PJP students welcome Author Brittany Luby

PJP students welcome Author Brittany Luby
Posted on 12/10/2019
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Brittany Luby book Encounter

Watercolour paintings and the story of Canada's early history captured the attention of Grade 6 students at Pope John Paull II School last Friday. The two classes gathered in the learning commons to listen to author Brittany Luby read her first book, Encounter, which follows the story of a European sailor meeting an Aboriginal Stadaconan fisher for the first time.

Luby, whose father's ancestors are from Niisaachewan Anishinaabe Nation (Dalles), explains why she wanted to write this children's book.

"I saw a real urgent need to produce literature that featured Indigenous characters when I learned that out of the children's books that are published annually in North America, only about 2 per cent feature Indigenous characters. We have more inanimate objects that have speaking roles in children's books than Indigenous characters," she said.

Luby adds that as a Professor of History at the University of Guelph she is required to teacher pre-confederation history and there is still a very Western lens to the lessons.

EncounterDuring her book reading Luby not only went through the book with the children but also gave them a peek into the writing process by showing them some emails between her, the publisher and the illustrator.

"One of the questions I got asked was what type of shoes would sailor wear? He lived over 500 years ago so they didn't have shoelaces, they didn't have fake leather, also Sailor would have been quite poor so he wouldn't have been able to afford something like maybe a buckle," she said.

Luby said they walked a fine line between creative license and staying true to history. This book took three years to write, a fact that amazed the students.

"One thing we say as writers is there's no such thing as a perfect draft, just a first draft. So you write and write and re-write and re-write again. So it took me six months of re-writing and then we finally had a copy that we liked," she explained to the children.

Moving forward Luby is already working on her next book about the different seasons. The book will look at the traditional teachings around the changing of the seasons and be published in both English and Anishinaabemowin. Luby explains why she wants to continue to share stories about Indigenous people.

"I have two nephews and two nieces and so creating a story that they may be able to discover on a library shelf where they can see themselves and their ancestors reflected is an incredible feeling," she said.

The book about seasons, tentatively titled This is How I Know is expected to come out in the spring of 2021.

Author Brittany Luby reading book

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