We’re already halfway done with week 2 of camp! Today started off with a couple of games in the Thalia theater. We played Storyball, which involves tossing a ball around, and with every catch, someone contributes one word to make a story. We created a very silly story about a pie who destroyed the world. Then we played Night at the Museum. One person is the guard, and the rest are statues. When the guard isn’t looking, the statues have to move, but if the guard sees them moving, they’re out! This game has already become one of our favorites.
Soon, it was time to meet with Tony Abbott, author of The Copernicus Legacy series. Tony has written over 95 books, including the Secrets of Droon series. The Copernicus Legacy is about a boy named Wade who gets a mysterious coded message from his father’s old friend Henry, shortly before Henry dies under strange circumstances. Wade, his father, and some friends go to Germany for the funeral and discover that Henry, who was an astronomer, has left a series of puzzling clues and ancient codes for them to follow. They soon discover that the clues lead to twelve relics that were hidden all over the world over by the famous astronomer Nicolaus Copernicus, who lived over 500 years ago. They learn that these relics are in danger of being found and used for evil, so it’s up to Wade and his friends to get to them first.
Tony told us a lot about Copernicus, who discovered that the earth revolves around the sun. It is amazing to think how Copernicus was able to figure out how the solar system works, because he died before the telescope was invented! After showing us pictures of some of the old maps and ancient codes that inspired the book, he gave us some different kinds of codes to crack, including a substitution code, a book code, and a wheel cipher.
- a code from the time of Copernicus
- using a wheel cipher
He used yet another secret code to pick two lucky campers, who won advanced copies of the next book in the series, The Serpent’s Curse.
Then we had a chance to ask Tony questions about writing. We learned that Tony has trouble reading as a kid, but he fell in love with books after reading The Wind in the Willows. He also told us that when he’s brainstorming stories, he imagines a dark landscape being struck by lightning, and he writes down what he sees at the moment the lightning illuminates the sky. Tony also encouraged us to use all of our senses when we write. We can’t wait to try some of his tips!
After lunch we went to the New-York Historical Society to see an exhibit called “Madeline in New York: the Art of Ludwig Bemelmens.” Even though we know that Madeline lived in an old house in Paris, Bemelmens wrote the beloved books in New York City, where he also created comic strips for newspapers, painted lots of paintings, wrote many other books, and decorated interiors, including hotels. It was fantastic to see the original artwork we all know so well from the Madeline series. It was so bright and colorful.
Then we went downstairs to the DiMenna Children’s History Museum, where you can play games, work on interactive computers, and learn a lot about history in surprising and fun ways. You can even get to look like one of our country’s Founding Parents.
Hot and sticky as the day was, all our activities turned out to be very cool – in every sense of the word.