Thursday, March 20, 2008

Blogging from Richmond

I'm sitting in the Richmond airport after a great overnight trip to Virginia.

Richmond has fascinated me ever since I was a kid. I last visited here when I was twelve. It was my first trip to the East Coast, and it left a huge impression. Since then, I've come to Williamsburg several times to participate in the Colonial Teachers Institute. I fell in love with the mystique and history of the James River area. But I hadn't been back to Richmond itself, so when St. Christopher's School invited me, I jumped at the chance. Of course, like many of my visits, this was planned over a year in advance, but it was worth the wait.

A storm blew through last night, but today was sunny and cool. Spring has definitely come early. The cherry blossoms and plum trees are already starting to bloom. I had dinner with some of the faculty last night, then had three sessions with the students today. St. Christopher's is an all-boys school. I don't do many of those, but they sure were a receptive bunch for Percy Jackson! In both groups -- elementary and middle school -- I was impressed that the boys knew the answers to my hardest mythology questions even without the hints I usually give. Thanks to the many librarians from other schools and public branches who attended, and to our other visitors, including a group of girls from St. Christopher's sister school, St. Catherine's.

The second grade did research projects on the Greek gods and decorated the stairwell with paper cutouts of their subjects. I told them the Perseus and Medusa story, but I could tell the tale about Kronos eating his children had already fired their imagination. Every time I asked them a rhetorical question during the storytelling, the answer was the same:

Rick: "What do you think Acrisius did to his poor daughter Danae and her son Perseus?"

Second grade: "He ate them!"

Rick: "What do you think Perseus did to the wedding guests then?"

Second grade: "He ate them!"

Rick: "Why do you think Greeks put coins under their tongues when they died?"

Second grade: "They ate them!"

They were a fun bunch! Thanks also to the 3rd, 4th and 5th graders for their suggestions for future Percy books. They suggested, among other things, that Percy become a counselor guiding other half-bloods in future books, or that Annabeth and Percy have a child who would have adventures. What will really happen in the future? I'm not telling.

The middle school was so well-behaved I wasn't sure I was really in a middle school. They all came into the auditorium in dead silence. I'm trying to remember the last time I saw 120 adolescent guys go anywhere in dead silence. Nope, I can't think of a time. Regardless, they were an enthusiastic bunch once we got started.

Thanks to Lucinda and the rest of the staff for organizing the visit. One of these days, I'll get back to Richmond when I have time to indulge my love for history and check out the Civil War sites, but for an overnight trip, this was a keeper!

In other news, I got a sneak peek at Hyperion's new Percy Jackson site this week. It's going to be awesome when it goes live. You can expect cool new games and some artwork of Percy, Annabeth and the rest of the gang that you won't find anywhere else. I'll give you more news about this when the site is up and running.