Friday, 30 December 2011

Top 5 reasons why 'What I did' by Christopher Wakling is the most disturbing book I've read all year

List by Tosca

Sadly there are no light savers in this story. It is all real. It is about a terrible thing which happens to me. But watch out because the thing you think is the terrible thing isn't really it. Other things come later and they're worse. I'm not going to tell you what they are yet because now isn't the time. That is called suspension.
I also have to warn you that nobody is bad or good here, or rather everyone is a bit bad and a bit good and the bad and good moluscules get mixed up against each other and produce terrible chemical reactions.
Did you know cheetahs cannot retract their claws?
Here is the real beginning."

- Billy Wright in What I did by Christopher Wakling

Tuesday of Christmas weekend was my 'reading' day. I had gone home the Friday beforehand with a huge stack of DVDs and fiction/nonfiction/graphic novels to get through. In my usual fashion I left the books until my last day of the four day weekend and, really, had no clue what I would be getting when reading Wakling's What I did.

Mr. Wright gets the fright of his life when 6 year old Billy runs out into traffic. Angry, concerned and relieved he smacks his son. Hard. A passerby who tried to intervene (and is told to get lost) later calls social services. The fallout is beyond anything Billy and his parents could ever have imagined.

Wakling's What I did is very well-written, hugely topical, greatly interesting and wholly disturbing. Truly. Not because it's a terrible book. In fact, far from it. It's disturbing because the whole time you're wanting adults to ask the RIGHT questions, you're wanting Billy's dad to stop being so close mouthed and speak up, you're wanting Billy's grandma to JUST BE QUIET, you're wanting Billy to stop being so charming and scatter brained (he's 6, I know, I know) and see what social services are getting at, you're wanting social services to stop being so dense and you're wanting Billy's mum something useful (I'm not sure what, she seemed quite spineless) and OH! The frustration just goes on. But never, at any time, is my frustration about the way the book is written or the way everything is handled. Although at times it's very amusing (Billy's rather unusual view of adults and his world around him is informed by nature documentaries), it's not an 'enjoyable' read. And by 'enjoyable' I mean that it's not the kind of book that leaves you with a happy feeling. And maybe that's a part of why I found it so disturbing. Some people will liken What I did to Australian book The slap by Christos Tsialkos but I can't because I haven't read it yet. I have it on request at the moment, but I do wonder if I should have left it for a few weeks so that I won't always have that thought in the back of my mind. If you've read The slap and this one, do let me know! So, long story short - which I could've done in the first place, right? - I really, really (can't stress *really* enough) think this is a darn good read. It's also disturbing. And here's why...

Friday, 23 December 2011

Merry Christmas

A very merry Christmas from the Auckland Libraries team who look after this blog. That's Anne, Tosca and Megan (with contributions from other library staff from time to time).

Auckland Libraries are open through the festive season and to find out more about when you can whip into your local library for some reading or entertainment check out our Library website.

We hope everyone has a fun, safe, relaxing and happy festive season with just the right amount of cheer, some lovely weather and plenty of good times.

Take care.

5 tweets with interesting links you may have missed on our tweetstream

List by Tosca

"oh this is going to be addictive"
- Dom Sagolla, Twitter co-creator

Wow. How BOO is it that this post published before I was ready? Gremlins in the system, geez. A very quick post from me today (go ahead, you can heave a sigh of relief) in which I do very little but highlight some pretty interesting links that went out from/or came across our tweetstream: a pic of Mt. Roskill Library (who've just recently re-opened, and looks awesome, by the way), Google Doodles (yes, I really do mean Google Doodles), short recipes (truly, truly short), Santa Claus, digital media resources, 230 films in 5 mins (it's true!) and Google snow. YES, SNOW! You're welcome :P

Honourable mention:

RT @mtroskillib: Check out our new library #mtroskilllib - stunningly awesome 4 days ago via HootSuite · powered by @socialditto

Like WHOA. Have just discovered Google keeps all of their Doodles. AND I can view/play with them 2 days ago via HootSuite · powered by @socialditto

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Summer Reading for Children - How you can help

We have designed Dare to Explore - Auckland Libraries Summer Reading Adventure with both children and their parents or caregivers in mind. One of the things that we want to do is help you to help them. And to make it FUN. So here are some tips for the adults about our new summer reading programme.

We have designed Dare to Explore to be as flexible as possible, fitting in with whatever you have planned for the holidays. The Auckland Libraries Summer Reading Adventure runs right through the holidays, and your child can complete as much or as little as they want. It can be done at home, while on holiday, by visiting the library, on the Internet and with friends. You can visit other libraries around Auckland in person, or drop by our website to carry out the online activities and challenges.

Dare to Explore aims to:
* maintain or improve reading skills over the summer holidays

* increase your child's love of books and reading

* help create confident and comfortable library users

* provide a fun adventure that helps children get the most out of the holidays

The key to any visit to the library is that if you can't find what you are looking for, just ask. That's why the librarians are there. Librarians do more than just check out books. We might not know every book in the library, but we can certainly help recommend some and help you find what you are looking for.

We have taken top picks from all of the children's librarians around Auckland to point you at some fantastic new books (and some old favourites). Each of the challenge sets comes with a booklist, and you will find more suggestions here in the Booklists section.

But it's not just about books... we also have collections of music CDs, DVDs, puzzles, games and magazines, as well as a whole world of digital resources for us to help you explore.

We have plenty of other tips to help you. Check them out on our Dare to Explore - Encouraging young readers page

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

School's Out - Dare to Explore

Most schools have now broken up for summer which means there are plenty of kids out there between 5 and 13 who are looking for something to do. Which is where Auckland Libraries come in with Dare to Explore - Auckland Libraries Summer Reading Adventure.

We have already talked about this a bit on our blog. Maybe you have heard something about it through the school newsletter, or seen it advertised. Let me tell you how it works so that you can be as excited about it as we are.

Over the summer holidays we want you to read, read, read and see if you can complete the Dare to Explore... Your Library challenges. We want you to read every day - even if it's just a little bit. You can choose your own books, or you might choose a book from the challenge lists, or get a librarian to help you pick a book. Check out the Your Library challenges in the Guidebook. You will need to complete at least 4 of the challenges to get a stamp in your Passport. The more you can complete, the better - try and become a Trail Blazer! Visit the Dare to Explore... Your Library pages to find more challenges, helpful hints and great book recommendations

When you have completed at least 4 challenges, visit your library and get one of the friendly librarians to stamp your Passport. Don't forget to bring in anything you'd like to show us from your completed challenges - your photos, bookmarks, crafts, reviews and stories and, of course, tell us about the books you have been reading.

When you've finished doing the Your Library challenges, you will receive a certificate and can come along to the Summer Reading celebration event in your area - check the events page on our website for more details.

But wait - there's more.
For those who want more adventure, we have 5 more sets of challenges to choose from:
Dare to Explore... Your Past, Dare to Explore... The Great Outdoors, Dare to Explore... Go Aqua, Dare to Explore... Our People and Dare to Explore... Get Active. Talk to your librarian about which you'd like to try and they will give you the challenge card. Complete at least 4 of the challenges to get another stamp in your Passport; you can try as many as you like - it's up to you!

As well as the challenges, our website provides lots of other ideas and resources, plus details of all the events and activities being run at all of the Auckland Libraries over summer to support the adventure. Why not check it out and join the fun.

Monday, 19 December 2011

Climbing high across the world

At the top of my summer reading is Wind from a distant summit by Pat Deavoll, who is "New Zealand's leading woman mountaineer". I'm hoping it'll land on my desk just before the Christmas break.

This biography was released by Craig Potton Publishing in October, and it documents Deavoll's adventures as a world-class mountaineer. She has climbed mountains throughout New Zealand and across the world, including the Canadian Rockies, the Himalayas and the Karakorum.

As well as being inspired by her adventurous life, I'm also intrigued to read how she has achieved all this alongside a lifetime of clinical depression.

I'm tentatively picking this book as a winner, or at the very least a finalist, in next year's NZ book awards. And that's without even having read it yet!

Friday, 16 December 2011

5 random six-word memoirs that serve as reasons you should read this book

List by Tosca

"Your heart is my piñata."
- Chuck Palahniuk

Love, as in love for self, family and friends, is a kind of love I understand, and have felt. The happy ever after kind, though, that I don't know, have never felt, do not understand. It's all a bit of a curiosity to me. Twice in my life I considered marriage. Twice in my life I re-considered it. Neither time was I heartbroken or upset. Truth be told, I've been more upset over a melted piece of chocolate. And I'm terribly aware of how awful that sounds. If I'd had to write a six-word memoir about it, I'm certain it would have been an unfeeling and flat piece of text. Without emotion, context or a sense of history. Luckily, I've never had to do so because I'm quite sure it wouldn't even have come close to Smith Magazine's Six-Word Memoirs on Love and Heartbreak : By Writers Famous and Obscure. This time around, Fershleiser and Smith have compiled a collection of mini-sagas that explore the highs and lows of love and heartbreak. Six words can say so much. The right six words, though, convey a sense of time, history, emotion and context. Truly. This particular collection is insightful, clever, full of hope and despair, jaded and innocent and all points in between. It's hard to choose just 5 six-word memoirs that moved me (seriously, crying on the bus is becoming such a habit these days, and thank you to the elderly gentleman who offered me tissues), so I've selected a random 5 instead that, I hope, cover the spectrum.

What would your six-word memoir for love and/or heartbreak be?

Thursday, 15 December 2011

Dare to Explore - LIbrarian's choice Booklist #2

As promised yesterday, here are some recommendations for older or more confident readers from our Dare to Explore Website. You can find out more about any of the books from our catalogue. Once again, like all the lists we have put together from Dare to Explore, these are the favourites from librarians across Auckland. Many are part of a series or are written by an author who has produced several different books. So if you can't find the one listed, there might be something else similar for you to read. Just ask the librarian next time you head into the library.

100 cupboards by Nathan D Wilson
After his parents are kidnapped, timid twelve-year-old Henry York leaves his sheltered Boston life and moves to small-town Kansas, where he and his cousin Henrietta discover and explore hidden doors in his attic room that seem to open onto other worlds.

Alabama moon by Watt Key
After the death of his father, ten-year-old Moon leaves their forest shelter home and is sent to an Alabama institution, becoming entangled in the outside world he has never known and making good friends, a relentless enemy, and finally a new life.

Best friends by Jacqueline Wilson
Gemma and Alice, born on the same day, have been devoted friends ever since. Despite Gemma's larger-than-life personality and Alice's quieter character, the two are inseperable - until that is Alice has to move house, all the way to Scotland.

Danny the champion of the world by Roald Dahl
A young English boy describes his relationship with his father and the special adventure they share together.

Dead Man's Cove by Lauren St. John
When orphan Laura goes to live with her uncle in Cornwall, she longs for a life of excitement just like the characters in her favourite detective novels. Life in Cornwall turns out to be full of mysteries, and when Laura finds a message in a bottle she embarks on a quest that will test her detective skills to the limit.

Let me whisper you my story by Moya Simons
Rachel is German and Jewish and living in Leipzig,Germany. Life is good, and revolves around Sabbath meals shared with her happy family. With the outbreak of World War II, their lives are changed. The family are forced to move from their comfortable home into cramped housing, and when the Nazis arrive to finally take the family away they don't know what is to become of them. But Rachel's father gives her instructions that save her life. He also tells her not to speak. Rachel remains quiet for the rest of the war, but what happened to her family? Will Rachel regain her voice now that she really needs it?

Pirate diary : the journal of Jake Carpenter by Richard Platt
Starting in 1716, this describes the adventures of nine-year-old Jake. When pirates capture his ship, Jake finds himself embarking on a new life, on the wrong side of the law. He takes part in a treasure raid, encounters a sea monster, endures a terrible storm and learns about the pirate code.

The phantom tollbooth by Norton Juster
A journey through a land where Milo learns the importance of words and numbers provides a cure for his boredom.

The portal by Andrew Norriss
When your parents disappear it is one of those things that sticks in your mind. Another of those things is the discovery that behind your dad's office door lies an intergalactic portal... When both of these things happen to William Seward and his brother they're left with two questions. What are they going to do now? And where are their parents?

Saffy's angel by Hilary McKay
After learning that she was adopted, thirteen-year-old Saffron's relationship with her eccentric, artistic family changes, until they help her go back to Italy where she was born to find a special momento of her past.

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Dare to Explore Booklists - Librarian's choice

As part of Dare to Explore - Auckland Libraries Summer Reading Adventure, we have put together a whole host of booklists to give children (and parents) some reading ideas for summer. From time to time over summer we will be rolling these out on the Blog. The first couple of lists are part of the Dare to Explore... Your Library challenge and are some of our favourites. Librarians across Auckland contributed to these lists and most of these titles came up multiple times. This list is for the younger reader... check back tomorrow for a list of books for the older or more confident readers.

Big bad raps by Tony Mitton
A collection of rap rhyme retellings of fairy tales which include the Beans talk rap, Fol-de-Rol rap, Huff puff houses and Little Red rap.

The boy who cried ninja by Alex Latimer
When Tim is accused of several misdemeanours no-one believes his side of the story. The truth is unbelievable so will he be able to persuade his parents to believe him?

Dear Fairy Godmother by Michael Rosen
Deep in the enchanted forest, the fairy tale creatures all have problems. Luckily they can call on the ultimate agony aunt - Dear Fairy Godmother!

The duck in the gun by Joy Cowley
The general and his men are about to fire on a town they are at war with. But the Gunner has bad news for the General, they can't load the gun as there is a duck nesting inside it.

Friends : Snake and Lizard by Joy Cowley
A collection of stories about the friendship between Snake and Lizard. Snake and Lizard run a helping business, Helper and Helper. The daily adventures of this lovable pair continue as they meet a frog without its croak, a nosy porcupine and many other creatures of the desert - even human things. Although Snake and Lizard argue a lot, they remain the best of friends.

Your pal Mo Willems presents Leonardo the terrible monster by Mo Willems
Leonardo is a terrible monster -- he can't seem to frighten anyone. When he discovers the perfect nervous little boy, will he scare the lunch out of him? Or will he think of something better?

The naughty corner by Colin Thompson
Sometimes it gets pretty crowded in the naughty corner ... Babies George and Cleopatra, 14-year-old Peter, 38-year old Brian, Nigel the cat, Credence the dog, and Monique, the yellow bird all of them have spent time in the naughty corner. It's meant to make them think about their behaviour, but they've turned it into a place to have fun.

Press here by Hervé Tullet
Press here. That's right. Just press the yellow dot...and turn the page. This irresistible picture book is ideal for sharing with children and has created a sensation worldwide.

Shark in the park! by Nick Sharratt
Through his telescope a little boy keeps seeing what seems to be a shark in the park, but by turning the page the reader can see and identify the whole object.

Who's in the loo? by Jeanne Willis
Who's in the loo? There's a very long queue. Is it an elephant doing a poo?' If your house has many occupants, then this witty rhyme from the irreverent and observant pen of Jeanne Willis will resonate profoundly. Adrian Reynolds's exuberant illustrations highlight the fun.

If you want to check out all the lists head over to the Dare to Explore pages on our website.

And our Auckland Libraries Facebook page has some photos of the launch event held at Highland Park on Monday.

Monday, 12 December 2011

Grammy shortlist for Best Spoken Word album

Who knew the Grammys have an award for Best Spoken Word Album? (I found out through a recent post on EarlyWord : The Publisher Librarian Connection)

I'm not too surprised to see that Tina Fey's Bossypants is on the list, as the print version spent weeks on the US Bestseller Lists.

Tina Fey seems to be one those actresses that polarises people, you either love or loathe her. I'm on the fence as I haven't actually seen much that she is in, but I think I might give her audio book a listen on the way to work.

Dare to Explore STARTS TODAY

Registrations for Dare to Explore - Auckland Libraries Summer Reading Adventure open today. Some people have been extremely quick off the mark and we already have a number of children registered for the challenge.

The beauty of this new programme is that you can register for Dare to Explore at any time throughout the holidays. Just fill in the form on this sign up page, and then come into your local library to pick up your Dare to Explore pack - you're on your way! You can also pop into your library and sign up in person.

When you are signing up, have a look at the Events that are happening in your local library (or if you are going away, see if there is anything happening at a library near you).

Friday, 9 December 2011

Top 5 kids/baby photography books you need in your life now right now!

List by Tosca

"Children reinvent the world for you."
- Susan Sarandon

This is my nephew Algonquin. Ok, no, that's *not* his real name, but I don't like his real name, and this is the one *I* wanted him to have (like I have a say, pfft) so it's what I call him when his mother (my sister) isn't around :P ANYWAY, as I was saying, this is my nephew Algonquin. He smiles lots. He always cries when he's on me. (For some reason my siblings find this hilarious, ergo, siblings are evil). He is a baby. Babies = Cute, tiny, adorable, squishy, giggly, gummy, gooey and lots of other G words I can't think of. They can do pretty much whatever they want, and they're cute. Yes, even when you discover that dried snot *can* run from their nose up to their temple. Amazing/scary/impressive feat! His head isn't really this big. I took a bad photo that accidentally made it look this huge. Everybody loves pics of babies. EVERYBODY. And should you decide to document your child's life in pictures, well, we can help :) WE HAZ BOOKS. Specifically, books that provide some great tips and ideas for photographing babies and/or kids. So much my head spins. *stern look* Don't take pics like I do. Request/read the books, take note of the tips, and ensure you don't make your baby's head look even more ginormous than it should. This is a case in point! POOR BABY ALGONQUIN.

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Dare to Explore - Auckland Libraries Summer Reading Adventure

It summer (well... it's supposed to be). And that means holidays and sun and time for us to launch our NEW summer reading programme to Auckland. We want you to have fun, get to know your library and read and learn something new and exciting! That's why we are going to challenge you to explore your library and your city. Welcome to Dare to Explore.

Over the summer holiday we want you to read, read, read and see if you can complete the Dare to Explore challenges, starting with Dare to Explore... Your Library.

For those who want even more adventures, there are 5 more challenge sets for you to choose from...

  • Dare to Explore... Your Past

  • Dare to Explore... The Great Outdoors

  • Dare to Explore... Go Aqua

  • Dare to Explore... Our People

  • Dare to Explore... Get Active

It's FREE to sign up and start exploring! The adventure is open to Auckland kids aged 5 - 13 years and runs from 12 December 2011 to 27 January 2012. There is no limit to the number of children who can register and they can register at any time, right up to the end of the adventure. Register online or at your local library from the 12th of December, and then collect your Dare to Explore pack at the library to begin.

Activities can be done at home, on holiday, at the library, through the internet and with friends. Many of our libraries are running special activities and events over summer as part of Dare to Explore. We are really excited about the scale and potential this programme has to reach the children and families in Auckland. So spread the word, check out the Dare to Explore page on our website and get ready to have some fun.

Monday, 5 December 2011

What will the world look like by 2050?

While I'm not sure I'll still be here by 2050, I am certain that it's going to be a very different place than the world I live in now.

One book that landed on my desk last week is The world in 2050 : four forces shaping civilization's northern future by Laurence C. Smith.

Why I picked it up: I'm interested in "what might the future be like?" books and this one was recommended as readable and thought-provoking.

Who I'd recommend it to : anyone who has read Guns, Germs, and Steel or Collapse by Jared Diamond.

Friday, 2 December 2011

5 reasons you should check out Bakerella's book/website and make cake pops!

List by Tosca

"Vegetables are a must on a diet. I suggest carrot cake, zucchini bread, and pumpkin pie."
- Jim Davis

Angie Dudley. Bakerella. Cake pops! No idea what I'm talking about? Then I'm about to school you. Earlier this week I spotted a mention of cake pops on a friend's Facebook status update, and loved it. Absolutely. Loved. It. You can see a pic of her cake pops to the left :) So, what exactly is a cake pop? It's a little cake that sits on a stick. Doesn't seem like much when I put it like that, does it? Give it to Angie Dudley and my Facebook friend, though, and they turn it into a work of art. If you don't believe me, then check out her hugely popular site. Initially, I was afraid to even look at the instructions because they look complicated. Reader comments, though, all talk about how simple the process really is. How could you not want to see it/make it/touch it/eat it? I was desperately wanting to get my hands on a copy of her book. Unfortunately for me (fortunately for Bakerella), every copy is out :( So I did the next best thing, and popped on over to and was blown away by what you can do with a bit of cake and a stick. (No, that's not a euphemism). Don't take my word for it, though. Below the fold you'll be able to find out a bit more about the book.