A group of best-selling teen authors, headed up by Jon Scieszka, is teaming up to create a story for read.gov. Scieszka will be joined by authors and illustrators M.T. Anderson, Natalie Babbitt, Calef Brown, Susan Cooper, Kate Di Camillo, Nikki Grimes, Shannon Hale, Daniel Handler aka Lemony Snicket, Steven Kellogg, Gregory Maguire, Megan McDonald, Patricia and Fredrick McKissack, Linda Sue Park, Katherine Paterson, James Ransome, and Chris Van Dusen—many authors whose books Recorded Books carries on audio. The team will complete The Exquisite Corpse Adventure and premiere it at the Library of Congress’ National Book Festival on Saturday, Sept. 26, 2009. No word on whether or not the story will be an actual exquisite corpse, but it may be a good time to introduce the artistic method to your students anyway.What is an “exquisite corpse”, you ask? Well, it’s not nearly as frightening as it sounds. An exquisite corpse is a group-effort piece of art, in this case a story. The catch is that generally only a piece of the story of passed on to the next person to see it as they create their part. We don’t know the precise method for this group’s version (there are many methods to this madness), but often the next writer in a work will only be given the last sentence or last paragraph from the previous writer, so they know nothing of the activity or characters that came before in the book. This, of course, can make for quite an interesting story or piece of art, and is a great way to get your students involved in and thinking about the creative process. Creating these works was once a popular parlor game, and the method supposedly got its name from one of the first odd results of the game.
Have your students read The Exquisite Corpse Adventure as it unfolds, and then complete their own exquisite corpse. There are many different ways your students could get creative in small groups to create one:
- Written word: story or poem (see tips here for poems)
- Music: lyrics or instrumental
- Traditional Art: drawing or painting (see instructions here)
See lots of examples of drawing and photography versions searching for “exquisitecorpse” on flickr (of course, make sure you scan the search first to make sure images are appropriate). More examples can be found here and some very artistic ones are available here and here.