The Art of Racing in the Rain

I’m definitely a dog person.  I haven’t got anything against cats, it’s just that dogs really appreciate your attention and are incredibly loyal (especially my Labradoodle, Sonni).  I came across Garth Stein’s book The Art of Racing in the Rain about a year ago while I was perusing the new books and immediately fell in love with it.  I just noticed it on the shelves yesterday and I enjoyed it so much that I have to tell everyone about it.  It’s unique for an adult’s book to be told from the point of view of a dog but Stein really pulls it off.  The story follows Enzo from birth to the end of his long life, with Enzo narrating the story.  Through his eyes we see the trials and tribulations of his masters and at times the story gets pretty sad but you just know that everything will be alright because they have Enzo to help them through.  I major strand of the book is about automobile racing, of which I knew very little about when I started the book, but it didn’t change my enjoyment of the story and actually helped to keep the story moving along. 

The story goes full circle and I’m sure you can guess how it ends, but it leaves you feeling proud of Enzo and sad that his story has come to an end.  Enzo and his family have stuck with me and I’m sure you’ll find it hard to leave them behind too.

Fantastic new Children’s Books

We are getting some really great new children’s books at the moment! I’ve got a big pile of them beside my bed at home that I’m making my way through.  I want to tell you about a few of them that had me hooked from the first few pages.

The Eyeball Collector is the gripping new book from F. E. Higgins, author of The Black Book of Secrets and The Bone Magician.  Hector is a boy who leads a good life with a father who is rich and powerful, but when his father is blackmailed, Hector seeks vengeance and leaves the city in pursuit of a fiendish villain with a glass eye.  Hector finds himself mixed-up in mysterious deeds more evil than he could have imagined, but every twist and turn brings him closer to his revenge.  Fantastic setting with lots of interesting characters and a plot that keeps you guessing.


The Immortal by Michael Panckridge is a creepy new book from the author of the Legends series of sports books.  It grabs you right from the start and seems like it is going to be a typical spy story…but there’s a twist. The story then skips foward to the present day and introduces Cameron and Ben who become vital pieces of the puzzle.  As suggested by the title the issue of immortality comes into the story, but you’ll just have to read it to find out how.


Last, but not least, Troll’s Eye View edited byEllen Datlow and Terri Windling.  This book caught my eye with it’s fantastic, slightly creepy cover.  The book is a collection of short stories by well-known children’s authors, including Garth Nix and Neil Gaiman, that look at fairy tales from a slightly different perspective.  The fairy tales in this collection are told from the point of view of the villains.  We hear from the Giant’s Wife (from Jack and the Beanstalk), Rumpelstiltskin, and the Witch and Witch’s Cat from Rapunzel.  Some of the stories are hilarious and others are disturbing but it’s an interesting and unique idea.

“A work of stunning originality and power”

The title of this post is the front cover quote from Sebastian Junger on The Photographer  (sub-titled Into war-torn Afghanistan with Doctors without Borders),  a new title that has arrived in the library.

The Photographer was originally published in three volumes in France to great acclaim a few years ago, and has recently been published in one volume in English. 

In July 1986, Didier Lefevre left Paris on his first major assignment as a photojournalist. He was headed to northern Afghanistan, to document the work of Doctors without Borders in the region. The war between the Soviet Union and the Afghan Mujahideen was arduous and confronting for Lefevre, and this photographic assignment profoundly affected Lefevre. 

Over the next few years, he returned several times to Afghanistan and accrued a massive amount of photographs, many of which were never published.  He shared his experiences of Afghanistan with few people, one of whom was Emmanuel Guibert. Thirteen years later, Guibert suggested they collaborate together to tell the stories contained within The Photographer.

Lefevre had been selective in telling people what he had witnessed, and it wasn’t until The Photographer was published almost twenty years after his original visit to Afghanistan that his mother had any real idea about what her son Didier had witnessed during his time on that first assignment.

The Sunday Book Review from The New York Times (May 20, 2009) gives an idea of what the interior of the book looks like, showing colour illustrations juxtaposed with black and white photographs.

This is a book to read and re-read, to take in the detail and the stories shared within. I agree with the quote from Sebastian Junger that this is a powerful, original work.

Kāti. Titiro. Whakarongo.

Stop. Look. Listen. Our city and land is full of the Māori language, and this is something we are reminded of during te wiki o te reo Māori.  It’s your chance to connect with the language and heritage that makes us unique. Set yourself a goal to use te reo in your daily life.

Our online resources

Montana Poetry day today – Friday July 24

The Rocky Shore, by Jenny Bornholdt, has won the poetry section of the Montana Book Awards (Anarchic poet didn’t know it: Stuff)

And Cilla McQueen is the new Poet Laureate.

We like a bit of poetry we do
And today’s the day to wax poetic
There’s poetry stuff to do.