Children’s book awards start off year with a bang

Some of the best children’s books of 2009 have been recognised in the first few weeks of 2010 with the announcement of the Costa Book Awards, the Caldecott Medal and the Newbery Medal.

I was pleased to hear that one of my favourite authors, Patrick Ness, won the 2009 Costa Children’s Book Award for his most recent book, The Ask and the Answer, the second book in the Chaos Walking Trilogy.  If you don’t already know how amazing Patrick Ness’ books are check out some of my previous blog entries.  The Costa Book Awards “is one of the most prestigious and popular literary prizes in the UK and recognises some of the most enjoyable books of the year by writers based in the UK and Ireland.”  The judges said of The Ask and the Answer, “From the first word, we were gripped by this dazzlingly-imagined, morally complex, compulsively-plotted tale.  We are convinced that this is a major achievement in the making.”  Ness is a very well deserved recipient in my opinion.  He is doing an Australia and New Zealand Tour early in the year so hopefully he’ll come to Christchurch.  Watch this space.

The winner of the Caldecott Medal 2010 is Jerry Pinkney’s The Lion and the Mouse  which has one of the most striking covers I’ve ever seen.  The Caldecott Medal is awarded each year to the artist of the most distinguished American picture book for children.  Jerry Pinkney also deserved this award and if you haven’t seen The Lion and the Mouse I suggest you grab it and have a look.  The illustrations are absolutely amazing and so lifelike.  What makes this book even more unique is that the illustrations tell the story as the book is almost wordless (apart from some animal noises).

The winner of the 2010 Newbery Medal is Rebecca Stead’s When You Reach Me.  I haven’t read this one but it sounds interesting.  The Newbery Medal is Awarded each year “to the author of the most distinguished contribution to American literature for children” and has been awarded to such authors as Neil GaimanKate DiCamillo and Louis Sachar.

RIP Kate McGarrigle

In sad news for her many fans, Canadian folk singer and songwriter Kate McGarrigle, has died at her home just weeks short of her 64th birthday. Matriarch of the talented musical clan containing her ex husband Loudon Wainwright III, sister Anna and children Rufus and Martha Wainwright, Kate is probably best known  for her work with her sister under the name of The McGarrigle Sisters. Sometimes the whole family even got together for performances such as a tribute to Leonard Cohen.

Her songs have been recorded by the greats like Emmy Lou Harris, Elvis Costello, Judy Collins and Linda Ronstadt.

In a double blow her death has led to the cancellation of Rufus Wainwright’s Australasian tour. His website had a moving tribute to his ‘amazing mother with whom everyone fell in love’.

    Aussie authors feature on new set of stamps

    Australia Post gives the stamp of approval to literary legends reports the Sydney Morning Herald of 20 January 2010. And who were the Australian authors honoured by gettting their mugs plastered on a postage stamp?

    Bryce Courtenay said modestly:

    ‘Stamps aren’t what they used to be … It was the king’s head on stamps when I was young. Now they just put old sh*tbags on them.’

    Well I think it is wonderful to see this great selection of Australian authors philatelicly honoured.

    Has New Zealand done literary themed stamps?
    A quick search revealed this 1989 Authors issue :  Katherine Mansfield, James K Baxter, Bruce Mason and Ngaio Marsh.

    Image of the week

    New tonnage record for Lyttelton of 89,670 tons when 20 ships were berthed in the inner harbour and one in the stream awaiting a berth. 14 Nov. 1949.

    New tonnage record for Lyttelton of 89,670 tons when 20 ships were berthed in the inner harbour and one in the stream awaiting a berth

    Like what you see? Contact us.

    If you have any further information on any of the images, or if you would like to donate images to our collection please contact us. Want to see more? You can browse our collection here.

    I’m a gleek!

    Fridays have always been the best day of the week in my opinion but now that I have Glee to look forward to every Friday night it is definitely my favourite day.  I’m totally obsessed with this show and I know I’m not the only one.  The  great characters, cool story, singing and dancing make a winning combination and it’s popularity has just been proven with it winning the Golden Globe for Best Comedy or Musical (beating 30 Rock yay!).

    I sit down to watch it on Friday nights (and the Glee-peat on Wednesday night on C4) and love every minute of it.  I couldn’t even tell you who my favourite character is because they’re all great, apart from Will Schuster’s wife who really annoys me.

    For those of you who love the show and the songs that they sing you can get the first volume of the soundtrack from the library (and hopefully the second volume soon too as it has just been released) and if you’re really keen you could get the music score of the songs so that you can play or sing the songs, or even start up your own Glee club.  They’re all really catchy songs and it’s a great CD to listen to at work to pass the day.

    Are you a gleek or are you more of a Sue Silvester who wants to crush Glee?

    Going West video

    Two minutes and 11 seconds of creative brilliance – all in the name of books. This came out in November 2009  but just in case you haven’t seen it the New Zealand Book Council Going West video deserves a look.  I love the skill of paper artists – what they can do is amazing.

    The creatives behind this should get a mention : Ad agency  Colenso BBDO producers, Andersen M Studio Design animation,  Line Andersen Photography and lighting, Martin Andersen Sound design and Mikkel H. Eriksen (Instrument Studio). And of course the story is from the great Maurice Gee’s novel Going West.

    I went to an all boys’ school. Every one of us stank.

    That’s a quote, and quite possibly the most accurate description of a New Zealand school experience I’ve ever read. It comes from the pen of Christchurch’s Ryan Nelsen. The All White and Blackburn Rovers defender proves himself to have quite a turn of phrase in A Beautiful Game: football through the eyes of the world’s greatest players.

    Collated by English football writer Tom Watt, this  collection of memories and cultural snapshots delves into the stories of how some of the biggest names in the game started out, explores their childhoods and what football meant to them. It puts a very personal and intriguing angle on the world’s most professional game.

    Organised into sections like hope, family, dedication, passion, flair and courage, the book gives a real insight into why football inspires devotion from legions of fans. The photographs are stunning and show people playing football on beaches, arid deserts and streets in places as diverse as Baghdad, Liberia and Cambodia.

    For Nelsen it’s a story that takes him from Spreydon Domain to the World Cup finals – and its fantastic that a Kiwi features in a book like this. His story illustrates perfectly the opportunity  and the dream football represents for millions of people around the world. I’d recommend it if you’ve ever wondered why blokes like sport so much. If it whets your appetite, there’s plenty more football resources available online or at your library.

    Do you have memories of Big League Soccer, late night F.A. Cup finals or stinking out the classroom after lunch-time battles like Ryan Nelsen? Or were you more of a sportophobe?

    Science is stranger than science fiction – just ask our guest blog star Marcus Chown

    Kia ora Marcus.
    We are pleased to welcome science writer Marcus Chown to our blog today as part of his virtual trip around the blogosphere. He’s the star of our blog, and also the Christchurch City Libraries web site which has just published an interview with Marcus by Moata Tamaira during the Auckland Writers and Readers Festival 2009.

    I asked  him a few questions:
    Who is your favourite science writer and what is it about their writing that appeals to you?

    I suppose it’s the people I read when I was a teenager, who expanded my mental horizons and blew my mind, who are my favourites. I’m giving away my age but I would say Arthur C. Clarke and Carl Sagan. I know, that’s two! So I’ll narrow it down to Carl Sagan since Clarke was principally a science fiction writer.

    I particularly liked Sagan’s The Cosmic Connection. I recall him describing being a planetary astronomer and working on the NASA Mariner flybys of Mars. When the space probe arrived at its destination, to everyone’s dismay Mars was shrouded in a planet-wide dust storm. But, gradually, as the dust settled, there were revealed volcanoes that would dwarf Everest and canyons whose minor tributaries were bigger than the Grand Canyon. Sagan had the gift of sharing with you what it was like to be at Mission Control as, one by one, the grainy, black-and-white pictures came in. He communicated the excitement of being one of the first people in history to stare at face of an alien world. It sends a tingle up my spine even thinking about it. So, I think Sagan has my vote for his genius in conveying the sheer wonder of the Universe we find ourselves in.

    Actually, I interviewed Sagan once. It was one of my first journalistic jobs. I was so nervous at meeting my hero, who was staying in a palatial suite at London’s super-posh Dorchester Hotel, that, rather than asking him much about him, I told him all about me. Even now, I cringe at the thought!

    I love this quote from Sagan: “To create an apple pie from scratch you must first create the Universe.” As British comedian Robin Ince has observed: “Maybe that explains why Sagan’s recipe books never sold.”

    (I’ll just add in this lovely mashup song  that utilised Sagan’s ‘create an apple pie’ words)


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    Give your child the gift of stories – get them a library card

    One of the best things you can do for your child is to get them a library card.  This magic card allows you, as their parent, or your children themselves to get children’s books, music, DVDs, posters, and magazines free of charge from all Christchurch City Libraries.  With thousands of items available and a limit of 30 items issued at one time there are so many stories for your children to discover, new friends to meet, and strange and exiting places to explore.  It has been proven that reading to children from birth helps with brain development and speech skills and so it is important to read aloud to your children every day.  What better place to get books to read to your children than Christchurch City Libraries where you can get an almost endless supply of great stories.

    All you need to do to join is bring in two forms of ID (or your own library card if you’re already a member) and fill in your details, then you can start borrowing straight away.  For more information about membership check here.

    Make it your New Year’s Resolution to get your child a library card so your whole family can enjoy all the benefits of being a library member.

    Writers dispense advice in song

    Some authors make writing look so easy, pumping out several books a year, while others take their time, spending years on their one great book.  I’ve never found writing easy and I know that I’m definitely a reader not a writer but I envy those who have got these great ideas in their head and can get them down on paper. 

    I came across a video on a blog last week that a group of American Young Adult authors have put together to give writing advice to writers young and old.  You may remember a song from the early ’90s called ‘Everybody’s Free (to wear sunscreen)’ which provided us with advice for life in a catchy and amusing way.  A group of 28 American Young Adult writers have changed the words of this song to give other writers some inspiration and hope so that they will continue writing and not give up, even when they keep getting rejection letters.

    We also have a great selection of books and other materials that will help you improve your writing or give you some ideas so you can get started:

    • Creative Writing pages on our website for Adults and Teens
    • Authors pages on our website for Adults, Teens and Kids so you can get tips from other writers
    • Check out the Creative Writing courses available in Christchurch through CINCH
    • Check the catalogue to see the huge range of writing resources we have in the library