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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 5!

Published on August 10, 2012

Friday of Week 3 has finally arrived, and we are all sad to see this wonderful summer of book club camp end.

On this particular Friday, however, we finished in style with a packed day of activities.

 We began in the Thalia Theatre with a special share time. Campers read the writing they’d been working on out loud, or gave enthusiastic book recommendations to their peers.

By the end, everyone’s book lists had sufficiently grown!

                 We were then joined by Matt Phelan, who talked to us about his graphic novel Around the World. Matt started out as an illustrator  of picture books, including one by Sonia Manzano (who coincidentally visited us yesterday!) Around the World differs from the rest of the books we’ve read this week because of its structure as a graphic novel, and Matt gave us an interesting perspective: that we should “read the pictures as much as we read the words.”

Matt Phelan told us he has always been interested in history and research.  He showed us a picture of his studio, which has a drawing table that dates back to the early nineteenth century (which he found in the basement of a house his family moved into when he was a child)!

Matt explained that he had picked up his three characters’ books of their around-the- world journeys, read them and loved them and then put them on his bookshelf.  A few years later, looking at his books one day, he spotted these memoirs and the idea  for Around the World came to him.  He realized that all three of these intrepid adventurers had taken their journeys within a 15-year period —  and all just   a few years after Jules Verne’s classic Around the World in 80 Days came out.  

Because Matt’s his book is a work of creative historical fiction, our writing prompt followed along those lines. Matt gave the campers a list of different events in history–such as Magellan’s sea voyage andEngland’s reaction to the American Declaration of Independence—and invited us to create stories spun off of these real events.

After lunch and some free time, we headed downtown to visit the New York Historical Society. We did a lot of exploring and even engaged in a scavenger hunt to learn more about some  historical figures and artifacts.   Upon finishing the scavenger hunt, we played a game modeled after Nelly Bly’s voyage,   created by Nelly Bly herself! (Bly’s story is  featured in Matt Phelan’s book.)  Fun was had by all, and we left the Historical Society having learned a lot.  (And, happily, by then, it had even stopped raining!)

After some fruit and cookies back at Symphony Space at our end-of-week party, it was time to say goodbye to all our friends! We hope to see everyone next year, and thanks to all our amazing campers (and authors) for making these past three weeks so great!



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