Anne Perry Revealed?

Find The sheen on the silk at Christchurch City LibrariesThe World Cinema Showcase has just started in Christchurch and one of the documentaries sounds fascinating, with a local connection (library and Christchurch) which can’t be beat. Anne Perry – Interiors is a portrait of the successful detective fiction writer who was revealed a few years ago to be Juliet Hulme of the notorious Parker-Hulme murder.

It might seem a bit gruesome to keep revisiting a murderer but the combination of folie a deux, matricide, teenage girl killers and staid 1950s Christchurch, plus adult redemption has proved irresistible to writers, readers and film makers over the years.

The connection with the library has come from several directions. Peter Jackson researched “Heavenly Creatures” in our New Zealand collection and due to pressure of interest over the years the original information file of original newspaper reports of the trial has been digitised on the library website.

Anne Perry has had a successful career writing novels featuring Victorian detectives Thomas Pitt and William Monk. She is a prolific writer and we have many of her works including in large print and audio book format.  Her latest novel The sheen on the silk has ventured into 13th century Byzantium.

The film programme says:

Filmmaker Dana Linkiewicz has snuggled very closely into the comfort zone that Perry has created for herself. Tellingly attentive to her subject’s insistence on routine and decorum, she has emerged with an absolutely fascinating portrait of the artist and the devoted circle of three that supports her. The question of how the hunger for exoneration shapes her life and fuels her work hovers suggestively in every elegant frame.

The man behind Jack Reacher

Never fear Jack Reacher fans – Jack’s still got plenty of life left in him.  The James Hay Theatre was packed with Jack Reacher fans last night as his creator, Lee Child, landed in Christchurch as part of his Australasian tour.  He held his audience captive for over an hour with anecdotes about the craft of writing, the appeal of Jack Reacher, and his dislike of the Fleming family.

He started by discussing why he sets his books in America instead of his native Britain.  Jack Reacher, he said, is an isolated loner so you can’t have him in a populated, civilised country like Britain.  He needed the American frontier mysteriousness to give Jack the wide-open spaces and lots of isolated small towns.  While other crime writers tie their main character to a particular place, Reacher is able to go anywhere and do anything. 

Child also has a dislike of James Bond and his creator Ian Fleming.  I think it was Frederick Forsyth that compared Reacher to James Bond, but Child disagreed with this comparison and said that he’s more like the Lone Ranger or a medieval knight errant because you don’t know much about his past or who he really is and there is always somebody who needs his help when he rolls into town.  Although, Reacher firmly believes that he’s not helping the little man, he just hates the big man.

People have asked Child what the appeal of Jack Reacher is, particularly to women, and he thinks that it is probably because he is offended by injustice and he treats women well.  It is a compelling character, such as Reacher, that Child suggests is the most important part of a story, and that all the details of the plot are secondary to this compelling character.  The character of Reacher is definitely the main reason I love his books.

Lee Child will keep writing the Jack Reacher books for as long as he can (and as long as they sell) so we don’t need to worry about losing him quite yet, although Child already has Reacher’s final scene worked out so I now know how he’ll die.

New NZ stories for children

Lately I’ve been reading some new children’s books that are written by New Zealand authors about Kiwi kids.  I really like it when New Zealand authors write about life in New Zealand, because I can relate to it so much better than American authors writing about American kids.  The scenery is something I recognise and the experiences of the characters is often something that has happened to me or something I did when I was a kid.  

Jack Lasenby is an author who has been writing for years and his books always have a slice of Kiwi life.  I like to think of him as Barry Crump for kids, because his books are made up of lots of little stories about life in a small country town, the mischief that kids get up to, and the crazy stories that adults tell them.

 Jack’s latest book, The Haystack, is full of these amusing and entertaining stories that are told from the point of view of Maggie who is being brought up by her dad in the 1930’s Depression.  They’re set in a little Waikato dairying township called Waharoa, where several of Jack’s other books have been set and where he grew up.  I loved these stories because of the closeness of Maggie and her father, and the way that Jack creates the atmosphere of Waharoa.  You can almost smell the wood smoke and feel the hot sun beating down on the dusty roads.

If you like the Percy Jackson books, you should try The Taniwha’s Tear by David Hair.  This is the second in the series and so it carries on the story of Matiu Douglas who came face to face with creatures from Maori legend in the first book, The Bone Tiki.  Like Percy Jackson, Matiu discovers he has powers and that the gods and monsters of legend (in this case Maori legend) are real and he must help to save our world. 

This is another book for children that is distinctly New Zealand and the combination of scenery that you recognise, action, adventure, myth and legend makes it an exciting and unique read.

If you’re interested in New Zealand children’s authors, we have a great page on our Kids website which has interviews with authors such as Joy Cowley, Margaret Mahy, David Hill and Brian Falkner.

Tumblebooks! A new way for kids to love reading

TumbleBook Library is an online collection of  animated talking picture books which teach kids the joy of reading. TumbleBooks are created by adding animation, sound, music and narration to existing picture books in order to produce an electronic picture book.

TumbleBooks are designed to be experienced in either automatic or manual mode. In automatic mode the pages turn by themselves and are narrated – while in manual, the narration is turned off and children turn the pages and read at their own speed.

  • Story Books: Old time favourites such as “The Paper Bag Princess” by Robert Munsch, as well as favourite fairy tales such as “Jack and the Beanstalk.”
  • TumbleReadables: Older students can read classics such as “Black Beauty” and “Anne of Green Gables.”
  • Audio Books: A collection non-fiction and fiction children and teen books.
  • TumblePuzzles and Games: A collection of online puzzles, concentration games, spelling games that reinforce concepts from the book featuring a picture from the book.
  • Language Learning: A growing selection of bilingual books in French, Spanish, Italian, Chinese and Russian.

You can access Tumblebooks and many other useful databases from home with your library card number and PIN, or at our community libraries.