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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 4

Published on July 25, 2013

We all started the day atop the Thalia stage ready to play a fun game. Like a combination of telephone and charades, the object of the game was to pass along an initial word (for example shoe) by acting it out for the person next to you. Once that person got it – or at least thought they had – it would be their turn to act it out for the next person and so on until it came to the final person. They had to guess out loud what they thought the initial word was. Tricky, I know. Chopsticks turned into forks and puppets into jellyfish, while words like dog and handcuffs were effectively passed along.

After the master round, we transitioned into a writing activity. Based on Wendy Mass’s style of outlining (called Blueprinting) and Barry Lyga’s book Archvillain, we were all supposed to create our own archvillains, assigning them wacky and evil traits and draw them on wanted posters. One villain’s favorite food, for example, was “radioactive dust with marinara sauce”, while another’s favorite activities included “reading, writing, and destroying life in all forms.”

All of the plotting and scheming ended, though, when our author of the day Barry Lyga paid us a visit. He started off with a question “Who likes stories?” (You can imagine how every single hand in the room flew up) before diving into the different elements of developing a story and making it pop.

After that, we focused on the five senses – sight, sound, touch, taste, and smell — and using them in writing. We listed five things for each sense, but once we used something in one, we couldn’t say it for any of the others. This proved especially difficult when someone used food for touch before we had even gotten to taste!

Then we moved on to Q&A, Barry sharing insights about Kyle, the protagonist (or is he the antagonist?) of the book Archvillain. Barry liked the idea of the misunderstood villain and was excited to explore how a villain came to be. Kyle honestly believes that he is the good guy, Barry explained. His parting words before we lined up to get our books signed were: “Anything you read is going to inspire you if it’s good.” Pay attention to everything, be inspired by everything.

This afternoon we had movement with Regina back at the Thalia stage. She started out with some warm-up stretches to get us all ready for the activities to come. For the first activity we were assigned into groups of three. Each group had to walk around the theater as people of a certain age and trait that only they knew and when they were done everyone else had to guess how old they were supposed to be and what their trait was. Two of the groups decided that they would be teenagers (you could tell by the texting), but all the others were senior citizens.

The next activity incorporated the movement element of the first with what we had done this morning. In partners, we took the villains we had created before and had to perform a silent dialogue between the two characters. Villain vs. Villain. After fifteen minutes of preparation, we took turns performing our silent skits on stage. And let me tell you, when two bad guys bump into each other on the street, it means nothing but trouble.

The last activity for the day was to start working on a shadow puppet play. Breaking into the groups of three from Monday, we were to incorporate the writing techniques each author had taught us this past week and create a script. Tomorrow each group will put on their own shadow puppet performance!

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