Kids’ Books: picks from our latest newsletter

Some picks from our June Kids’ Books newsletter:

Cover: Best Friends ForeverCover: FearlessCover: The Secret TreeCover: Write This BookCover: Ophelia Wild, Secret SpyCover: The Silver DreamCover:  Art Lab for KidsCover: Sneaky Art

Subscribe to our newsletters and get our latest titles and best picks straight to your inbox.

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.

Nature and science newsletter June 2013

Some picks from our June Nature and science newsletter:


Subscribe to our newsletters and get our latest titles and best picks straight from your inbox.

For more great science writing, check out our lists of winners of  the Royal Society Prizes for Science Books.

Taming the frenzied pace of life

Search catalogueWe’ve all heard of slow food, but what about slow parenting?

According the Carl Honore, author of Under Pressure, the concept is about keeping

… the family schedule under control so that everyone has enough downtime to rest, reflect and just hang out together.

I guess that means my parents had a slow parenting philosophy in the 50s and 60s. Our large family spent a lot of time around the dinner table debating and laughing, there was lots of hanging out with siblings of a similar age and in winter we all  played board and card games together, both parents and children.  How many families get to do that today?

Not everyone agrees that this is the ideal way to live (I note that the Wikipedia entry on slow parenting carries the caveat “the neutrality of this article is disputed”) and you might feel it is unjustified nostalgia. However, if you want to give it a try, winter would seem the ideal time to put slow parenting into practice.

Playing board games and card games is great winter fun and a good way to connect with the kids, if you can tear them away from their computer games. The library has lots of useful books including the definitive Hoyles which give the rules of a wide range of card games and guides to board games, including Asian ones (try Mah Jong if you can find a set, its great fun). We also have lots of inspiration to get children exploring games, crafts, and science .  Maybe you could even try a bit of storytelling.

Tell us what you think about slow parenting.

The 2013 New Zealand Post Children’s Book Awards winners

The finalists in the 2013 New Zealand Post Children’s Book Awards gathered in Christchurch on Monday night for the awards ceremony. The awards night is always themed, and this year the organisers went for a Witch in the Cherry Tree theme in honour of Margaret Mahy. The book of the year was also renamed the “New Zealand Post Margaret Mahy Book of the Year”.

I was  nervous myself, hoping that my favourites would take out the award, so I’m sure the authors and illustrators themselves were incredibly nervous. Overall, I was pleased to see a couple of my favourites win awards, but I was disappointed that others missed out. I think that Red Rocks and The Nature of Ash are amazing books and if I could give Rachael King and Mandy Hager an award I would.

Judges’ Picks

Cover: Into the River Search catalogue Search catalogue Search catalogue Search catalogue Search catalogue

Children’s Choice

  • Overall Award winner and Picture Book category winner: Melu Kyle Mewburn, Ali Teo & John O’Reilly
  • Non Fiction category winner: Kiwi: the real story Annemarie Florian and Heather Hunt
  • Junior Fiction category winner: My brother’s war David Hill
  • Young Adult Fiction category winner: Snakes and ladders Mary-anne Scott

Cover: Melu Search catalogue Search catalogue Search catalogue

Our pages on the NZ Post Children’s Book awards list current and previous winners, as well as category finalists.

Have you planted your garlic yet?

Cover: Garlic, The Mighty BulbI’m hoping that maybe you haven’t planted your garlic yet… We were getting ready to do this, and then luckily saw the weather forecast before we made firm plans. I think if we had gone ahead, our garlic might have been washed out to sea in the deluge and may have decided to swim to Australia to seek some warmer weather!

Everyone seems to have a different idea about when the best time to plant garlic is. The first time we planted it was on the 21st of June several years ago. It is an easy date to remember, being the shortest day, and because we had good results we’ve always aimed for that date (weather permitting).

I love planting garlic, mainly because there’s not really that much that you can do wrong. It just seems to need a sunny spot, a bit of moisture, and away it goes. It is usually ready in about 6-7 months, which is conveniently just in time for the barbecue season, and there’s just something so satisfying about growing your own. It looks great when it is braided too, although I seem to end up with more of a knotty mess myself.

Anyway, this got me thinking that I must check and see what else I should get ready to plant over the next few months. We always seem to plant the same things, so I really need to branch out (pardon the pun!).The Good Life

There’s always the Yates Garden Guide of course, which is great for practical gardening advice, but I decided to check our catalogue for inspiration, and The Good Life caught my eye. Having watched the Good Life TV series when I was growing up, the title evoked some great memories and it just sounded too good to miss!

It is hot off the press, published earlier this year, and a quick flick through it suggests that it’s just the ticket. It is divided up into seasons and I’ve instantly spotted a couple of recipes that I’ll be keen to try, including pickled garlic, and pickled nasturtium seeds (otherwise known as poor man’s capers).  There look to be some good tips in there which I’ll soak up – gardening just seems to be one of those areas where you are continually learning. Maybe that is part of what makes it so much fun!

The only downside to this book is that every time I pick it up and see the title I hear the theme song for the Good Life TV series in my head!  Just in case you want a dose of nostalgia, you’ll be glad to know that we have the Good Life TV series available at our libraries on DVD.

If you have any experiences about planting garlic or about your own good life that you would like to share then we would love to hear your comments.

Mr Moorhouse, in his chair: Picturing Canterbury

William Sefton Moorhouse statue
William Sefton Moorhouse statueWilliam Sefton Moorhouse statue

William Sefton Moorhouse statue

William Sefton Moorhouse was Superintendent of the Province of Canterbury from 1858–1862 and again from 1866–1868 and he is chiefly remembered as being instrumental in bringing about the rail tunnel through the Port Hills linking Christchurch and Lyttelton. His statue, executed in London in 1885 by G. A. Lawson, is located in the Botanic Gardens facing the western end of Hereford Street.

Cafe Reflections and Responders: Deb Donnell looks at Christchurch

Search the catalogue for Cafe reflectionsWriter and publisher Deb Donnell has done great work post-quakes – opening our eyes to Christchurch past and present. She has been an important part of the popular Facebook page CHCH EQ Photos. Her book Cafe Reflections on Christchurch City, 1975-2012: A Tribute to the Christchurch Central Business District Community highlights 20 cafes, from Madras Cafe books to Black Betty. In its pages she stops in at Christchurch landmarks like the Globe, Java, Honey Pot, and Dumplings.

Deb has been working on her Cafe reflections for some time:

Cafe reflections started in 2004 as a journey to get to know myself, to make sense of that particular time in my life, and to pay homage to the city I’ve lived in since 1969. (p.57)

This is not merely a book of cafe reviews, it also tells the vivid and painful story of what it was like to be in town on 22 February 2011. It is a tale of before, and after. She has writings from the time between the 4 September 2010 and 22 February 2011 quakes – sometimes they read quite eerily. On 19 January 2011 she said:

I walk down Cashel Mall to work every day, but I no longer feel safe. There is something that doesn’t feel right along here either …

Deb counterpoints pre- and post-quake situations. The book is full of personal memories, images, and anecdotes. Its great strengths is her knowledge of the central city and its people, businesses, and buildings. She shares what some of the cafe staff are doing now.

Search the catalogue for RespondersDeb’s next book was written with NZ-RT member Peter Seager: Responders: The New Zealand Volunteer Response Teams, Christchurch Earthquake Deployments. This book gives you a chance to look behind the scenes. It features more than 280 photos, and stories, from the New Zealand volunteer response teams – post 4 September 2010 as well after 22 February 2011.

Responders explains such things as how commercial and residential buildings were searched, how the engineers carried out their work,  rubble clearance, and business recovery and salvage.

The strength of this book is in the images combined with the words of the people who were doing the most difficult of jobs. It is a hard book to read – but only because the subject is hard. It doesn’t deal in nostalgia or sentimentality – and is honest and straightforward in its text, photographs, and captions. A Bealey Avenue two storey home has collapsed into one – a wall is inscribed “Clear: Smell is seafood. Confirmed 4 Mar” – “The source of the smell was found to be coming from a bag of mussels in a defrosted freezer …”(p.149)


A clock lies in the rubble, and the resident’s vinyl collection is scattered among the bricks. (p. 99)

Stonehurst Hotel is described as looking “as if someone dropped a dolls house from a great height …” (p.126).  The Hotel Grand Chancellor “discussions were fascinating and we learned a lot. They were so casual talking about how to bring a 22 storey building down on its own footprint”. (p.129)

Responders and Cafe reflections are two very interesting books with a unique perspective on the earthquakes and Christchurch.

Whanau fun at the Rehua Marae

Kia ora. There is a cool event at Rehua Marae this week.

Matariki community evening  Thursday 27 June 2013
Kapahaka performed by Papanui High Rōpū and some great story-telling performances by Christchurch City Libraries staff. You can also check out our new Mobile van which is loaded up with a great range of resources from our Nga Pounamu Maori collections across the network.  Kia ora. Sorry but this event has been cancelled due to unforeseen circumstances..

Whanau fun day Saturday 29 June 2013
This Whānau Day features activities, entertainment, and plenty to see and do.

Rehua Marae is at 79 Springfield Road, St Albans, Christchurch. This page explains its history – it is a wonderful place.

These photos show some pictures from our previous sessions for Matariki.

Matariki at the MaraeCrafts at the Whanau Fun DayStory blanket display at Rehua

Life after Death

Life after death: the shocking true story of an innocent man on death row is probably not a book that I would have chosen to read, but a customer told me about it (one of the perks of my job!) and an interest was sparked.  I was also curious about the New Zealand connection with this – Peter Jackson produced a film about it called West of Memphis, which the library has on DVD.

Life After Death by Damien EcholsDamien Echols was one of three teenagers arrested and charged with the murders of three eight-year-old boys in West Memphis, Arkansas. Echols was fingered as the ring leader and was sentenced to death. All three men were eventually released in August 2011.

Echols’s early life was one of poverty and despair, living in miserable circumstances in an unhappy family setting. He mentions that he spent hours in the West Memphis Public Library, as he was a keen reader, and wanted to educate himself. He continued reading through his time on death row.

He describes the long build-up to his arrest, where he started to get attention from the police and the events leading up to the arrest. The most harrowing part of the book is obviously his time on death row, where he gives insights into the inmates’ daily lives, the abuse suffered from prison guards, and so on. It takes you through his journey of swinging emotions triggered by hope one minute and despair the next, his search for spirituality, and his interactions with the people he met (including Peter Jackson) who helped him in his fight for freedom. What really shines through is his courage and determination, and his amazing ability to remain sane in insane circumstances.

Have you read Life after death or seen West of Memphis? If so, what did you think of them?

And is there a title that you wouldn’t ordinarily have chosen to read, but which was recommended to you and which you ended up really enjoying? Why not pay it forward in the comments below?

Canterbury’s first pub – The Mitre Hotel: 1902

View in our collection

In December 1849,  Major Alfred Hornbrook’s Mitre Hotel began operating in Lyttelton. This was Canterbury’s first pub, and possibly the first commercial enterprise in the province.

Find out more:

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We have digitised a rather splendid 1902 publication Tourists’ guide to Canterbury.