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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 1 Day 3

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Published on July 24, 2012

As Day 3 began, anticipation for Pseudonymous Bosch’s arrival was mounting in the camp room, and campers were musing about his real identity. In order to distract ourselves from the excitement, we looked through some amazingly detailed pop-up books of The Odyssey and Frankenstein before heading into the Thalia Theater for some games.

As the game drew to a close, rumors swirled: our author had arrived! As everyone filed back into the camp room and took their seats, Pseudonymous Bosch faced us wearing large, sparkling sunglasses that conveniently still concealed him. But when he realized he was with twenty-four trust-worthy and expectant readers, he said, “Am I among friends? Can I take off my sunglasses and know that you guys will keep my identity a secret?” Twenty-four heads nodded fervently. And THAT is how we met the man behind the pseudonym, the man who wrote The Name of this Book is Secret!

He began by asking for our advice on the title of his new book, a a mystery in which his narrative abruptly ends after a few pages and is followed by blank pages, on which readers are s invited to take over and complete the story ourselves! The mystery involves the new writer (us) discovering what happened to the old writer. Most of us approved of the  proposed book title Buy This Book, You Won’t Regret It and were not so fond of  The Book That Will Make Me Famous. We also learned today that titles can’t be copyrighted, which is an interesting tidbit of information about the world of publishing. Pseudonymous also gave us some great writing advice: the more fun we have writing our story, the more fun the reader will have reading it.

Pseudonymous gave us a writing prompt inviging us to create a thorough, detailed character using input and ideas from the group; the final product was a girl named Steve (strong element of surprise there) whose nickname is Sassy Bob. She is a 98- year- old human with purple skin and seven fingers on one hand, who desires to marry rich and enjoys eating her enemies’ food amongst many other distinctive characteristics. The next part of the assignment was to write a voicemail message we think our character would create for her incoming calls. Perhaps a song, a recording of a barking dog, or a long list of reasons they couldn’t pick up the phone? We could use the crazy purple character we made up with Pseudonymous Bosch or another from our imagination. As the activity ended, a dozen new characters leaped to life off the page, and Pseudonymous’ sunglasses were a distant memory. He’d even trusted us enough to reveal his greatest weakness:  a love of chocolate! This author visit was surely another memorable one.

After lunch and Capture the Flag in Central Park, we met Sam Ita, a “paper engineer,” artist, and author who created the elaborate pop-up books we all looked at this morning. He told us about what it’s like working with paper, which he says is very unpredictable material—it almost has a mind of its own! He distributed some brightly colored origami paper and then walked us through some simpler designs—the first of a human figure, and the second of a little box! It was really cool to learn about this other art form, and the room was soon filled with what could eventually be many of Sam Ita’s new apprentices!


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