Week 2 of the Thalia Kids Book Club Camp started off with a bang! We had a very busy first morning of introductions, games, camp guidelines, and general book-related merriment. We saw old friends and met some new faces, decorated journals and drew cartoons, filled out puzzles, and wrote short pieces with inspiration taken from our book of the day: Justin Case by Rachel Vail.
We started off our morning discussing what to expect at camp. We followed with games on the Symphony Space stage. These games tested our book knowledge, communication skills, and ability to remember a whole lot of new names. Several of the games were aimed to help us get to know one another, especially one where we shared our favorite books and met others who had similar favorites. Some popular choices were the Warriors series, Percy Jackson and the Olympians, and (of course!) Harry Potter. We learned quickly that the campers read a vast range of books, including some we’d never heard of. This was a great way to get to know all the other book lovers and have a little fun. Then we met in little book groups to discuss a few of the week’s novels.At noon, we went out to the park for lunch. The kids had a great time getting to know each other over sandwiches, but the real fun happened afterwards– small group conversations among new friends and a healthy game of Capture the Flag. We returned to camp feeling comfortably worn out. We had to revive ourselves quickly, though, because we very quickly realized there was a new face sitting at the front of the class– none other than RACHEL VAIL, our visiting author. She hung out in the room while the campers read quietly and revamped after lunch for an afternoon of Justin Case fun.
Rachel Vail was, quite frankly, absolutely hysterical. She told us about her teenage ambitions to be a spy, her college application essay about peanut butter and subsequent acceptance to Georgetown, and her early resistance to a destined career as a writer. Next we talked about her inspiration for Justin Case (a nervous son with no book characters to relate to) and her experience writing a book called Never Mind! with co-author Avi. Ms. Vail was fun, energetic, and hilarious. She believes in absolute honesty in writing and told us about the ups and downs of writing a first draft. She led a speedwriting exercise where we wrote about something hidden in a sock drawer, and later an exercise meant to explore all facets of a character’s point of view. It was a great kick-off to the week because it really showed how accessible, fun, and knowledgable an author can be, and how much fun it is to know the inside scoop on writing a novel.
Rachel wrapped up by telling us about her new project and answering lots of questions about nearly every facet of her life as a writer. She signed all of our books, took a great group photo, and bade us fare-thee-well. We will certainly miss her, but we can’t wait for tomorrow’s author, George O’Connor, and a whole new adventure at the Met! (On that note: don’t forget an extra snack, lots of water, and your t-shirt tomorrow!)