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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.

TKBC Camp – Week 2, Day 4

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Published on August 13, 2009

Day four of the TKBC Camp’s second week started with a book-making project led by Amber, an artist from the Center for Book Arts, a center which specializes in handmade book binding and printing methods. She led us through the making of two small books, each with a different kind of binding. It turns out that our campers are not just readers and writers, but are also talented at crafts! We put together some great books to put our newest stories, poems, and illustrations in, and had a lot of fun creating them as well.

Amber showing campers a step in the book-making process

Amber showing campers a step in the book-making process

Campers creating books with a unique design

Campers creating their uniquely designed books

Zara binding her book

Zara binding her book

A finished product!

A finished product!

Our second visit of the day was from Wendy Mass, author of A Mango-Shaped Space and Jeremy Fink and the Meaning of Life. A Mango-Shaped Space, winner of the Schneider Family Book Award in 2003, is a novel about a girl living with the amazing gift of synesthesia – the ability to see colors in sounds, words, and even numbers. Wendy isn’t a synesthete herself, but the fascinating condition, although rare, certainly exists in real life, and maybe among our friends and people we know. What inspired this story, Wendy told us, occurred in the library – where she spends a lot of her time – when a book fell off the shelf in front of her as she was walking through the aisles. The book, “The Man Who Tasted Shapes” by Richard E. Cytowic, was Wendy’s introduction to the subject of synesthesia, and from there her interest in this phenomenon led to the creation of A Mango-Shaped Space.

Wendy talking about "A Mango-Shaped Space"

Wendy talking about "A Mango-Shaped Space"

Wendy told us that this often how she comes up with ideas for her books, which are all about very different subjects – she picks a topic that interests her and then writes about it in the hopes of sharing it with others and making it interesting to them as well. She suggested that our future writers keep a writer’s notebook to jot down their notes and ideas in, like funny or noteworthy things that happen in their lives, because you never know when you will want to use them. In her case, the idea of synesthesia came together in A Mango-Shaped Space with the previous life experience of the death of her cat, which she had previously wanted to work into one of her stories.

Wendy discussing her book with campers

Wendy discussing her book with campers

Then, in contrast with the rejection letter that Gail Carson Levine shared with us on Tuesday, Wendy read the acceptance letter she received from Little, Brown and Company for A Mango-Shaped Space, which had come after many previous rejection letters from other publishers. She also gave us some tips for writing, like using our five senses in order to create a realistic and tangible setting. Wendy led us through a writing exercise using this idea, having us try to utilize two or three senses in each of the scenes we write.

Lastly, Wendy gave us sneak peek copies of the first chapter of her upcoming book Finally, due in bookstores in March 2010, and also told us about another new book she is currently still in the middle of writing, called The Candymaker’s Son. Since The Candymaker’s Son isn’t even a completed manuscript yet, we’ll have to wait another one or two years to read it! Meanwhile, we can stay updated on Wendy’s writing process and her thoughts on her blog, at http://www.wendymass.com/blog/.

Group photo with Wendy

Group photo with Wendy

Wendy signing copies of "A Mango-Shaped Space"

Wendy signing copies of "A Mango-Shaped Space"

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