Friday, 31 December 2010

My Top 5 for 2010

Being Friday, it's time for the Top 5. So I wandered back through my reading list for 2010 and pondered what were the standouts for the year. It has been a strange year of reading (too many text books and scholarly articles) and without referring to my list, nothing really stood out in the way titles did in 2009. However on going back I did remember some gems. The following list is based primarily on the "I can't put it down" or the "I NEED to know what happened next" criteria.

Still Alice by Lisa Genova was recommended to me by the ladies at the Village Bookshop, Matakana and it was certainly right up there. Fifty-year-old Alice Howland, a Harvard professor of cognitive psychology, is at the top of her game. Her kids are grown, her marriage secure, her career on fire, when - after mere months of forgetfulness - she finds herself in the rapidly downward spiral of early onset Alzheimers' disease. With no cure or treatment, Alice struggles to find meaning and purpose in her everyday life as her concept of self slips away. Lisa has a new book due out next year and I am looking forward to that.

Billy T: The Life and Times of Billy T James by Matt Elliott. Of course, I know what happens in this story of one of our favourite comedians. But I still couldn't put it down. This isn't just a tale of a larger than life character, but also of the comedy and entertainment scene in New Zealand. An exceptionally enjoyable insight.

Cry of the Taniwha by Des Hunt. In my humble opinion, this is Des Hunt's best book to date. Matt Logan isn't looking forward to spending the school holidays in Rotorua with his grandmother and her new husband. Matt has taken his metal detector along, and when he and Juzza - the boy next door - unearth a handcuffed skeleton, a dangerous chain of events begins to coil around them. Des is one of my favourite Kiwi authors, especially for the reluctant boy readers (although there is something in here for everyone). A brilliant mix of one of the biggest bangs in New Zealand history with current culture with some good old fashioned adventure storytelling.

Return of the Prophet by Greig Beck. Speaking of big bangs, this book starts with one and the action doesn't stop until the last page. During experiments to enrich uranium in a secret laboratory buried below the ancient Persian ruins of Persepolis, a freak accident with new laser technology accelerates atoms to a speed of light and forces particle collisions that generates the most powerful entity in our universe, a black hole. This is not my usual type of read but I really enjoyed both it and it's predecessor. Boys (and girls) own adventure for grownups.

Room by Emma Donoghue. I have only just finished reading this Man Booker award winning 2010 novel (as in 11pm last night so it definitely comes under both categories to get on this list). It's Jack's birthday, and he's excited about turning five. Jack lives with his Ma in a room, which has a locked door and a skylight, and measures 12 feet by 12 feet. He loves watching TV, and the cartoon characters he calls friends, but he knows that nothing he sees on screen is truly real - only him, Ma and the things in room. Until the day Ma admits that there's a world outside...Told in Jack's voice, "Room" is the story of a mother and son whose love lets them survive the impossible. I will review it in more detail in the new year, but is a book that is meaningful in it's simplicity. It's power is in resisting over-dramatising the situation and simply telling the tale.

Well that's five so all I am left with is honourable mentions for the Millenium Trilogy (Steig Larsson), Freeing Grace (Charity Norman), The Project (Brian Falkner), Ape House (Sara Gruen) and Navigation (Joy Cowley).

And that's it for 2010. Have a very Happy New Year's Eve. Stay safe and I look forward to talking to you all again in 2011.

Ka kite

Thursday, 30 December 2010

Fairy Tales for Young and Old

Don't be put off by the heading. Jane Yolen is internationally known for her retelling of fairy stories, myths and legends from around the world as well as an award winner for her original tales. She also does a good line in dinosaurs and manners (e.g. How do the dinosaurs eat their food?). In the past few years I have used her picture books for storytimes at the library and enjoyed her childrens and young adults fiction.

It was at a Children's & Teens Librarian book chat that I was recommended her adult novel Except the Queen written in collaboration with Midori Snyder. If I wanted to go over the top with my alliteration it is a fantastic fantasy fable of two fairy sisters thrown out of their fey home and into the world of (gasp) humans. To make matters even worse, they are separated from each other and there is a little more going on in the human world that what we can see. Enough of their fairy magic remains for them to read the signs, rescue a couple of lost souls and defend them against the dark. But will them make it home to fairy land... and would they want to go?

Of course, there is a bit more to it than that. Tattoos bind girls to the dark side and bring nightmares. Birds act as messengers and crows are orphan changelings. As well as action, mystery and magic, there is also humour in how the sisters cope with a completely foreign world.

If you want to check out either this book, or any other Jane Yolen title (from picture book to graphic novel, to adult fiction) there are 178 entries on the library catalogue to choose from.

Wednesday, 29 December 2010

A new career in 2011

Have you ever thought of becoming a Librarian? I'm addicted to it. It is interesting and there is something different every day. I get to see lots and lots of books (and to read a few of them). I am a detective, advisor, teacher, friend, researcher, and that's just at the beginning of my day.

The Libraries are always looking for fun and dynamic people with:
- A flair for customer service
- Knowledge or love of books
- The willingness to learn and explore information systems.
These jobs are open to all members of the public and provide a range of interesting and challenging roles that offer great career opportunities.

If you are thinking that a change of career might be on the agenda in 2011 and the Libraries interest you, then bookmark this Jobs page on our website and visit it regularly.

Friday, 24 December 2010

We wish you a Merry Christmas

No Top 5 today. Instead I thought I would treat you to a few front of house (and behind the scenes) photos from 2010 in the libraries.

The Warkworth Library are always game for a dress up and have done so several times this year. The Christmas storytime was not complete without some of the staff getting into the spirit by being impish, fairylike and jolly (that's Gail, Anne and Lisa). Sally and Julie were conveniently away that day.
Mrs Santa travelled around the district trying to track down Santa Claus. She thought she might find him at Warkworth or Whangaparaoa libraries but missed him at both. He is obviously a very busy man at this time of year.

Clifford was a big hit around the libraries in October. He is a regular visitor and entertained children (big and small) all the Rodney libraries over the space of two weeks. Here he is with Merrill at Whangaparaoa Library helping to give out certificates.

Kiwi Author Gavin Bishop visited the Kumeu Library as part of the Storylines Festival in August so Tina and Cathy asked him to pose with them for a photo opportunity. We have some fantastic authors and illustrators producing some exceptional talent.

One of the biggest events that happened in 2010 for the libraries was of course the amalgamation into the biggest library system in Australiasia on 1st November. We didn't just get bigger though. We got better as people throughout the region embraced the new library system with enthusiasm. Over the past few days here in Warkworth Library we have been getting some fantastic feedback from people who are coming to the area to holiday. This year they can use their Auckland, Manukau, Franklin, Papakura or Waitakere library cards to take books out and there are smiles all round.

So the only thing left to say now is have a fantastic and safe festive season. May Santa bring you the goodies you wanted, may the food be good, the beverages cold and have a very Merry Christmas.

Thursday, 23 December 2010

I predict this will be an Award winner

You would have to go a long way to find a better summer read for the 13+ age group that Brian Falkner's new novel The Project. It is a rollicking good adventure story with school boy pranks, spys, soldiers, floods, kidnappings and mysteries to solve. Add to that some excellent research into science and history (although the author notes that "a number of things have been altered for the sake of an exciting story") and you end up with something that I am sure will be on 2011 Notable books lists and short lists for Awards in the New Year.

The tale begins with Luke (a Kiwi school boy who grew up on a farm, can fix anything with a piece of number 8 wire and who has a near photographic memory) and his mate Tommy (a gadget freak and spy in training) in an uncomfortable interview with their Principal after a prank gone wrong. It also involves a Book, which up to that point, they believe to be the most boring book in history and a challenge to them to discover a book that is more boring. A challenge is like a dare to the boys so they can't resist. It leads them into places they have rarely gone before (the library) and places they have never imagined (a hint - Leonardo da Vinci and Hitler).

Although this book is recommended for ages 13+ and placed on the Teen shelves of most Auckland Libraries, it is also suitable for the more advanced readers of the children's fiction shelves. Many of the chapters are short and the pace is fast moving so it would be an ideal read aloud for families. It ticks all the boxes for me and I believe is Brian's best book to date. Five stars.

Wednesday, 22 December 2010

Both sides of the story

I first heard about Freeing Grace (Charity Norman) from one of our volunteers. By the time my requested copy had arrived on my desk it had also been recommended to me another librarian, a couple of volunteers and one of the local book shops. It was even more appealing with it's subject matter of adoption (as I am lucky enough to have an adopted neice and often ponder the turmoil associated with the process and the people involved).

The Publisher's description calls it Witty, warm and poignant, Freeing Grace tells the story of a young couple: David, the vicar of an inner-city London parish, and Leila, his Nigerian-born wife. Not able to have children of their own, they're desperate for a family, and when they finally hear they' ve just been approved to adopt a young baby, Grace, they are over the moon.

Of course, just like adoption, it is never going to be as straight forward as that and that is the strength of this novel. It is tightly written, with engaging (if sometimes frustrating) characters and provides an insight into the gruelling and often tragic decisions that need to be made in this type of situation. Chapters alternate between Grace's birth family and the life of her family in waiting (we hope). As Christmas approaches people on both sides are hoping for a miracle. It is highly recommended and well worth the read to find out who gets their wish.

Tuesday, 21 December 2010

Quaky Cat

A new picture book has been rushed off the printing presses in time for Christmas and hit the shops on Friday and it should be on library shelves in the next few days. It is Quaky Cat by Diana Noonan with illustrations by Gavin Bishop and tells the story of a ginger cat who got woken up (with the rest of Christchurch City) very early one morning in September by a very large earthquake.

Bright bold illustrations, easy to read rhyming text and thoughts from Mayor Bob Parker, author Margaret Mahy and TV presenter Jason Gunn (all Canterbury residents) make this a great gift. Equally it is a lively storytime read and it does have a happy ending.

If you do decide to purchase, 50% of the net proceeds go the Canterbury charities. If not, check it out at a library near you.

Monday, 20 December 2010

Feliz Navidad - Meri Kirihimete

If you want to learn how to say Merry Christmas in a different language, Auckland Libraries has books available in over 40 different languages, reflecting the diverse cultures that make Auckland their home.

The community language collections at Auckland Libraries include books, books with tapes, audio cassettes, DVDs, videos, CDs, picture books and magazines. Many collections include resources for both children and adults. Languages include Afrikaans, Arabic, Chinese, Danish, French, Gujarati, Hungarian, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Lao, Polish, Russian, Samoan, Sinhalese, Spanish, Tamil and many more.

Being part of Auckland Libraries means you can now borrow from any of these language collections for free, and it is also free to request any items to be sent to your local library.
The community language resources are shelved separately from the English language collections. You can find these resources at many of our libraries; for more information, check your local library website about collections held in Auckland, Manukau, North Shore and Waitakere.

Friday, 17 December 2010

Five things I'd like in my Christmas stocking

I know what you are thinking. There are probably quite a few more than five things I might like to find in my Christmas stocking and not all of them would fit, be practical and be printable. So in the interests of the discerning library audience, I am restricting today's Top 5 for Friday to things that are for reading, viewing and listening pleasure.
  1. The Passage (Justin Cronin). I am salivating waiting for this book as everyone who has read it has told me how good it is. So I have put it at the top of my Christmas wish list because I can no longer wait (although All Blacks Don't Cry by John Kirwan runs a close second as I have been waiting for that almost as long).
  2. Greatest Moments in NZ Netball History. I'm a netballer. I'm passionate about it. What more needs to be said.
  3. Any Boxed set of DVD's of Doctor Who, Torchwood or Babylon 5 (I'm not fussy - Santa has a choice). I love the way these series now have consistent thread running through each season (which of course is also a ploy to make you watch every single episode in case you miss a clue).
  4. The Gift by Susan Boyle can be playing in the background while I am driving around the country to all those different Christmas dinners, lunches and BBQ's (it should probably be something with more of a beat so I can jump up and down to it in the gym next year getting rid of all the extra calories consumed).
  5. An E-reader so that if I do decide I can have a holiday next year, I don't need to toss out clothes and shoes which won't fit in my suitcase because I need to take some holiday reading.

So from all those catalogues and websites I talked about yesterday I have narrowed down my selection to my Top 5. Not bad for a Libran Librarian who is terrible at making choices.

Happy shopping (for those of you who still have to attack the malls) and happy relaxing (to those who are smart and organised enough to have finished). Whichever category you fall into have a great weekend.

Thursday, 16 December 2010

Best Books of 2010

There are plenty of magazines, newspapers and websites at the moment telling us all what they think are the best books of 2010. If you are a Christmas grinch (or even slightly cynical) you might think that this is a conspiracy plan by the booksellers to give you ideas on what should be in yours (or others) Christmas stockings. Or you could be like me, and welcome the lists with open arms so that I can request my first pile of reading from the Library for the New Year. Here are a few for you to have a look at.

The Sunday Star Times list can be accessed through the website.

The New Zealand Listener Top 100 and the New Zealand Herald Best Books lists can both be accessed through the New Zealand Booksellers website.

Our cousins at Christchurch City Library blog have their own "Simply the Best" list (plus a link through to the New York Times list)

And finally one of our favourites. The Kiwi Guru of books and book news Mr Graham Beattie has plenty of links and lists this month on Beatties Book Blog

Now if someone could just find one of those lists that I have left lying around with vibrant highlighting on it, my Santa stocking could be full on Christmas morning.

Wednesday, 15 December 2010

Captain Jack

Those of you who are regular readers of the blog (humour me - I am sure there are a couple of you out there) will know that I am a bit of a Doctor Who/Torchwood fan. This has almost nothing to do with the fact that Captain Jack is quite easy on the eye and is mostly to do with the intelligent writing, excellent production skills and exciting storylines (cough).

Captain Jack's alter ego is about as large in real life as he appears on screen. His name is John Barrowman and I recently read his autobiography Anything Goes and it's sequel memoir I am what I am. 'Anything Goes' traces the life and career of John Barrowman, from his Glaswegian childhood and American adolescence to his first big break starring alongside Elaine Paige in Anything Goes. As the flyleaf says "Leading man. Cult hero. Debonair Judge. Show stopping singer... What's the real story behind that dazzling smile?"

It is certainly told with lots of humour, and quite a few footnotes. As well as covering the usual family, friends and his journey to stage and screen, it has anecdotes and funny stories aplenty (would it surprise you to know that he is a practical joker extraordinaire?). It is also honest and sometimes very poignant as he reveals struggles against prejudice and the disapproval of others to some of the choices he has made. But (as we would expect from Captain Jack) he remains true to his values.

For fans of his acting, his music or just for a jolly good giggle, these two books take you not just behind the scenes, but right on centre stage.

Tuesday, 14 December 2010

Christmas Storytimes

I boobed. I'm sorry Kumeu - I left you off the Christmas storytime list last week. So here is your very own event blog entry.

Kumeu Library - Monday 20th December at 10.30am. Storytelling, rhymes and Christmas Carols. Everyone is encouraged to dress up in festive themed costumes.

And here (once again) is a brief rundown of where else you might run into one of Santa's helpers.

Helensville Library 3pm, Thursday 23 December
Mahurangi East Library 10.30am, Tuesday 14 December.
Orewa Library 5.30pm, Friday 17 December
Takapuna Library 9.30am, Tuesday 14 and Thursday 16 December Santa Rhyme Time sessions.
Te Atatu Peninsula Library 7pm , Thursday 16 December
Titirangi Library 7pm, Thursday 23 December
Waitakere Central Library 7pm,
Warkworth Library 6pm, Friday 17 December and 10.30am, Monday 20 December Whangaparaoa Library 6.30pm, Thursday 16 December.

See the blog last Wednesday for full details.

Monday, 13 December 2010

The perfect stocking filler

If you are looking for something cheap and useful to give to the book lover in your life, what about one of the new Auckland Library Bags.

They are handy and light and green. They remind you of all the 55 libraries that make up Auckland Libraries.
And they are just $2 at your local library. Get one now before they run out.
By the way, this is the Book Bag display at Whangaparaoa Library. Quite innovative and appropriate for the season. Well done on the Coast.

Friday, 10 December 2010

Super Six for Saturday

I have been very bad today. Or maybe that should just be very busy. It is well after 5pm and I didn't get time to flash my fingers on the keyboard and write a Top 5 for Friday. So to make up for it I bring you (in advance) - the Super Six for Saturday. Six librarians from around the district bring you some of their favourite books for 2010.
  1. Jeanette (Orewa) really enjoyed 61 Hours by Lee Child. She called it an exciting thriller that she had to keep reading, even when she was tired. For a light read Jeanette recommended The Ballroom Class by Lucy Dillon about a group of characters who attend a ballroom dancing class with a look at their lives and relationships. She also enjoyed listening to the children's audio series 39 Clues (Rick Riordan) in the car with her grandson.
  2. Judy (Orewa) called Still Alice by Lisa Genova "brilliant" (and I would have to agree with that). "A fantastic book about a 50 year old who gets Alzheimers - written by someone who works in that field and knows her stuff".
  3. Tina (Kumeu) found a surprising twist at the end of Dead Simple by Peter James. It is the story of a harmless stag night prank. The groom gets buried underground in a coffin. But a few hours later his best friends are dead and with just three days to go before the wedding, Michael can't be found. (This is another one I have read and it a great story)
  4. Lisa (Warkworth) can't stop talking about The Passage (Justin Cronin) which she recommends as good for the older teenagers as well as adult readers. She won't tell us too much about it as she doesn't want to give the plot away but would say it is in two parts with the first being about a deadly virus creating an apocalypse in the world and the second part taking place in the future. For a lighter read Freeing Grace (Charity Norman) is about a young couple unable to have children who look to adopt. It is called "witty warm and poignant".
  5. Teresa (Orewa) gives us three recommendations. The color of water (James McBride) is for "adults who wish to be inspired, ordinary people becoming extraordinary, yet they don't see themselves that way". For the teens (girls as well as boys) the Cherub and Henderson's Boys series by Robert Muchamore are still hard to beat. And for the children, her grand daughter will be getting a copy of The Wonky Donkey (Craig Smith) after she took the library copy to school and her whole class joined in.
  6. Julie (Warkworth) reads horror including the zombies (whereas I draw the line at vampires). Handling the Undead by John Ajvide Lindqvist (translated from the Swedish by Ebba Segerberg) she rates as excellent, bring into the story ethical questions of what rights the dead have. The publisher's description calls it "a horror story with a heart and a mind". For a rollicking good adventure story that both men and women will enjoy she recommends Atlantis by David JL Gibbins.

So hopefully this eclectic mix of suggestions for summer reading from some of the other librarian voices around Rodney will more than make up for my tardiness. I promise to try better next week. Have a safe weekend everyone. Ka kite.

Thursday, 9 December 2010

Can't find it?

3.5 million items and odds are we will have what you are looking for. However sometimes we don't. And if that happens to you there are a couple of things you can do.

Suggestion for Purchase
We welcome suggestions from members for resources to be added to collections. These suggestions are valuable in assisting us to ensure our collections are as up-to-date (and complete) as possible. Click on this Suggestion for Purchase link to take you through to the page where you can tell us what we're missing.

Interloan Service
If the item you are looking for is not available at Auckland Libraries, we can inquire if one of the other libraries in New Zealand might have it, and you can request it from them. There is a charge for this (normal interloans cost $5). To find out how to use this service go to our Interloans page.

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

Christmas Storytimes

Here's a quick run down of where you might be able to find the jolly fellow in red, but will definitely be able to find fun, stories and songs with a Christmas flavour around the libraries in Rodney (and some of our near neighbours, just in case you can't get to see us)

Helensville Library 3pm, Thursday 23 December Christmas storytime sessions involve storytelling, rhymes and Christmas carols. Children are encouraged to dress up in festive themed costumes.
Mahurangi East Library 10.30am, Tuesday 14 December. Christmas storytime sessions involve storytelling, rhymes and Christmas carols. Children are encouraged to dress up in festive themed costumes.
Orewa Library 5.30pm, Friday 17 December
Takapuna Library 9.30am, Tuesday 14 and Thursday 16 December Santa Rhyme Time sessions.
Te Atatu Peninsula Library 7pm , Thursday 16 December A magical night of stories, songs and Christmas fun for everyone to enjoy!
Titirangi Library 7pm, Thursday 23 December A magical nights of stories, songs and Christmas fun for everyone to enjoy!
Waitakere Central Library 7pm, Wednesday 15 DecemberA magical night of stories, songs and Christmas fun for everyone to enjoy!
Warkworth Library 6pm, Friday 17 December and 10.30am, Monday 20 December Christmas storytime sessions involve storytelling, rhymes and Christmas carols. Children are encouraged to dress up in festive themed costumes.
Whangaparaoa Library 6.30pm, Thursday 16 December. Join us at Whangaparaoa Library for Christmas stories, songs and fun! Wear your jarmies and something Christmassy - Bring a cushion and a mug.

Tuesday, 7 December 2010

Special Collections

Now that we are all Auckland Libraries, around Rodney we have access to some wonderful special library collections:

The Angela Morton collection is a reference collection of books and other materials covering the visual arts of New Zealand from pre-European times to the present day. It is a memorial collection dedicated to the late Angela Morton, who was a North Shore resident devoted to New Zealand art, and the nucleus of the collection was funded from an original family bequest in 1985. Access is provided in conjunction with the opening hours at the Takapuna Library.

The Denny Hulme Motorsport collection was established to commemorate New Zealand's only Formula One racing champion (1967), the late Denny Hulme OBE, who died in October 1992. Designed for both motorsport enthusiasts and casual browsers, the collection celebrates New Zealand's golden era of motor racing and beyond, with an exciting array of past and present memorabilia. Contact Anne Jaynes, the Denny Hulme collections manager at Takapuna Library for more information.

The Chelsea Archives are a collection of records from the Chelsea Sugar refinery (now New Zealand Sugar Company Ltd) dating back to the late 19th century. The Chelsea Sugar Company in its prime was one of the largest companies in the southern hemisphere.

Children’s Literature Collection - Of use to educators who have a special interest in children’s literature. Housed in Takapuna Library, this is a combination of reference and lending material.

Medal Collection - Books by award-winning authors and illustrators of all the major children’s book awards from New Zealand, Australia, Britain, the United States and Canada. Housed in Takapuna Library this is a reference collection for use in the library.

Family history collection If you are interested in genealogy, The Auckland Research Centre has an extensive collection of resources for family history research. This is located on the second floor of the Central City Library.

International documents collection - Auckland City Libraries' international documents collection is made up of material from the United Nations (UN), encompassing the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), World Trade Organisation (WTO), and the Organisation for Economic Cooperation & Development (OECD).

Sir George Grey Special Collections Ta Hori Kerei - Nga kohinga taonga whakahirahira (previously known as 'Heritage collections: Te Taumata o ngā Taonga Tuku Iho') were made accessible to the public in 1997, and are currently housed on the second floor of Central City Library. Since the founding gift to the citizens of Auckland by Sir George Grey in 1887, the collections have grown by purchase and generous donations by benefactors to become one of New Zealand's three major heritage collections.

The Ngā Mātauranga Māori collection includes historical and contemporary material based on Māori content or subject matter. It consists of material written by Māori authors as well as children’s books and easy readers in te reo Māori.Ngā Mātauranga Māori items have a black and white kowhaiwhai label and the word Māori on the spine of the book. This collection includes both lending and reference material. Many of our community libraries have a Ngā Mātauranga Māori section. At Central City Library, you will find the collection on the first floor.

The Manukau Research Library holds the most extensive collection available of materials relating to the history and development of South Auckland and the Counties-Manukau area.

These are just some of the resources you can find around Auckland. It pays to have a good hunt around the website as you never know what you might find that you didn't know you were looking for.

Monday, 6 December 2010

Scrooge and Zombies anyone?

It’s the Christmas season (yes I am admitting it and now that it’s December I am going to get into the swing of tinsel, decorations and, dare I say it, gift buying).

As well as Christmas, this year has also been the season of vampires and more lately, zombies. So in the interests of keeping up to date I picked up I am Scrooge: A Zombie story for Christmas by Adam Roberts.

Now if you have read my reviews in the past, been tempted by the book and ultimately decided it was rubbish and I didn’t know what I was talking about – this is the book for you.

The first time I opened it I think I got to page 5. The second time I persevered until page 48. Then I had had enough. Enough of the blood, guts and brains. Enough of the bad writing. Enough of the story. However, in the interests of good reviewing, here is the synopsis from the publisher:
"Marley was dead. Again. The legendary Ebenezeer Scrooge sits in his house counting money. The boards that he has nailed up over the doors and the windows shudder and shake under the blows from the endless zombie hordes that crowd the streets hungering for his flesh and his miserly braaaaiiiiiinns! Just how did the happiest day of the year slip into a welter of blood, innards and shambling, ravenous undead on the snowy streets of old London town? Will the ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Future be able to stop the world from drowning under a top-hatted and crinolined zombie horde? Was Tiny Tim's illness something infinitely more sinister than mere rickets and consumption? Can Scrooge be persuaded to go back to his evil ways, travel back to Christmas past and destroy the brain stem of the tiny, irritatingly cheery Patient Zero?"

Like any good book though, this one did teach me something about myself. There is a reason why I don’t DO horror movies, and that now extends to horror reading. I can cope with vampires but zombies are a step too far.

But, if blood, guts, brains and Christmas go together in your mind, this could be the book you want in your Christmas stocking this year.

Friday, 3 December 2010

Top 5 for Friday - Children's stocking fillers

Now that it's December I can formally mention the C word - Christmas is coming. The decorations are going up around the libraries and planning is well under way for a visit from the big fellow at Special Christmas storytimes around the area (more on that next week).

It's also the time when people come into the library looking for inspiration and advice for under the Tree. This week I thought I would start off with something for the younger crowd. So here's some of my favourite picture books that the kids might like to look at, read or have read to them (and the best ones are the ones that we enjoy reading to them).
  1. Having toured around parts of Northland earlier this year with the irrepressive Donovan Bixley, I was looking forward to his new book The Wheels on the Bus. Yes, it's a familiar tale and it's been done before, but that is part of the joy of this Kiwi styled edition. The birds, mammals, reptiles and vistas of Aotearoa pop out of the pages and children will delight at identifying all of them, including the fantail who appears on every page. The bus travels from Cape Reinga through to Milford Sound stopping at iconic New Zealand spots to pick up a whole host of Kiwi characters. You can sing along as you turn the pages (as we did at Storytime on Monday) or if you want to sit quietly and read the book, you find lots of other things hiding in the pictures as well. This vibrant soft covered picture book will make an ideal stocking filler and is definitely top of my list of picture book purchases for the special kids in my life.

  2. Julia Donaldson (The Gruffalo) has a new book out called Cave Baby. The illustrator is Emily Gravett. It’s a fun story about a cheeky baby who scribbles on walls (can anyone relate to that) and a hairy mammoth who takes him for a thrilling nighttime ride. It’s a great read aloud book (I’v tried it out at storytime).

  3. Something completely different, and a little bit of a tear jerker for the soft touches amongst us is Potato Music by Christina Booth and illustrated by Pete Groves. Each night the family gather around the piano and sing and dance. Pa says the music “helps to keep our dreams and hopes alive”. But then the war comes, boots march by outside and everyone is hungry. Can the music keep them warm and stop them from starving? It’s sad but uplifting – ideal for quiet time with your child.

  4. The highlight for me of To Market To Market by Anne Miranda is the stunning and hilarious illustrations by Janet Stevens. They fit the simple text so well with the animals and the shopper springing off the sepia background chaos. The book itself has been around for a while (1997) and has been honoured as both a whole and for it’s illustrations. If you find it, have a look and see if you agree with me.

  5. The Mountain who wanted to Live in a House is Maurice Shadbolt's only known children's story. Published in picture book format for the first time with illustrations by Renee Haggo it is the story of young Thomas who saves the town from a wandering mountain, at the same time helping the mountain to achieve his dream.

Honourable mention must go to the Kiwi classics such as Hairy Maclary and the stories of people such as Margaret Mahy and Joy Cowley (some of which were re-issued this year), Yvonne Morrison's kiwi re-workings of the traditional christmas tales (e.g. The Night before Christmas), new releases such as Marmaduke Duck and the Marmalade Jam (Juliette McIvor) and the Kiwi Corkers (which also have a Kiwi retelling of the Christmas Carol just released). Do you get the impression I could go on and on? I could (I haven't even mentioned Wonky Donkeys or Piggity Wiggity yet). It's the child inside and it is never more evident than at Christmas time.

Have a wonderful weekend everyone.

Thursday, 2 December 2010

Barbara Kendall at Orewa Library

She has the full set - Gold, Silver and Bronze medals from the Olympic Games. She is a Quadruple World Champion and can put the honorific MBE after her name for her services to windsurfing.

She is of course Barbara Kendall and she will be at the Orewa Library tomorrow (Friday 3rd December) from 11am to 11.45am. This is a free event but numbers are limited so get in touch with the Orewa Library today to reserve your space. Phone 094273923 or email them at

Barbara's biography Wind Driven can be found at most of the Auckland Libraries. Check out your copy today.

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

Summer Hours and loan periods

With the way the temperature has been the past few days it's time to start talking about summer. It's also one way to put off for another day bringing up the 'C' word in great detail (it is mentioned briefly in the following advice).

The Libraries in the Rodney area close at 5pm on Friday 24 December.
We will be closed Saturday 25 - Tuesday 28 December and Saturday 1 - Tuesday 4 January over the Christmas and New Year period.
From Wednesday 29 - Friday 31 December the libraries will operate with normal hours but will close at 5pm.
Wellsford, Mahurangi East, Orewa, Helensville and Whangaparaoa libraries will open from 9.30am - 5pm. Warkworth and Kumeu libraries will be open from 9am - 5pm.

Normal opening hours resume on Tuesday 5 January.

Once again we recognise that as the busy Christmas and holiday period approaches, you have a lot of things to think about as well as getting your library items back on time. So our extended loan periods are back and those checking books out this week will have already noticed that they are not due back to 2011 (which makes the year seem to go even faster)

Our extended loan periods are as follows:
1) Until 31 December 201028-day loans (e.g. books, audio books) will be issued/renewed for 42 days.
2) 11 December 2010 - 8 January 201114-day loans (e.g. magazines, CDs, bestsellers) will be issued/renewed for 28 days.
3) 18 December 2010 - 22 January 20117-day loans (e.g. DVDs, standards) will be issued/renewed for 14 days.

Relax and enjoy the festive season (avoiding the use of the C word) with our extended loans on books and items including magazines and rental DVDs. If you enjoy borrowing a few extra books, now's the time to do it!