corpse Adventure at: 

Check This Out!

The Future of Publishing by Dorling Kindersley Books, UK

Monday, March 22, 2010

In case you missed it!

National Ambassador for Children's Books and NCBLA Vice-President Katherine Paterson on . . . and Horn Book Magazine Cover Girl!!!

National Fairy Grandmother Katherine Paterson spreads the joy of reading on and together with her own grandchildren recommends books for children of all ages to read with their families--Read for Your Life!

Read the John Paterson, Katherine's author son, interviewing his Mom at:

Find Katherine's reading suggestions at:

And find the March/April  issue of The Horn Book Magazine at your local library or newsstand (you can read some articles at: ) to read another great interview of Katherine conducted by Horn Book editor Roger Sutton, as well as many lovely tributes by Linda Sue Park, Kate Di Camillo, Susan Cooper, Gregory Maguire, and the former Childrens' Book Ambassador and Grand Phooba Jon Scieszka! And also read a very informative article for parents on what makes a good baby/toddler board book by Viki Ash!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Attention Teenage Writers!

Hunger Mountain, a Publication of The Vermont College of Fine Arts, Presents...

A Prize for Young Writers: Poetry, Fiction, and Creative Nonfiction Contest

Judge: M. T. Anderson

Prize: Publication in Hunger Mountain online

$250 to first place winner in EACH genre, $100 to runners-up

We are looking for talented high school students to enter poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction in the Hunger Mountain Prize for Young Writers. We accept any form of poetry. Fiction can be experimental or traditional. Creative nonfiction can be personal essay or mini memoir.

The Judge for the competition is National Book Award Winner and New York Times Bestselling author, M. T. Anderson, author of The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Traitor to the Nation; Burger Wuss; and Feed. Read more about M. T. Anderson at

Submissions should be under 8,000 words, double spaced, in Times New Roman font and not stapled. Poets are welcome to include up to three poems per entry.

Manuscripts must be accompanied by an index card with the writer's name, address, email address, telephone number, as well as the title and genre of the work. The writer's name should NOT be on the manuscript itself. Please enclose a $10 entry fee per genre submission. Postmark entries by April 30, 2010. Hunger Mountain will do its best to notify prize winners in June. Please send work to the following address:

Hunger Mountain Prize for Young Writers
Hunger Mountain
Vermont College of Fine Arts
36 College Street
Montpelier, VT 05602

For complete guidelines please visit

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Sneak Peek: Episode 13 Goes Live Friday, March 12

Latest Exquisite Corpse Adventure 
Episode Written by 
M. T. Anderson

In our last episode of  The Exquisite Corpse Adventure Episode 12, by Lemony Snicket, Nancy had found a cradle on the beach. When Joe and Arm arrived, “Nancy was staring into it, her eyes wide with horror.” What did she see? Their father, shifting back and forth from a baby to a man in the Cradle of Time! When Joe and Nancy accidentally fell into the cradle, did it take them back in time or into the future?

In Episode 13, M. T. Anderson has our heroes face themselves, literally. What do they see? How do they react? What about the monsters?

Read the Episode and see Chris Van Dusen’s complete illustration at!

M. T. Anderson is an awarding author of picture books and young adult novels. His intriguing and thought-provoking stories are a must read! 
Be sure to check for these titles and others at your local library or bookstore.

Illustrator Chris Van Dusen is a big ‘50s and ‘60’s fan. He says, “The colors, shapes and patterns were so bold and bright and it’s fun to paint them in my illustrations.” Find more of Chris’s colorful illustrations for The Exquisite Corpse Adventure in Episode 1, Episode 5, and Episode 9. Be sure to visit Chris' website and check out Chris' latest book, The Circus Ship, at libraries and bookstores near you!

Monday, March 8, 2010

Everybody Wins! USA Proposes Reading Campaign

Help Launch a National "Read To Kids" Campaign

Everybody Wins! USA, a nationally recognized literacy and mentoring organization, has proposed a national “Read to Kids” campaign on’s Idea for Change in America. The Read to Kids campaign is one of 60 finalists in the final round of voting that ends on Friday, March 12th at 5pm ET. The campaign would emphasize the importance of reading aloud to children of all ages and would engage literacy organizations, schools, teachers, parents, libraries, authors, publishers and nearly every sector of business and society that understands that our nation’s future depends on our children’s literacy skills.

The top 10 ideas will be presented to the Obama administration and be part of a national grassroots campaign to promote the idea. 

Voting for the Read to Kids campaign can be done at:

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

President and First Lady On Board For Read Across America!

President Barack Obama and First Lady  Michelle Obama Celebrate “Read Across America Day.” 

President Obama declared March 2 “Read Across America Day.”
And First Lady Michelle Obama took time yesterday to help launch the National Education Association's national reading outreach campaign, sharing The Cat in the Hat with children at Library of Congress. The First Lady said that the members of her family are voracious readers and her daughters, Malia and Sasha, read every night. 
Hurrah Mrs. Obama!!!

Watch the video at:

Read more about the NEA's Read Across America Campaign at:

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Exquisite Corpse Adventure Episode 12 LIVE on READ.GOV

Latest Exquisite Corpse Adventure Episode Written by Lemony Snicket

At the end of Steven Kellogg's  Exquisite Corpse Adve
nture Episode 11, Joe has not only successfully arm-wrestled a squid to retrieve the lost key, he has also gained freedom for a new friend. The two sit on the beach and Arm tells his story until the "...the serenity of the beach was interrupted by a distant, high-pitched, and agonized scream." The arm sprang erect, and Joe froze in horror. "That was Nancy!" he whispered. 

In Episode 12 author Lemony Snicket picks up the story.... What is triggering Nancy's screams? Is she in danger? Can Joe save her?

Read the episode and see Timothy Basil Ering's eerie illustration at!

The alarmingly elusive author Lemony Snicket has spent the last several eras researching the travails of the Baudelaire orphans. This project, being published serially by HarperCollins as A Series of Unfortunate Events, takes him to the scenes of numerous crimes, often during the offseason.

You can learn more about Lemony Snicket, the Baudelaires, Snicket's "unfortunate" books,  and other works on his website.

Watch Lemony Snicket videos. 

And don't forget to check out Lemony Snicket's treasures at your local library or bookstore:


Illustrator Timothy Basil Ering says, "I always think of illustration as a form of acting. Each time I approach a subject,  I need to become the character I'm depicting." Learn more on Read.Gov.  And check out his illustrations for Exquisite Corpse Adventure Episode Four and Episode Eight

Here's a couple of Timothy Basil Ering's books you'll want to share with the young people in your life:

Top illustration
© 2010 Timothy Basil Ering.