The Exquisite Corpse Adventure
National Reading and Writing Initiative

“This book is about two kids from the circus whose parents are in another dimension. Only one thing can open the door between their two dimensions: the exquisite corpse. If you really want to know, the exquisite corpse is a robot - not a key. This book was awesome because each chapter had a different style of writing - like that game where one person starts a story and the next person continues it. I liked all of the chapters because the whole story continues a basic idea, yet it's kind of random. It's fun to figure out where the authors are leading you. On a scale of one to 10, I give The Exquisite Corpse an 11.”
-By Ty (8, almost 9) Cambridge, Massachusetts

“First run in installments on the Web, the pro bono project shifts tone and atmosphere with the author, from Lemony Snicket to Natalie Babbitt, from Linda Sue Park to Nikki Grimes, from Jon Scieszka to Jack Gantos—and who would have guessed that Katherine Paterson would be such a dab hand at egg puns?—but never goes off on self-indulgent tangents.” –Kirkus Reviews

For well over a decade, the NCBLA and the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress have worked together in an innovative partnership, promoting, and initiating projects and events that energize and excite young people about reading and writing. Dr. John Cole, the founding director of the Center for the Book, has been an honored adviser to the NCBLA since its inception. When Dr. Cole invited the NCBLA to help create a national literacy project for young people as part of its new website launch, the NCBLA leaped at the opportunity. The Exquisite Corpse Adventure is the lively result of this highly effective and unique partnership.

Originally published on the Library of Congress’ website, The Exquisite Corpse Adventure is a buoyant, spontaneous experiment; a progressive story game just like the one many families play on road trips and at home when there is a power outage and kids play at camps and parties. It is a game in which one person begins a story, stops at a cliff-hanging moment, and the next person picks it up and continues until everyone in the group has the opportunity to contribute. And just as in those games, the contributors to The Exquisite Corpse Adventure invented characters that spontaneously erupted out of their imagination; plot lines that tumbled forth, some realized, some lost; and conflicts with no logical solution in sight.

The contributors to The Exquisite Corpse Adventure are some of the most gifted artists and storytellers in our nation. This amazing team of writers and illustrators has made an extraordinary gift, donating their time and talent to a year-long project with the Library of Congress and to the publication of this book. The members of The Exquisite Corpse Adventure “motley crew” are: M.T. Anderson, Natalie Babbitt, Calef Brown, Susan Cooper, Kate Di Camillo, Timothy Basil Ering, Jack Gantos, Nikki Grimes, Shannon Hale, Lemony Snicket, Steven Kellogg, Gregory Maguire, Megan McDonald, Patricia and Fredrick McKissack, Linda Sue Park, Katherine Paterson, James Ransome, Jon Scieszka, and Chris Van Dusen.

Published by Candlewick Press in August 2011, The Exquisite Corpse Adventure is available in paperback and hardcover. It is also available on audio. Ask for it at a library and bookstore near you!

To read The Exquisite Corpse Adventure NOW on Read.Gov, click here.

Discover supplemental articles, classroom activities, bibliographies, art activities, discussion questions, and more on the NCBLA’s Exquisite Corpse Adventure Education Resource Center.

To visit The Exquisite Prompt: Classroom Writing Resources, coordinating writing activities created by Reading Rockets, click here.

"Writing an Exquisite Corpse Adventure episode is like playing a game of hot potato, tossing the spud from person to person, passing it down a line of friends. Sure, everyone wants the potato to stay in the air. But it's also really fun if you can put some spin on it when you throw it so the next person has to really reach to grab it. The fumble and save is part of the thrill of the game."

M.T. Anderson, Contributor to The Exquisite Corpse Adventure