________________ CM . . . . Volume XV Number 10. . . .January 9, 2009


Libby on Strike. (Streetlights).

Robert Rayner.
Toronto, ON: James Lorimer, 2008.
117 pp., pbk., $8.95.
ISBN 978-1-55277-034-4.

Subject Headings:
Time management-Juvenile fiction.
Strikes and walkouts-Juvenile fiction.
Play-Juvenile fiction.

Grades 3-5 / Ages 8-10.

Review by Catherine Howett.

**½ /4



Libby wandered upstairs to her room to fetch her music bag.

She stood in front of the mirror and practiced rolling her eyes.

Her "little talk" with her mother about the math test would probably call for some serious eye rolling.


Life for the Meek family has become a little over-scheduled. Libby's strategy to change this situation leads to unexpected consequences but ultimately to everyone in the family understanding each other better.

     Robert Rayner is the author of a number of sports-related books for a slightly older young adult audience. Many have been shortlisted for the Hackmatack Children's Choice Book Award (Atlantic Canada) and are listed as CCBC Our Choice selections. In Libby on Strike, Rayner has written an early chapter book for a slightly younger audience about a common issue that many families face. It is a book about a small slice of ordinary life - there is no crisis driving the plot. The story revolves around Libby, her parents, piano teacher and two friends, Etta and Celery. The book opens with Libby's failing a test because she has not had time to review her school work due to a packed schedule of activities. Her parents' response is to add math tutoring to that schedule! Libby is understandably upset, but the method she chooses to make that point causes conflict with her parents who, in turn, react in an unreasonable manner.

      Rayner develops his primary characters well. Libby is quite well presented, character flaws and all. There are points, however, where I found the characterization of the adults stereotypical or inconsistent. For example, Libby's parents don't seem to know what to do with themselves once released from their regular work schedule. This is unusual given the earlier discussion of their involvement in the community and a number of external projects. Rayner is making a good point - that everyone needs a little free playtime in their weekly schedule, but the presentation is a little implausible and heavy-handed at times.

      The story line is laid out in a manner that is easily followed, and what there is of plot tension is resolved at the end. Vocabulary level is consistent across the 14 chapters. I would suggest that the content of this book will appeal to younger readers in the age range and primarily to girls. It might serve well as a read-aloud.


Catherine Howett, a Research and Resource Centre Coordinator and advocate for school libraries, lives in Vancouver, BC.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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