Get ya geek on: Really useful resources for NCEA Social Studies

The PulseGet an excellent score for NCEA Social Studies with the help of these excellent web resources.

So where did we find these great resources? On The Pulse, the library’s website for teens.

Issues with ‘issues’ – is young adult fiction too dark?

coverLast week’s post about the Ms list of novels “that awaken girls to their feminisim” featured lots of ‘issue’ novels; a topic that’s been generating a lot of heat among readers and writers of  young adult fiction.

When The Wall Street Journal recently featured an editorial called Darkness too visible, the title  may have given a clue as to where the author, Meghan Cox Gurdon, was coming from.

No, she is not a fan of the ‘issue’ novel. Gurdon thinks young adult fiction is “ever-more-appalling”, it goes into ‘stomach-clenching detail” and it should not deal with issues like self-harm because it only encourages people to start cutting themselves. Young adults that is. Adults are never influenced by books so we don’t need to worry about them.

Cue lots of young people who actually read these books (gladdening an old librarian’s heart – they are reading) to take to their blogs and twitter accounts (#YAsaves trend) to describe how books saved them from despair.

Writers like Meg Cabot, Susane Colisanti, Laurie Halse AndersonNeil Gaiman and Jackie Morse Kessler  weighed in as well, talking about  young adult books providing positive moral guidance,  saving lives and encouraging healing. But then they would say that, being as they specialise in books about every issue you hope you’ll never have to deal with.

Last week Laraine commented on the Ms list – “As a teenager I loathed books that rubbed my nose in my problems. I read to “get me outa here!” In other words, I wanted something as different from my life as possible.”

What do you think?  Do you have a favourite ‘issue’ novel? Or should authors stay away from the darker side of life?

Searching for Aroha – an early New Zealand aviator

CoverOur Christchurch timeline is a neat guide to Today in history. I noticed that today – Monday 20 June  – in 1928  the Canterbury Aero Club was formed. It mentions “The first pilot trained by the club was a woman, Aroha Clifford. She may have been New Zealand’s first woman pilot.”

I had never heard of Aroha Clifford before so I did a search using The SourcePapers Past reveals an astonishing story as it unfolds in articles from the late 1920s and early 1930s – her keen pursuit of flight, and her father’s desire to keep her on the ground.

The NZ Truth article Eve takes to the air reports “… to Miss Aroha Clifford, daughter of Mr Walter Clifford, and niece of Sir George, goes the honor of being the first-aero, club trained woman to pilot a ‘plane solo”. The New Zealand Film Archive has newsreel footage of Aroha and mentions “Clifford had plans to fly from England to Australia and bought an Avro Avian in England for that very purpose. However, because of her father’s opposition she was forced to abandon this ambition”.

The book Silver Wings: New Zealand women in aviation features more information on Aroha.

The tragic coda to the story is it seems Aroha died in childbirth, and her son died in a farming accident at the age of two.

I’m feeling quite moved by these little glimpses into her life and it makes me think: Have you discovered any unsung heroes or heroines of New Zealand’s past – maybe in your own whanau?

Aroha Clifford, woman pilot (image from Pātaka Ipurangi – Palmerston North)
Aroha Clifford
Aroha Clifford. Ref: EP-0628-1/2-G. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand.

Search Digital NZ for more on Aroha Clifford.