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Grade 3 readers bring book to life: Q+A with author Robert Rayner

October 27th, 2011 by Carrie Gleason

School visits by authors usually involve authors reading their books and talking about them with the kids. New Brunswick author Robert Rayner does school visits all the time, and uses the feedback in his writing. But recently his audience has taken the initiative, and turned his school visits into a completely different experience — bringing his characters to life!

libby on strike coverlibby's got the beat

Q: In June of 2010, Blacks Harbour School in New Brunswick held "Libby Day," based around a recurring character in two of your novels. Where did the idea for Libby Day come from?

A: I got the idea for Libby Day while I was sitting in with the grade three students at Blacks Harbour School. I wanted to orientate myself to that age group — how they dressed, spoke, interacted with one another and with teachers, etc. — because it was younger than I usually wrote for. At the time I was drafting Libby’s Got the Beat, as a follow up to Libby on Strike.  


Q: How did you get the students at Blacks Harbour interested in Libby and, ultimately, interested in reading the books?

A: My idea was to give the students a few ‘sneak previews’ of Libby’s Got the Beat while it was still in manuscript form, and for them to be able to order copies in advance of publication, so they’d receive them before it was in stores — and be "first in the world!" to see it. Then the book, which is dedicated to Blacks Harbour School students and staff, would be "launched" on a special day — Libby Day — which parents and guests, as well as teachers and students, would attend.


Q: So Libby Day was essentially a book launch for Libby's Got the Beat, held at a public school?

A: It started out that way, but the teachers sort of took over the whole project, which was just great, and produced their own ideas, so that Libby Day, when it at last arrived, included Libby songs (the first called "Hey Libby"), Libby plays derived from episodes in the story, pictures, posters and collages, book covers (which students could compared with the real cover), dioramas and trioramas, clay models of the characters.

The aim of Libby Day was to get the students excited about books and reading – and I really feel it worked. A year later we did a similar project at Milltown Elementary School with the seventh Brunswick Valley story, Total Offence,culminating in "Toby Day."  


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