Week 2 started on the stage of the Sharp Theatre today with a round of Icebreaker Bingo, a great way to get to know new people and learn more about old friends. We continued learning people’s names, as well as their favorite books in the Name Game. After a few other fun games, we got to discuss all the books in the weekly “Mini-Book Club,” 8-minute discussions of each of this week’s five books. After coming to a consensus about good camp guidelines, we went out for lunch and games in the nearby Joan of Arc Park.
As the campers returned from lunch, Adam Gidwitz – author of the Inquisitor’s Tale, and our first guest author of the week, stood in the center of the room and told the students that they were “the first group of kids to ever read Inquisitor’s Tale,” as it will not be officially available until September.
Because the campers are among the first to read Adam’s book, he was especially interested in their response. He asked them to share their thoughts, opinions, and questions about the book, engaging with each camper – individually – as he or she spoke. Adam developed each of their responses into a more complicated and in-depth conversation. In the process, he shared some background on the creation of the book.
For example, he said that there is “not a lot of talk of religion in kids’ books” these days. Despite this, he tried to make the historical content of Inquisitor’s Tale more accessible to readers by mixing fact with fiction. Although many of the characters in his book are based on actual people, he took some creative liberties and made up some of the details. He also shared how he brings this material to life for readers. “If you’re writing a scary scene, and you want the readers to be scared, then you have to be scared, yourself.” He confided that he may “look like a 34-year-old dude,” but actually he feels more like a ten-year-old on the inside, which accounts for some of the more hilarious aspects of his writing.
Then he challenged them with a game of trivia called “How Much Do You Know About the Middle Ages?” This game began with “Question the First” and ended with “Question the Last,” pertaining to dragon farts (the inner ten-year-old,) eliciting riotous laughter from the campers.
Adam ended the afternoon with a writing workshop to help the kids better tell their own tales. With their own “Story Sheet,” he led them through all the various structural elements. This included concepts such as “The Hero,” “Setting,” “The Problem,” “The Catalyst,” “The Adventure,” “The Biggest Problem,” “All is Lost,” “The Climax,” and “Happily Ever After.” At the end of the afternoon, there was a group photograph and Adam signed the campers’ books.
Tomorrow we get to meet Leila Sales, author of Once Was a Time, and go on a field trip with her to Penguin Books!