A Privileged Visit by Author Alan Gibbons

2013_14_LCCReads_AlanGibbons_065It is not every day that one gets to meet a celebrated, world-renown, prize-winning author (though truth be told, it is, at LCC, an annual occurrence – courtesy of our very own librarian and the LCC Reads Committee). It isn’t every day that students are treated to the words and wisdom of a great storyteller, a master at building suspense and at fuelling reflection on social issues. It certainly isn’t every day that students are so privileged as to be taught narrative fiction by a real live author. And yet, it is precisely what LCC students got to do in October, when British author Alan Gibbons came to LCC.


Alan Gibbons is, as all of LCC knows from the chilling summer read, the author of the book Caught in the Crossfire. In front of an assembly Middle and Senior School students, he recounted in his inimitable style, the salient points of his life and career. He shared the story of when he received the Blue Peter Book Award. But Alan Gibbons is also, and perhaps above all, a teacher. He came to the grade 10 PREP class to teach us how, from a variety of known narrative techniques, we can write a story in our own personal style. Appropriately enough, since it was, after all, the month of October, of witches and warlocks and things that go bump in the night, we learned how to use tension to write a great ghost story.

It was, really, a very successful visit. –  David Elbaz ’15

Gibbons Leaves Lasting Impression

2013_14_LCCReads_AlanGibbons_051On October 22 and 23, LCC was lucky enough to have a special guest at the school, Alan Gibbons. (See photos) He was the author of the summer reading book, Caught in the Crossfire, an emotional tale about racism against British Muslims in England, filled with love, action, and the tragedies of hatred. For most students, the first time they saw the author was at Tuesday’s assembly. The assembly started off with a speech by our headmaster, about the importance of reading, of critical reading, in an information age (and misinformation age, as he pointed out). Mr. Moore also spoke about the success of the LCC reads committee, and the importance of reading bringing people together.


When Mr. Gibbons got up to speak, there was a silence in the room. Of course, the students knew his books, and that he was quite an accomplished author, but wondered what he would talk to them about. He spoke quickly, and said a few words in French, before delving into his story, and the importance of overcoming hatred and intolerance. His humour soon got the entire assembly into his presentation. He was from ‘the good part of England’, and had spent many of his younger years abroad the hippie fad train, traveling around Europe and seeing the world. When he met his current wife, however, it was time to settle down. He became a teacher, and divided his time between writing and spending time with his students.


One day, however, a secretary rushed to deliver some news. “School secretaries, you know how they just glide around the school? Well she was running! I knew something was up at that moment.” He had been nominated for the Blue Peter award, one of the most recognized literary awards in Britain! It was a great shock to him, being a somewhat unknown, and little successful author at the time. He decided that he would win the award, no matter whom he was up against. Then, he found out who his competitors were. He was up against some of the most famous authors in England, including Harry Potter author, JK Rowling. “I was just looking at these other authors and thinking ‘I’m not worthy’!” To his surprise, however, he won the award!


And so started his career as an author – his full-time career. For him, writing was the way that one could visit places, hundreds of years after they have been destroyed. It was the only way you could live a life that wasn’t yours. Buildings are burned down, eras are ended, but writing survives. Storytelling was passing values and morals down from generation to generation.


This became his goal, spreading values to all of his readers. He spoke about how this was important, not only in Britain, but in Quebec as well, where our Premier, Pauline Marois, is attempting to remove the religious freedoms of public sector workers. Now, more than ever, is it important to raise our voices against hatred and discrimination.


His speech most certainly impacted every person in the audience, and soon a line was forming to ask questions, many of which were about his personal quest to spread tolerance.


After, the LCC Reads committee was fortunate enough to meet with him, get their books signed, and discuss Dr. Who over a cup of tea and a piece of cake. Throughout his visit, he went to various English classes, prompting the students to write stories, and talking to the class about his visit.


Though his visit is now over, we’ll all keep what he said with us forever. We are truly fortunate to have had such an amazing guest author, for a full two days. – Elizabeth O’Meara ’15

The Relevance of Caught in the Crossfire

2013_2014_LCCReads_AlanGibbons_012LCC Reads is a vibrant student committee dedicated to promoting a love of reading and the power of ideas. Thanks to this group of students, we had a special guest in our Middle/Senior School assembly this week. Alan Gibbons is an award-winning British writer and author of this year’s LCC Reads book, Caught in the Crossfire. His presence reflected our tradition of going an extra step and bringing the author of our annual community book to school to speak to students face-to-face.

Mr. Gibbons proved to be a rare natural storyteller. His capacity to engage and enthrall a young audience was special to watch. He reinforced the magic of books and the wonder of getting lost in the meanderings and interaction of fictional characters. He also emphasized the important lessons that books and stories convey.

Mr. Gibbons’ presence at our school was rather timely.  His novel “Caught in the Crossfire” is a warning that addresses the negative impact of racism in an increasingly multicultural England. In our assembly he addressed how important it is in today’s world to promote and embrace inclusion and diversity. He was emphatic in openly urging our Québec government to avoid implementing a restrictive charter of rules that would prohibit the natural sharing of important elements of personal identity.

I thank Mr. Gibbons for presenting challenges and reminding us that our peaceful society is a precious balance. He asked that we take very seriously the issues that threaten the attributes of our community built up over time. A strong society that celebrates diversity is a great Canadian strength. I hope that all of our students are now doubly motivated to protect that strength with all of their abilities and with great passion. This is clearly not a time for apathy in Quebec. —Christopher Shannon, Headmaster