The Exquisite Corpse Adventure

The National Children's Book and Literary Alliance. Candlewick, $17.99 (288p) ISBN 978-0-7636-5149-7
As gleefully entertaining as it is preposterously ludicrous, this serial adventure features an all-star cast of authors and illustrators, including Susan Cooper, Kate DiCamillo, Gregory McGuire, Katherine Paterson, Jon Scieszka, and Lemony Snicket. Inspired by classic storytelling games and literary experiments (and originally published online at read.gov), each chapter is penned by one of 16 authors, brought to a cliffhanger, and passed to the next contributor (Calef Brown, Timothy Basil Ering, and others provide spot art). The end result defies rhyme and reason, with increasingly bizarre twists, a general disregard for logic, and a narrative that barely makes sense. The core story line revolves around a pair of circus-raised 11-year-old orphans, Joe and Nancy, who embark on a madcap quest across time and space to reunite the pieces of a robot known as the Exquisite Corpse, in an effort to thwart evil aliens. Talking elephants, a malevolent clown, an extra-dimensional pig, pirates, and a misfortune-teller all have their parts as this adventure winds its way to a satisfying conclusion. No reason to look for deep meaning—readers should just go with the flow and enjoy the ride. Ages 9–12. (Aug.)
Reviewed on: 07/04/2011
Release date: 08/01/2011
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