Is it really the second to last day already?! Today Linda Sue Park, author of Keeping Score and Newbery winner A Single Shard came to talk to us about her background, baseball, and writing in general.
We prepared for her visit by playing some theater games, including a partner game in which an established relationship changed because of a change in one of the characters. This reminded us of how the relationship between Jim and Maggie (main characters in Keeping Score) changed after he got PTSD from experiencing a horrific event in the Korean War.
Linda first discussed stories with us: she explained how all modern entertainments, like video games or TV shows, are based in stories, and are therefore not terribly different from the old-fashioned book – what she used to keep herself amused as a child. As she said, there has never been a culture that did not tell stories. Ms. Park then described how she grew up in a little town outside of Chicago, part of the only Korean family in the town, an avid fan of the Cubs. She explained that all aspiring writers should attach themselves to a losing team in preparation for the hope and following disappointment that writing books often involves. Her family, wanting to assimilate, did not speak Korean at home (though she learned some important phrases later in life), but they did keep certain traditions. One of these was, on a baby’s first birthday, he or she would have to choose from a group of objects in front of him or her: a pen, a book, a bowl of rice, a bag of money, a spool of thread, and a plate of cakes. The choice was supposed to foretell the future fortune of the child. Linda’s mother swears she picked the pen, and is thus a writer (though there is no hard evidence of this), and Linda’s brother picked the bag of money and now makes a great living (there is a very cute picture of this choice, which Linda showed us) . Perhaps there is something to the tradition!
After answering our questions about Keeping Score, Ms. Park had us do a writing exercise to “get the writing part of our brains warmed up.” We (even the counselors and adults this time!) made a list of five things about ourselves that we did not think people would know, but that we would feel comfortable sharing. After we shared some of our lists, Linda explained that we could use the nouns in this list to write a longer assignment or a story. For example, she said, if a teacher told us to write a story about courage, which is a rather abstract concept, using a clear image like “cat” might help get our thoughts flowing. It was a very fun, short exercise and we got to learn about everyone’s peculiar facts – a great deal of them relating to food! (Perhaps we were just getting hungry?)
Due to the rain, we ate lunch inside today. We still got to run around a bit on stage: we played “A Big Wind Blows…” and some other theater games, as well as card games Set and Uno back in our room.
In the afternoon we did some more writing: first Madeline asked us nine questions about our pasts or our likes. Based on our answers we each wrote a poem beginning “I am from…” On a less serious note, we picked a weird or wacky phrase from each of three bags. The stories that came out of trying to combine three strange and unrelated phrases, like “the pickle jar,” “don’t chase my…” and “whales with questions,” were often absurdist and very entertaining.
To end the day, we played a few rounds of Word Symphony – a beloved game from the day Norton Juster visited last week.
We’re looking forward to meeting Dan Poblocki, author of the thrilling book The Stone Child, tomorrow! And of course at 4pm we will all head to the theater to hear two actors read some great writing from the week!
P.S. Happy Birthday to camper Mae! She turned 12 today!