The Exquisite Corpse

The wonderful thing about my job is that with all my searching for new stock to buy for the Library I often stumble across really interesting and quirky bits of information.  Today I learnt about “An exquisite corpse”

An Exquisite Corpse is an old game in which people write a phrase on a sheet of paper, fold it over to conceal part of it and pass it on to the next player to do the same. The game ends when someone finishes the story, which is then read aloud.

The Stinky cheeseman and other fairly stupid tales. By Jon Scieszka
The Stinky cheeseman and other fairly stupid tales. By Jon Scieszka

Jon Scieszka,  a well known children’s author has written the first episode in this story, and he has passed it on to other well known writers and illustrators, who will eventually bring the story to an end.  The next writer is Katherine Paterson.

This is a rather intriguing idea, and for the life of me I have no idea how it can possibly all come together to make something coherent and readable.  However, seeing as  The Exquisite Corpse Adventure is a project of the Center for the Book (which is part of the Library of Congress), the National Children’s Book and Literacy Alliance, (an American organisation that promote literacy and Libraries) and is obviously including some really good authors, then I may well subscribe to the RSS feed to get weekly updates.  The story will conclude a year from now.

Patrick Ness in the running for Booktrust Teenage Prize

Shortlisted for the Booktrust Teenage Prize
Shortlisted for the Booktrust Teenage Prize

It’s children’s and young adult’s book awards season at the moment, with the shortlists for two prominent awards being announced.  The main award that recognises excellence in teenage fiction is the Booktrust Teenage Prize and the shortlist this year is very strong.  I was pleased to see that one of my favourite authors, Patrick Ness, was shortlisted again this year for his heart-stopping follow up to the award-winning The Knife of Never Letting Go, The Ask and the Answer.  The other titles on the shortlist include Auslander by Paul Dowswell, The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman, Ostrich Boys by Keith Gray, Ant Colony by Jenny Valentine, and The Vanishing of Katharina Linden by Helen Grant.  All of these books have got fantastic reviews and are all very strong contenders for the award. 

The other main shortlist that has been announced recently is for the prestigious Guardian Children’s Fiction Prize.  While there are fewer contenders for this prize (only 4) they are all extremely good writers who have writen some interesting and varied stories.  Siobhan Dowd, who sadly passed away from cancer several years ago, wrote some very unique stories and her books have been nominated and won several awards in the past few years.  She has been shortlisted this year for her novel, Solace of the Road, alongside Then by Maurice Gleitzman, Nation by Terry Pratchett, and Exposure by Mal Peet

Who do you think should win?  My picks are Ask and the Answer for the Booktrust Teenage Prize and Solace of the Road for the Guardian Prize.

The Brightest star in the sky

I was reading mj’s blog about the latest Dan Brown, and realised that I too had been reading a bestseller over the weekend – the latest Marian Keyes to  be exact.  Not quite in the league of Dan Brown, but close enough for some  to turn up their literary lips.

I’ve pretty much enjoyed all her books, light, but not too light, a touch of serious issues mixed in with some funny one liners, characters that you love to love, or love to hate, and a story engaging enough to keep the whole thing rollicking along nicely.

The Brightest star in the sky has all of this, but unfortunately not in bucket loads.  Lots of good characters, but I felt that Keyes was just trying to deal with too many wayward souls for me to really get a grip on all their idiosyncracies. There is also one little character that remains elusive and somewhat annoying, but I will leave that for you to find out about.

All in all still a great weekend read, and if you like Marian Keyes you will enjoy it, but possibly not as much as her others.  (And don’t be put off by the thickness of the book, you will skip through it nice and quickly).