“The Found Clue”
by Kate DiCamillo, illustrated by Calef Brown

It was Boppo, of course. His hair was standing up on top of his head in a way that was not at all attractive. It made him look quite mad.

Pigs! Annotated List of Suggested Read Alouds and Independent Reads
Activities for the Classroom
For Parents, Teachers, Librarians — Talk Art!
Discussion Questions

Pigs! Annotated List of Suggested Read Alouds and Independent Reads

by Thom Barthelmess; Butler Children’s Literature Center at Dominican University

Read Alouds

Martin, Jacqueline Briggs.  The Water Gift and the Pig of the Pig.  32p. Gr. K-3
Isabel and her grandfather the sea captain share a magical gift for finding things. Isabel is shy and when her best friend the Pig of the Pig goes missing she must awaken her courage to find her precious friend. Isabel soon learns that you must believe in a gift in order to make it your own. Linda Wingerter’s stunning illustrations take you to the coast with Isabel and her family.

Prelutsky, Jack.  It’s Raining Pigs & Noodles: Poems. 159p.  Gr. K-6
Weird animals and unusual kids abound in this collection for rascals. Jack Prelutsky offers fresh verse along with gleeful line drawings from illustrator James Stevenson. Prepare yourself for unusual rhymes and jut a little touch of the gross. This collection also offers great possibilities for performance pieces.

Rylant, Cynthia.  Poppleton.  48p. Gr. 1-2
What would do if you had a friend who wanted to feed you oatmeal, toasted cheese and spaghetti all day long?  Even a pig knows when enough is enough. Poppleton learns that it is okay to tell a friend that you want to be alone. There is a new pig in town and his name is Poppleton.

Independent Reads

Brooks, Walter R.  Freddy the Detective.  263p. Gr. 3 -5
There is a crime wave at Bean’s Farm and Jinx the cat’s name must be cleared. Freddy the pig, inspired by a Sherlock Holmes book he found in the barn, decides to become a master detective with the help of his sidekick Mrs. Wiggins the cow. Introduce yourself to Freddy, one of the first literary pigs.

Hearne, Betsy Gould.  Wishes, Kisses, and Pigs.  133p. Gr. 3-6
Eleven year old Louise Tolliver just made a wish on the first star of the night. Now her wish has come true but it is not what she expected. Her brother has disappeared and it looks as if he’s turned into a pig. Louise has to decide how to get him back using the only tricks she has, wishes, kisses and spells.

Zindel, Paul.  The Pigman.  166p. Gr. 6-9
Funny old Mr. Pignati has found some new friends. Lorraine and John are two bored teenagers who stumble upon the Pigman during a prank. Through his kindness the teens begin to enjoy a little bit of happiness. When their new friend puts his trust in them though, they betray him. Now the only way for John and Lorraine to find peace is to write down The Pigman’s story.

© 2009 Thom Barthelmess

Activities for the Classroom

by Marilyn Ludolph, Ed.D; Dominican University School of Education


Episode 3 of The Exquisite Corpse Adventure introduces the reader to foreshadowing. “Foreshadowing” in a written work introduces hints and clues that tip the reader off as to what is to come later in the work.

Foreshadowing leads to making predictions about what might then occur.

Juggling?? Why might that not be a good idea? Joe and Nancy didn’t think it would be good for Boppo the Clown to juggle. Does this new wrinkle (and worry!) in the episode represent a clue of what is to come??

What would you predict might happen?

Log the events that foreshadow in on the chart below. (Go all the way back to Episode 1 and Episode 2 to check on whether there were clues that you could record in the chart below and then add those found in Episode 3. Keep filling in the chart as you continue to read the Episodes!) Then take a look at the Prediction Chart to see how accurate you are in following the clues to what will happen next!

Episode 3 Tables 1 and 2

Some great picture books (for all ages) that demonstrate foreshadowing are:

The Incredible Painting of Felix Clousseau by Jon Agee
Shortcut by David Macaulay
Just Plain Fancy by Patricia Polacco
Grandfather’s Journey by Allen Say
Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak
The Stranger by Chris Van Allsburg
Owl Moon by Jane Yolen

© 2009 Marilyn Ludolph

For Parents, Teachers, Librarians—Talk Art!

The Artisitic Tradition of Clowns and Harlequins

by Mary Brigid Barrett, NCBLA

“The Found Clue” © 2009 Calef Brown
“The Found Clue” © 2009 Calef Brown

I‘ve always enjoyed illustrating loopy carnivalesque characters—my books are full of them—so an evil clown juggling meatballs and a bomb was very appealing, to say he least. Harlequin characters, as imagined by Picasso, Cezanne, Max Beckman and others are an influence, as well as kitsch paintings of sad clowns. For this piece I did a brush and ink drawing, scanned it into the computer and added color digitally. I love to incorporate pattern and a variety of line work, so the diamond and star shapes in the costume and the ruffled collar were fun to play around with. The tree shapes in the background are very simple, and lighter in tone than the black lines so not to compete with the figure of the clown. I also made them arrow-like to direct the eye upward. The clown’s arms, hands, and the arc of the juggled objects form a sort of frame around his face. To get the right demented expression, I made his features all slightly off kilter and non-symmetrical, hair standing on end. Evil, yes, but more than a little ridiculous as well.
— Calef Brown, writing about his illustration for The Exquisite Corpse Adventure.

Clowns—whether they appear as circus personalities, carnival performers, or pop icons—hold a fascination for many people perhaps because in our own daily lives we feel we must walk out into the world and be a bit of a performer ourselves, our faces an outward mask of happiness even when we feel dark and depressed inside. Young people, too, may have mixed feelings about clowns. The performing clown hired to entertain at a child’s birthday party may come across as a scary figure to some of the children with unfolding laughter abruptly interrupted by fearful shrieks.

Clowns Poem by Calef BrownArtists have been fascinated by clowns—by harlequin and Pierrot figures; carnival, circus, and theater performers—for centuries, so much so that kitsch and parody clown art have become almost as collectable as fine art paintings of clowns. Some artists, like Picasso, feel that the harlequin figure acts as a visual metaphor of the artist as entertainer, a conception that has grown more popular in today’s post Andy Warhol fine art world and in the ever-expanding worlds of contemporary performance and video art.

When I opened up the graphic file to see what Calef Brown had created to illustrate The Exquisite Corpse Adventure Episode 3: “The Found Clue” by Kate DiCamillo, I was thrilled to see his bold graphic approach and immediately thought of the work of American printmaker and painter Ben Shahn and the expressionist clown paintings of Georges Rouault, and so many other artists.

Following are examples of great clowns created by artistic masters from around the world, which we hope will inspire the creative minds of the young people in your life. Works are arranged in alphabetical order by artist’s last name. Scroll down to see them all. You can click twice on each painting to see a larger image.

Discussion Questions

  • Ask the students about their own personal feelings and experiences with clowns. Are clowns funny and entertaining? All clowns? Are some clowns sad? Can clowns be scary?  Do all clowns wear the traditional funny make-up or are there some clowns ––like Charlie Chaplin—who create their own non-traditional clown make-up? See if you can get them to broaden their definition of clowns and share with them the many different kinds of clowns.
  • Share Episode 3 of The Exquisite Corpse Adventure and Calef Brown’s expressionistic illustration with your young people at home and in the classroom and library. Ask the students if Mr. Brown’s illustration style is realistic or interpretive. Does it depict what a clown would actually look like in the situation Kate DiCamillo has written, or does it show more of an emotional reaction or interpretation of the story?
  • Ask if a tight realistic illustration would have worked better? Or does an interpretive approach convey much more than a realistic illustration would have conveyed? If yes, in what way? Does Mr. Brown’s illustration give us more than visual information? Does it convey emotional, atmospheric, and intellectual content as well? In other words, ask them about their feelings when they look at the illustration. What are they feeling and thinking, and would they have felt and thought of differently if the illustration had been very realistic? How does Mr. Brown’s illustration make them think about Episode 3 and about the whole story? Ask them if they can guess, looking at Mr. Brown’s illustration, what the character Boppo the clown is thinking? What are Boppo’s intentions? Does the illustration reveal what Mr. Brown thinks or feels about the Boppo character?
  • Share the other artists’ “clown” subject paintings and prints (see above) with your kids. Encourage them to discuss the clowns portrayed in each painting or print, comparing and contrasting each artist’s interpretation of the subject matter. Are there similarities in how each artist depicts his clown figure, are there differences? What are those similarities and differences? Which paintings and prints are more realistic and which are more expressive? Can your kids tell how each artist feels about the subject he is painting? Does the painting or print reveal the emotional state or mood of the subject or subjects in each picture? Does this artistic tradition of a clown/harlequin painting show a straightforward depiction of the clown as wonderful entertainer/performer? Or is it more complicated?
  • Now have your kids look once again at Calef Brown’s illustration for Episode 3. In what way is his illustration like the other artists’ “clown/harlequin” paintings and prints? In what why is his piece different? How has Mr. Brown used color compared to the other pictures? How has he used space compared to the other pictures? Is the compositional space a flat graphic use of space or has he used space in a more realistic sense using perspective with a foreground, middle ground, and background—a traditional placement of visual content? Has Calef Brown built on an artistic tradition of clown/harlequin painting? If yes, how has he done that? Has he added to the tradition with his own original ideas and interpretation? Does building on the clown/harlequin painting artistic tradition work within the context of the story episode Mr. Brown is illustrating?
  • Is it more interesting to copy an artistic tradition, or is it more interesting to interpret an artistic tradition, investing in it your own ideas and feelings?

Painting Exercise

Materials you will need:

  • Sketch paper, pencils, erasers (kneaded rubber erasers are so very wonderful!).
  • Thicker paper to paint finished painting on—white or off white of a size of your choosing—bigger rather than smaller!
  • Black India ink—and make sure your kids wear an old art shirt because India ink is a permanent stain!
  • Small or medium size old paint brushes with a pointed tip—old or cheap paintbrushes work best because India ink is harsh on paint brushes, and make sure the paintbrushes are thoroughly cleaned with soap and water afterward.
  • More paint brushes for painting with paint.
  • Tempera or acrylic paint.
  • Containers full of clean water for rinsing paint brushes.
  • Soft rag or paper towels for spills.

And make sure your kids work in an area that is spill proof—they will spill something and you getting upset about a mess will not make them feel great or inspire them to create art in the future––so assume the worst and be prepared!


  1. After you have discussed Calef Brown’s illustration and the other “clown/harlequin” paintings and prints, have your kids think about what they feel about clowns—do they really like clowns and find them fun and amusing? Do they think clowns are sad? Scary? Hilarious? Stupid? If they state that they do not care about clowns at all, expand their vision of clowns—do they like funny movie and television personalities? Are there performers who do not claim the label of clown but in fact are clowns? Identify contemporary clown figures in pop culture like Ronald McDonald, the Joker from Batman comics and movies or The Simpson’s Krusty the Clown. How do they feel about those images?
  2. Ask them to sketch and/or doodle different images of clowns on their scrap sketch paper—fill their papers edge to edge with drawing and doodles of all different images of clowns. Have them take their time and come up with at least a dozen different sketches or doodles.
  3. Ask them to pick the sketch or doodle that best depicts their own personal feelings about clowns, whatever those feelings are—an expressive drawing rather than a “realistic” drawing.
  4. Give each young person a bottle of India ink, a great piece of thicker paper, paints, brushes, a rag of paper towels, and a container of water. Have them do a fresh drawing, as big as their paper, using their best expressive sketch as their inspiration. Emphasize that this new drawing does not have to be an exact copy of their sketch—the new drawing can be different and even better!
  5. Inspired by Calef Brown’s use of ink, have your kids dip their old pointed paintbrush into the bottle of India ink and then paint the lines of their drawing in black. You might like to have them look one more time at Calef Brown’s illustration so that they can see that Mr. Brown’s lines are not even or the same thickness throughout. His black lines are thick and thin, really dark in some areas, and textured in others. Some of his lines “close”—that is they are attached to other lines forming shapes, and some of his lines remain open and unattached—all of which is great because all that variety is more interesting visually! Encourage your kids to experiment drawing with the ink. And have lots of extra paper on hand in case they are dissatisfied with their first experiments.
  6. After their ink drawings are dry—if they would like to add flat areas of color to their drawing with the tempera or acrylic paint—let them do so! Some kids may like their drawings as is and not want to add color and that is fine.
  7. Hang all their “clown” paintings and drawings throughout the room. See if the other kids can guess how each child or teen feels about clowns by the way they have drawn or painted their subjects. Ask them which paintings or drawings are the most “expressionistic,” the drawings or paintings that express emotional power and depth—positive and negative emotions. Now that they have painted themselves, ask them if they feel differently in any way about Calef Brown’s illustration and the other artists’ paintings and prints.

Web Resources

© 2009 Mary Brigid Barrett; The National Children’s Book and Literacy Alliance

Discussion Questions

by Marilyn Ludolph, Ed.D; Dominican University School of Education

There are some very interesting vocabulary words used in Episode 3; important in understanding the action that is occurring!

Boppo the Clown follows Joe and Nancy. “The stealth! The daring!” What does Nancy mean when she says that?

We also discover that Boppo is narcoleptic –– and that changes the action in the episode! What does narcoleptic mean? How did Boppo’s narcolepsy change the action in the story?

© 2009 Marilyn Ludolph