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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 1

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Published on July 27, 2015
Week 3 of camp has finally arrived and we could  not be more excited!  We began our day in the Sharp, playing games and getting to know each other. Each of us said our names and told the other campers our favorite words, which included ‘hypocrite’, ‘awesome’, ‘onomatopoeia’, and ‘persnickety’. Then we played Would You Rather, and later moved onto an activitity where we found someone whose name we did not know and then drew them, without looking at our paper. We also played Night At The Museum and Handshake Murder.  Then, like last week, we split off into our book club discussion groups.  We spent 3-5 minutes visiting each group and talking about all the books we read and authors we’ll be meeting.  Everyone had really exciting thoughts and questions about the books that we can’t wait to share with the authors.
When we got back to the room, each of us made a poster to finish the sentence “When I read I feel … ” It was interesting to see how reading has a different effect on each of us!
We headed out to Joan of Arc Island Park to eat our lunch.  A lot of our campers played capture the flag.  We played Apples to Apples or Sushi Go.  Those who felt like it spent lunch reading.
By the time we got back from lunch, C. Alexander London, who also goes by Sandy, had already arrived.  He was really amazing and told us about the who, what, why, and how of being an author.  To start he introduced us to the idea of advanced readers copies, or ARCs, which are the books that publishes send out before the final printed version.  Each of us have an ARC of The Wild Ones. He told us about the first book he ever wrote called Lawrence and Luther Lizard Go To Camp.  He wrote it when he was eight or nine and drew all the pictures himself.  He quickly realized that writing made his friends laugh and that he really liked doing it, so he began to tell more stories.  When he told a serialized story about the ants near the dodge ball field, he got in trouble because he was distracting his friends.  He got into even more trouble when he started telling stories in English and Science and Math.  One day he got called into the principals office and all of his teachers, the principal, and his parents were there.  He realized he was in so much trouble, but he also realized that stories could cause a lot of trouble which meant they were powerful.  That is when he began reading stories to see how they worked and what they were doing.
Sandy says writing is a type of telepathy.  Just by reading simple words like “There was a tree” we all saw trees, but all of them were different.  The more specific the writing is, the more accurate the telepathy is, so the important thing is to try to find just the right words.  To find the right words, you have to first find the story.  To find a story, Sandy takes different ingredients and combines them into something new.  Some of his ingredients for The Wild Ones are his dog, Baxter, and a cat who lives on their stoop.  Baxter became Titus and the Cat became Six Claws.  One of his neighbors owns a barber shop and asked to be in the book as a rooster who shaves people with his claw. Another ingredient was the book Redwall by Brian Jacques, which Sandy liked so much that he dedicated one of his books to Brian Jacques.  Sandy also let us in on some secrets of how he writes.  He measures his writing by word count and not by pages, because you can manipulate pages.  The Wild Ones is about 45,000 words long.  He writes 1,000 words every day, but says the magic of writing is in revisions.  In total he writes about 7 revisions after his quick first draft.
We were really lucky and got to hear an excerpt of the sequel to The Wild Ones.  It already sounds really great and we can’t wait for it to come out.  Sandy brought a few scenes from The Wild Ones that he adapted into a play and together we staged it and acted it out.
Then Sandy signed our books and we all took a group photo together.  Tomorrow Lauren Oliver, the author of Curiosity House, is coming.  We will meet her and take a field trip to the Met!

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