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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 4

Published on August 19, 2010

I can’t believe camp is coming to a close.  After a week of reading and writing, this morning’s drawing exercises proved to be an exciting change of pace.  Each camper was given an excerpt from Three cups of Tea, Greg Mortenson‘s memoir.  We discussed different methods used in creating visual representations of stories and then went about illustrating segments of the memoir.  By the time our guest speaker, graphic novelist George O’Connor, had arrived, each student had produced a page-long pictorial  interpretation.  Although each student was given the same materials to work with, their comics were very varied..


              At 10:00, George O’Connor started his slideshow, presenting his Journey into Mohawk Country.  He began by discussing his passion for graphic novels, and his belief in their ability to be more than just entertainment.  Wanting to impart some of his own fascination with the American Indians, George was excited when asked by his editor to illustrate a historical graphic novel.  He immediately began working on a pitch for Journey into Mohawk Country.  He began his vast research of the subject, traveling to  many museums with relevant artifacts, and reading books that further fleshed out detail s Van den Bogaert omitted from his journal.  When he had images of period garb, tools, and weaponry, he finally began his illustrations.  After his proposal was accepted, he started his thumbnail version of the book, mapping out not only the scenes for the novel, but also the corresponding text from Van den Bogaert’s journal.   After creating pencil sketches and finally inkings, he sent the pages in to his editor to be formatted and colored.   The cover was created as an afterthought, a last-minute change inspired by the story of a French boy kidnapped by Indians.  We talked to George about his other books and discussed titles for his current project, deciding that Hades the Wealthy One was the most attractive possibility. 

                Together with our guest we went to the Natural History Museum and visited the Native American wing.  As he gave us a tour, George pointed out the artifacts which he had used in his novel, as well as giving us a historical overview of many others.  He showed us the beaver which he had sketched in anticipation of the book, as well as the long houses he had styled his own after.  He also explained how the close proximity to European settlements had  a large impacts on many tribes, affecting everything from their style of dress to methods of housing.  During our walk, he differentiated pre-colonial artifacts, and those with European influence.  He then sent us on our way to do our own work.  Although many campers complained that they weren’t great at drawing, that didn’t stop onlookers from mistaking us for art students.    Although the drawing was challenging, there seemed to be a general consensus of accomplishment.  Many campers who had originally doubted their own skills realized their own abilities.   

                Finally at 1pm, we left the Museum for a late lunch.  We all agreed to go into Central Park to eat with George O’Connor.  At the 86th street benches we finished well deserved lunches, played Apples to Apples, and pet a few dogs.  On our way out of the park, we said goodbye to our disheartened guest, who had lost his game of Apples to Apples by a large margin.  By the time we returned, it was already four, and time to say goodbye. 

                Tomorrow we’ll be meeting with Barry Lyga, author of The Amazing Adventures of Fanboy and Goth Girl.

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