Rat vs eagle: When the killing’s done by T C Boyle

CoverLooking at T.C. Boyle’s website it is easy to feel a bit intimidated by the author.  He actually looks  as un-compromising and cool, driven and focused as his characters.

His latest effort is When the killing’s done.  Like many of his books, this has an environmental theme and characters that are passionate and somewhat edgy.   Set in the Channel Islands off the coast of California, the plot revolves around the driven and rather nasty Dave Le Roy, environmentalist extraordinaire who believes that all animal life should be preserved, and the equally driven Alma Boyd Takesue, who is intent on eradicating all ‘aliens’ from the islands so the native flora and fauna can survive.

At first it seems clear-cut:  Dave is a complete loony and Alma has the right idea; who in their right mind would choose a rat over the survival of a native bird?  However, Boyle manages to blur the edges nicely, and you find yourself starting to question rational reasoning or passionate logic over and over again.

It all gets rather nasty near the end, and arrival of some snakes just adds to the drama (this is where my massive phobia kicked in and I could hardly turn the pages), however it’s a great ending, and well worth the terror.

From the hangi pit to the Weetbix Kid: Records and Archives Week 2011

coverRecords and Archives Week starts on Sunday. It’s  an annual celebration of the fascinating material held in our cultural institutions, as well as the work of the archivists and record keepers who preserve items of enduring value for us all to share.

This year’s theme is food –  guaranteed to evoke all sorts of memories and a subject well covered by Christchurch City Libraries’  print and online resources. We’ll be posting an item from our collection each day from Sunday 1 May until Saturday 7 May, so keep an eye on the blog for some visual treats from days gone by.

People have been gathering food locally for many, many years and there is a lot of information on how they did it. With the wonders of technology we can all share the information, if not the food itself. Try these resources to whet your appetite.

Jigsaw puzzles, brains and other grey matters

At Redwood Library we have WiFi  and we have jigsaws. Hard to believe they’d even be in the same room together, let alone the same sentence. But WiFi is the library flavour of the month and  jigsaws are hot news after a 26 April article in The Press (you can read it in Press Display) which featured a lovely lady who uses jigsaws as stress relief after the quake.

There are no books called Jigsaw Puzzles through the Ages or The Dummies Guide to Jigsaws. I know because I looked. However, several community libraries have a jigsaw exchange system which works like a treat.

So far, it’s mainly senior citizens who avail themselves of this service, and when they are all up and jigging, as it were, they may be doing more than just passing the time pleasantly, according to the excellent book Secrets of the grown-up brain by Barbara Strauch.

Strauch would probably be a fan of using jigsaws to help stave off Alzheimers, provided you did them whilst jogging, or at the very least with your left hand (assuming you are right-handed), whilst drinking a glass of red wine and snacking on blueberries. Then, quite possibly, you may never grow old at all. Strauch gives a cracker example of the world’s oldest woman, who took up fencing at 85 and lived to be 122. But you know jigsawing will be a better fit than fencing in most retirement units.

Still I worry about the lovely lady in The Press – how quickly can she get her puzzle under the table? I’d hate her to get to piece number 2499 of a 2500 piece puzzle only to find that the next quake means she has to start again!

Crafty Clogs – Why? Just in case of course!

CoverI’m on a sort-of arty-crafty binge at the moment. I can’t get enough, truly! In the last six months I have acquired metres and metres of  fabric, enough beads to keep a school holiday programme busy for years, a guillotine, tonnes of pretty paper and cardboard, reels of craft wire and buttons galore!

What am I making? I have no idea actually …  maybe a fabricy, wirey, papery, beady button holder, who knows? There are just so many possibilities.

A couple of weeks ago, full of enthusiasm for things handmade, I visited the annual Avice Hill Art and Craft fair in Memorial Ave and it was fabulous!! The event promotes craft activities that take place at the Avice Hill Craft Centre and in the local community, with plenty of ‘experts’ on hand to offer guidance and advice.

I painted a folk-art wooden tile,  learnt how to make pot-pouri (correctly so that it doesn’t go mouldy), crafted a fabulous arty card, made my very first candle, bought several pieces of antique linen and made an amazing herbal tussie-mussie all for under $10 – yes truly! All kinds of  free art and craft demonstrations encouraging young and old  to “have a go’, including soap-carving,  omaru stone sculpting, pottery, woodturning,  and  paper stamping. Craft fairs are an excellent source of  reasonably priced goods, ideas and access to the many organisations offering courses and supplies .

If you are looking for  inspiration, the library has a huge range of art and craft books and magazines.

What arty-crafty things have you got ferretted away, just in case?

World language collection available at Bishopdale Library

Kaitiakitanga by Gavin Britt

Customers of the lovely Bishopdale Library can now browse and borrow books in other languages, including Japanese, Chinese and Korean, as some ‘guest stars’ appear on the shelves.

Some returned books are temporarily staying where they have been returned, so open libraries like Bishopdale have books available that have never appeared on their shelves before. Pleasant surprises await!

Reading Crusade Challenge – Week 3

Reading crusade logo

Week 3 Challenge – Animals

This week on the Christchurch Kids Blog we’re challenging children to read an animal story.  It could be about a mouse like Stuart Little or Runaway Ralph, a horse like Bow Down Shadrach or Pony Club Secrets, a dog like Shadow or Hotel for Dogs, or a cat like The Amazing Story of Adolphus Tips or The Warriors series.  We have heaps of reading suggestions  and some cool books on offer, including some Pony Club Secrets and Pony Club Rivals books by Stacy Gregg.

To go into the draw, children need to go to the Christchurch Kids Blog and tell us their favourite fantasy book.   For more information about our Reading Crusade Challenges or for some great reading recommendations, check out the Christchurch Kids Blog.

Get ya geek on: Really useful resources for NCEA Graphics

Cover image of "Year 12 graphics study guide"Let us help you plan your great designs in NCEA Graphics!

Want some more really useful resources for another NCEA subject? Go to The Pulse, the library’s website for teens.

River crossing cars, 1903 style

Ranger Motor and Cycle Company

Both these cars were specially designed to cross rivers. They were exhibited at the Canterbury A & P Show, by the Ranger Motor and Cycle Company, in 1903. Do you have any information on these vehicles, or the company? Please contact us if you’d like to share it. We also accept donations.

Want to see more? You can browse our image collection online.

Search our online historical newspapers

Have you seen Gale Newsvault? It’s a tool that searches multiple products available at Christchurch City Libraries, including:

This resource allows you to discover the content of 400 years in moments by allowing browsing and searching newspapers by title, date and by place of publication. Each newspaper is available to read from cover to cover.

You can access  many other useful material in the Source from home with your library card number and PIN, or at our open  community libraries.

At the end of The Empire

Lyttelton demolitions: The end of The Empire
The Empire Hotel in Lyttelton was demolished yesterday. It was one of several recent building take-downs on London Street. View more of this set of photos on flickr.