Day 3 began on the Symphony Space stage with a game of pass-along storytelling. Sitting in circles, we each started a story and passed it to the person next to us, using our collective writing abilities to tell exciting stories of capture, rescue, and escape.
We were then joined by Lauren Oliver, author of today’s book, Liesl and Po. Lauren told us that she grew up in a house full of books where the line between “real life” and the imaginary was always blurred. An avid reader, Lauren would often write “sequels” to her favorite books so that the stories wouldn’t have to end.
As an adult, Lauren continued writing and has so far published two novels, Before I Fall and Delirium, in addition to Liesl and Po. She told us that her fiction is almost always in some way a reflection of her own personal experience, calling her writing an “alchemical blend” of real life and imagination.
Liesl and Po is Lauren’s first book to include illustrations, something which she said made her very nervous at first. She showed us the drawings of the book’s key scenes that she made herself in order to give the illustrator an idea of what she envisioned. Lauren also brought with her the final versions of the book’s illustrations, which arrived at her house only yesterday and which weren’t included in our advanced reader’s copies. We were very excited to see them — they turned out beautifully!
Keeping in mind the mission of Liesl and Po‘s protagonist, Lauren asked us to write short stories in which our characters embarked on a quest. We talked about how to set high stakes, create obstacles, and give our protagonists allies. Our action-packed stories included all kinds of quests, from conquering fears to reclaiming stolen treasure and uncovering our parents’ true identities.
After a great morning with Lauren, we all headed to the park to eat lunch and enjoy today’s beautiful weather.
This afternoon, we started thinking about tomorrow’s book, Shakespeare’s Secret, and discussed why, after four hundred years, Shakespeare’s work could still be important to us today. We broke into groups and were given different Shakespeare quotes with the task deciphering their meaning and writing a short skit to convey their message. As we learned, the essence of lines such as “Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?” and “Neither a borrower nor a lender be” can still be understood in the present day.
Finally, before we left, a few of us had the opportunity to share some of our favorite books with the group. The Book Thief, The Lightning Thief, and Dragon Rider were all presented during our end of the day “Book Talk” activity.
We had a busy day today and are looking forward to tomorrow — we have a great opportunity to visit the Royal Shakespeare Company’s Globe Theatre at the Park Avenue Armory in the morning. See you then!