Monday, 30 April 2012
In the meantime, I will indulge myself with this delicious new anthology, Dear Heart : 150 New Zealand Love Poems, edited by Paula Green.
150 poems. I went searching for some of my favourite poets (Hinemoana Baker, Robert Sullivan, Apirana Taylor, Jenny Bornholdt) and was delighted to find them included. I've also discovered several new poets who I want to read more of, after their poems in this book touched me.
9 artworks. My favourite is John Pule's on page 109. It was the first page that I opened the book at, and it still makes me smile every time I turn to it.
I challenge you to find a poem in this collection & read it to someone you love. Guarantee it'll make your day and their day so much brighter.
Friday, 27 April 2012
- Goldie Hawn
Title:A horrible experience of unbearable length : more movies that suck
Author: Roger Ebert
Summary: Ebert's I Hated, Hated, Hated This Movie and Your Movie Sucks, which gathered some of his most scathing reviews, were bestsellers. This new collection continues the tradition, reviewing not only movies that were at the bottom of the barrel, but also movies that he found underneath the barrel.
I am kinda bad at choosing movies. Well, no, I'm *really* bad at choosing movies to watch. This is no secret. While it's not something I would say I wear as a point of pride, it isn't something I'm embarrassed about. I figure there are worse things that could populate that particular list. When we have a bad movie night my nephews cringe AND rejoice when it's my turn to pick something. I could, I suppose, get huffy about it and be all hurt. But there's no fun in that. How can I torture my nephews with terrible-to-them films that are wonderful-to-me? THIS IS HOW! I feel like I need to increase the likelihood of my finding stuff that only I will like, which is where these film guides come in handy. Ordinarily, these things brass me off. They all feature films that are deep and meaningful and full of great dialogue and Oscar nominated films. You know the kind of thing I mean: worthy :/ Guides like that make me feel like I'm lacking and yes, I know, that says more about ME than it does about the BOOK *blows raspberry* I was playing in the catalogue looking for something-or-other and came across Ebert's book A horrible experience of unbearable length : more movies that suck, which sounded like MY KIND OF THING *places request* It also made me wonder what else we had sitting undiscovered in our libraries that offered something a bit different, something alone the lines of what I'm after - a little bit of quirk factor, a dash of off-kilter, and a sprinkling of what-the-heck. And came up with THIS: 5 film guides to make me feel deficient as a moviegoer...in the best way possible. My nephews won't know what hit them. Roll on bad/strange/mad/crazy movie nights!
Monday, 23 April 2012
I've found another title that also got me thinking - who is it written for? I immediately wished I was a high school teacher of Art or English (that happens to me occasionally!) so I could use this book to provoke the students. Instead, I'll share it with you, fellow blog reader(s).
I am Thomas written by Libby Gleeson and illustrated by Armin Greder is 32 pages long. Typical picture length, but the audience is definitely not for the under five brigade.
The opening lines two lines are "I am Thomas." and "I am not the child I once was.".
The scene is set for a short (but powerful) tale of standing strong and being yourself, against a back drop of family expectations, peer pressure, societal group-think.
The imagery and language references are provactive, and evoked an uncomfortable reaction for me on the first read through. There are many layers and ideas that need to be re-read, un-picked, pondered on and debated about. I could imagine talking about this book alongside George Orwell's 1984, or WWII propaganda posters, or even Pink Floyd's The Wall album.
For me, it is another key example of picture books definitely not always being for under fives!
Friday, 20 April 2012
Thursday, 19 April 2012
Wednesday, 18 April 2012
Train Dreams - Denis Johnson (Farrar, Straus and Giroux).
Robert Grainer is a day laborer in the American West at the start of the twentieth century-an ordinary man in extraordinary times. Buffeted by the loss of his family, Grainer struggles to make sense of this strange new world. As his story unfolds, we witness both his shocking personal defeats and the radical changes that transform America in his lifetime. Suffused with the history and landscapes of the American West-its otherworldly flora and fauna, its rugged loggers and bridge builders-the new novella by the National Book Award-winning author of Tree of Smoke captures the disappearance of a distinctly American way of life."--Publisher description.
Swamplandia! - Karen Russell (Alfred A. Knopf).
The Bigtree alligator-wrestling dynasty is in decline, and Swamplandia!, their island home and gator-wrestling theme park, formerly #1 in the region, is swiftly being encroached upon by a fearsome and sophisticated competitor called the World of Darkness. Ava’s mother, the park’s indomitable headliner, has just died; her sister, Ossie, has fallen in love with a spooky character known as the Dredgeman, who may or may not be an actual ghost; and her brilliant big brother, Kiwi, who dreams of becoming a scholar, has just defected to the World of Darkness in a last-ditch effort to keep their family business from going under. Ava’s father, affectionately known as Chief Bigtree, is AWOL; and that leaves Ava, a resourceful but terrified thirteen, to manage ninety-eight gators and the vast, inscrutable landscape of her own grief.-- Publisher description.
The Pale King - David Foster Wallace (Little, Brown and Company).
The character David Foster Wallace is introduced to the banal world of the IRS Regional Examination Center in Peoria, Illinois, and the host of strange people who work there, in a novel that was unfinished at the time of the author's death.
Awards were made in several other categories though which you can check out at the libraries.
Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention by the late Manning Marable (Viking) won the American History category, after being moved from the Biography nominations.
George F. Kennan: An American Life by John Lewis Gaddis (The Penguin Press), won the Biography category.
Life on Mars by Tracy K. Smith (Graywolf Press), won the Poetry category
The Swerve: How the World Became Modern by Stephen Greenblatt (W.W. Norton and Company) won the General Non-fiction category.
For more information and details of finalists in all the categories go to the Pulitzer Prizes website
Tuesday, 17 April 2012
You see, I'm weighing in on what seems to be a controversial topic at the moment. Basically, that books such as The Hunger Games (and their films), which depict graphic violence by and against children, are at best desensitising our tender young ones to carnage, and at worst, probably causing school shootings, the current bullying epidemic, and everything short of Srebrenica. Child psychotherapists have called for violent teen fiction to be banned. Even New Zealand children's author Sherryl Jordan has vowed not to watch the movie, saying "Young people today are being desensitised to human pain and desperation, and adults are allowing it, if not actively encouraging it."
Stop reading now if you're over the whole thing already. But I know where I stand: and that's with the authors. (Well, Suzanne Collins, of course. Not Sherryl Jordan.)
To me, it's as silly as blaming Harry Potter for encouraging children to practise witchcraft, or - true story - banning James and the Giant Peach for encouraging drug and alcohol abuse, because of references to snuff, tobacco, whisky and magical crocodiles' tongues. Let's not go into the extraordinary level of violence you find in the average Roald Dahl book. You might as well ban Alice in Wonderland because Alice drinks a mysterious potion she happens to find down a rabbit hole. Let alone following a rabbit she hasn't been introduced to. Stranger danger anyone? And these books were aimed at a younger audience than The Hunger Games or Tomorrow When the War Began or Alex Rider or Cherub or so many fantastic teen series featuring children in violent situations.
At Auckland Libraries, our policy is never to censor. That's up to the Office of Film and Literature Classification. It's also up to parents to decide what they will and won't allow their children to read. That's partly why parents or guardians are responsible for their children's library memberships. We believe that no one should be forbidden access to whatever they want to read, be it right-wing, left-wing, or just a bit dodgy. Let's take the idea of banning violence in children's books to its logical extreme. That would mean teens could not study The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton, because it involves death and gangs (with children fighting children). That's from my third-form English class. Fourth form was that gentle comedy, Lord of the Flies. In fifth-form, it was a book featuring a preteen child discovering violent racism, rape and extreme social ostracism. That was, of course, To Kill a Mockingbird. Romeo and Juliet kill themselves - after Romeo kills another teen. (Sixth-form English). The form system might have disappeared, but the classics remain. What they show are universal truths. And unfortunately, violence against and by children is one of those.
I was bullied dreadfully as a teenager. But I believe children should be able to read about bullying, not protected from it, so that they understand they're not alone. How can we understand something that is never discussed? Maybe bullies themselves will learn from being able to put themselves in someone else's shoes. (Maybe.) I don't believe that because the bullying and repression are by the state in The Hunger Games, or by an invading army in Tomorrow When the War Began, that it makes any difference. Or is bloodless violence easier to tolerate? Personally, I found The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas, which got so much praise, rather difficult to swallow. Surely no boy over the age of three would ever think of Auschwitz as a holiday camp - but that version of Nazi history was highly sanitised, right up until the nasty end.
The accusation has been levelled at Katniss Everdeen that she is helping to glorify violence as entertainment, because she appears in a reality show, and because the book is itself entertainment and we are made to "participate". One might make the same accusation about those who watch the news, or read the newspapers. In today's world, violence is inextricably linked with ratings, sales and entertainment, whether you like it or not. The new programmes never merely "inform", but consider very carefully the best pictures and the best soundbites because they are what get your attention. I believe it is courageous and extremely timely of Suzanne Collins to have made that point. I don't expect a book that highlights the horrors of war and repression - which The Hunger Games certainly does - to be dull and uninspiring simply because of its content. Or what would be the point? We learn best when we are entertained.
Finally, the comment one columnist made that Katniss Everdeen would have only been a true "heroine" if she had simply allowed herself, her mother and sister to be killed instead of participating in a war game is frankly ridiculous. Who would make such a choice? If it meant your own child being killed, or killing someone else, I don't know many who would not at least do what they could. And those people are missing the point. Throughout the Hunger Games series, the violence is never glorified. Katniss is continually disgusted and horrified at the things happening to her and those around her, and feels every death as a burden on her shoulders, even those she did not cause. She participates with great reluctance and self-sacrifice, wanting nothing more than to escape. Indeed, she is traumatised by it. It is a deeply human response, and does not at all encourage others to indulge in violent behaviour. Instead of being desensitised to it, the reader is made to feel everything keenly, and analyse what they themselves would do.
Forgive this long posting, but I am angry. I am angry that others are telling me what I can and cannot write, and for whom. I am angry that the darker side of reality should, according to some, have no place in literature. I never read Watership Down - but that was my choice. I am sad for those children who never get to choose some of the best, most touching, most human writing available. And I am sad for those who will never understand that.
If you are a Hunger Games fan, and want more fantastic stories or films with tough choices and strong characters, I recommend:
V for Vendetta
The Dark is Rising
The False Prince
Monday, 16 April 2012
Researching Your ANZACs with Michael Wynd
Michael Wynd, Military Historian & Researcher at the Navy Museum will talk about searching for family members who have served with the Royal New Zealand Navy and what resources there are for the NZ Army and RNZAF.
To book your place, phone (09) 307 7771 or book online.
Water Tanks for Uganda with Barbara Cuthbert
Thursday 19 April at 7.30pm in Devonport Library
Barbara Cuthbert and Mike Ashmore spent a month in Uganda in October working for Waiheke’s Village Project to build four water tanks at Watoto’s Subii Village. They will show slides and talk about their adventure.
For further details, phone Sue Parr (09) 486 8529
School holiday activities continue this week at all our Libraries so check out our Library website events page to see what our cheeky dragon is up to.
And there are already heaps of events listed on our website for you to put in your diary for May. Book ahead now.
From Faye Kellerman to Alexander McCall Smith, from R L Stine to Jeffery Deaver, all twenty six well-known crime writers all wrote at least one chapter of "No rest for the dead". My highlight was the forensic reports, as written by Kathy Reichs.
It's a cohesive storyline, the voices are real, the dialogue flows well, the characters and descriptions are all consistent with a well written mystery.
I'd recommend this to friends wanting to read a fast-paced crime novel, and who read a variety of authors and who would enjoy seeing how their favourite authors write alongside others.
Friday, 13 April 2012
- Benjamin Franklin
The other day I read a post over at BookRiot by Rebecca Joines. This one, in fact: 7 of my dirty little reading secrets. It was a quick and simple post, and I very much liked the idea of it. (As you can tell by the title of this post). My secrets are never so horrid that anybody would need to be dead for me to keep them. I don't know anybody whose life is that topsy turvy. Truth be told, I don't have much that's absolutely secret. Thanks to social media and my inability to keep my mouth shut/fingers still, all of my embarrassments are out there for everybody to see. In all of its somewhat dubious colour and detail. So here's a quick writeup for today. (I know! A short post from me! Has hell frozen over?) 5 of my (not-so-secret if you follow me on Facebook/Tumblr/Twitter) dirty little reading secrets.
What are YOUR dirty little reading secrets?
Thursday, 12 April 2012
I love fantasy, and I especially love it when authors do interesting things with the subjects and themes we’ve all seen before. Inspired by the school holiday theme, here is a list of some of my favourite fantasy books that feature mythical creatures. It’s somewhat eclectic, but hopefully there’s something here for everyone. In no particular order:
Wednesday, 11 April 2012
Fragments of the centuries-old manuscript were found sewn into some of Auckland Libraries' oldest books, a late-15th Century bible held in the Sir George Grey Special Collection.The discovery, which has already been covered by the NZ Herald, was made while cataloguing incunabula (books printed before 1501), as library staff examined a large and striking four-volume Latin bible presented to the library in 1913. Further investigations by Emeritus Professor Alexandra Barratt (Waikato University) uncovered more fragments in three of the four volumes.
* Storytimes with taniwhas, dragons, fairies and more.
* Crafty kids - let your imagination run wild and make your own mythical creature.
* Quizzes - challenge your friends and see who can answer the most questions.
* Scavenger hunts - get your friends together and find all the hidden creatures lurking in the library.
Monday, 9 April 2012
Stinky cheese, hard cheese, soft cheese, waxed cheese, aged cheese, goat's cheese - I'll try it all.
But I have never been brave enough to ever attempt to make my own cheese. Two friends recently did a cheese-making course, and are trying to convince me that it is not that hard to do. I'm reluctant to admit that maybe cheese would lose its allure if I actually knew how to make it.
To help me decide whether or not to give cheese-making a go, I've borrowed two New Zealand books : Cutting the curd : cheesemaking at home : with a collection of delicious recipes byKatherine Mowbray and How to make cheese : & other dairy products : your guide to easy cheesemaking by Jean Mansfield.
So have you ever made your own cheese? What's your verdict - is it easy peasy or far too hard?
Monday, 2 April 2012
Make sure that you bookmark our New Titles page, which gives you a full rundown on all the new material (books, DVDs, CDs, audiobooks) that has been added to the collection.
There's also lists of titles which have been added to our community language collections - from Dutch to Punjabi, from Tamil to Korean.
You can sign up to our NextReads newsletters for a selection of reading suggestions on a variety of topics - from Nature & Science books to Romance Fiction, from Tween reads to Popular Culture.