Monday, 30 November 2009

Summer Reading Programme at Rodney Libraries

This year we have two Summer Reading Programmes running over the summer school holidays.
Registrations for both programmes open on Saturday December 5th at 10 am. Places are limited so prompt registration is essential.

Children 5 – 8 are being encouraged to ‘Dive into Books’. This will be familar to many families as it follows the same format as in previous summer reading programmes. After registering, children read as many books as they like. They check in with a librarian four times over the 6 weeks of the programme to talk about what they have been reading. Once they complete all the visits they receive an invitation to join library staff and a special guest at a Finale Celebration.

Children 9 - 13 years can participate in the ‘Library Monopoly Programme’ where they can roll the dice to determine what type of book they should read next. This is new for us and we're very excited about it.

Remember to visit your local library on Saturday December 5th from 10am to sign up.

Friday, 27 November 2009

In Memoriam

Erebus Voices
The Mountain

I am here beside my brother, Terror.
I am the place of human error.
I am beauty and cloud, and I am sorrow;
I am tears which you will weep tomorrow.
I am the sky and the exhausting gale.
I am the place of ice. I am the debris trail.
I am as far as you can see.
I am the place of memory.
And I am still a hand, a fingertip, a ring.
I am what there is no forgetting.
I am the one with truly broken heart.
I watched them fall, and freeze, and break apart.

Thirty years on, the disaster on Mount Erebus in the Antarctic still has as much power as it did on the day and night that the tragedy occurred, as do the words of this Bill Manhire poem. The event has the power to move and the power to polarise. It was a story that we may have been too close to at the time, to see all the parts clearly and this has only come with time and distance, apology and forgiveness.

Here are some links that will help on the background.

Mt Erebus in Rodney Libraries catalogue
New Zealand History website
Te Ara - Encyclopedia of New Zealand website
Christchurch City Libraries resource page
The TVNZ and the TV3 Erebus sites

Erebus Voices (continued)
The Dead

We fell.
Yet we were loved and we are lifted.
We froze.
Yet we were loved and we are warm.
We broke apart.
Yet we are here and we are whole.

Rest in Peace.

Joy Cowley's Writing Workshop

TO all the aspiring children's fiction and picture book writers out there - Check this out and mark it in your diary.

Award winning and notable Kiwi author Joy Cowley is running a writer's workshop in Auckland in February 2010. It will run over two days 27 and 28 February and there are a very limited number of places. It is described on the Storylines website as "intensive two-day course with this master storyteller, covering all aspects of writing for children and young adults (getting started, plot, character, voice, humour, writing disciplines, picture books, chapter books, YA novels, presenting a manuscript, getting support.)"

To find out more and to book your spot go to this Storylines link

Picture Book Illustrators

The Storylines Charitable Trust have announced the finalists for the Gavin Bishop Award for Children's Book illustrators. They are:

Sara Acton from Christchurch
Heather Arnold from Auckland
Harriet Bailey from Wellington
Stephanie Junovich from Christchurch
Gary Venn from Hamilton
Neroli Williams from Christchurch

"We were delighted by the quality of the entries and by the broad range of media and creative approaches that illustrators took – it was heartening to see so much excellent work and a huge pleasure to judge them." said the Judges who also acknowledge the amount of time and effort contestants took in putting their entries together.

The art work in a children's picture book is an integral part of the experience for both the child and their big person. To read more about the award and see some of the art work go to this Storylines link

Thursday, 26 November 2009

The Far Beyond

Here's a sneak preview of The Far Beyond by Warwick Thompson which Wellsford Librarians have reviewed in their next Local Matters.

A novel of adventure, hardship and courage as the writer builds on the story of his great-grandfather. The facts the book is based upon actually happened but have been turned into an extremely readable fictionalized account by the author.

The story moves from its origins in Sutherland, Scotland to Northern Ireland covering the years of the potato famine then on to England where James Cameron Fraser trains as a marine engineer. James then travels to New Zealand; with authentic experiences based on a diary of the voyage of the Black Swan to arrive in Dunedin. Descriptions of the fledgling town and the beginnings of the gold strikes – hardships, starvation, freezing weather - all are vividly portrayed. Action moves to Auckland and the events surrounding the battles at Mercer and Rangiriri are also sympathetically covered then all is drawn together back in Dunedin.

Well worth reading.

Wednesday, 25 November 2009

Snippet from LA

There is ongoing and sometimes lively debate about the relevance of the Library and the printed word on paper versus the World Wide Web and explosion of information, opinion and spam that can be found via the Internet.

To me, Libraries traditionally meant books, and that is still a huge part of the appeal. But Libraries also are the gateway to the World Wide Web and how to use it to find the right information, or as so often the case with people coming in to use our free APNK computers and wifi services, keep in touch or play games.

The following link was sent to me this morning and it clearly puts the view that the two have their place and can co-exist comfortably side by side. It is from the LA Times and titled A Luddite in the Library. See what you think.

Have a great day.

Tuesday, 24 November 2009

Where to get your Book news

Here are a few websites where you can keep up to date with what's happening in the world of books, authors, publishing and libraries. They are some of the places we gather our information, but if you are interested you can bookmark them on your own browser (only after you have bookmarked us as one of your favourites of course). has a Books page under their Entertainment option. This gets updated regularly and has a real Kiwi flavour to it.

Graham Beattie (otherwise known as Bookman Beattie) has a wonderful blog on which he collects both local and international news as well as writing his own reviews. He his prolific in his postings (we are jealous of the amount of time he has to spend on it).

Heading off-shore you have pages like the Guardian (UK) and the New York Times in which to find your international news. Not all the books reviewed will, of course, reach New Zealand but it is always good to know what's out there.

There are also a huge number of authors that make use of the Internet with their own Blogs and Websites. Here is a link to a list of author blogs which are great for getting an insight into the minds of the writers. Publisher websites are another good source of information. That's people like Harper Collins, Penguin and Hachette. Likewise book shops from the large book chains to the small village bookshops are all great to have a look at.

Most of these pages have further links which you can follow, so it is very easy to while away (waste) time lost in the world of books.

Monday, 23 November 2009

The trauma of adapting a book to the big screen

As a bookworm and a filmbuff, as well as a librarian trying to keep up to date with what's happening in the literary world, it's hard to ignore the furore currently being carried on in the media about the screen adaptation of award winning novel The Vintner's Luck by Kiwi Elizabeth Knox. In the interests of keeping our blog readers informed (and on the basis that part of the reason for this blog is to keep Rodney Libraries users up to date with current issues), here are some links for you to read about it.

Author Elizabeth Knox is upset that the movie adaptation has changed the emphasis of the novel away from what she created. Read the Dominion Post article where she revealed that she cried after seeing the movie and how much it departed from her book.

The movie itself has received mixed reviews, including some reasonably strong critical panning. This is itself, would not prevent me from going to see the movie. In fact, I have often found that movies that have received the harshest reviews, are those that I enjoy the most - just call me a film heathen. Examples of reviews include one from the Dominion Post, this one from The National Business Review and this from the TV3 website. This will give you an example of how varied opinions are, which is really just an indication that everyone is different - which is a good thing, isn't it?

The Vintner's Luck (and the sequel Angel's Cut) are extremely popular titles at Rodney Libraries and it can be difficult to find them on the shelf. I have to be honest and say that The Vintner's Luck isn't my favourite book (I much prefer Elizabeth's Dreamhunter series), but it was still a good enough read. The key to much of the discussion, is in most cases books have to be adapted to the movie screen. The best a film can often do is keep to the spirit of the book. If this movie does move away from the main story of the book as much as reported, perhaps it should have been described as being "based on the book by..." and there wouldn't have been so much debate.
However, I wouldn't let the reviews or the deviation from the book put you often going to see the movie, or the purported deviation in the movie put you off reading the book. As for myself, I probably will go to see the movie, simply because I want to draw my own conclusions.

Friday, 20 November 2009

Charity Movie screening

Hot on the heels of all the other books to movies recently reviewed comes THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO - THE MOVIE. Here's how to be one of the first to see it.

The Village Bookshop at Matakana have arranging a Charity Screening on Sunday 6 December @ 6.00pm in the Tivoli Theatre, Matakana Cinemas. The ticket price is $20 and a percentage of ticket will be donated to Warkworth Christian Food Link.

Ticket holders are also invited to the Village Bookshop, Matakana to celebrate the festive season from 4.00-6.00pm on 6 December in the leadup to the movie. There will be bubbles & refreshments, plus all who are shopping at this time will receive a discount of 10% on their purchases. You can get your tickets from the Village Bookshop or Matakana Cinemas.

Both your bloggers (rodneylibraries and kowhaireader) will be attending so see if you can spot us. I am looking forward to watching a movie of a book I haven't read yet.

Backing the Underdog

Today I can officially come out. I admit that I have been teetering on the edge. But after last night joining the general exodus to movie theatres around the country to watch latest Twilight saga movie, New Moon, I am decided. If you can't guess from the title of this blog, let me clear it up once and for all. I belong to Team Jacob.

New Moon the movie, did do justice to New Moon the book. Pleasingly there was little deviation from the book (always a bonus) with the atmosphere, characters and plot line all carrying the story along in much the way I had imagined.

The characters are a huge part of the appeal of the series to me and this comes through well on screen. Edward is at once dark and pale, a tortured "soul" as despite the debate raging through the series, it is hard to imagine this particular family of vampires without a soul. Jacob is solid and earthy, but with his own challenges and secrets - secrets that he finds a way for Bella to discover. Bella is both a typical teenage girl full of angst for a broken relationship, but also a strong, often unflappable woman (you have to be really when your boyfriend is a vampire and your best friend is a wolf). But what I also like about the three main characters is that they are, well, human. Edward and Jacob square off with typical male egos and bouts of jealousy, while Bella can be weak and selfish. They are not perfect and this is what makes the story intriguing.

The supporting characters do their job well, although the book goes with more depth into the wolf pack. I have always been a fan of Sam and Emily and I would love to know more of their story (hint hint Stephenie Meyer). The Volturi are exactly as I pictured - sinister and arrogant. The Cullens return, although apart from the bubbly Alice, don't play such a large part in this movie.

I was especially interested in the way the special effects would create the wolf images and transformations and this was successfully achieved, especially in the fight sequences.

All together, it was exceptionally satisfying and I could quite easily sit through it again, as I am sure there are nuances I missed the first time round. Always a sign of a good movie. I can't wait for Eclipse and must definitely take anothe run through the books. If you are looking for anything Twilight related in our library, click on this link here.

Thursday, 19 November 2009

Families and fast cars

Mix the adrenaline rush of a competitive race car driver with a love story; the humour and practicality of day to day busy family life with a heart rending tug of love story; and you have the framework for a pretty good read.

Tell it all from the point of view of the beloved and loyal Enzo, who just happens to be the family dog, and you have something truly extraordinary. This is The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein. Enzo knows that he’s not human, but he is part of the family – and more than that, the wisest part who knows when to be a companion, when to play and when to bring people together.

Detailing the skills involved in racing a speeding metal box around a wet track with the way life can often race out of control, and how everyone regained control for the poignant conclusion made this book a gentle but fascinating read. It's not one of those books about which there has been a lot of noise or publicity, but sometimes these hidden gems are the best. Recommended.

Wednesday, 18 November 2009

New Zealand Kids' Words Worth Thousands

With the country’s first and largest Wordbank officially closed for business, New Zealand Book Month, ASB and children’s authors from across the country are delighted at how Kiwi kids have put pen to paper to express their appreciation for the worth of our New Zealand words. Kiwi kids were asked to write a letter to their favourite Kiwi author, telling them why they love their books and stories, and then post or drop their words into their nearest ASB branch. Nearly 3,000 ASB Wordbank entries were received from children aged 5-13 years, and from every part of New Zealand.

The winner in the 5-7 years of age category was Isla Thompson of Mt Eden, Auckland, writing about Auckland based author Jennifer Beck’s The Choosing Day. Runner up was Brian Kim of Sunnynook, Auckland, writing about Rats by Christchurch based author and illustrator Gavin Bishop.

The winner in the 8-10 years of age category was Joe Perry of Napier, writing about Jennifer Beck’s The Bantam and the Soldier. Runner up was Devan Ngataaria Hammond of Papamoa writing about Maurice Gee’s Under the Mountain.

The winner in the 11-13 years of age category was Cheyenne Kumeroa of Palmerston North writing about Kingi McKinnon’s story Hohepa’s Goodbye. Runner up was Lucas Netana-Rakete of Royal Oak, Auckland, writing about "Footrot Flats: They’ve put custard with my bone! (my compliments to the chef)" by Murray Ball. The judges in this 11-13 age category particularly noted the fantastic standard of entries from Auckland’s Royal Oak Intermediate School and have recommended the school for a special commendation and prize.

ASB is delighted to have been involved with New Zealand Book Month, providing school children with the opportunity to read more Kiwi books and share their views about those books with the authors. ASB's Chief Community Partnership Officer, Linley Wood says “ASB has a long history of partnering with New Zealand schools and school children to help improve their literacy and educational outcomes. This is just one way we can encourage children in the communities in which we operate to read more and express their views about what they are reading. It is great to see so many Kiwi kids getting involved and our ASB people have loved talking to the children coming into the branches to drop off their ASB Wordbank entries.”
All six winners and runners up of the ASB Wordbank will be invited to behind the scenes visits to Auckland Zoo and the set of the television show Shortland Street, and a ride in a restored Hot Rod car.

Schools and local libraries are winners too with the best performing ASB Wordbank branches receiving an author visit and a pack of books, which they can choose to donate to a local school or library. The winning ASB branches are in Hokitika, Helensville, Warkworth, The Palms – Shirley (Christchurch) and Point Chevalier.

Director of New Zealand Book Month Michele Powles is thrilled with the outcomes from the competition. “Kids genuinely wanted to let authors know what they thought of their stories, and for authors it’s the best feedback possible. It’s fantastic to be partnering with an organisation like ASB who has such a strong profile in local schools and communities. This provided the national reach we needed to make this promotion a success.”

Tuesday, 17 November 2009

Yes Man

In the interests of variety I have twisted the arms of some of my colleagues so you get:
(a) a different voice
(b) some different books

Here's what Sally from the Warkworth Library thought about Yes Man by Danny Wallace.

You may have seen the movie – but the book, as usual, is better. In Yes Man, Danny Wallace tells the story of how one little word changed his life.

A mystery man on a bus told him to ‘Say yes more.’ Danny took these words to heart and started saying yes – to everything. He said yes to spam, yes to adverts, yes to his friends, to strangers. Yes won him ₤25,000 (although he lost it again 10 minutes later), it took him to Holland, to Australia, and got him the girl.

The book is genuine laugh-out-loud material, light hearted and off-beat. The movie is very loosely based on the book, but the things that happen to Danny are at least as ridiculous, and all the more wonderful for being true.

Other books by Danny Wallace held by Rodney Libraries: Join Me (one man accidentally starts a cult) and Friends Like These (or how far would you go to get the old gang back together).

Monday, 16 November 2009

White is the New Black

Well it was on Saturday night anyway (and probably well into the early hours of Sunday) down in Wellington and around New Zealand as we celebrated that the All Whites mens soccer, sorry football, team are going to the World Cup in South Africa next year. Only the second time in our history that this has happened. And weren't we excited.

Even if you are not a football fan (in the sense of the round rather than oval ball), it would have been hard not to get caught up in the atmosphere surrounding the team, the game, the event and ultimately the win. It was heart in mouth stuff right to the end, because it was only going to one goal from the Bahrain team and the dream would have come crumbling down.

Of course, wanting to tie all this into a library environment I did a keyword search for All Whites in our Rodney Libraries catalogue. Which is probably a good time to point out that the results of any search are graded by relevance and there was a fairly eclectic mix (wine, cooking, westerns, racism) and only one lonely book about the All Whites of 1982.

However, we do have a wide range of books on soccer (click on the word for a link through to all the different subject headings in our catalogue), from coaching manuals and hints for adults and children, through to biographies and histories. I have a funny feeling that these will become even more popular than they already are in the leadup (and hopefully aftermath) of the World Cup next year. As an aside, you do have to search soccer in our Rodney catalogue as football takes you through to the oval ball codes.

If you want a heads up about soccer in New Zealand, one of the best places to head is the NZ Football website

I should add that another New Zealand team qualified for a World Cup over the weekend, with the Black Sticks mens hockey team winning a six nation qualifying tournament in Invercargill to secure a place in the 2010 World Cup in India.

Congratulations to all teams. Just to show how aged I am "Give 'em a taste of Kiwi".
image from NZ Football website

Friday, 13 November 2009

To Write Love on Her Arms Day

Not many people in New Zealand have heard of the TWLOHA movement. The Mission statement reads:

To Write Love on Her Arms is a non-profit movement dedicated to presenting hope and finding help for people struggling with depression, addiction, self-injury and suicide. TWLOHA exists to encourage, inform, inspire and also to invest directly into treatment and recovery.

In some ways it has similarities to the Kiwi Yellow Ribbon movement for prevention of youth suicide, and there is a youth emphasis, but the organisation does have a much wider scope.

It was begun by a group as a way to help a friend in Spring 2006. They wrote a story which represented "things of contrast – pain and hope, addiction and sobriety, regret and the possibility of freedom. The story’s title “To Write Love on Her Arms” was also a goal, believing that a better life was possible" You can read the story here.

Although the organisation is American based, depression and suicide are not. There are thousands of people in New Zealand who have been touched by the struggle with depression, addiction, self-injury (including substance abuse) or suicide, either personally or in their circle of family and friends. As regular readers of the blog may know, my personal message to sufferers and their families is - you are not alone. And this is the message behind TWLOHA Day which is today.

So write love on your arms to show your support.

Rodney Marks World Remembrance Day

Rodney residents will be joining with millions of other people across the globe on Sunday 15 November to pay their respects to the victims of road traffic accidents.
Residents are invited to attend a special ceremony on Sunday 15th November at 7pm at the Orewa Reserve to mark World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims and commemorate those who lost their life on the roads. The ceremony will take place near the Orewa surf club.

Residents are also being encouraged to add the names of loved ones who have been killed in road traffic accidents to displays at the Whangaparaoa, Orewa, Helensville and Warkworth libraries. The names collated from the libraries will be written on cards and placed on an illuminated Norfolk Pine at the ceremony.

An international Day of Remembrance for road traffic victims has been held every day for the past sixteen years since it was initiated in 1993 by Road Peace, a UK charity for road traffic victims. Each year, an estimated 1.2 million people are killed in road traffic crashes around the world - leaving parents, siblings and children to mourn their loss. Over 3,400 men, women and children are killed every single day on the world’s roads while walking, cycling, or driving. They will never return home. An estimated 20 - 50 million people are also injured on roads every year.

The purpose of World Day of Remembrance for road traffic victims is to increase awareness of the devastating impact that road deaths and injuries have on families and communities worldwide.

In 2008, there were 292 fatalities on New Zealand roads, and to date this year there have been 329, of which 15 occurred within Rodney District.

Thursday, 12 November 2009

Book review

Although I do read (or at least try to) across an eclectic mix of subjects and titles, it has been drawn to my attention that the majority of the books that I review are either childrens, young adults, the odd fantasy or titles that would appeal more to the female gender. So in the interests of broadening my experience and range I recently took home a spy thriller. It is the first novel by a new Australian author, and I hope it won't be his last.

Beneath the Dark Ice by Greig Beck was an exciting read, which kept me turning the pages. It starts with a reasonably standard premise "When a plane crashes into the Antarctic ice, exposing a massive cave beneath, a rescue and research team is dispatched. Twenty-four hours later, all contact is lost".

So the second rescue and research team go in headed by Captain Alex Hunter and his special force. They are rescuers for obvious reasons... but can't find any survivors or any trace of their bodies. They are researchers because there is more than a hint of huge petrochemical and mineral reserves underneath the ice. So as well as battling a hostile and unknown environment, there is also the opposing Russian spy force to contend with. And the members of the team don't always have the same agenda's either.

Beneath the Dark Ice is a curious but successful mix of spy thriller, psychological drama, action, scientific primeval action novel, with just a touch of the Jules Verne - and to say anymore would spoil the story. It has been nominated for teh 2009 Aurelias Award in Australia and is well worth a read.

A Night at the Movies

I approach films that are based on books with both excitement and trepidation. Will the movie live up to the book (if I have already read the book) or will the producers exercise their own special powers and adapt the book into something either unrecognisable or disappointing? The trepidation never quite outweighs the excitement and stops me from lining up to buy my ticket, seat myself in a dark theatre with my icecream (and in some theatres, the glass of wine) to personally witness the transformation of words to screen.

Which is how I found myself out at the local Matakana Cinema last night with a couple of friends to watch My Sister's Keeper based on the novel by the popular Jodi Picoult. It is the story of a family almost torn apart by the emotional rollercoaster of a daughter battling an acute form of cancer. A mother who doesn't know how to give up fighting for Kate. A son who has fallen through the cracks while the focus is on Kate. Another daughter who employs a lawyer so she is can no longer be used as spare parts for Kate. A father battling to do what's best for everyone. And at the centre of it all is stunning brave and sick Kate.

I cried while reading the book and I wept during the movie, even knowing what was coming. I am extraordinarily glad to report that while parts of the book have been adapted to the screen, the spirit of the book and the characters remain in the movie. It is powerful and moving, but didn't descent into schmultz (I am not sure if that is a word, but you probably get the idea). Neither of the two friends I went with had read the book, and they were equally moved. One commented that it was extremely realistic in the portrayal of a dying cancer patient and brought back a lot of memories.

This is just the start of the summer season of movies which have been based on or adapted from books, both novels and picture books, for adults and children. Here are a few more to look forward to:

New Moon by Stephenie Meyer (needs no introduction and which will probably be reviewed on this blog next week when it opens)
Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak
The Time Traveller's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
A Christmas Carol - Disney's version of the classic Dicken's Christmas tale
Under the Mountain - the Kiwi classic by Maurice Gee adapted and updated
The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold - and directed by Peter Jackson
The Vintner's Luck by Elizabeth Knox - directed by Nicky Caro and starring Keisha Castle-Hughes
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson - one of the hottest series of 2009
Cirque du Freak by Darren Shan - for teen horror fans

With so many books being adapted to movies, it makes me wonder if a Book to Movie Club (as opposed to a straight Book Club) might be something people are interested in. Drop me a line at Warkworth Library ( and let me know.

Have a good day. Ka kite ano

Wednesday, 11 November 2009

Lest we Forget

The eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month marks the moment when hostilities ceased on the Western Front in 1918. Armistice (or Remembrance) Day marks commemoration of the end of the Great War, and when many vowed that such an event would never happen again in their lifetimes.

The fact that we now call the War from 1914 to 1918 the First World War, means that the hopes of those men and women were in vain. And today hostilities still occur around the world, although thankfully not on the same scale.

I am a huge believer in history teaching us very important lessons and one of those is that we should learn from our mistakes. For whatever reason, some of us are poor learners. So it is vital that we all actually take a moment on days like these to remember the events and losses suffered in our past and make a new pledge for peace.

There are many ways that this can be done. Include a trip to your local Rodney Library where you can not ony find literature, pictures and DVD's that will bring the history to life, but in the case of the Warkworth Library can also view the Memorial Boards of the local men who made the ultimate sacrifice.

Here are some Rodney Library catalogue links to help you. Just click on the different terms:

World War One (a list of subject headings including both adult and children)
Anzac Day (our own special Remembrance Day)
And here are links through to the RSA website and the NZ History website giving information about Armistice Day.

Tuesday, 10 November 2009

Berlin Wall

This year is the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. On television, on the night of 9 November 1989, an East German government spokesman announced that East German citizens would be allowed into West Germany via the border crossings effective immediately. He didn't realise that it wasn't supposed to come into effect until the next morning. Neither did the crowds of people who flocked across the border. That was the popular start of the German reunification process. This year there is a special celebration ceremony in Berlin commemorating that occasion.

Claudia Lux, the Director General Central and Regional Library of Berlin, was in New Zealand for the national library conference this year. She told several tales of what it was like during that time. One was about library staff in East Germany who volunteered to stay in their library on the first day. Noone came to visit them. By contrast the lines for the librayr in West Germany were very long. Some of the people were carrying books which they had taken out from the library before the borders closed (over 25 years previously). They had carefully looked after them and were now returning the books to the correct branch.

There are a few items in Rodney Libraries about the Berlin Wall which is a good place to start if you want to know more about this fascinting era of German history. Alternatively you could go along to Novemberkinder the German Film Festival New Zealand put on by the Goethe Institue. The Auckland dates are 11-18 November.

Monday, 9 November 2009


Ah, November. The weather starts to settle down. Baby birds and moustaches come out to play. Moustaches...? You may not have ever heard about Movember but surely you've seen the increase in facial hair about the place during spring? It's all for a good cause.

This year there are two causes being highlighted - prostate cancer and depression in men. Funds raised will be split equally between
The Cancer Society and The Mental Health Foundation of New Zealand.

There are rules
1. Once registered each Mo Bro must start November 1st with a clean shaven face.
2. Then, for the entire month of Movember each Mo Bro must grow and groom a moustache according to these rules:
• There is to be no joining the Mo to the side burns – that’s a beard. There are no beards.
• There is to be no joining of the handlebars on the chin – that’s a goatee.
• A small complimentary growth under the bottom lip, aka a tickler, is allowed.

There are
donations – either to an individual or to a team.

There’s even a
style guide!

It's not all beer and skittles however. There is a serious side.

"As an organisation, we have a goal to change the attitudes men hold towards their health. The moustache is the symbol by which we generate the necessary awareness and funds in order to be able to achieve this ambition. It is a simple and effective way to reach our number one objective – awareness – as during Movember, each Mo Bro effectively becomes a walking billboard promoting men’s health. "

Friday, 6 November 2009

Echoes, kilts and stones

Those in the know will immediately realise I am talking "Gabaldon speak" (a new term I think I just invented). To those who aren't quite sure where I am going with this - last night a couple of Warkworth Librarians went down to listen to Diana Gabaldon who is author of the Cross Stitch (also known as the Outlander) series of novels.

Diana Gabaldon is an extremely clever woman, and not just because she has written one of the most popular series in Rodney Libraries. Dr Gabaldon has three degrees in Zoology, Marine Biology, and Quantitative Behavioral Ecology, worked as university professor for over 10 years and has written several textbooks. If you have ever read a Scrooge McDuck comic book, you may have also been reading her words as she has written many scripts for Walt Disney.

It is fabulous to actually listen to an author and get an insight into how the stories came about. For instance, Jamie was inspired by a kilt clad character in an early Dr Who episode (the second Doctor - Patrick Troughton). Claire was not initially a modern woman, but when she wouldn't stop giving "smart-arse" answers, Diana decided that was who she was, so it is all Claire's fault that there is time-travel in the books. She was adamant that Jamie will NOT visit the future and is surprised herself that quite often she will write in characters and happenings that her research later reveals to be true.

A common question Diana is asked is "How do you manage to do it all?" This was especially true with the first novel because at the time she was working full time as University Professor, writing scientific books and articles, was a wife and a mother to three young children. Diana quips that she "didn't sleep and didn't do housework" (and she adds, she still doesn't do housework). Sleeping is also something that she doesn't appear to do a lot of as she often does a lot of her writing between midnight and 4am. She uses a lot of visualisation to retain ideas and revealed that, to a large extent, these characters have a life of their own, taking place in a paddock next to her - sometimes she can see and hear them clearly, while at other times they are more opaque. Her husband critiques her work and she credits him with a very good literary instinct.

Many people have commented that Diana's science background and her novels are strange bedmates, but she believe art and science are simply two sides to the same coin. Both include an hypothesis and the ability "to perceive patterns from chaos". The scientist will carry out experiments to test the hypothesis whereas the artist/writer will use their imagination to create a world to prove it to the public.

We can expect much more from Diana's pen with another Lord John novel and a graphic novel which is a prequel to Cross Stitch, which are both due out next year. There is also a second non-fiction compendium for the last three books in the Jamie and Claire series due out, a contemporary crime novel in the pipeline and she confirms that Jamie and Claire will be back.

New Zealand has the highest per capita sales of Diana's books (and An Echo in the Bone has just knocked Dan Brown's latest off the Kiwi best seller lists). However Germany is the real star in her market as they seem to have adopted Jamie and Claire as one of their own.

To gain more insight into Diana Gabaldon and her works, visit her website. To search the holdings we have for her in our catalogue, click on this link for Diana Gabaldon. The latest book in the Cross Stitch series is An Echo in the Bone.
image courtesy of Hachette NZ website

Rodney Writes 2010 - Your Story

The Rodney Writes writing competition 2010 is open for entries. The organising committee were struggling to come up with a theme until they realised that this might be the last year the competition is run as the *Rodney* Writes competition - then it was easy.

The theme is "Your Story". You can write a short story up to 2,500 words on any topic of your choice. Write to inspire, provoke, excite or entice your reader.
An entry form can be picked up from any of the Rodney Libraries or it's available here in PDF.
There are three categories:

Premier Award: 1st prize $1000, runner up $500
Open only to entrants who have had creative writing published or broadcast for payment previously.

Novice Award: 1st prize $500, runner up $200
Open only to entrants who have not had creative writing published or broadcast for payment previously.

Young Writers Award: 1st prize $500, runner up $200
Open only to entrants under the age of 18 as at 1 January 2010.

Important dates:
Entries open - now!
Closing date: 5 March 2010
Awards evening: 5 May 2010

Thursday, 5 November 2009

Silence! Exams in Progress

Only 11 days until NCEA exams start for the multitude of students around New Zealand. Rodney Libraries are keen to support our local teenagers as they get ready to sit their examinations and there are several ways we can do this.

1. We have just added to our collection a wide range of NCEA Study Guides which are available for issue. If you can't see them displayed at your local Rodney Library, ask one of the librarians where they are. Across Rodney we have tried to cover as wide a subject range as possible, so if you can't see the one you want on the shelf, either search the library catalogue (keyword or subject search for "study guide"), or ask at the Help Desk.

2. There are also a lot of very good websites specificially designed for New Zealand NCEA students. One of the best for maths, science and English is Studyit. This also has an exam timetable and Q & A section. The ManyAnswers section of the Many Questions website is also helpful as is the NZQA website which also contains the rules applicable when setting the exam.

3. At this time of the year we strive to provide a quiet study place for students. This is not always possible with other activities happening in the library, but we do our best and we ask that both everyone using the library, respect other patrons. This applies equally to students who are using the space for study and other people who are in the library being considerate of the students.

Good luck on the exams everyone.

Wednesday, 4 November 2009

Maria Gill, Eco-ranger

Today at 11am author Maria Gill (a Rodney Libraries fav) and illustrator Vivienne Lingard will be launching their new book "Eco-rangers save the planet : earth-friendly missions for green Kiwis" at the Warkworth Masonic hall. Invitations have gone to local schools from the Library and some of our local library team will be there.

From the first post on her eco-rangernz blog set up for the book you can tell Maria cares about the environment. "In the book I've got loads of ideas of what you can do to help the environment. From saving water, reducing waste, caring for our wildlife, buying wise, turning your school and home into a sustainable place, to being energy conscious. But that's not all; I also look at global issues and how it affects you. The book also tells positive stories about what people your age, adults and schools are doing to make a difference - there are some very inspiring stories.This blog is a place for you to tell me and everyone else what you are doing to save the planet - I can't wait to hear your story... "

Aimed at ages 9+ there's a competition on her website. "Draw a logo or picture and write a catch phrase for 'Save the Planet'" Entries close 15 November.

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

Tuesday's Child is full of Grace

First of all - a big Hi to all the students at Huapai District School today who are receiving a visit from Kumeu Librarian Tina Collins (and I think she will be back talking to some of the other classes on Thursday as well). Have a fantastic day all.

It's Tuesday, which is just one reason for the title of today's blog post. But that's not the only reason. It's also because it ties in nicely with a children's book I finished last night.

Grace by Morris Gleitzman, tells the story of... Grace and her family. Imagine if you lived in a family where everything you did was controlled. You couldn't eat any food bought in shops, unless you microwaved it first (including icecream). If you were a girl, you had to grow your hair long and you weren't allowed to cut it (only the split ends). And speed limits don't apply to you as you have already been saved (although stopping at a red light is still a good idea).

Grace is struggling, because although she loves God, the rules she is being asked to obey seem to be more those of the Elders. And she doesn't think she is a sinner, although the Church does. When her father is expelled and the family is broken up, Grace fights to keep them together.

This is an extremely well written book, and the author has managed to get into the head of his main character, telling the story through her eyes and thoughts. It is definitely a Rodney Library recommended read.

Morris Gleitzman is a popular Australian author who tackles both topical and historical issues with a mix of humour and sensitivity.

Who do you fancy in the Melbourne Cup?

It's not only Australians who are fans of the Melbourne Cup. As this article from New Zealand History Online says "One of the reasons the Melbourne Cup has become such an ingrained part of New Zealand culture is the great success our horses have enjoyed in the race. Since its inception in 1861, 41 New Zealand-bred horses have won..." One of these horses was Phar Lap.

The book "Melbourne Cup, 1930 : how Phar Lap won Australia's greatest race" by Geoff Armstrong and Peter Thompson tells "The story of four days in November that became at the same time the most famous and infamous in Cup history. It began with a gunman, like something out of a Chicago gangster movie, apparently trying to kill Phar Lap on a quiet suburban street."

Personally I don't know much about racing or horses and have only been to two race events in my entire life...but I know about the Melbourne Cup. I'm not sure whether it's the racing or the fashion that makes the first Tuesday in November so memorable. First run in 1861 the current race is a 3.2km handicap-horse race. Theoretically the combined weight of each jockey, horse and gear is adjusted to a nominated weight although there seems to be a complicated formula depending on the age and experience of each horse (as explained in this Wikipedia article and this one from Australia's Cultural Portal.)

One of my favourite things to have a look at in recent years has been the live webcam at Flemington. Obviously it slows right down about race time but I like to check in during the day to see what else is going on.

Have you picked or been given your horse yet? Do you fancy your chances?

Monday, 2 November 2009

Voyager New Zealand Maritime Museum offers free entry to Auckland Region residents

New Zealand’s national maritime museum has a new name, new brand, and a new approach to telling stories of maritime adventure and discovery. From today, Voyager New Zealand Maritime Museum will take on its new identity, complete with a new logo, new signage, and a ‘black out’ of its downtown Auckland waterfront buildings.
To celebrate the occasion, CEO Paul Evans says Voyager will be free of charge to all residents of the Auckland Region from 7-22 November.
“Voyager invites all Auckland Region residents to come along and discover the explorative spirit of New Zealand as a seafaring nation,” says Mr Evans.
Mr Evans says Voyager has been chosen as the new name because so much of our New Zealand’s creation as a nation is founded on pioneering voyages of exploration, discovery, courage and imagination.
While most people will immediately notice the new name and logo, Mr Evans says the changes also signal a new approach for the way in which Voyager presents New Zealand’s maritime heritage.
“We’ll be taking a more engaging and interactive approach to telling stories of driving ambition, daring feats and human achievement. Visitors will hear the roar and feel the salt spray as they experience history through the eyes of great New Zealand voyagers.”
Visitors only need to bring along proof of address to see Voyager’s galleries for free. Additionally, for a small charge visitors can climb aboard one of Voyager’s heritage vessels and explore the sparkling Waitemata Harbour in a fun and interactive sailing experience. The new museum shop will also stock a great new range of modern and stylish merchandise.
Please note: free entry does not include heritage vessel sailings or education groups.