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review 2014-04-19 10:45
Extended Family – Original Fairy Tales with Art and Heart by Sara Deutsch and Denise Ostler


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Some time ago I read “Creative Collaboration”, a fantastic book for children and adults written and illustrated by Sara Deutsch and Denise Ostler. I loved the idea of using scribbles, doodles, and inkblots to create characters and stories, and I even used this fun game with some of my students. They enjoyed playing it, and the results of their collaboration were amazing. They ended up creating interesting characters and incredible plots by taking turns writing a few lines each. This didn’t only encourage them to use their imagination and creativity, but also helped them learn more about each other and become closer.

When I saw that the two authors had published a new book based on their BEFORE and AFTER game, I knew that I had to read it. This time they have put together some of the key characters developed from their exchanges, and created original fairy tales with very powerful messages. The result of their collaboration is a book that will appeal to both children and their parents, as they will find the stories humorous, but also realistic and educational. I think it would be a great idea for parents to read these stories with their children, right before going to bed, or maybe on a peaceful week-end, because it will give them the opportunity to spend some time together discussing about life, the universe, friendship, and the importance of loving yourself before you dedicate your time to those around you.

I loved all the fairy tales, and I found them truly inspirational. However, I must say that one of my top favorites was “Rhonda and the Robot”. I liked the idea of a tiny robot named Shoulds who worked in a small cubicle in Rhonda’s brain. It’s easy to see that we all have our little Shoulds who wakes us up each morning by screaming “You should do this, and you should do that! Stop wasting time! You should do what you’re supposed to do, not what you enjoy doing!” In Rhonda’s case, Shoulds was a program installed by her parents, but sometimes this annoying robot might be a program that we installed ourselves. The idea that Shoulds could be quieted down by installing the new program NOW was brilliant. It’s incredible how Sara Deutsch and Denise Ostler managed to present in simple words such a common, yet awful problem that most people today have, and then find a solution that anyone can apply. It’s all about motivation and a bit of willpower.

All the other fairy tales are just as lovely and inspirational as this one. I will let you discover them yourselves. Most of them are quite short, but there are also some longer, more complex ones that deal with people learning about the world and the universe. In order to love and appreciate what surrounds you, you have to first understand it, and this is exactly what the readers will learn by reading these incredibly imaginative stories.

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review 2014-03-26 14:12
Book Review: Creative Collaboration by Sara Deutsch and Denise Ostler


Amazon         Goodreads


As an English teacher who works with children of all ages, I’m always interested in all kinds of creative games that can help me make my classes more fun, so that my students would learn easier and truly enjoy the whole process. I’m glad that I came across Sara Deutsch’s book, “Creative Collaboration”, because I discovered a game that can be used in so many ways. And the best part is that it can also be turned into a great activity for adults.

I loved the idea of collaboration between two partners to create drawings and stories together. The author explains how she invented this creative game together with her friend, Denise, turning it into something more than just a fun activity. The game became a perfect way of learning new skills from her friend and getting to know her better. The idea is that one of the players would draw a scribble or a doodle (BEFORE) and send it to the other player, who would turn it into a completely different image (AFTER). Then, the two players would choose three or four AFTERS that they would use to create a story. This simple, but highly effective concept got me very enthusiastic, and I’m already thinking of how I can use it with my students.

Ink Blots and Energy Prints are two other techniques that I found very interesting, especially because they can be used to learn more about your own feelings and emotions. They help you discover the creativity that is buried deep within you, and the Energy Prints, for instance, can bring many things to light. I loved the idea of using them as a journal technique because they can say so much about your real state of mind, and help you understand why you might be feeling the way you do at certain moments.

I see myself coming back to this book in the future and adapting the author’s games and techniques to other situations as well, not just teaching. I’m thinking that they can also be used by writers who need to come up with characters and plots for their stories, so that’s also a possibility I’m considering. “Creative Collaboration” was a truly inspiring read. For now, I’m going to start working on the BEFORES the author provided at the end of the book for those who don’t have a partner to play the game.

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