The Exquisite Corpse Adventure
By National Children's Book & Literacy Alliance
Published 2011 by Candlewick
I spotted this book on the new display and, come on - I could not resist a children's book with the words "exquisite corpse" in the title.
Our story begins with a train speeding through the night and brother and sister twins with a mystery on their hands. Well, that's how Jon Scieszka starts the story. What happens from then on will be up to Shannon Hale, Katherine Paterson, Gregory Maguire, and many other well-known children's book authors as they each take a turn writing a chapter in the Exquisite Corpse Adventure.
While this premise is really cool (I'm always interested in collaborative creative efforts) and I can see this being a wonderful jumping off point for some programming, this story didn't really work for me. I can definitely see it appealing to a certain audience of children but I am not a part of that audience (and I don't think I would have been as a child either). Some really weird and crazy plot twists happen throughout the story and I just wasn't all that interested in them. Often, they seemed a bit too much for me. Plus, I didn't find the main characters all that appealing - and part of that was due to lack of characterization. Perhaps with a book like this you have to make it more action-driven. But I found it difficult to care about whether or not the twins solved the mystery and saved the day. Additionally, I found the illustrations almost entirely irrelevant - they are only included at the beginning of each chapter and they didn't add anything to the story for me. The highlights of my reading of this novel were the chapters by Lemony Snicket (who I now desperately wish would write some new books as Mr. Snicket). Overall, this was a disappointment for me.