Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Sneak Peek: Episode 23 Goes Live Friday, July 30th!

Latest Exquisite Corpse Adventure Episode Written by Patricia and Fredrick McKissack

In our last episode of The Exquisite Corpse Adventure 22, by Lemony Snicket, we met Pirandello, the railway safety man. In the midst of a train wreck, Orlando, a girl with very short hair, knocked at his door. Pirandello soon learned that her parents had cut off her long, silken locks to weave a blanket. Fearing for her life, she had fled on the train. Orlando found three items unclaimed by the train wreck passengers and led Pirandello to them. Much to his delight, the first was a bag of gummy bears. However, the other two were very strange objects: a door and a head!

In Episode 23 by Patricia and Fredrick McKissack, where are our heroes headed? Who does Nancy talk to? What do they find? What do Joe, Nancy, and Genius Kelly, the pig, negotiate?

Read the Episode and see Calef Brown's colorful and unique illustrations at!

A crop of Calef's Episode 23 illustration appears at top right.

Award-winning authors, Patricia and Fredrick McKissack, as a team, have written more than 50 books for young readers, including picture books, beginning readers, information books, and biographies. Focusing on African and African-American stories, they believe they have, "...a dual goal of improving the self-image of African-American children and of encouraging an open attitude in all children toward cultures different from their own."

Look for their books at your local library or bookstore.

Calef Brown is an author and award-winning illustrator. Some of his own works have fun titles like, Polkabats and Octopus Slacks and Dutch Sneakers and Fleakeepers. His works have also appeared in numerous magazines including Time, Newsweek, and The New Yorker. You can see more of Calef's quirky illustrations for The Exquisite Corpse Adventure in Episode 3, Episode 7, Episode 15, and Episode 19.

Some of Calef's works include:

Visit Calef's website for more information on his books and illustrations.


Friday, July 23, 2010

America's Kids Loosing International Creative Edge

The United States Will Stop Being a Culture of Innovation and Implementation-- 
Innovation Being Key to Success-- 
If Our Young People Do Not Develop Creative and Critical Thinking Skills! 

“It’s very clear, and the decrease is very significant,” Kyung Hee Kim at the College of William and Mary says. It is the scores of younger children in America—from kindergarten through sixth grade—for whom the decline is“most serious.”

From a recent article in Newsweek Magazine, "The Creativity Crisis"  by  Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman

"The potential consequences are sweeping. The necessity of human ingenuity is undisputed. A recent IBM poll of 1,500 CEOs identified creativity as the No. 1 “leadership competency” of the future. Yet it’s not just about sustaining our nation’s economic growth. All around us are matters of national and international importance that are crying out for creative solutions, from saving the Gulf of Mexico to bringing peace to Afghanistan to delivering health care. Such solutions emerge from a healthy marketplace of ideas, sustained by a populace constantly contributing original ideas and receptive to the ideas of others.

It’s too early to determine conclusively why U.S. creativity scores are declining. One likely culprit is the number of hours kids now spend in front of the TV and playing videogames rather than engaging in creative activities. Another is the lack of creativity development in our schools. In effect, it’s left to the luck of the draw who becomes creative: there’s no concerted effort to nurture the creativity of all children.

Around the world, though, other countries are making creativity development a national priority. In 2008 British secondary-school curricula—from science to foreign language—was revamped to emphasize idea generation, and pilot programs have begun using Torrance’s test to assess their progress. The European Union designated 2009 as the European Year of Creativity and Innovation, holding conferences on the neuroscience of creativity, financing teacher training, and instituting problem-based learning programs—curricula driven by real-world inquiry—for both children and adults. In China there has been widespread education reform to extinguish the drill-and-kill teaching style. Instead, Chinese schools are also adopting a problem-based learning approach."

Listen to a discussion about this topic on NPR at:

The NCBLA has long asserted that young people must study literature, the humanities, and the arts at all levels of their educational experience, that such a liberal arts education is essential to developing creative and critical thinking skills.  Encouraging young people to read great stories, to write, to draw and paint, to play music,to perform, to play outdoors, is also essential in developing young people's creativity and imagination. Consider this: the upper social and education strata of our nation pays exorbitant tuition fees in order for their children to receive private school educations that feature an arts and humanities approach to education, yet in our nation's public schools, government and business interests are driving the arts and humanities out of our public education system. Do not our nation's public school children deserve the same exposure to literature, the arts, and humanities as children in elite private schools? The NCBLA believes that literacy, literature, the humanities, and the arts are not educational "extras;" they are life necessities--especially if we are to have the socioeconomic culture of both innovation and implementation that America needs to survive and thrive in the 21st Century.

Go to:

The photo illustration above is of children looking at illustrations from the book Curious George at an exhibition of the work of Margaret and H. A. Ray at the Jewish Museum in Brooklyn, New York on exhibet until August 1, 2010. Lean more about the exhibet at:

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Interview with Exquisite Corpse Authors and Illustrators!

An Interview with Exquisite Corpse Adventure Contributor, Author Kate DiCamillo!

Check out Episode 3 and Episode 16 of The Exquisite Corpse Adventure written by Kate.

Newbery Medal winner, Kate DiCamillo writes picture books, chapter books, and novels. Her stories include fun and heart-warming characters such as dogs, pigs, mice, rabbits, and elephants; each and every one a delight to audiences of all ages.

Kate stepped away from her menagerie for a moment to answer a few questions for us:

Q- What did you find to be the most challenging aspect of writing an episode for The Exquisite Corpse Adventure?
A- "I'm kind of a control freak, and writing with a bunch of other people means relinquishing control. But you know what? The most challenging thing was also the best thing. There is freedom in being part of something larger. I had such a good time."

Q- What were some of your favorite books when you were in elementary school?
A- "Some of my favorites: The Cricket in Times Square by George Selden, the Little House on the Prairie books by Laura Ingalls Wilder, Ribsy by Beverly Cleary, Paddington by Michael Bond, and The Borrowers by Mary Norton."

Q- What are you working on now? Do you have a new book coming out this year?
A- "I'm working on a funny novel. At least, I hope it's funny. And I've got an early chapter book coming out this September called Bink and Gollie, Marvelous Companions."
Kate DiCamillo's wonderful books can be found at your favorite library and bookstore.
For more information about Kate and her books, visit her website.

What is The Exquisite Corpse Adventure?
For those not in the know, The Exquisite Corpse Adventure is a series of episodes written and illustrated by famous children's book authors and illustrators. Each author and illustrator inherits the story from the previous folks. It's like taking over a recipe in the middle, you need to understand what's gone into the stew so far and then add your own ingredients to make it hot and spicy! To catch up on all the exciting episodes go to

And parents, teachers, and librarians be sure to check out the NCBLA's Exquisite Corpse Adventure Educational Center for great ideas on how to turn The Exquisite Corpse Adventure into a great educational adventure.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Sneak Peek: Episode 22 Goes Live Friday, July 16th

Latest Exquisite Corpse Adventure Episode Written by Lemony Snicket

In our last episode of The Exquisite Corpse Adventure 21, by Linda Sue Park, our Cradle of Time occupants found the time travelers, Nancy, Joe, and Roberta, who now sported her legs. Only her head remained missing-the final piece of the Exquisite Corpse and the last thing standing in the way of Nancy and Joe finding their parents. After Nancy and Joe devoured a much needed meal, the gang took off to find Roberta's head and the doorway into another dimension.

In Episode 22 by Lemony Snicket, we meet Pirandello. Who is he? What's his job? Who shows up at his door? What do they find in the field?

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

Lemony Snicket writes screenplays and books for adults and children. He is the author of the bestselling dark and tragic children's stories, A Series of Unfortunate Events. Lemony says of his books, "...And it's moving to think that my books are doing that [inspiring re-reading] for some kids, and that I'm affecting literature without, you know, collecting weirdos."

Look for Lemony's books at your library or bookstore.

To learn more about Lemony Snicket, visit his website.

Stories illustrated by awarding winning author and illustrator James Ransome have been featured on Reading Rainbow and PBS. His artwork can be found in many media including murals, an historical painting, and a Board of Education poster. Find more of James' wonderful illustrations for the Exquisite Corpse Adventure in Episode 2, Episode 6, Episode 10, Episode 14, and Episode 18.

Some of James' works include:

Visit James' website for information on his books and illustrations.


Sunday, July 11, 2010

Summer Adventures Treasure Chest

Field Trips, Reading Lists, and Games for Summer Fun Available on NCBLA Website

Whether your summer adventures are taking place at a sun-splashed beach or the cool mountains, at Grandma’s house or your own backyard, be sure to give reading a starring role! A great place to start looking for summer reading fun is your local library. Almost every public library sponsors special programs, reading contests, book clubs, and free passes to area museums and attractions. And remember that the librarians are also a rich resource. They can offer expert advice about completing summer projects and book suggestions for even the most reluctant readers. 

You can also discover exciting summer learning activities on the NCBLA's Summer Adventures Treasure Chest, which is overflowing with field trip ideas, engaging book titles, progressive story games, and resource articles to help you make reading a pleasure for all the young people in your life.

And don't forget to keep up with the adventures of Nancy and Joe in the latest episodes of The Exquisite Corpse Adventure, which continue to be published every two weeks on Read.Gov. 

Also available on Read.Gov is  The Exquisite Corpse Adventure Brain Game! Test your knowledge of the story, collect clues, and best of all--take charge of the story and decide for yourself  what should happen next. A prize awaits for everyone who plays and makes it through all 27 episodes. Play it now on Read.Gov.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Summer Fun for Exquisite Corpse Adventure Fans

The Exquisite Prompt:
Write It, Film It Video Contest

'Central casting' at and Reading Rockets is looking for young, creative writers and filmmakers to participate in their Exquisite Prompt "Write It, Film It" Video Contest. Here's your chance to help the young people in your lives flex their scriptwriting and film director muscles!

The prompts!

Choose from a List of Seven prompts inspired by the authors of The Exquisite Corpse Adventure.

* Jon Scieszka (Time Warp Trio)
* Katherine Paterson (Bridge to Terabithia)
* Kate DiCamillo (Because of Winn-Dixie, The Tale of Despereaux)
* Natalie Babbitt (Tuck Everlasting, The Eyes of the Amaryllis)
* Susan Cooper (The Dark Is Rising)
* Steven Kellogg (Chicken Little)
* Lemony Snicket (A Series of Unfortunate Events)

Write it!
Encourage your young people to start researching and writing.

Film It!Keep it simple, keep it interesting. Maximum length: 3 minutes. Titles, musical interludes, and 'special effects' are cool but not required.

Three Levels of Competition!
The contest has three competition levels:

* Level I: ages 7-10
* Level II: ages 11-13
* Level III: ages 14-18

The prizes!
Entries will be judged on creativity, theme development, and technical quality. And if appropriate to the prompt, entries will also be judged on character development and research and factual accuracy. Entries from each level are eligible for a Gold Award, Silver Award, or Bronze Award.

* Winners from each competition level will have their video published on Reading Rockets,, and YouTube.
* Gold Award winners will receive a Flip HD video camera, a collection of books and DVDs, and movie tickets.
* Silver Award and Bronze Award winners will receive books, DVDs, and movie tickets

Entry deadline is August 13, 2010. Winners will be announced on September 7, 2010. The contest is open to kids 7-18 who are residents of the United States. Visit to learn more!

And keep reading The Exquisite Corpse Adventure on A new episode is published every two weeks throughout the summer...until the grande finale is revealed on September 25 at the National Book Festival!

The Huge Positive Impact of Books in Young People's Lives: "The literary culture still produces better students."

David Brooks in The New York Times

"Researchers gave 852 disadvantaged students 12 books (of their own choosing) to take home at the end of the school year. They did this for three successive years. 
Then the researchers, led by Richard Allington of the University of Tennessee, looked at those students’ test scores. They found that the students who brought the books home had significantly higher reading scores than other students. These students were less affected by the “summer slide” — the decline that especially afflicts lower-income students during the vacation months. In fact, just having those 12 books seemed to have as much positive effect as attending summer school. 

This study, along with many others, illustrates the tremendous power of books. We already knew, from research in 27 countries, that kids who grow up in a home with 500 books stay in school longer and do better. This new study suggests that introducing books into homes that may not have them also produces significant educational gains."

Friday, July 2, 2010

Episode 21 Live Today, Friday, July 2nd

Latest Exquisite Corpse Adventure Episode Written by Linda Sue Park

In our last episode of The Exquisite Corpse Adventure 20, by Steven Kellogg, Nancy, Joe, and Roberta, the semi-put-together robot, were chasing Roberta's legs through time while their friends fought off aliens. Round one went to Hathi, Sybil, and Genius Kelly, the pig. However, alien reinforcements showed up and captured our valiant fighters. All seemed lost until Angel, the pirate, appeared in the Cradle of Time in the nick of time. The aliens retreated to fight another day and the gang headed out to find the time-traveling heroes.

In Episode 21 by Linda Sue Park, find out if the Cradle travelers find Nancy, Joe, and Roberta. How about Roberta's legs? Her head? And what about the door?

Read the Episode and see Chris Van Dusen's fun illustrations at!

A crop of Chris's Episode 21 illustration appears at top right.

Newbery winning author Linda Sue Park published her first piece in a magazine at age nine, but considers herself a reader first and a writer second. She writes novels, picture books, newspaper serials, and web-based books and card games.

Find her inspiring and heart-warming stories at your local library or bookstore.

To learn more about Linda Sue, visit her website.

Illustrator and author Chris Van Dusen is a big '50's 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, Episode 9, Episode 13, and Episode 17.

Some of Chris' works include:

Visit Chris' website for more information on his books and illustrations.


Want some Exquisite summertime fun? Check out the activities in the NCBLA's Summer Adventures Treasure Chest!   Parents, guardians, grandparents, and caregivers, please visit our Treasure Chest for fun ideas for literacy field trips, engaging summer reading lists, and guides to playing your own progressive story games.

Also, 'Central casting' at and Reading Rockets is looking for young, creative writers and filmmakers to participate in their Exquisite Prompt "Write It, Film It" Video Contest. Here's your chance to help the young people in your lives flex their scriptwriting and film director muscles! This contest is open to kids ages 7-18. Visit Reading Rockets to learn more.