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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 2, Day 3

Published on August 3, 2011

We started off day three thinking about poetry and discussing the way today’s author, Jacqueline Woodson, uses poems to tell a story in her book Locomotion. After looking at some of the poetic forms she used — haikus, sonnets, and free verse — we experimented with a few other poetry formats. We wrote poems about our names, poems that asked the question “what if…”, and poems that paired emotions with the animals we thought embodied them best.

After reading these aloud, we gathered in the Thalia Theatre for our visit with Jacqueline Woodson, author of Locomotion as well as twenty-nine other books for children and young adults.

Jacqueline told us that she has always loved to tell stories and that she decided she wanted to be a writer very early on — at age seven. Her love of storytelling first lead her to tell lies, she said, until she realized that she could write them down instead — and be a fiction writer.  Because she had never met an author, she explained that she had to imagine for herself what the life of a writer was like, and told us that she learned to write by reading and re-reading her favorite books. It was difficult for her to find stories that reflected her own experience as a young African-American girl growing up in South Carolina and Brooklyn. She explained that this was one of the reasons she gravitated towards writing realistic fiction, something which allowed her to tell stories about a world like her own.

Writing also allowed Jacqueline to write about worlds unlike her own and explore characters with many different points of view. She challenged us to do the same in our writing activity, asking us to write from the perspective of the opposite gender.

One of the biggest questions we had for Jacqueline was how she decided to write Locomotion using poetry instead of prose. She told us that she was once very intimidated by poetry but eventually realized that poems can be used to tell stories. Writing Locomotion in verse, she said, was a way of challenging herself to understand poetry better and do something she’d never done before.

Jacqueline told us she began to understand the meanings of poems through listening to songs, one of which she brought with her to share with us. We listened to Bruce Springsteen’s Used Car, then tried as a group to describe the story it tells.

After saying goodbye to our guest, we headed to the park for lunch before returning to Symphony Space to do our last activity of the day: bookmaking with Jennifer from The Center for Book Arts.

Sitting onstage in the Sharp Theatre, we listened carefully to her instructions on how to fold and sew our paper which came in a wide variety of colors and patterns.

By the end of the afternoon we each had two books, one big and one small, to take home with us.

We’re looking forward to another day of camp tomorrow!



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