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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 2

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Published on July 25, 2017

What a day at camp!

We began the day with an activity centered around one of the plot-pieces in our book of the day, Brightwood by Tania Unsworth, called Day Boxes. Without spoiling too much, one of the characters in the book experiences a trauma that makes her never, ever want to lose anything- so she creates Day Boxes. These are literal boxes with objects that remind this character of a particular day. The campers looked at images in the Day Boxes mentioned in the book and built their own narratives around what could have happened on that day in the character’s life.

It was a perfect precursor to our visit with Tania this morning! Tania shared her literary background with us– turns out she grew up in a family of writers, which actually helped and hurt her own writing career. She told the campers that because writing was basically the “religion” of her home growing up, that it was actually intimidating at first to admit to herself that she did in fact want to write! Turns out you don’t actually have to feel like the greatest writer in the world to just start writing!

Tania also told us about the inspiration behind Brightwood. It actually began with Tania’s own kind of- in her words- weird obsession with TV shows about hoarding! She revealed to the campers a little about her writing process (and shared some pages from her beautiful journals!). Tania said that when she gets an idea for a story, she likes to sit down and ask as many questions as possible of that idea, and write down the answers that come to her. Once she’s answered enough questions, the bare bones of the story have taken shape on their own! What a cool way to write!

We spent the chilly day inside for lunch and then trekked across town for a visit to the Society of Illustrators, which is housing a collection of sci-fi and fantasy art from the last hundred years! Although not directly related to any of the books we read this week, we thought it would be cool to look at the artwork associated with two of the most popular genres in YA fiction! We went through another writing exercise that involved coming up with made-up bestsellers that had the artwork that was on display at the museum as the covers of the books and, if inspiration struck, writing the first page or so of that book.

It was really a fantastic day and the campers loved getting to meet Tania and seeing all of the cool fantastical artwork almost as much as they loved playing the game Word-Assassin! (You’ll have to ask your campers about that one…) We’re looking forward to meeting with Jeff Hirsch tomorrow and talking about his dystopian novel, The Eleventh Plague!


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