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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.

Thalia Book Club Camp: Week 3, Day 1!

Published on August 16, 2010

Today was the first day of the brand new Thalia Book Club Camp teen session.  It was great to see some old friends and meet the newcomers.  We started off the morning decorating our journals, getting to know each other’s names and sharing our favorite books.  After a short discussion of what to expect at camp we broke into small book groups to discuss the novels for the week.  It was interesting to hear what other campers thought about the plots and characters, and it was a good chance to think about what we want to discuss when we meet the authors later in the week.

To get ready for our afternoon visit with Krista Marino (editor of Jennifer Donnelly’s Revolution) we were each given pieces to multiple puzzles related to the book.  Each person had pieces from a variety of photographs, so we had to introduce ourselves to other campers and swap puzzle pieces to complete them all.  After we discussed the images on the photographs and how they relate to the book, we paired up into groups to do some writing inspired by Revolution.  To start off, each person created a modern day teenager with an issue or problem that he or she is facing.  We then passed the character forms on to our writing partners to create a related journal entry set in another time period.   

Because it was still wet outside from the rain, we ate our lunch indoors and played card and board games including Set and Clue, two favorites from last summer.

In the afternoon Krista shared background information on Revolution.  She explained that Jennifer got the idea for the novel ten years ago when she saw an article in The New York Times called “Geneticists’ Latest Probe: The Heart of the Dauphin.” The article showed a picture of a glass urn with a heart in it. It said that a human heart, very small and very old, that had been in a glass urn in the Basilica of St. Denis in Paris, had just undergone DNA testing and had been found to be the heart of Louis Charles, the son of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette.  As heir to the throne, he was seen as a threat by the revolutionaries and was killed at the age of ten.  She has always been interested in history and was working on another historical novel at the time, but immediately felt drawn to the story.  The article stuck with her and continued to haunt her even more when she became a mother.  Over time she realized that she wanted to know more about what really happened to Louis Charles and decided to incorporate the story in a book.  She spent time researching in Paris and met many locals who were eager to help her with her research. 

A photograph of the heart (by Jennifer Donnelly)

As the editor of the book, Krista worked very closely with Jennifer for three years so she was able to give us a behind-the-scenes glimpse of the editing process.  She said that the most difficult part of working on this book was making the circumstances of the novel believable while keeping the elements of mystery and fantasy.  As the editor she wanted to be sure that there wasn’t too much coincidence so the pair worked together to make the story seem natural.  Because Drista spent so much time on the novel she was able to answer most of our questions about the characters and plot.  When a camper asked if there was any debate about the title of the book, Krista explained that Jennifer chose the title and felt strongly that she didn’t want to change it.  The title works so well because it is not only about the French Revolution, but it’s also about the revolution inside, about the changes we human beings go through as we struggle to make sense of our world.

After answering all of our questions about Revolution, Krista talked to us about the job of an editor from acquiring books to working with the authors to getting the publishing team excited about the book.  She explained how book jackets are chosen and gave us a general overview of the editorial process.  She left us with some galleys for upcoming books from Random House that we are looking forward to reading.  Tomorrow we are excited about spending the day with Libba Bray.       

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