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Review of The Creativity Project

The Creativity Project
edited by Colby Sharp
Intermediate    Little, Brown    278 pp.
3/18    978-0-316-50781-3    $16.99
e-book ed.  978-0-316-50778-3    $9.99

It’s a good premise. Forty-four contemporary children’s book people each contribute a writing prompt. Then each one responds to someone else’s prompt. The result is a combination anthology and inspiring craft manual. It’s diverse all ’round, not only in the contributors but in the nature of the prompts, from simple (Mariko Tamaki’s “The guy next door”) to elaborate (a crazy-difficult anagram challenge by Minh Lê). Both prompts and responses include prose, poetry, photographs, drawings, and comics. Some contributors go for a punch line; others embrace ambiguity. The emphasis is on pleasure, but readers who take in the whole collection will notice an aspect to creativity that isn’t made explicit in the introduction: Almost none of the contributors obeys the rules. Presented with a photo of an animal that is not a fox, Linda Sue Park writes about a fox. Sherman Alexie ignores half of his short prompt. Asked for a single paragraph, Jennifer L. Holm writes a whole short story. Demonstrating the anarchic nature of creativity might be the most powerful message of this inviting project, a book that is more subversive than it first appears. Appended with contributor biographies and an index.

From the May/June 2018 issue of The Horn Book Magazine: Special Issue: Making a Difference.

About Sarah Ellis

Sarah Ellis is a Vancouver-based writer and critic, recently retired from the faculty of The Vermont College of Fine Arts.

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