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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 4 Day 5

Published on August 16, 2013

The final day of camp has arrived! We can’t believe how quickly the last four weeks have flown by! Today we met with Jeff Hirsch, author of The Eleventh Plague.  The Eleventh Plague is a post-apocalyptic novel about a teenage boy and his struggle to survive.  To get ready for Jeff’s visit, we spent the morning writing our own post-apocalyptic scenes using photographs for inspiration.

Each story captured a different scene ranging from an abandoned swimming pool to an exploded science classroom.  Then it was time to meet Jeff Hirsch.  He spoke to us about the origins of his novel: one day an image of two people digging a grave just popped into his head.  He used that idea as a starting point for The Eleventh Plague.  Then he asked himself basic questions like, “who are these people?” and “where are they and why?” until the novel took shape.

Jeff’s process led to today’s writing activity.  We made a list of random characters, settings, and desires.  Then we picked one or two elements from each category and combined them to make a story.  We heard a story about a longstanding feud between a pizza chef and a shoe store owner, as well as a murder mystery featuring a divorce lawyer.  Jeff gave us all really good feedback and tips on how we could make our stories go even further.

After a book signing and lunch, we got onto the Thalia stage to share some of our favorite books with each other.  Here is the list of recommendations:

  • The Girl Who Could Fly by Victoria Forester
  • The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin
  • The Chronicles of Harris Burdick by Chris van Allsburg
  • Just Kids by Patti Smith
  • Popular by Alissa Grosso
  • Deep and Dark and Dangerous by Mary Downing Hahn
  • Pretty Little Liars Series by Sara Shepard
  • Out of My Mind by Sharon Draper
  • Grounded by Kate Klise
  • My Tiki Girl by Jennifer McMahon
  • To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
  • Knucklehead by Jon Scieszka
  • Schooled by Gordon Korman
  • People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks

After sharing, we played a game created by our very own Madeline Cohen called Mad’s Doodads (with people).  The object of the game was for one person (called the curator) to pick 4-6 people who all have something in common.  Then they let another person guess what that common trait is.  We also sat in a circle and created a one-word-per-person story which soon became very silly. Here’s what we came up with:

BANG went the alien kingqueen.  Kingqueen died.  Then he/she disliked cream puffs and chocolate cronuts.  He/she loved Alaskans but he/she was frozen until misty noodle let him/her dance disco.  Dancing forever alone was underrated and loony.  He/she liked peanuts. Airplanes include potato zombies that consume cream puffs.

Before we knew it, it was time to have our farewell party and say goodbye to each other.  We will always look back on the summer with fond memories, but we are looking forward to another year of reading and the surprises that books have in store for us.  Until next summer!

We’re having technical difficulties. Pictures to come!

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