Joe had never felt so alone and, indeed, he had never been so alone! He swam steadily out to sea, but inside he was shaken, confused, and distressed knowing that his twin sister Nancy, his devoted companion, his best friend since birth, and the only family he had ever known, might be in trouble! And he soon might be in trouble as well. And for the first time ever they wouldn’t be able to help each other! That thought threatened to throw him into complete despair, but then his good sense and his natural bravery kicked in. He forced himself to focus clearly on his immediate goal, which was the recovery of the lost key. “Accomplish that,” he told himself firmly, “and then return to shore and search for Nancy."
The Exquisite Corpse Adventure is available in hardcover, paperback, and audio. Ask for it at your local library and bookstore!
Click on a title below for book recommendations; reading, writing, and art information and activities; and discussion questions.
Under Water! Annotated List of Suggested Read Alouds and Independent Reads
by Thom Barthelmess, Curator at the Butler Children’s Literature Center at Dominican University
Andersen, Hans Christian, illustrated by Lisbeth Zwerger. The Little Mermaid. 48p. Gr. 2-5.
Cooper, Susan, illustrated by Warwick Hutton. The Selkie Girl 30p. Gr. 1-3.
Kajikawa, Kimiko, illustrated by Ed Young. Tsunami!. 32p. Gr. PreK-3.
Bertagna, Julie. Exodus. 352p. Gr. 6-10.
Cerullo, Mary M. Shipwrecks: Exploring Sunken Cities Beneath the Sea. 64p. Gr. 5-8.
Wick, Walter. A Drop of Water. 40p. Gr. 3-6.
© 2010 Thom Barthelmess
by Denise R. Beckom, Dominican University School of Education, Adjunct Faculty
This activity makes use of a graphic organizer. Students will become familiar with phrases and words from Episode 11, participate in a pre-reading discussion, use their prior knowledge about the story to make predictions, and draw conclusions about what will happen next.
This graphic organizer (sample below) works well with any fictional selection in which the title and selected vocabulary words can help students predict story elements. The activity helps students preview vocabulary and relate it to the story. It also prompts discussion of basic literary features.
Have students write the title of this Exquisite Corpse Adventure episode on the organizer. Choose five to ten words and phrases from the selection that will help students predict what the selection will be about. Have students copy them in the box.
Remind students to use the title as they make their predictions. Encourage students to think about what they already know about the words and phrases as they make their predictions.
“Story Prediction” Worksheet by Pearson Education
Discussion Questions and Activities
by Geri Zabela Eddins, NCBLA
The parting of Nancy and Joe at the end of the previous episode provides an opportunity for us to learn more about Joe in Episode Eleven as he goes solo. Before you read Episode Eleven, think about how you would describe Joe based on what you have read so far. Make a list of adjectivesinclude as many as you canthat describe Joe.
After you read Episode Eleven, take a look at your list of adjectives. Did you learn anything new about Joe? Has your opinion of Joe changed? Would you add or remove any adjectives from your list? What changes would you make? Why?
When Joe swims to the bottom of the sea, he sees a robotic arm. Joe extends friendship to the arm, and when they shake hands the arm transforms into a real arm. If you read the episode carefully, you can find that Mr. Kellogg at first refers to the arm as “it,” but changes the references to “him.” At what point does the arm become personalized? Why do you think the author made this choice? Do you think it reflects a change of attitude on Joe’s part toward the arm? Do you consider the character of the arm to be a person?
Joe encounters a new antagonist in this episodethe Squid! The Squid refuses to give Joe the key he seeks, and the Squid also demands that the arm return to him as his slave. Joe suggests that they resolve the conflict with an arm wrestling match. What do you think about Joe’s solution? Was it too risky or worth the risk? What other choices might Joe have had to retrieve the key and save the arm? Have you ever been involved in a situation that required a creative solution?
Joe is able to survive underwater for a prolonged period of time and communicate because “…his circus training had a required reading list that included a book by Houdini. … [The book] had given Joe some tips on underwater survival.” Have you ever read a book that proved helpful to you later? Was the book a work of nonfiction or fiction? How did it help you?
The characters in The Exquisite Corpse Adventure come from the writers’ imaginations, but Houdini was a real person! Do you know anything about him? Harry Houdini is a famous escape artist, magician, and performer. Many of his acts actually did force Houdini to hold his breath underwater. You can learn more about Houdini and his amazing career by reading books written by Houdini himself (Yes, Houdini was a writer!) and biographers and journalists. What would you like to find out about Houdini and the secrets of his tricks? Which of his escapes do you find the most thrilling or terrifying? What motivated him to risk his life? Go to the library, and check out a book or two. A fun project for your class or book club might be to work as “investigative reporters” and divide the research into different topics. Make a date for everyone to report what you have learned to the group.
For Parents, Teachers, LibrariansTalk Art!
“The successful completion of a picture book depends on the collaboration of many talents. However, when the books are printed and bound, the creative role passes to the people who are the closest to the children, and we depend upon them to share the books with care, enthusiasm, and love. Until a picture book is looked at and read, it remains a darkened theater. The theater is illuminated when an adult opens the book with a child, and, as the pages turn, the curtain rises on successive acts and scenes. Through the reading and sharing, the words pulsate with life, and the illustrations move and glow with action, feeling, and vitality. Of course, each book must stand on its own merit and earn applause and approval from whomever experiences it. But if a teacher, librarian, or parent brings the child and the book together with a sensitive understanding of that individual child and with an enthusiasm for that particular book, it makes and enormous difference in the quality of the book’s reception. When caring adults recommend and share and read the book aloud as if they were a part of its creative lifeas if they were presenting it as a treasured giftthen that book has a much greater chance of being special to the child with whom it is shared, and the adult reader will be remembered as being part of that book, and part of that gift, as surely as if his or her name was engraved on the jacket and title page as a colleague, a coconspirator, a creative partner.” Steven Kellogg in Children’s Books and Their Creators edited by Anita Silvey
Steven Kellogg’s portfolio of books abound with witty tales of adventure; so it comes as no surprise that he took The Exquisite Corpse Adventure as readily as a Mysterious Tadpole takes to water!
Steven Kellogg has illustrated over 100 books for young people winning not only many awards for his delightful illustration, but winning many hearts as well. When Steven was a boy he used to “dream up stories and illustrate them for my younger sisters, Patti and Martha. We called the activity: ‘Telling Stories on Paper’. . . I would sit between them with a stack of paper on my lap and a pencil in my hand, rattling off tales and scribbling illustrations to accompany them, and passing the pictures first to one of the girls and then to the other. I enjoyed these storytelling sessions enormously and I usually persevered until my sisters were too restless to sit there any longer, or until they were buried under pieces of paper.”
Pick up any Steven Kellogg book and page through it. Not only will you immediately see the energy, whimsy, and wit that animate his drawings, you will also feel his passion for bookmaking. Steven Kellogg loves color. He loves to draw. He loves the process of making books. Steven learned the art of visual storytelling by inventing stories for his younger sisters entertaining them with his tales and pictures, much like another beloved children’s book creator, Beatrix Potter. Beatrix Potter invented The Tale of Peter Rabbit to amuse her young friend Noel Moore, the oldest son of her former governess, who was often ill and bedbound. She sent him a letter, and wanting to amuse him, she wrote and drew him a story, just like Steven Kellogg wrote and drew stories in order to amuse his younger sisters.
This is the letter that Beatrix Potter wrote to Noel Moore in 1893. Noel saved the letter and allowed Beatrix to borrow it back in 1900 when she wanted to write her first book thinking that if Noel had enjoyed the story she made up for him, maybe other children would enjoy it as well. If you look closely you will see that the story’s basic elements, words and pictures are already present. She writes in the letter
My dear Noel,
I don’t know what to write to you, so I will tell you a story about four little rabbits whose names were Flopsy, Mopsey, Cottontail and Peter.
They lived with their mother in a sand bank under the roof of a big fir tree.
It would be great to share this letter with the young people in your life and then read The Tale of Peter Rabbit together to find out if the letter truly foreshadows the book!
Steven Kellogg and Beatrix Potter actually have a great deal in common. Steven now lives on the banks of a lake he loved as a childLake Champlainand works tirelessly to preserve its health and its surrounding open lands. As a child, Beatrix Potter fell in love with the Lakes District in England. When she became a successful financially independent author, she bought her own farm on Lake Windermere and actively worked on conservation, preserving the farms and lands in the Lake District for generations yet unborn. Both Steven and Beatrix love animals and their work reflects not only that love, but a deep understanding of animals, their natures, and behaviors. And both build on that understanding, creating stories and drawings that are telling, honest, and witty. What is most striking about their illustration work is that there is energy in every line of their drawings. Steven Kellogg’s Pinkerton, Clorinda, Jimmy’s Boa, the Mysterious Tadpole, his Chicken Little, his llamas, his mice, his penguins, his pigs; Beatrix Potter’s Peter, Mrs. Tiggy-Winkle, Jemima Puddle-Duck, Squirrel Nutkin, her mice, her rabbits, her pigsall have a freshness and vitality that enlivens. Steven and Beatrix invest each character they create with a distinctive personality that reaches out to the reader, moving beyond the page.
Go to your local library and borrow books illustrated by Steven Kellogg and Beatrix Potter. Read them aloud with your kids and talk about the illustrations when you are done enjoying the stories together. You may also want to check out Steven’s website at http://stevenkellogg.com/ and find a book about Beatrix Potter and her art entitled Beatrix Potter: The Artist and her World. Read about Steven and his work and about Beatrix and her work and see if you and children can discover if Steven and Beatrix have other things in common.
Let your children be inspired by Steven Kellogg’s and Beatrix Potter’s love of drawing. Every kid in America should have a sketchbook and pencils and markers so that they can draw anything, anytime, anywhere. In fact, Benjamin Franklin believed that every American should be taught to draw in schools and universities. He understood that world interaction would expand over decades and centuries, and he knew that many Americans would not become multi-lingual. He thought that learning to draw was equal to learning a universal language, that a person could communicate with anyone in the world if they had drawing skills. With the advent of the Internet and the reduction of text content on websites and blogs, it appears that Mr. Franklin was right. Encouraging your kids to draw will not only entertain and delight them, it will also give them a valuable life skill.
Sketchbooks are available in many places, but get spiral sketchbooks instead of pad sketchbooks, so that you kids’ drawings won’t fall out and get lost. That way they can look at the drawings they made over time and see for themselves how they grow as artists. And make sure you get a kneaded rubber eraser, just because they are so much fun (see http://www.thencbla.org/Exquisite_Corpse/exquisite_ep9.html for picture of eraser) and if you can, invest in an electric pencil sharpener, just because it is so much fun. Colored pencils are also great drawing tools as are colored markers. As a family field trip, stop by your neighborhood art supply store to browse and see all the incredible drawing supplies and tools that are available. Don’t be afraid to visit art stores and ask questions. The majority of people who go to art stores are not professional artists; they are people who are interested in drawing, painting, ceramics, crafts, and very often have no formal training at all. And the clerks in art stores know that and are there to help you explore.
You should get yourself a sketchbook, too! You will inspire your kids by example and all of you can have great fun drawing! Take your sketchbooks to your favorite mall snacking spot and draw the people window shopping. Take your sketchbooks on the bus and subway and draw the people across the aisle commuting to town. Take your sketchbook to sporting events and draw the athletes and the people in the stands, the hot dog vendor, and team mascot. Your local art museum probably has times that families can come to the museum and sketch. And like Steven Kellogg and Beatrix Potter, draw your pets and the animals around youdraw birds, squirrels, chipmunks, ducks in the parks, spiders spinning their webs! Don’t worry about creating “perfect” drawings, or about making drawings that appear “realistic.” Just look and draw, and look and draw, and have fun! Drawing is a lot like handwritingeach person develops their own distinctive style!
Learn more about Beatrix Potter at:
And check out these wonderful Steven Kellogg books at your local library and/or bookstore!
© 2010 Mary Brigid Barrett