Monday, July 11, 2011

A Literary Picnic

by Pam Smallcomb

It’s summer now, and having a picnic this time of year is a piece of cake. But what about in the winter, when the weather is not quite so lovely, and you might be trapped inside with a group of antsy (no pun intended) kids?

Having a Literary Picnic might help to bring some sunshine into the room. What do you need to have a picnic? People and food. And of course, you’ll need a blanket to spread on the floor.

In this case, there will be two kinds of people at the picnic: the real ones (children) and their ‘guests’ (each child will bring a favorite book).

The book can be a favorite from when they were very young (Green Eggs and Ham), or one they have just finished reading (The Hunger Games).

While each child takes a turn introducing his guest at the picnic, the rest of you can nibble on picnic munchies. Food at a Literary Picnic can be as simple as crackers and juice (which is a bit plain, I have to admit), or if you get really energetic, you can ‘theme’ the food to match the books. You might even decide to go for that dish of Green Eggs and Ham!

Here are some questions each child can think about before they come to the picnic and introduce their ‘guest book’ to the other picnic participants:

Why did you pick this book to take to the picnic? Is there one scene that is your favorite?

Besides Frisbee, is there another game/sport your character would like to play at your picnic? (I’m pretty sure Harry would like a good game of Quidditch.)

Does the main character in your favorite book have a favorite food, or is food mentioned in the story? For example, in Alice in Wonderland, there are several different foods mentioned: treacle tarts, orange marmalade, and the small cake that spells out EAT ME in currents, among others. Harry Potter is chock full of food references and of course; Winnie the Pooh has his beloved honey jar.

Would the main character in your book want to bring a friend along to the picnic? Who are the character’s friends?

Is there someone your main character would not like to see at the picnic?

Where do the characters in your book go to eat?
In Lemony Snicket’s Series of Unfortunate Events there is a salmon-themed seafood restaurant called the Café Salmonella. It serves such delicacies as salmon ice cream, salmon pie, and salmon ravioli.

Illustration by John Tenniel
How does the author’s use of food add to the feel of the story?

I can’t think of a more enjoyable way to spend a cold or rainy afternoon than to eat snacks while discussing books (and food!). Besides, it’s always good to make some new literary friends.

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