Friday, 29 July 2011

Top 5 for Friday - The Eclectic Mix

I was struggling for a theme for the Top 5 blog this week. We have been rushed off our feet during the school holidays (Good) but it means that some days pass in a haze of racing from one job to the next with no time to draw breath in-between (Bad). So I thought I would share five things that I have found over the last two weeks to help with the Winter Warmers School Holiday programmes, or that just piqued my interest.

  1. Let's Play! (Shelalagh McGovern) and Small Fry Outdoors (Susie Cameron & Katrina Crook). Two books of games and inspiration for how to deal with (and what to do to entertain) two to twelve year olds. Very simple ideas, without the need for a lot of extra equipment. As the days lengthen out and summer approaches (crossing fingers) they will get even more use. I used one of the ideas at short notice for my evening storytime on Wednesday night (when Plan A turned out to be a bit of a flop) and it worked really well.

  2. Trouble Maker: the graphic novel (Janet and Alex Evanovich). Like so many other current authors, Janet Evanovich has made it into the graphic novel format with the Barnaby and Hooker series (also appearing in Metro Girl and Motor Mouth on the adult fiction shelves). It's fast paced with a sense of humour and works really well. I discovered it while looking for the Walking Dead graphic novels for someone who couldn't wait for the TV series to start this week.

  3. Best Shorts: Favourite short stories for sharing (selected by Avi). I was looking for a really good short story I could tell at our Milo and Marshmallows Family storytime so I went through two or three books of short stories, classic fairy tales and fables. In the end I narrowed it down to two - The Boy who Read aloud by Joan Aiken (which appears in Classic Fairy Tales to read aloud) and the eventual winner by New Zealand's most famous librarian - The Librarian and the Robbers by Margaret Mahy which appears in the noted book.

  4. The Putumayo children's music collection. I also spent some time listening to CD's to discover some new and different songs to spice up storytime sessions. I have become addicted to these CD's with irreverant lyrics (The Belly Button Song) and jazzed up, reggae, african, carribean or blues versions of old favourites such as Old McDonald. The adult collection is well worth a listen to as well.

  5. The Day of the Rain (Joy Cowley). I also went through a reasonable amount of picture books with the holiday programmes and storytimes. This Kiwi favourite is the one the kids liked. First published in 1993 they loved the pictures of the classroom floating along the motorway, down Queen Street and out into the Hauraki Gulf. The Wide-mouthed Frog Iain Smyth) was a big hit with young and old at storytime last night so takes the runners up spot.

Thursday, 28 July 2011

Congratulations NZ Post Winners

Last night New Zealand publishers, authors and the book public in general celebrated with the announcement of the 2011 NZ Post Book award winners. Here's a quick summary.

New Zealand Post Book of the Year and General Non-fiction Award winner
Blue Smoke: The Lost Dawn of New Zealand Popular Music 1918-1964 by Chris Bourke(Auckland University Press)

Fiction Award winner:
The Hut Builder by Laurence Fearnley(Penguin Group (NZ))

Poetry Award winner
The Mirror of Simple Annihilated Souls by Kate Camp(Victoria University Press)

Illustrated Non-fiction Award winner
The Passing World: The Passage of Life: John Hovell and the Art of Kowhaiwhai by Damian Skinner(Rim Books)

People's Choice Award
Blue Smoke: The Lost Dawn of New Zealand Popular Music 1918-1964by Chris Bourke(Auckland University Press)

NZSA Hubert Church Best First Book Award for Fiction
Pip Adam with her short story collection, Everything We Hoped for (Victoria University Press)

NZSA Jessie Mackay Best First Book Award for Poetry
Lynn Jenner for her collection, Dear Sweet Harry (Auckland University Press)

NZSA E.H. McCormick Best First Book Award for Non-Fiction
Dr. Poia Rewi for Whaikōrero: The World of Māori Oratory (Auckland University Press).

For the full press release and details, head to the website

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Teen Reads

Here are a couple of reviews from a Book Chat group I belong to. We meet once a month and chat about children's and teens books, both fiction and non-fiction. These are a couple of titles we discussed in July.

I am J – Cris Beam Lisa picked this teen fiction up becoz of a review she had read but without any expectations. The cover (deliberately) doesn’t reveal if the main character is a male or female. It is actually about a girl who feels she is in the wrong body, something that you don’t actually click to until well into the story. Lisa found it thought provoking and eyeopening. Although quite a New York voice, J has a very real one that the teens will be able to relate to. The author has also done substantial work and research with transgender teens which adds to the realism. J always felt different. He was certain that eventually everyone would understand who he really was: a boy mistakenly born as a girl. Yet as he grew up, his body began to betray him; eventually J stopped praying to wake up as a 'real boy' and started covering up his body, keeping himself invisible - from his family, from his friends, from the world. But after being deserted by the best friend he thought would always be by his side, J decides that he's done hiding - it's time to be who he really is. And this time he's determined not to give up, no matter the cost..

Life on the Refrigrator Door – Alice Kuipers. Jeanette (the Mahurangi College Librarian) is always looking for something good for reluctant readers. She recommended this as a quick easy read as it is told largely by way of the post it notes between mother and daughter which they leave on the fridge door for each other. This makes the chapters short and snappy. Themes that are investigated in the story are family dynamics, an ill parent and taking (or making) the time to talk to each other. Claire and her mother are running out of time, but they don't know it. They rarely find themselves in the same room at the same time, and it often seems that the only thing they can count on are notes to each other on the refrigerator door. When home is threatened by a crisis, their relationship experiences a momentous change. Forced to reevaluate the delicate balance between their personal lives and their bond as mother and daughter, Claire and her mother find new love and devotion for one another deeper than anything they had ever imagined.

Monday, 25 July 2011

A Reading Game

Inspired by the Lonely Planet Guide to Experimental Travel, Sally decided to create a game she calls Reader’s Roulette. Here are her instructions.

The letters of the alphabet are divided into 6 groups, one for each side of a regular die. Oh, did I forget to mention you’d need one of those? Well, you do. You'll also need a library, but I know you'll have one of those lying around somewhere.

1 - A G M S Y
2 - B H N T Z
3 - C I O U
4 - D J P V
5 - E K Q W
6 - F L R X

Roll the die once. Say you roll a 2. This tells you that your author’s name will start with a B, H, N, T or Z. Roll the die again. If you roll a 1, your author’s name will start with the first letter in that group. If you roll a 2, it will start with the second. 3, it starts with third, and so on. If your roll is higher than the number of letters in the group, roll again until you get a useful number. For the purposes of this explanation, let’s just say you rolled a 4. So your author’s name will start with T.

Now roll your die twice more. Put the two numbers together to get a two-digit number. For example, a roll of 3 followed by a roll of 1 gives you the number 31.

You (hypothetically) have the letter T and the number 31.

Armed with these two pieces of information, go to the fiction shelves of your library. Find the part where the authors’ surnames start with T. There’ll probably be a big T somewhere around there to help you out. Librarians are good like that. Starting at the beginning of that section, count out 31 books. This is the book you’re going to read. Now, it’s no good complaining that you don’t read mystery/fantasy/romance/badly-written-trash. You committed yourself to reading this book when you rolled that die. This is Reader’s Roulette, my friend. Anything can happen. And who knows? You might surprise yourself and find a new favourite author. At the very least you’ll have tried something new.

Go on, read dangerously.

And in terms of the book that inspired this game, here is the description from our catalogue "Experimental Travel is not about checking off the major sights or following your guidebook to the letter; it's a playful way of travelling, where the journey's methodology is clear but the destination is usually unknown. Experimental Travel renders all destinations equal - be it a burger shack or the Taj Mahal. The book contains a series of travel games or 'invitations'. Do you yearn for the glories of yesteryear? Pack an octogenarian guidebook and replace the subway with a penny farthing for an Anachronistic Adventure. Do you like to gamble? Taste the real thrill of adventure with Trip Poker or Monopoly Travel. Are you desperate for a holiday but strapped for cash? To undertake Budget Tourism low funds are not an obstacle but a prerequisite. In all cases you are free to improvise as you wish." So you can see just how the book got Sally thinking.

Friday, 22 July 2011

Top 5 for Friday - Minus Two: Webcomics

When is a Top 5 not a Top 5. When it is a Top 3 of course. Sally was talking to me the other day about the world of web comics so I asked her to put something on paper. Here are the results (and they come with a warning that there is an element of adult content in all three).

Sally's Top Three Webcomics

Comics aren’t just found in the graphic novel section of your library (or bookshop) or on the funnies page of the newspaper. There is a wealth of comics (of wildly varying quality) out there on the web, and it can be hard to know where to start. So I thought I'd give you a jumping off point and list some of my favourites, should you like to dive into this world of webcomics yourself. This was supposed to be a Top 5 For Friday blog, but while I came up with the top three easily enough, I had trouble narrowing it down for the final two.

So, without further ado, here are Sally’s Top Five Three Webcomics!

1. Bad Machinery by John Allison -

Bad Machinery tells the stories of three schoolgirl sleuths and three schoolboy investigators, attending Griswalds Grammar School in Keane End, Tackleford. While not exactly enemies, a mixture of pride, mistrust and pig-headedness keep them at cross purposes.
Bad Machinery is a spin off comic of John Allison's previous comic, Scary Go Round, which in turn was a spin-off of Bobbins. I never really read Bobbins, but if you've got plenty of time to kill and your eyes are up to the task of looking at a computer screen that long, I'd recommend going back through the archives of Scary Go Round.

The stories of Bad Machinery are delightfully weird and dosed with just the right amount of fantasy and magic. And while the humour may not be to everyone’s taste, it gets me laughing aloud (or if there are other people around, at least chortling to myself) on a regular basis.

There’s a link on the main page to the start of the current story line, but at this point it doesn’t take long to get through the Bad Machinery archive, and it’s a good idea to do so to get a proper introduction to the characters. Bad Machinery updates every weekday.

2. Hark, A Vagrant! by Kate Beaton –

Kate Beaton is hilarious. Of course it helps that her comics tend to be about historical personages or literature or super heroes, which are all things I enjoy myself. If you only read two things of hers, her interpretation of Nancy Drew covers is wonderful, and then there was her reimagining of Peter Parker as the Brown Recluse Spider Man. It makes me laugh just thinking about it. It was a close run thing as to which of Bad Machinery and Hark, A Vagrant! would end up as number one, and Bad Machinery only won because of the serial nature of the stories. Kate Beaton’s comics tend to be stand-alone, which is an advantage too, of course, because it means that you can dip in and out of them as you please. One of the downsides to Hark, A Vagrant! is that it doesn’t have a regular update schedule, but if you follow Kate Beaton on twitter she tweets when there’s an update, and often posts sketches and little journal comics to twitpic between updates. Kate Beaton has also had some of her cartoons published in the New Yorker.

3. Sam and Fuzzy by Sam Logan –

Basically, Sam and Fuzzy is a comic about an ordinary, everyday kind of guy, whose best friend is a walking talking teddy bear. The strip has been running a while now and so much has happened, but most recently, Sam discovered he was the heir to the throne of the Emperor of the Ninja Mafia, which he has taken over, reformed and now uses it to do Good Deeds. Of course, the ninjas who are used to the old way of doing things aren’t so fond of this do-goodery, especially because it means they’re mostly out of work. But Sam and his small band of dedicated employees persevere to do battle with hamsters, robot clones and brand mascots (Fig Pig. Terrifying. Gross). There’s a lot of back story to get through if you’re really keen, but you can start at the beginning of Sam and Fuzzy Fix Your Problem and pick up the thread from there without any worries. A new character gets introduced here, and she makes a good audience surrogate, asking all the questions a newcomer to the comic needs answered. Sam and Fuzzy is updated on regular Mon/Wed/Fri schedule.

Honourable Mentions:

Questionable Content by Jeph Jacques –
Octopus Pie by Meredith Gran –
XKCD by Randall Munroe –
Gunnerkrigg Court by Tom Siddell –

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Winter Warmers Wednesday

Here's what's happening in the Libraries today:

The Scavenger Hunt starts at 10.30am and there are two age groups

Storytime for preschoolers at 11.00am
Stories, games and activities for school age children from 2.30pm to 3.30pm

What happens when the lights go out? You have a Game-athon. 10.30am for stories and games.

Storytime for preschoolers at 10.30am

Storytime for preschoolers at 10.30am
Come in your best Black and White gear to the Penguin Party at 2.30pm. Songs, stories and activities with an Arctic theme.

Monday, 18 July 2011

Winter Warmers

If you are reading this blog and you are close by, you just have time to race into Helensville or Warkworth Libraries for their Winter Warmers storytimes at 10.30am this morning.

But if you are like me and aren't that organised, here is what's happening around the libraries on Tuesday so you can plan your day.

Kumeu Library
Fireside Favourites Storytime at 10.30am (suitable for children 4 to 8 years old)

Mahurangi East Library
Bring your Teddy along for stories, a bear hunt and a picnic at 10.30am.

Orewa Library
Preschoolers Rhymetime at 11.00am

Preschoolers Storytime at 10.30am

Friday, 15 July 2011

Top 5 for Friday - Still Watchable

I was reading a discussion in another place on the Web this week about what TV programmes you would like to see brought back and what should be cancelled (no huge surprise that the reality shows were well supporter under the latter category). It all got me thinking about how many of the shows mentioned, we could still source. And if we could, are they available at the library. The answer for many is "Yes".

So the Top 5 for this Friday comes to you courtesy of my own peculiar TV viewing tastes but with the advice that if you want to find your favourite show of old (or something more recent), you can search our catalogue with either the title or just a general Television Programmes keyword search.

  1. Babylon 5. Before I became addicted to Doctor Who (the old black and white theme song used to scare me witless when I was a kid) and it's offshoot Torchwood (Capt Jack), there was Babylon 5. This five season story always left me wanting more by exploring good, bad and shades of all manner of grey that lie inbetween. Strong characters, innovative special effects and the tight storyline which left little red herrings but always knew where it was going. A honourable mention in the science fiction category goes to The Tomorrow People from the 1970's which I did watch as a kid.

  2. Bonanza. They don't seem to make westerns as TV series anymore but when I was growing up there were heaps of them. My favourite was Alas Smith & Jones, but alas, the only copy in Auckland Libraries is currently missing so my excitement at finding it listed was shortlived. Bonanza easily sweeps into second place as the most popular western of it's day (although The Virginian for adult audiences and the Lone Ranger for the kids we also popular). Set in Virginia City, Nevada, Bonanza tells the story of the Cartwrights, owners of a nearly 600,000 acre ranch - The Ponderosa.

  3. Joe 90. Before Ben 10 there was... Joe 90, a young boy with glasses who sat in a chair which spun round and round very fast. Today it probably looks gimmicky and quite stunted. But that will be half the fun of getting it out and watching it with your children (or grandchildren) to show them what you used to watch as a kid. What better way to spend one of the wet afternoons we are almost certain to have over the school holidays. Joe 90 comes from the same era as The Thunderbirds who are as popular as ever. Professor Ian "Mac" McClaine, a brilliant computer expert, has invented an incredible device called The Brain Impulse Galvanoscope Record and Transfer (Big Rat). It enables the knowlege and experience of one person to be transfered to another. He demonstrates the machine to his friend Sam Loover, by transfering his own brain patterns to his adopted son Joe. Joe with the aid of this technology and some special glasses becomes The World Intelligence Network's (W.I.N.) most special agent, fighting for justice and saving human life.

  4. The British Comedies. I couldn't decide which of these I liked the most and was going to go on the Top 5 so I am cheating by listing several. At the time I couldn't see the humour in Fawlty Towers or Some Mothers do have em, but nowadays can respect the skill and talent. Dad's Army was however a favourite as were the Two Ronnies in any of the incarnations. The absolute skill of one man sitting in a chair telling jokes, with his only the support the bottle of "water" on the table beside him, introduced me to stand up (or sit down) comedy in the form of Dave Allen.

  5. M*A*S*H. But when it comes to Amercian comedies it doesn't get any better than the comedy and drama of the 4077th MASH unit. I laughed until I cried and sometimes I just cried (nothing ever wrong with a good sob during a movie or TV programme). Hawkeye, Radar, Klinger and Hotlips are immediately identifiable as the best in TV viewing. Three Korean War Army surgeons adopt a hilarious, lunatic lifestyle as an antidote to the tragedies of their Mobile Army Surgical Hospital, and in the process infuriate army bureaucrats.

If you would like to get even more nostalgic, either with your families or with your friends, there is plenty more on offer at the Library. From an furry little brown creature named ALF and the birth of superstar Johnny Depp in 21 Jump Street even further back in time to Petticoat Junction, Here's Lucy and On the Buses. If you have a favourite show, see if you can find it on our catalogue (and if we don't have it you can also suggest that we consider it for purchase).

Have a safe and dry weekend everyone.

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Winter Warmups for July School Holidays

It's almost the School Holidays. If you are staying close to home, here is what's happening in the local libraries so you can entertain the kids.

Helensville Library
Mondays 18 & 25 July 10.30am Fireside favourites storytime & wintry crafts
Wednesdays 20 & 27 July 10.30am Scavenger hunt. Two age groups - under 7 and 7 - 13 years.

Kumeu Library
Tuesday 21 & 26 July Fireside favourites storytime 10.30am, Suitable ages 4 to 8 years
Scavenger hunt Running continuously through the holidays. For two age groups - under 7 and 7 - 13 years.

Mahurangi East Library
Tuesday 19 July Hibernate with bear stories @10.30am, Bring your teddy along for stories, a bear hunt and picnic.
Thursday 21July Who's hibernating in the library?10.30am, Stories and games. Learn to make a bird feeder.
Tuesday 26 July Who lives in the snow storytime @ 10.30am. Stories with a wintry theme.
Thursday 21 July Winter wonderland 10.30am. Stories, snowball fights and games. Learn to make a snow globe. Suitable for school age children.

Orewa Library
Wednesday 20 & 27 July 2.30pm - 3.30pm. Stories, games and craft

Warkworth Library
Monday 18 July Nursery rhymes & fairy tales @10.30am, Enjoy traditional stories, songs and nursery rhymes.
Wednesday 20 July When the lights go out. 10.30am - 11.30am, Stories and games galore for when there’s no TV. Board Game-athon contest.
Monday 25 July Rainy day stories 10.30am. Stories and songs with a wintery theme.
Wednesday 27 July Winter Survival skills both new and old. 10.30 - 11.30am. See if you have what it takes to survive winter.
Wednesday 27 July @ 6pm. Our special Milo and Marshmallows Family storytime. Bring your mug and a cushion. Dress in your favourite PJs. Get ready for some fun!

Wellsford War Memorial Library
Thursday 21 July Winter fun @ 10.30am, Stories scavenger hunt. And make a pinwheel.
Thursday 28 July Winter stories and craft @ 10.30am, There’ll be stories. Learn how to make a snowflake card.

Whangaparaoa Library
Wednesday 20 July Penguin party 2.30pm, Stories and games with an Arctic theme. Come dressed in black and white! Suitable for school-age children.
Wednesday 27 July Winter warm ups 2.30pm, Stories and crafts with a wintry theme. Suitable for school-age children.

Winter Warmup School Holiday programmes are being run throughout Auckland in the libraries.
If you are visiting somewhere else, check out our events page

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Detectives and Swords

Sally has had her head in a new fantasy series over the last few weeks. Here's what she has to say.

Alex Bledsoe has written a series of hard-boiled detective, high fantasy novels, the latest of which (Dark Jenny, released earlier this year) I found on the Fantasy e-Newsletter, which you can subscribe to here.

It might sound like a odd mix, but it works well in a sort of send-up and homage to both genres. Eddie LaCrosse is a sword-jockey, former mercenary, one-time nobleman, and a match for the heroes of either genre. Set in a medieval world, the characters are wonderfully modern and wry. I particularly enjoy the way Eddie talks about his swords - like the specialist tools they are, with all sorts of wonderful features (such as the sword that has a safety catch - read Burn me deadly to find out how that works.). I'd half expect to find sword catalogues spread all over his desk.

There are three in the series so far and you can read them in any order you like, but I'd reccommend doing as I did and start at the beginning. The Sword-edged blonde is the first, followed by Burn me deadly and Dark Jenny. I've been reading these almost exclusively for the two weeks or so, and now the rest of my family has started on them. Highly reccommended.

The Sword-edged blonde - It should have been a case like any other: a missing princess, a king willing to pay in gold for her return. But before he realises it, private investigator Eddie LaCrosse, a slightly shopworn sword jockey with a talent for discretion and detection, is swept up in a web of mystery and deceit involving a brutally murdered royal heir, a queen accused of an unspeakable crime, and the tragic past he thought he had left behind.

Burn me deadly - Above Angelina's Tavern in down-and-dirty Neceda you'll find the office of Eddie LaCrosse, a freelance sword jockey who, for twenty-five gold pieces a day, will take on any task short of murder for hire. Eddie's on his way back from a routine investigation when his horse almost runs down a half-naked blonde in serious trouble. Against his better judgment, he promises to protect the frightened young woman, only to find himself waylaid by unknown assailants and left for dead beside her mutilated body. Eddie isn't the kind of guy to just let something like this pass. But who killed Laura Lesperitt? Eddie's quest for payback leads him to a tangled mystery involving a notorious crime lord, a backwoods dragon cult, royal scandals, and a duplicitous femme fatale who has trouble keeping her clothes on. As bodies pile up, attracting the unwelcome attention of the king's guards, Eddie must use all his wits if he hopes to survive.

Dark Jenny - When beautiful Queen Jennifer is accused of adultery and murder, Eddie finds himself drafted at sword's point to solve the mystery. With time running out, and powerful nobles all too eager to pin the murder on Eddie himself, he must unravel a tangled web of palace intrigues, buried secrets, and bewitching women - before the entire kingdom erupts into civil war.

Monday, 11 July 2011

Silver for the Silver Ferns

I was really hoping that there would be a different title to today's blog. So close and yet so far away (and a million other cliches which will no doubt be rolled out after another epic battle on the netball courts last night between the Silver Ferns and the Australian Diamonds - just in case anyone doesn't know what I am talking about)

I am proud of our girls, chuffed that we made the Diamonds work so hard, gutted that we had it and let it go, not sure if it helps that it was just the toss of the coin (or the umpire's call) and basically just exhausted. Which is probably only a small percentage of what the Silver Ferns and their team of supporters are feeling.

So with some seriousness (but also a little tongue in cheek), here are today's Library resources to help everyone survive the loss.

Grief - This is the result of a subject search so you can narrow down if you are looking for something specific. How to survive it, how to help other's survive it, talking to children, biographies of how other's coped. The truth is that everyone does it in a different way but hopefully there is something here.

Sport in New Zealand - A whole range of books and titles looking at why sport is so important in New Zealand and asking whether or not this is a good thing.

Silver Ferns - Regardless of the result last night, the Ferns are (and always will be) a champion team. Check out their history and some of the characters of the sport here.

Of course we will be winning the Constellation Cup later this year (although I imagine the girls won't be thinking of that at the moment) and just think of the satisfaction when we come home with the Trophy from Sydney in 4 years time. In the meantime, there is always the Rugby World Cup to look forward to.

Friday, 8 July 2011

Top 5 for Friday - Snippets from the Book World

It's been a while since I have done this. Surveyed the news from New Zealand and around the world for worthy and quirky snippets which may be of interest. What better way to finish off the week than this.

  1. Keep Libraries Free. I am not a particularly political person, but when the Labour Party announced this week it was drafting legislation designed to keep Public Library services free to all New Zealanders, I was prepared to sit up and take notice. “Public libraries play an important role in our communities. They give everyone access to information and improve literacy and reading, and in many communities are the hub of a diverse range of activities. They also play an important role in strengthening those communities." said Party spokesperson Grant Robertson.

  2. Authors Join Forces. Look out for a new crime novel due to hit the shelves of the library soon. No Rest for the Dead is the product of 26 of the best writers of the crime, thriller, mystery genre including Jeffrey Deaver and Kathy Reichs.

  3. Guests of Honour at the Frankfurt Book Fair 2012 will be New Zealand. "So What?" I hear you cry. Actually in terms of publishing things don't get much bigger than this. "Each year, a different country is selected to be the focus of the five-day Frankfurt Book Fair. But it is not just the fair itself which gives New Zealand an opportunity to take centre-stage - we are also expected to develop a year-long programme of events throughout Germany leading up to the fair in October 2012. " (source NZ Herald). A further press release can be found on the Ministry of Culture & Heritage website.

  4. Librarians Adapt to meet the needs of the Internet age. While this may not be news to any librarian out there, or to most of our regulars, there are still some people, scarred by childhood experiences of stern sshhhhh-ing who don't know that librarians are adaptable beings. This Reuters article scratches the surface of today's library experience.

  5. Real Northland Men Read Books. This was my favourite headline of the week and it comes from the Northern Advocate. Pakotai School invited "real men" to come in and be role models for their students, showing them that reading was "important and a lifelong skill". Rugby players, policiticans and policeman rubbed shoulders with local farmers and businesspeople in what appears to be a very successful initiative. A very simple and practical idea. Well done Pakotai.

Have an awesome weekend everyone. Keep practising your Te Reo.

Thursday, 7 July 2011

Celebrate Maori Language week with the Library

Celebrate Māori Language Week (4-10 July) with us. Find out about our recommended Māori books and resources; services and collections at Auckland Libraries. Let our specialist staff assist you with any Māori family and/or local history research. Here are just some of the things that you can now find and have access to as part of Auckland Libraries.

Read our popular topic about the evolution of te reo Māori by Pou Arahi Taonga Heritage Māori Librarian, Rob Eruera.
See top books and resources that relate to the Māori language.

Read the July issue of our Māori Services eNewsletter, which celebrates Māori Language Week with a selection of titles to get you started learning te reo Māori.

DID YOU KNOW that we have a special Māori services section. Our dedicated Māori staff can provide you with specialist knowledge and advice. They can:

  • assist in whakapapa research or history for whānau, hapū and iwi

  • locate information on kaupapa Māori

  • support the community through our Māori services and events

  • enhance access to Māori collections and information

  • offer one-on-one or group whakapapa sessions and training on Māori databases, resources and our website

  • arrange for Māori speaking staff to travel to your marae or community centre.

Many of the 55 branches of Auckland Libraries hold Maori resources and taonga in special collections. Items include an unsigned copy of the Treaty of Waitangi, the original Sir George Grey Special Collections New Zealand Māori manuscripts and letters, including facsimile copies, tribal and oral histories and much much more.

For full information and details of our Maori Services and Collection check out the Maori Langauge Week page on our website.

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

Are you a master of rhyme?

Last week I introduced you to a fantastic resource for poetry through our digital library. This week we want to hear about your poetry.

Submit your poem to the Auckland Libraries poetry competition by 13 July and be in to win prizes! The prize-giving ceremony will be held at Mt Albert Library on National Poetry Day, Friday 22 July. Established in 1998, National Poetry Day has grown to become one of the most anticipated events on the calendar and once again, our poetry competition is back. If you enjoy reading, writing, performing, or simply listening to poetry, wait no further – submit your poem(s) now.

There are two ways to enter the competition:
(a) get an entry form from your local library

(b) download a pdf entry form now

There are three age categories to choose from:
5 to 12 years
13 to 17 years
Over 18 years

Submit your entry/entries at a local library no later than 5pm, Wednesday 13 July.
Poems will not be returned, so make sure you keep a copy!
For full details of entry conditions go to our competition page

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

A Week of it

Didn't there used to be a TV show of that name?

I digress. This week is Maori Language Week, where we celebrate one of the official languages of New Zealand. But that's not all. As well as practicing our te Reo this week, we should also be supporting and celebrating:

  • The Neurological Foundation of New Zealand Annual Appeal Week. Funding for brain research is needed more than ever to improve the outcomes for the growing number of New Zealanders being diagnosed with neurological disorders from Parkinsons and Alzheimers to stroke, migraine and epilepsy (and traumatic brain injuries).

  • Sir Peter Blake Trust Leadership Week. Leadership Week is an annual event that highlights the strategic relevance and value that great leadership provides for New Zealand and showcases the work being done to develop our nation’s leadership capability. Auckland Libraries are running an online competition for Leadership week - check out the competition page.

  • Independence Day. A big shout out to our American residents who will have been getting all patriotic yesterday (NZ time) and today (American time) for their 4th of July celebrations. The link takes you through to an interesting website I found. Happy birthday (or Hari Huritau) U.S.A.

In addition I can report that today is Work-a-holics Day (and Carribean Day), Thursday is both Chocolate Day and Macaroni Day and Friday is Video Game Day. So sounds like there is something for everyone.

Ka kite ano

Monday, 4 July 2011

Whakanuia Te Wiki o te Reo Māori

We are celebrate Maori Language Week this week. It runs from the 4th to the 10th of July and the theme this year is Manaakitanga.

““Manaakitanga” is a very important tenet of Māori custom and identity, that has, I believe, positively influenced notions of good old ‘Kiwi’ hospitality. At its core manaakitanga is about how we make people feel welcome when they are in our company, and how we give regard to and care for others when hosting visitors”, says Chief Executive of the Maori Language Commission, Glenis Philip-Barbara.

The key message is about promoting Māori language use in communities and homes. As well as a wealth of resources and help for doing this on the World Wide Web and on Television through the Maori and Te Reo channels, the library can help out with bilingual books, language resources for beginners through to more advanced speakers. Here are a few things to help.

Korero Maori is the Maori Language Commission website which can be accessed all year round but is especially good at this time of year when preserving and promoting Te Reo is highlighted.

Te Wiki o Te Reo Maori, Maori Language Week is on Facebook (as are most things these days). Find out what organisations are doing around New Zealand, who is supporting the language and practice your te reo.

100 Maori words every New Zealander should know according to the website NZ History online.

Maori Language Conversation and Phrase books can be found on our non-fiction shelves under Call Number (found on the spine) 499.4. There are also tapes and CD's so you can listen to get the pronunciation correct.

Maori Language as a subject search provides the dictionaries and phrase books, but also commentaries about Te Reo, it's history, development and place in modern society.

Maori Language Materials From picture books to adult titles, bilingual to those books in Te Reo only, if you want to practice your reading in one of the official langauges of New Zealand, the library can help you here too.

That's just for starters. Keep an eye on the Blog this week as I let you know how else the Library can help with your Te Reo.

Friday, 1 July 2011

Top 5 for Friday - Picture books with a message

When I attended a children's and teens librarians hui earlier this year, we had the pleasure (and hilarity) of a presentation by Kiwi author Kyle Mewburn. He gave a fantastic talk (and display) based on a book review he had read in an Australian newspaper which contained the words "spinach ice cream". The idea was that while we all (or at least most of us) enjoy ice-cream, if you combine it with spinach you get somewhat less palatable (and in his case extraordinarily messy when his blender blew up). If you apply this analogy to the number of picture books for children that aim to teach or provide a message, you sometimes find that the same thing happens. Both the message and the enjoyment of the reading experience are lost.

I thought of this when I looked my picture book shelves this week and read through some of the new books that have come in. Here are five new books which all fall into the above category and my purely subjective of if they work or not.

  1. Stand Tall like a mountain (Dr Shara Ray, illustrator Pamela Drysdale). "The book is presented by a feisty little storyteller 'Mouse', who presents a toolbox of practical strategies to teach our children how to stand tall through 'tricky, thick and thin'. The book offers a lively message of hope, helping to foster each child's personal sense of pride and self accomplishment." Okay I get the concept here and I am the first one who will pick up a warm fuzzies type book to find a pithy quote for self esteem. But as the mouse doesn't actually look all that feisty to me, I lost interest in this as a children's picture book quite quickly. Like many of it's ilk, it will have it's place in a dedicated lesson on values and self-esteem, but it doesn't work as a general picture book for me. Another new picture book that is very similar is God Is (Mark Macleod, illustrator Kirrily Schell) which examines the question "Where is God".

  2. Todd's TV (James Proimos). "When Todd's parents are too busy to take care of him, his television steps in to handle the parenting." The School Library Journal provided a glowing review of this book "With broad strokes and witty slapdashery, Proimos's light cartoon art and plotline carry some weighty themes ... the author jumps into a hilariously exaggerated focal plot that manages to ease the tension and intensify the message ... funny-scary cautionary tale. It's a hoot.-Susan Weitz" although the Booklist review notes "This cautionary picture book, though entertaining and meaningful on a child's level, might be more directed at parents." This picture book almost works. I think a child would it up and enjoy the humour although they may find the ending unsatisfactory.

  3. Stolen Girl (Trina Saffioti, illustrator Norma MacDonald). "Stolen Girl is a fictionalised account of the now universally known story of the Stolen Generation and tells of an Aboriginal girl taken from her family and sent to a childrens home. Each night she sings, and dreams of her mother and the life they once shared of sitting on the verandah of their corrugated-iron home, cooking damper and hunting goanna. But each morning she is woken by the bell to the harsh reality of the childrens home, until finally one day she puts into action her carefully crafted plan unlocking the door and taking her first step back toward home." Because this is aimed at a slightly older audience, it works better for me. This title belongs to the group of books which tell stories of part of the world's history, events that we hope will never happen again, which can be slightly easier to create than the "message" book. I enjoyed this. The illustrations and text work well together. Not everything is spelled out leaving something to the reader's imagination. This makes it more sophisticated and excellent for classroom discussions. A similar book is Azad's Camel (Erika Pal) about an orphan boy who is forced to be a part of the dangerous sport of camel riding.

  4. Please is a Good word to say (Barbara Joosse, illustrator Jennifer Plecas). Harriet gives examples of polite words and expressions to use in various social situations to make them more pleasant. I can understand why there are no copies of this on the bookshelves of Auckland Libraries. So at least on one level (the parents are keen to pick it up) it works. However as a picture book that kids want to pick up to read, I doubt it. However, there is humour in it, the illustrations are cute (aimed at girls) and the dialogue is quite realistic.

  5. Of Thee I Sing: A letter to my daughters (Barack Obama, illustrator Loren Long). "In this tender, beautiful letter to his daughters, President Barack Obama has written a moving tribute to thirteen groundbreaking Americans and the ideals that have shaped our nation. From the artistry of Georgia O'Keeffe, to the courage of Jackie Robinson, to the patriotism of George Washington, President Obama sees the traits of these heroes within his own children, and within all of America's children" Famous people thinking they can write picture books is the subject for a whole other discussion, so I was more than a little reluctant to pick up this book. It's true that there is an American flavour, especially in the conclusion. It's also true that it is a motivational speech in book form, perhaps even with a political motive. But it is also a fantastic story to read to your children to tell them how much you love them, introduce heroes and let them know they can dream big. Supported by evocative illustrations, for me this was a picture book that worked for both adults and children.

All of which leaves me to ponder. Are picture books written for children or for adults? Have a great weekend everyone.