The Exquisite Prompt Redux

The Exquisite Corpse Adventure is revived for 2011…with a twist!

Exquisite Prompt

The Exquisite Corpse Adventure is a progressive story game played by 20 celebrated authors and illustrators in 2009–10 and run in installments by the National Children's Book and Literacy Alliance on the Library of Congress website. The game inspired our 2010 Exquisite Prompt writing contest.

To celebrate the publication of The Exquisite Corpse Adventure (from Candlewick Press in hardcover, paperback, and audio formats), Reading Rockets and are reviving our 2010 Exquisite Prompt writing contest in exquisite corpse fashion. This year's writing prompts are inspired by winning student entries from our 2010 contest!

Write the ending to a cliffhanger, a review of a magical object purchased from The Fairy Tale Catalog, a poem in the voice of the Whinoceros, or the adventures of two time travelers. Prizes include online publication at Reading Rockets and and collections of books, including at least one autographed title. Download Exquisite Prompt Redux flyer.

Learn more about our Exquisite Prompt challenge:

The winner's circle

Congratulations to all our talented writers — we're proud to publish your creative work here on our website.

Level I Prompt: Grades K–2

An Exquisite Prompt inspired by Exquisite Corpse author Lemony Snicket and Isabella C.

Isabella C. from Wilmette, Illinois, met the Exquisite Prompt challenge inspired by Lemony Snicket. She wrote a cliffhanger — a story that leaves the reader in suspense about what will happen next — about a character that is having a particularly nice day and is walking to the park to meet a friend when something goes horribly wrong. Since it is a cliff-hanger, Isabella really left us wondering what happens to her characters. Read Isabella's story and pick up where she left off. We're ready for the main part of the story and an ending. It can be a funny, silly or scary conclusion but it is up to you to save Isabella's characters from danger!


Level II Prompt: Grades 3–5

An Exquisite Prompt inspired by Exquisite Corpse author Gregory Maguire, Madeline W. of Richmond, VA, Anna M. of Wilmington, DE, and others

Whether he's writing for adults or for children, a lot of Gregory Maguire's books have a fairy tale back-story. In his imaginative retellings, certain elements remain that help remind the reader of the original fairy tale. It's almost as if he has a catalog of fabulous fairy tale objects. Our own Fairy Tale Catalog, made up of winning and other excellent student writing, is brimming with descriptive copy for all kinds of fabulous fairy tale objects. Browse the Catalog and think about what you'd buy from the Catalog. Imagine that you made a purchase of one of the fairy tale objects, but when you received and tried it, were dissatisfied with your purchase. Write a review of the product for the Catalog to warn other shoppers about product quality, customer service or unmet expectations. Be specific about how you used the product and in what circumstances it did not work as advertised.


Level III Prompt: Grades 6–8

An Exquisite Prompt inspired by Exquisite Corpse author Calef Brown and Sophie C.

In Dutch Sneakers and Flea Keepers, Calef Brown includes a clever poem about a creature he invented, the Tattlesnake. Sophie C. from Bethesda, Maryland, thought up her own imaginary creature by brainstorming a similar play on words and invented the Whinoceros. The name of her make-believe animal suggests he's something rather unpleasantly unusual and her rhyming poem describes this animal's unique qualities, which unfortunately include the fact that he carries a very catching disease for which there is no cure. Help us get to know the Whinoceros a little more — we know about the havoc he wreaks, but how does he feel about being a plague carrier and having people yell "Igglemigglemye!" to scare him away? Continue Sophie's poem, but write it in two voices: the perspective of the Whinoceros and a friend who is trying to help him feel better about himself.


Level IV Prompt: Grades 9–12

An Exquisite Prompt inspired by Exquisite Corpse author Linda Sue Park and Rose C.

Park is a gifted writer of historical fiction. She weaves together powerful storytelling with a deep interest in Korean history to create timeless stories like her Newbery winner A Single Shard (set in the 12th century), Kite Flyers (15th century), and Seesaw Girl (17th century). Rose C. from Durham, North Carolina, found a time period that really interested her and introduced us to some intriguing characters living in the Elizabethan era. Some background research will help you create a toolbox of facts and descriptive details to place the falcon-boy Thomas and his sister Margaret in future time period — almost a reverse of Mark Twain's A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court — but not present day. Be sure to include an interesting way to transport these characters through time and have them learn something that would help improve their lives should they return to their own time period.


The Exquisite Corpse Adventure

What's an "Exquisite Corpse?"

Exquisite Prompt

It's a kind of writing game, where one person begins a story, then passes it down through a chain of writers to continue the narrative. Writer M.T. Anderson explains it all here video

What's "The Exquisite Corpse Adventure?"

It's a serial adventure story that offers young readers an opportunity to get to know the hilarious side of a crew of award-winning, talented, and versatile authors and illustrators — sponsored by the Library of Congress and the National Children's Book and Literacy Alliance. Get the book >

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