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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 5

Published on July 28, 2017

Friday came too soon!

The book we were discussing today was a retelling of Snow White, so we started out the day by creating our own retellings of classic fairy tales. Each group chose a fairy tale and was given a new setting for it. They worked together to figure out how to alter the story to fit the setting and then performed their creations with the rest of camp. We had one Hansel and Gretel set in a school cafeteria and another set in a toy store (this group had only a Gretel, and named their skit She Don’t Need No Hansel). There was also a version of Cinderella set in New York City on New Years Eve, a Goldilocks and The Three Bears set in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and a Sleeping Beauty set in the current White House.

After this, we had our visit from Matt Phelan, author of Snow White. He talked to us about how he became a graphic novelist, starting as an illustrator and wanting to tell his own stories. He said that he got his idea for his version of Snow White, which was set in the Great Depression, from his drawing of an “old hag” apple peddler who was being ignored by all but a young woman. After liking this idea, he asked himself “What else has to change for this story?” It was important to him that this was his version. He also said it’s important in retellings for the new setting to inform the story. He gave us a few examples of some of the changes he made based on these ideas. He was very interested in the dichotomy between the reality of life during the Great Depression and the extravagance of Hollywood and Broadway at the time. It was this idea that led him to make the stepmother a “Queen of Broadway.” He also disliked the idea that all motivation around Snow White, good and bad, seems to be based on Snow White’s beauty. With this in mind, he made the stepmother jealous of Snow White’s inheritance and replaced the magic mirror with a ticker tape machine.

He also talked about his writing process, describing how he first writes out the story, then creates small thumbnails which he uses to work out how the final images will look. For this book, he was inspired by old film noir and wanted the images to feel like black and white films. He also based the looks of many of the characters on real classic movie stars.

He then had campers do an exercise where they did a one-page story about the moment in Little Red Riding Hood where Red Riding Hood first sees the wolf. They each started by mapping out how many panels they would use, and their size, shape, and placement. They then did quick sketches of each panel, focusing more on the general composition than on the details.

After lunch we had the traditional Friday Share. Many campers shared pieces of their writing. There were also jokes, riddles, a dance, and a new game show called “What’s That Book?” We had two book recommendations, The Forger’s Spell by Edward Dolnick and The Kidney Hypothetical, or How to Ruin Your Life in 7 Days by Lisa Yee.

Finally, we had our end of camp party with tasty treats, cards to sign, and sad goodbyes.

It’s been a awesome week! Have a great summer!  (More great photos from this week can be found here: https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/0B4HgiT7ZLiFocS03VmFVUXpmbGs?usp=sharing .)

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