With lots of love from Georgia – New Zealand e-book month

Money can’t buy you love, but sometimes you find one when you think you need the other. Georgia’s fifteenth year starts in pursuit of money (for a trip to see her favourite band), and ends with an unexpected pay-off – first love.

A funny and engaging novel written in a playful, inventive style.

You can read With lots of love from Georgia as an e-book from our Overdrive collection.

With lots of love from Georgia is also available as a paper book.

Kids’ Books: picks from our latest newsletter

Some picks from our March Kids’ Books newsletter:

Cover: Treasure on Superstition Mountain Cover: Face Book Cover: The Secret Order of the Gumm Street Girls Cover: Aladdin and the Enchanted Lamp Cover: Three Times Lucky Cover: A Hero for WondLa Cover: Return to the WillowsCover: The Annotatated Phantom Tollbooth

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For more great reads for kids, check out our Fun to Read page – it links you to reading lists, if you likes, interactive quizzes and lots more.

Ben Sanders beats the odds

How can you put yourself through university without ending up with a debt? Answer – become a writer.

Bestselling New Zealand crime writer Ben Sanders began “writing a bit every day” and by the age of twenty one he had two crime novels published. His first book hit the New Zealand bestseller list.

His hard man and police detective Sean Devereaux inhabits the mean streets of Auckland. He and his equally hard case friend, security specialist John Hale, deal with murder, kidnapping, corruption and general mayhem with a traditional hero’s lack of respect for rules and authority, leaving a trail of blood and broken noses behind them.

Fast paced and well plotted, these are very readable noir novels. I would never have guessed that they were written by someone so young – but that being so, they hold the promise of even better things to come.

Keep them coming, Ben!

10 pm question – New Zealand e-book month

Frankie Parsons is twelve going on old man: an apparently sensible, talented Year 8 student with a drumbeat of worrying questions steadily gaining volume in his head: Are the smoke alarm batteries flat? Does the cat, and therefore the rest of the family, have worms? Is the kidney-shaped spot on his chest actually a galloping cancer? Most of the significant people in Frankie’s world – his father, his brother and sister, his great-aunts, his best friend Gigs – seem gloriously untroubled by worry.

Only Ma takes seriously his catalogue of persistent anxieties; only Ma listens patiently to his 10pm queries. But of course, it is Ma who is the cause of the most worrying question of all, the one that Frankie can never bring himself to ask. Then the new girl arrives at school and has questions of her own: relentless, unavoidable questions. So begins the unravelling of Frankie Parson’s carefully controlled world.

So begins the painful business of fronting up to the unpalatable: the ultimate 10pm question.

The 10pm Question is a novel which defies all age categories. It does so with a sparkling wit and an operatic cast of characters so delightful and maddening they become dear to us.

You can read 10 pm question as an e-book from our Overdrive collection and Wheelers collection.

10 pm question  is also available as a paper book and an audiobook.

Popular culture: Latest picks

Some picks from our March Popular culture newsletter:

Search for E Street Shuffle  Search catalogue for Roll me up  Search the catalogue for Gielgoodies

Search catalogue for Marvel Comics  Search the catalogue for All the madmen  Search the catalogue for Behind the Lions

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Have you read any of these books? If so, we’d love your feedback!

Amy Alley

typical school classAmy Alley was a school teacher who was an early resident of North New Brighton and aunt to a lively and successful troop of nieces and nephews including Rewi AlleyGwen Somerset,(pioneer of the Play Centre movement), Geoffrey Alley (All Black and National Librarian) Philip Alley (engineering lecturer at Canterbury University) and Joyce Alley (nursing educator and administrator). Amy Alley ‘was a very important looking’ woman. Her nieces and nephews:

… adored her quite without reservation …. She represented all the magic and excitement of holidays and far-away places. But most of all, she gave us all the praise and appreciation we craved. We were her ‘wonderful, clever, lovely nieces’ and ‘manly nephews’; everything we did was worthy of praise and we blossomed under her warmth, feeling we fully deserved it all and more. Possibly she satisfied a deep need as our parents rarely praised us.

In her school teaching days Amy spent some Christmas holidays ‘down South’ among gold diggers near Queenstown and Gabriel’s Gully. Other holidays she spent ‘up North’ among the Maori. It was in the north that she came to admire Rewi Maniapoto, the warrior who would ‘fight on for ever and ever and ever’, and whose Christian name she bestowed on her nephew. Maori boys would find wild horses for Miss Alley and marvel as the excellent horsewoman rode bareback ‘with her golden hair floating behind her in the wind’.

Amy started out as a pupil-teacher, a person who, in her teenage years, took up teaching classes of younger children. She worked long hours, was poorly paid and, before and after school, the headmaster gave her knowledge of the practical side of her craft. She never attended the Normal School in Cranmer Square (where teacher trainees could observe experienced teachers in the classroom). Though she was obviously a skilled classroom practitioner, her ‘E’ status shows that she had few academic qualifications. In 1894 Amy was graded E3 and, by 1907, she was graded E1.

A school of the period Amy was teachingFrom being a pupil-teacher at Papanui, Amy went to the Charteris Bay School with her brother, Frederick. While Frederick taught the older pupils, Amy ‘occasionally taught the infant class in the porch. Although ‘kind and considerate in every way towards the children’, she was prepared to use slightly underhand strategies to get what she wanted. A small boy climbed onto the top of the porch roof. Amy referred to a previous teacher who had been notorious for flogging the pupils: “Come down at once, Arthur. Do you want me to bring Gordon back with his cane?”

Amy was at the Belfast Side School from June 1891 to October 94. Inspectors commented:

The instruction appears quite satisfactory both in method and quality. The teacher shows very considerable interest in her work and in the welfare of her pupils. The children are quiet, orderly and obedient.
April 1894

The small school makes a very pleasing appearance. The pupils, more particularly the boys, are remarkably bright and meet the demands made on them with considerable readiness. They have in Miss Alley a very competent teacher.
September 1894

On 1 November 1894 Amy assumed sole charge of the Eyreton School.

Comments included:

During the year the school has made a marked advance under Miss Alley in many ways. Reading has, in a great measure, been placed on a prominent footing. Writing is very good. In composition much improvement has still to be made and more oral practice in arithmetic would be desirable.
October 1895

Miss Alley’s energy in dealing with the increased attendance commendable. Her teaching is careful and intelligent, the pleasant manner in which it is conducted being noteworthy.
June 1897

… Miss Alley has now acquired considerable skill in the Management of her classes and her sympathetic nature is attractive to the children.
May 1902

On 1 February 1905 Amy took up a position at Belfast. Inspectors commented:

The mistress devotes herself unsparingly to the best interest of her charges, keeping high ideals in view, and the progress made is very commendable.
July 1907

Classes taught under bright and cheerful conditions. Methods of instruction show an open mind for up-to-date developments. Pupils make a very successful appearance.

On 1 July 1910 Amy went to Sydenham. Inspectors’ comments continued to be positive.

Scheme of work well considered and comprehensive. Methods highly commendable and pupils receiving a thoroughly sound and liberal training.
August 1910

Work very carefully planned and detailed and thoroughly and skillfully directed. Children receiving a careful training in desirable habits and making good progress.

photographA keen purchaser of land, Amy was an early property owner at North New Brighton. In 1913 a chronicler recalled how, formerly, this area had been known to but a few and how these people sighed ‘again for the former times, when the silence was broken only by the call of the sea-gull and the restless varied music of the surging surf’.

Now, however, progress was taking place, the tramway to the pier had been restored  and people were settling on Bowhill Road.

On each side of Bowhill Road are dwellings nestling amongst shrubs and trees … the gardens in the sand producing flowers and vegetables… of surpassing excellence. On a section … a few chains from the sea was grown a potato crop yielding at the rate of 12 ½ tons per acre. No manure was used other than decayed lupins of which an abundant supply can be obtained. One root gave five pounds of large potatoes and was exhibited in the city.

Reference was made to Amy’s property.

One shack close to the sea … had solved the difficulty of drift-sand…. A schoolmistress owned the place and, by first placing broom or other branches to hold down the sand, and then applying water which is readily obtained at a short depth by driving down a two-inch pipe, the sand hill was made to blossom with ice plants, geraniums and other plants, the moisture assuring an abundance of flowers.

Niece Gwen Somerset Somerset reminisced:

We clambered over sand hills empty except for marram grass to reach her [Amy’s] home. We swept the sand clear of the doors each morning and sometimes oftener depending on the wind. We collected pipis on the beach and ate them for breakfast …. My main memory is of my aunt collecting hordes of cousins and feeding them on Irish stew cooked in kerosene tins.

Gwen’s brother, Philip Alley, recalled how he and his siblings had campfires on the beach. He also remembered strong winds and how the children collected seaweed and put it about the piles of the baches in the hope that this would stop the buildings from being blown away.

Great-nephews and nieces who met the elderly Amy recalled her not as a kindly but, rather, a commanding figure. She was

…a big, tall, woman with patrician features, aquiline nose and short-cut, silvery white hair pulled well away from her face. Even in the warmth of summer days at New Brighton she dressed in black. She provided some extraordinary foods which we disliked – for example, raspberry sago – but which we had to eat. A superb raconteur, she could hold you captive. Perhaps she wasn’t so bad after all.

In 1915, Amy married Herbert Cole. He died two years later and  in 1926, Amy married Edward Mulcock. She died, at 75, in 1944 and was buried at St Paul’s Church cemetery, Papanui.

This information came from Richard Greenaway – an expert on the local history of Christchurch. Some of you might have been on one of his fascinating cemetery tours. He has an eye for a good story and the skill and patience to check and cross check all kinds of references. He has compiled a wonderful array of New Brighton stories.

Sources:

The library has some great photographs of New Brighton capturing its life as one of New Zealand’s premier seaside suburbs, full of life and character. New Brighton residents have been good at recording their local history and the place has inspired novels and biographies.

When We Wake – New Zealand e-book month

In 2027, sixteen-year-old Tegan is just like every other girl–playing the guitar, falling in love, and protesting the wrongs of the world with her friends.

But then Tegan dies, waking up 100 years in the future as the unknowing first government guinea pig to be cryogenically frozen and successfully revived.

Appalling secrets about her new world come to light, and Tegan must choose to either keep her head down or fight for a better future.

You can read When We Wake as an e-book from our Overdrive collection.

When We Wake is also available as a paper book.

Reading Crusade: Picturing Canterbury

Reading Crusade prizegiving

Photo taken during the 2011 Reading Crusade. The Reading Crusade is on again for 2013 so get in amongst it.

Ebony Hill – New Zealand e-book month

It’s been two years since Ness and Dev escaped the Islanders of Dunnett, and Ness is struggling to find a place for herself in the city of Vidya where the community is struggling to rebuild itself.

Caught up in surprise attacks and ongoing land battles, and then working in the infirmary at Ebony Hill, Ness witnesses the realities of war and questions her commitment to this brave new society.

You can read Ebony Hill as an e-book from our Overdrive collection.

Ebony Hill  is also available as a paper book.

Easter Parade

Ballantynes Easter
Icing eggs and other Easter goodies at Ballantynes.

Tomorrow is Good Friday (note: not Easter Friday).  It, and Easter Monday, are public holidays and so our libraries will be closed. But Saturday and Sunday aren’t public hols – so the libraries will be open.

One of my favourite Easter things is to crank up the old Victrola and listen to Jesus Christ Superstar. I was raised on the original version with Yvonne Elliman as Mary Magdalene, Murray Head as Judas, and the part of Jesus sung by Ian Gillan, the lead singer of Deep Purple. It is very shouty and sing-a-longa-tastic. The movie is going to be on telly this weekend – I’ve never seen it before, so might give it a whirl.

Our other family Easter watch was the miniseries Jesus of Nazareth. Directed by Franco Zeffirelli, it had an astonishing cast including Laurence Olivier, Peter Ustinov and Anne Bancroft. Robert Powell was Jesus, and Ian McShane was Judas. The most beautiful woman ever to light up the screen – Olivia Hussey – was Jesus’s mother Mary. She was Juliet in Zefferelli’s version of Romeo and Juliet. John Duttine from the awesome tv series The Day of the Triffids was the apostle John.

Easter Parade
Easter Parade heading down Oxford Terrace toward the Catholic Cathedral in Barbadoes Street. Forester’s Hotel is on the left. c. 1950.

What does Easter mean to you? Do you have Easter-y traditions?