The World of David Walliams

We learnt a lot about David Walliams last night thanks a soldout WORD Christchurch event:

As a kid

  • He used to pretend to be Wonder Woman (he demonstrated this with a nice twirl).
  • He dressed up in a silk dressing gown and put a “David Walliams Private Detective” sign on his door.
  • David was decked out in a mauve bridesmaid’s dress by his sister.

The World of David Walliams

Tips for budding writers

  • Have a very evil villain.
  • Write a story that you’d like to read.
  • Read as many books as you can.

His favourite books as a kid

  • Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
  • The Lion, The witch and the wardrobe
  • Stig of the dump (approving noises from my other half for that announcement)

He remembers lying with his head on his Dad’s chest, as he read him Green eggs and ham.

David in action

David did a couple of readings, from Gangsta Granny and Awful Auntie.

We saw that he has the power to get kids to jump and down with fizzing excitement. And then sign books for them for aaaages. What a star.
The World of David Walliams

Coming up from David Walliams – a picture book called The Bear who went boo, and the tale of a little boy who busts his grandad out of a maximum security twilight resthome.

Ready, set, READ

Kids who read succeed stickerMy toddler loves books and at only one year-old he already has his favourites (Boom, baby boom boom! gets regular outings) however he’s a bit young yet to read them himself. But how do you know when your littl’un is ready to start tackling the mighty task of reading?

For advice you need look no further than our recently revamped Ready for Reading pack.

In it you’ll find an informative booklet that outlines the important skills your child needs to have in order to start reading, some handy tips on how to get preschoolers interested in books, and suggestions of further resources to help get your child on the road to reading.

Artwork from Storytime Te Wā KōreroThe pack also contains a special bilingual storybook, Storytime Te Wā Kōrero which features a simple story for young readers and gorgeous illustrations with a Christchurch feel. Also included are stickers and a magnet.

And the best bit? The Ready for Reading pack is free to all four-year olds. Just rock up to one of our libraries with your budding reader in tow and claim yours!

Check out these kids at the Ready for Reading launch at Aranui Library this week. Those are some book-keen future readers.

Ready for reading launch at Aranui Library

Stories for everyone : Auckland Writers Festival – New Zealand Listener Gala night!

Last night was the very grand opening of the Auckland Writers Festival and it was excellent! I came away from it feeling inspired and buzzed and had already broken my (admitted weak) promise to myself that I wouldn’t buy any books this festival. I have since downgraded this to ‘don’t buy all the books’ which I believe is a more manageable goal…

The line up was a mixture of writers I had read, writers I should have read, and writers I am definitely going to read now that I’ve heard them speak. The topic was “Straight Talking” and each speaker had seven minutes to tell it to us straight, with the freedom to decide what ‘it’ was going to be.

Amy Bloom was first up with a great story about family, love, death (and a little bit of sex). A little sad, but bursting with humour and very relatable, her talk totally inspired me to get my name on the waiting list for her latest book Lucky Us.

Cover of Lucky us Cover of Gallipoli Cover of Tangata Whenau Cover of This House of Grief

Next up was Peter FitzSimons, who told a very fast-paced collection of stories about rugby, including the tale of how he was the first Wallaby to be sent from the field against the All Blacks. It seemed like the only time he stopped talking to breathe was when the audience was laughing.

The powerful Aroha Harris told us a very moving story about her tā moko, her decision to get one, the tradition behind it, and the judgement and racism she has faced since.

Helen Garner was excellent, with a hilarious story about getting older, and more importantly, fiercer. She is not a woman to be messed with!

Cover of Arms Race Cover of Not my father's son Cover of Michele A'Court Cover of Ben Okri

Nic Low‘s story was about ambition and fraud, and included a new word he’d made up: ‘fraudescence.’ Fraudesence is the feeling you get when you are mistaken for something you are not, but you don’t correct anyone because actually, you wish it was true. Nic first felt this when he was mistaken for being much more famous than he actually was, and talked about how it fueled him to work a lot harder to get there. He spoke about the way New Zealanders are often ashamed to own their own desires, and urged the audience to admit to ourselves what it was we really wanted, and do something about it.

Following in the vein of openness and honesty was Alan Cumming. Alan – who is a well known LGBT advocate – began by pointing out the hetero-normative, patriarchal roots of the phrase ‘Straight talking’, before diving into his star-studded story full of laughs that culminated in the moral that if you are genuine with other people then there is a much greater chance of them being genuine back.

Michele A’Court earned her title as a comedian with her story about her rather epic quest, crossing oceans and getting stuck in a lift, to get to her daughter’s side so she could be there for the birth of her granddaughter. She is quite the advocate for swearing when the need arises, summing it up with a great quote from Max Beerbohm “vulgarity often cuts ice which refinement scrapes at vainly.”

Finally, Ben Okri took the stage. Of all the stories tonight, Ben’s was my favourite. He explained that he would be doing some ‘indirect straight talking’ because, as a poet, he is used to using stories to illustrate larger truths. He told us about growing up in Nigeria – he was eight when the civil war began, and spent two days alone at school after everyone else had been picked up by their parents, before his mother was able to reach him. For food he was ‘foraging for roots,’ he said, his tone light and humourous in contrast to the stark terror of the rest of the story.

Secondly, he told us a story of his mother’s death, and spoke with such open honesty about grief. His storytelling was evocative and beautiful, and if he can do that in seven minutes, then I can’t wait to spend much longer than that reading my way through his books.

Stories connect us, whether they are true stories told straight, or true stories told indirectly. Our host for the evening said that books bring us something fundamental and humane, but whatever that fundamental, humane spark is, it’s in oral storytelling too. It’s in any kind of storytelling you can imagine. I agree with my colleague Masha who wrote a blog post lately about storytelling. Stories for everyone, always; they change and connect us all in a myriad of different ways.

What connections are you going to make, this festival?

Check out the New Zealand Listener Gala Night even page for speaker bios and links to other events!

Holy Cow, the X-Files

TVIt’s coming back, ladies and gentlemen. THIS IS NOT A DRILL.

Yes, X-Files fans the world over (or X-Philes as we like to call ourselves) got the rock solid confirmation they were waiting for this week when Fox announced the date that a new six-episode series of the show will air.

24 January 2016. Scribble that excitedly in your diaries, fan-kids.

It remains to be seen which local TV channel will pick up the option to screen this and how quickly it will make it to New Zealand but in the meantime we have all nine seasons of the show on DVD if, like me, you feel like you need to update your X-Files knowledge. It’s been a while and I’m having trouble keeping all those aliens, malevolent parasites, evil clones, genetic mutants, and possessed tattoos straight in my head.

Other things you might consider checking out between now and January next year include –

Beautiful Burlap

I need a hobby. A creative hobby. I am feeling the “desire to be a clothing designer or an artist (one who doesn’t draw or paint or sew)” to quote Heidi Julavits in The Folded Clock: A Diary.

Cover of The Origami HomeThe library seems the logical place to look for inspiration to set me on my true creative path. But I don’t think just taking books home and being daunted by them will do it.

The Origami Home – exquisite but, honestly, the instructions. “Fold the left, right and lower edges in. At the same time, fold in the corners (a).” At the same time? Are you joking me?

So no to origami miniature design furniture.

Cover for Burlap BoutiqueBurlap could be the answer to my hobby needs. Beautiful Burlap: Cute Accessories to Create and Stitch and Burlap Boutique: Charming Accent Wreaths and Home Decor. ‘Cute’ and ‘charming’ – a bit off-putting, but my front door is worryingly bereft of an accent wreath and burlap sounds more forgiving than origami paper. Also it is a very pleasing word. Burlap. Much better than Hessian. Or Sacking. Are they the same thing? On to the For Later shelf they go.

Cover of Viktor Wynd's Cabinet of WondersA recent mover from the For Later List to the In Progress shelf provides some hope that I can become creative with very little effort. Viktor Wynd’s Cabinet of Wonders has thrilling chapters such as “The Collector as Artist”, and its even better companion “On the Joys of Mess”. Apparently finding and installing is as creative as actually making.

According to good old Viktor, “Collecting as an art form in in its own right is rarely given much thought.” So endless fossicking through every second-hand shop that presents itself is creative. Who knew?

I’m still going to investigate the burlap though.