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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 3

Published on August 5, 2015

Like butter on hot pancakes, today melted into deliciousness.  To kick off the day, one of our counselors organized a game of Word Assassin. A camper is given a target (another camper) and a weapon (a noun) with the sole objective of making your target say your word. While we strategized our deadly tongue traps, we headed up to the sharp to play a game organized by Nicole. A ball of yarn was tossed around a circle. Campers were asked to hold a piece of the yarn and throw it to a person in the circle after they had answered this question:”What was the book you most recently read that you liked?” Once every camper answered that question, an intricate matrix had formed. We had to unravel it by throwing it back to the person who asked you and by answering this question: “What was the first book that you loved?” We managed to successfully unravel the matrix and get to know us a little better!

Nicole then had us write Twitterature: Twitter Literature. Camper were to write 140 characters into a story and Nicole Tweeted them! Check them out! https://twitter.com/nicolehrtn

When we got back to the camp room, Jason Reynolds, author of Boy in the Black Suit, was waiting for us! Jason grew up in Washington D.C. and read his first novel  (Black Boy by Richard Wright) at the age of 17. Growing up in the projects in the 1980’s, he was accustomed to death, having friends died prematurely, drugs, and HIV. Jason found solace and inspiration in the words of Queen Latifah!  She was royalty but wrote poems about Jason’s realities, which were not luxurious. Reading Queen Latifah’s lyrics versus reading Lord of the Flies always ended in the Queen’s favor.

Having enormous stamina and extreme stubbornness, Jason went to college with the aspiration to be a English major and ultimately a writer. However, his teachers didn’t agree. Jason did not care and moved to New York. His connections and stamina got him a book deal after six months living in NYC!! And he was 20!!

He discussed the way Walter Dean Meyers, an author who visited camp two years ago, inspired and pushed him to write with his natural voice. A voice that some editors try to morph. He also explained the creation of the book cover and how he had to fight for the one that graces the book now.

Jason had us do a writing exercise.  The campers were asked to write down the prompt, “Why would you do that?” The task was to complete the narrative only using dialect and starting with that sentence. “Loosen your hand!” he implored. Campers were to write as they speak.  Mothers were sneaking around secret diaries, arguments were electric in subway cars, and rolls of toilet paper flushed down the toilet!

After Jason left us, we walked to Central Park for lunch. A large scale capture the flag game was played while some played board games in the shade or read. Word Assassin was in full swing!

After lunch, Nicole then had us playing an intellectual version of Yankee Swap but with sentences as presents. Someone would open a present, read the sentence inside, and either could have the next person steal it or open another present with another sentence. When everyone had their desired sentence, Nicole asked us to write a story with our gifted sentence as the first line of our story. This made for creepy to funny story blossom on our pages. We shared our stories and were given free time to keep reading or writing until the end of the day.


The field trip tomorrow is to the Morgan Library! Wear your shirts if you would like! See you tomorrow!

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