Wednesday, February 28, 2018

February Meeting: Science-Inspired Comics and Storyboard That

Even though we didn't all finish the entire book this month, we had a blast talking through some of the funniest entries in What If?: Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions by Randall Munroe. Some group favorites were the comics in response to the question about crying so much you dehydrated yourself and the question about the number of cats needed to bring down a jet, assuming they can meow at the same resonant frequency as the plane. People submitted some VERY interesting scientific questions, and the author answered them with humor, smarts, and a good dose of sarcasm.

Since the comics were hilarious and looked so simple, we tried creating our own science-inspired comics. Some Bookshoppers took inspiration from the hypothetical science questions asked in the book, such as: What if a rainstorm dropped all of its water in a single drop?; and What if every day, every human had a 1% chance of being turned into a turkey, and every turkey had a 1% chance of being turned into a human? Our cartoons are below:

After hand drawing comics, we tried out the free online program Storyboard That, which has tons of different backgrounds and characters and props to help you create your own cartoons. It was super fun to play around with changing each character's clothes, body position, and facial expression so many Bookshoppers didn't get a chance to finish their comics. But it's a free web-based program, so I encouraged them to create an account with their own email addresses and keep playing around with it at home! Some of the Storyboard That scenes are shown below:

Made with Storyboard That

Made with Storyboard That

Made with Storyboard That

Made with Storyboard That

Made with Storyboard That

Made with Storyboard That

Our next meeting will be on Monday, March 26th. We will be discussing Cardboard by Doug TenNapel and using LittleBits to build something together as a group. See you next month!

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

January Meeting: Canva Book Covers

We had another lively meeting this month discussing When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead. Most Bookshoppers seemed to have enjoyed the book, especially the twist about Marcus and the Laughing Man. While we ate pizza and talked about time travel and if we would have been brave enough to do what Marcus had done, I set up a quick version of The $20,000 Pyramid, which is the game show that Miranda's mother is a contestant on near the end of the book. The group split up in pairs and took turns being the celebrity (giving clues for their partners to guess words and categories). It was a LOT harder than it seemed. 

I was impressed to hear that most of the Bookshop members successfully avoided seeing the cover while reading the book and were surprised by it when I unwrapped one of the books to show them the original cover. A new cover was designed for the paperback edition, but it doesn't seem like that much of an improvement to me. Most of them agreed that they probably wouldn't have picked the book up judging by the hardcover cover (both covers shown below).

Hardcover edition
Paperback edition

A few people mentioned that they had envisioned a person on the cover, or a letter, or a photograph of a city scene, and this was their chance to create that awesome new cover! We used Canva to design our own book covers; check them out below.

Front cover
Back cover

Front cover

Back cover

Front cover
Back cover

I would definitely be intrigued enough to pick up books with those covers!

Our next meeting will be Monday, February 26th. We will be discussing What If?: Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions by Randall Munroe. This is an awesome book to browse through since it's organized by absurd hypothetical questions interspersed with hilarious cartoon depictions of those questions being tested out. We will be drawing cartoons depicting our own absurd questions, both by hand and using the online tool Storyboard That. See you next month!

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

December Meeting: Sculptris

On Monday, we ate lots of pizza, drew some funny (real and imagined) scenes from The Iron Trial by Holly Black and Cassandra Clare, and then, using a very cool, free, 3D modeling program called Sculptris, pretended we were students at the Magisterium with magical elemental abilities. It's hard to capture the program by just looking at the finished two-dimensional designs, but Sculptris basically provides you with a lump of virtual clay (you can start with either a sphere or a plane) and then you can manipulate it in a variety of ways. It definitely requires some patience and time as you play around with the different buttons and get used to the shortcut keys, and it would be even more fun if you used it on a tablet or a computer with touchscreen capabilities because then you could pull and push as if you're really sculpting clay, but the Bookshoppers took to the program surprisingly quickly and made some awesome designs. Enjoy some pictures and videos of the process as well as the finished designs below!


BirdyBird by Amy

Mad Cat by Amy

Bird by Avery

Dog by Avery

Untitled by Carson

Untitled by Chris

Head of Extreme Untimely Death by Gabriel

Medusa by Gabriel

Untitled by Isaac 

Untitled by Isaac

Untitled by Julia

Untitled by Arsalan

Our next meeting will be on Monday, January 29th. We will be discussing When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead and designing new book covers with Canva. The book club books I distributed on Monday are covered with brown paper in the hopes that Bookshoppers won't be influenced in their designs by the current cover. If you do return the book before the meeting, please remove the brown paper before returning it so as not to confuse any other library staff. But don't peek at the cover!

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

November Meeting: Virtual Reality!

Everyone showed up for the meeting this past Monday super excited to try out the library's new HTC Vive virtual reality system. But we did manage to eat pizza and talk about Want, by Cindy Pon, a little bit beforehand. Even though we felt guilty since Jin Corp turned out to be evil, most of us thought the protective suits sounded really cool. Personally, I wanted the flying motorcycle that Jason got to zoom around in. We were divided about how realistic we thought the portrayal of the future was; all of that pollution and the huge divide between the haves and have-nots didn't sound fun. But we did have fun watching Sam, our VR guru from IT, use VR Google Earth to fly around present-day Taipei in Taiwan, which is where the book takes place. The surrounding mountains were beautiful, and we even got down to street view to check out some land-bound mopeds and the super tall Taipei 101 skyscraper building.

After Sam gave a quick safety talk, I demonstrated Longbow, one of the play options in The Lab, the VR game each Bookshopper would get a chance to try. I'd played it once before so didn't completely embarrass myself as I used a bow and arrow to defend a medieval castle from invaders - phew!

Each person was able to play around in one of the The Lab's minigames for four minutes in order to give everyone equal playing time. Most people chose to play Longbow; it really does feel like you're shooting an arrow, and if you engage in the rapid fire technique that Isaac advocated for, it's actually a pretty good workout too.

A couple Bookshop members wanted to explore other aspects of The Lab. Avery visited Vesper Peak in the Washington Cascades where she bonded with a robot dog and threw it lots of sticks.

A few of the Bookshoppers also visited a lava tube where they got to blow up a bunch of colorful balloons that floated around the cavern. Hima chose to zoom around the solar system, throwing planets around and juggling Jupiter.

I think we all wanted to keep playing around when Bookshop ended, so I will do my best to schedule another VR evening before our last meeting of the year.

Our next meeting will be on Monday, December 18th, in THREE weeks instead of four, due to the Christmas holiday so get reading! We will be discussing The Iron Trial by Holly Black and Cassandra Clare and playing with elements, as the magicians do in the book, using Sculptris, a free 3D modeling program.