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Thalia Book Club Camp offers up-close interaction with renowned children's book authors and illustrators, book discussions, and book-related field trips around the city. This blog follows the camp's activities.

Preparing for Thalia Kids’ Book Club Camp

Published on August 3, 2009

Two weeks ago our fax machine finally got tired of spitting out applications for our Thalia Kids’ Book Club Camp and it decided to break down.  But it’s exhaustion (or lack of toner) was well timed, as after weeks of receiving these applications, our new Thalia Kids’ Book Club Summer Camp is full!

After three seasons of bringing together children’s book authors and their fans, we decided to launch a summer camp, and have been eagerly planning to accompany 40 kids (20 each week) on adventures through the city, and through reading and writing.  Once the idea started brewing, we started contacting authors to see if they would be interested in participating.  Kirsten Miller, author of the Kiki Strike series, came in February to discuss her newest book with a full house of enthusiastic fans (one of whom even came dressed as Kiki Strike herself!).  Kirsten was so much fun, that we asked her if she would be interested in leading a tour for our camp of different locations in her books.  Her eager agreement was our first commitment from an author and really solidified the camp in our minds.

Kathy, Madeline, our interns and I have all been researching different summer camps: What forms do we need?  What needs to be on the registration form?  Should it be peanut-free?  After many phone calls and meetings, we have put together two weeks of what we think will be a once-in-a-lifetime experience for the campers.  The authors we are working with range from first-time authors to award-winning writers and illustrators.  Each of them has planned an extraordinary event for this lucky group of campers.  Here is a rundown of some of the activities I’m the most excited about.

-Kirsten Miller (Kiki Strike) and Katherine Marsh (The Night Tourist) will take us into the fictional worlds they created right here under New York City.  They will take us to places from their novels and share some historical facts and the little-known secrets they discovered while researching for their books.

-Rebecca Stead (When You Reach Me) will talk about growing up on the Upper West Side and how she uses her real life experiences to create fiction.

New York Times reporter Michael Winerip will introduce us to his Adam Canfield series, give us pointers on writing an article, and take us out in the neighborhood to collect information for a writing exercise.

-Caldecott Medal winner Brian Selznick (The Invention of Hugo Cabret) is taking us on a top-secret field trip.

-First-time author Matthew Cody (Powerless), a former Symphony Space staffer, will give us a behind the scenes tour of Random House.  He has already given all of the campers copies of his not-yet-released novel, so I’m sure they will have lots of questions for him.

-Graphic novel and book illustrators Dave Roman and Raina Telgemeier will lead a cartooning workshop.  Check out their web comics at:

-The cover designer for the hit series Percy Jackson will show us rejected covers, share his process, and lead a drawing exercise where campers will have a chance to create their own cover design for a short story.

Gail Carson Levine (Ella Enchanted) will discuss her historical novel Dave at Night about a young boy’s experiences in New York City during the Harlem Renaissance.  She will also lead the kids in a writing activity carefully chosen from her collection Writing Magic.

-Wendy Mass will talk about the research she did for her award-winning novel A Mango-Shaped Space.  The main character Mia has a rare condition called synesthesia, the mingling of perceptions whereby a person can see sounds, smell colors, or taste shapes.  This will lead to writing exercise where the campers will be encouraged to write a scene using all five senses.

I’m definitely looking forward to these two weeks. Did any of you attend any children’s book camps when you were younger? What authors would you be dying to meet?

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