Day 4 began in the Thalia theater again with a fun game led by one of our counselors: the human knot! We divided into two groups and tried to see how quickly and efficiently we could untangle ourselves. There was a lot of laughter and some ridiculous positions, but everyone successfully untangled in the end.
For our next game, we split into four groups and all lined up single file on the stage. Each person at the front of the line was shown an index card with an object written on it. Their job was to pantomime the object to the person standing behind them. Everyone else faced the other way so no one else could see, and when the object was guessed correctly, we’d tap the next person on the shoulder so they’d turn around and guess our mime. There was a lot of hilarious arm flailing to guess objects like hair dryer, lamp, and book.
After our games, we did a drawing activity to prepare for our author visit. In Upside-Down Magic, many of the characters are composite animals, so we created composite animals of our own! There were many unicorn hybrids and dragon hybrids, combined with animals like elephants, giraffes, and pigs. They were all kooky and extremely detailed illustrations!
After our activity, it was time to meet our guest: Emily Jenkins! (Emily also worked on this book with two of her friends, the authors Sarah Mlynowksi and Lauren Myracle). Emily talked about her other books, including picture books, and showed us some images from them to illustrate how characters must solve problems as they arise, again and again and again. She told us how her writing process differed with 3 authors, and how they all divided the writing and outlining. She also explained how they mapped out the series and thought about the rules of the magic school in order to make the characters and the world of the story come alive. At the end of her presentation, she wanted to see the composite animals we all drew. She then asked us to describe what it would feel like to be in that wacky, multi-animal body, and what problems that animal might have. (For example, one camper drew a composite narwhal, unicorn, and dragon, which would obviously be a problem because narwhals prefers the sea, dragons prefer the sky, and unicorns prefer the ground!)
After our author photo and book signing, we said goodbye and thank you to Emily Jenkins and headed out for lunch.
After lunch, we walked about ten blocks to our field trip at Bank Street Bookstore! While we may visit bookstores frequently, the staff at Bank Street are especially knowledgeable and specialize in kids’ books! Ann, one of the staff, told us that they don’t stock any books for people over the age of 18. So it’s definitely an oasis for people like us. While we were there, Ann read us a very cute picture book that still remains relevant to older kids: how to tell a story! She asked some campers to read certain lines aloud, so we all ended up reading it together and taking on the different voices.
After the read aloud, we talked about what we look for when we choose a book (the genre, a favorite author, a cool cover, an amazing first page) and then we took a guess about how many books were at the Bank Street Bookstore. Some guesses were as low as 1,000 and 5,000, and some were as high as 100,000, but eventually Ann told us there are actually 36,000 books!
And with that in mind, we fanned out across the store to find a book that interested us (based on the criteria we previously discussed) that we could bring back to the group and share with each other at the end of the visit. With 36,000 options, it was so hard to choose just one!
At the end of the visit, we got some cool Harry Potter posters to take home, as well as some bookmarks, and then we walked back to Symphony Space.
It’s hard to believe tomorrow is the last day of Week 2! It will surely be a bittersweet day, but we look forward to meeting Nicholas Gannon!