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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 1

Published on July 29, 2013

 Today began the second week of camp!  We welcomed new campers and welcomed back campers from last week and years previous.

We started today on the stage with some games to get us moving, including Saving Places and Icebreaker Bingo.  We finished up with our favorite game, Story Ball, where we write a story one word at a time.  Our finest accomplishment: “Once upon a time, the canned purple banana ate the rutabaga and pie-cakes while throwing stuffed animals over the moon.”  If that doesn’t win the Newbery, we don’t know what will!


Next, we moved on to Book Club, where we discussed the books in small groups.  We came up with a few good questions to ask each author when they arrive.

Back in the studio, we worked in teams to match each author to their bio.  Tricky!  We also did an Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library-themed crossword puzzle to get ready for author Chris Grabenstein’s visit later that afternoon.


We finished our morning with a writing prompt.  Our teaching artist, Matt Cody, told us to describe a playground using all five senses.  Next, he told us to do the exact same thing…except this time, it took place at midnight!  Some of us shared our stories with the rest of the camp.



At lunch, we played a few rounds of capture the flag.  The weather was great, and it was fun to run around for a bit.

After lunch, we came back to Symphony Space to hear Chris Grabenstein.  Chris told us that his philosophy in life can be summed up in the phrase, “Yes and!”  For example, whenever someone asked him to do something (“Can you write a play?” “Can you write a book series?” “Can you cut one of your adult books in half and rewrite it for middle grade?”), Chris would always say, “YES!”

Chris told us that he had to take a lot of rejection in his life before he finally succeeded.  “If it’s something you really want to do, don’t take no for an answer,” he advised.  Chris knew he really wanted to be a writer, so he kept writing until he finally got a “yes.”  He also shared with us some wisdom he found in a fortune cookie: “Fall down seven times, stand up eighth time.”

Chris gave us a few hints to help us solve the puzzle he hid within Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library.  We asked him how he wrote Mr. Lemoncello, and he said he figured out the ending and then worked backwards.

We got a glimpse of Chris’s writing process when he came up with a story up on the spot, aided only by a picture of a cornered painter and some words we supplied him ahead of time.  The story was so good that we gave him a standing ovation!

At the end of his visit, Chris performed improv with us.

We created ridiculous scenes featuring crocodiles, a Sasquatch, a bouncy castle, robots, and rutabagas.  Can you tell we really like rutabagas?

After getting our books signed, we returned to the studio for some free time.

Tomorrow, we’ll get to meet Margi Preus, author of Heart of a Samurai!


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