Zac’s Favourite Kids Books – June 2016

I have one of the coolest jobs in the world! As an Outreach Librarian I visit primary, intermediate and secondary schools all over Christchurch to promote the library and spread a love of books.  It’s my job to get kids enthusiastic about books and reading, and I take a heap of books out to schools to share with kids.

Here are just a few of the books that I’ll be raving about in June:

Gorilla Loves Vanilla by Chae Strathie, illustrated by Nicola O’Byrne

Little Sam Sundae runs the best icecream shop around. People come from all over to have one of his icecreams. One day he gets some different customers who want some very strange icecream creations. Mouse wants a blue cheese sundae and Hen wants a worm cone, but then Gorilla comes in wanting just vanilla icecream. This is a very funny story that bounces along and the illustrations are bursting with colour and icecream of all sorts.

Fuzzy Doodle by Melinda Szymanik, illustrated by Donovan Bixley

Fuzzy Doodle follows a scribble on a page as it starts to eat the ink, then nibbles letters and words, until it moves on to gobbling pictures full of colour.  When it is full to bursting it makes a cocoon and unfolds and emerges as a dazzling book. This is a stunning book from two very talented local creators of books for young people. It’s the sort of book that will be enjoyed by young and old alike.

Flying Furballs: Dogfight by Donovan Bixley

Flying Furballs is the hilarious, action-packed new series from Donovan Bixley, the illustrator behind the Dinosaur Rescue series and Dragon Knight series. This is World War One like you’ve never seen it before. It’s the CATs vs. the DOGZ, with the CATs trying to stop the DOGZ from taking over Europe.  In the first book, Dogfight, Major Ginger Tom gets taken prisoner and it’s up to young Claude D’Bonair to fly in and rescue him from the DOGZ castle headquarters. Packed full of cat and dog puns, great characters and fun illustrations this is the perfect series for young readers.

Pax by Sara Pennypacker

Pax is a beautiful, heart-breaking story about the bond between a boy and his pet fox. The story starts with Peter having to leave his fox Pax in the woods at the side of a road and driving off. Peter’s father is going off to war and so Peter has to go and stay with his grandfather and can’t take Pax with him. Peter found Pax clinging to life as a kit, not long after his own mother had died, so Pax became his friend when he needed one the most. Peter and Pax have a very strong bond and so, even though they are hundreds of miles apart, they set out to find each other. The story tugs at your heart right from the start and you have to keep reading to find out if they will both survive to see each other again. Pax is a truly memorable story.

The Turners by Mick Elliott

Leo gets the worst present ever for his 13th birthday. One minute he’s just standing around in the school library and the next minute he’s growing a tail and turning into a komodo dragon.  When he goes home that night his sister and father tell him that he is a Turner just like them, someone who can turn into different animals. Usually a turn happens at night but for some strange reason Leo can turn in the daytime. Leo’s dad sets off in search of answers and tells them that he’ll be back the next day. When their dad doesn’t arrive home and they are attacked in their home by lizard men, Leo and Abbie go off in search of answers. The Turners is a very funny read, with lots of action and a dash of magic.

Time Travelling with a Hamster by Ross Welford

I love a good time travel story and this is one of the best for kids. It has one of the best opening paragraphs too: ‘My dad died twice. Once when he was thirty-nine, and again four years later when he was twelve. (He’s going to die a third time as well, which seems a bit rough on him, but I can’t help that.).’ When Al’s dad dies he gets a letter from him explaining that it is possible to travel in time and that he has built a time machine.  When his dad was a kid he had an accident that left a small piece of metal lodged in his brain which, over time, killed him. He asks Al to go back in time to stop the accident from happening and save him. Al doesn’t hesitate. He takes his hamster, Alan Shearer, jumps in the time machine and goes off to save his dad. As with all time travel stories, nothing goes entirely to plan. A funny story about a boy who just wants to get his dad back.

For more of my favourite kids books for June check out my booklist – Zac’s June 2016 Hot Picks

21 today – our website and online catalogue come of age

We are celebrating a cool milestone – in an online sense we have come of age. Our website and online catalogue were launched on that newfangled thing – the World Wide Web – on 7 June 1995. So we are 21 today!

Have a ride on the Wayback Machine and take a look at how we looked back then.

1995 library website

Here’s our website today – on her 21st. It’s a big shift from 21 years ago. Some customers don’t come into our physical branch, they visit this Digital Library and use all the splendid things it has to offer – digitised material, eResources, eBooks, and more.

website

Our library website was the first public library internet presence in Australasia. Thanks to our ever-innovative librarian Paul Sutherland for bringing that first website online. Thanks to you all for using the catalogue and website – and being such keen online users.

Browse our brief history of Christchurch City Libraries and our factsheet for more milestones.

Win tickets to Cinema Italiano Festival NZ!

Love Italy? The scenery, the language, the culture? If so, rejoice, for the first ever Cinema Italiano Festival NZ is coming our way, bearing an exciting selection of almost 20 Italian features, as well as 2 New Zealand films with an Italian connection.

Wondrous Boccaccio film
Wondrous Boccaccio

It’s a heartwarming turnaround for Kiwi Italophiles, who just last year were mourning the demise of the Italian Film Festival, after a 19-year-run.

Enter Paolo Rotondo to the rescue. It is in fact thanks to the considerable efforts of the Kiwi-Italian actor, director and playwright that this new celebration of Italian cinema is gracing silver screens throughout the country.

Christchurch will host the Cinema Italiano Festival from 15 to 25 June and we are very lucky to have two double passes to give away to our readers for any screening following the opening night. There is something guaranteed to please all tastes, with features spanning from drama to rom-com to documentary.

My personal, rather uninformed, picks?

  • Wondrous Boccaccio, because it promises a stunning setting – castles, towers and medieval ruins in Tuscany and Lazio – while serving up a dose of historical comic drama. Plus you get Literature with a capital L: the film is based on Boccaccio’s The Decameron, which is one of the classic masterpieces of Italian literature. (Boccaccio has arguably been described as the Italian Chaucer, though it would be more accurate to describe Chaucer as the English Boccaccio).
  • The Mafia Kills Only In Summer: it was a huge sleeper hit in Italy in 2014, and who can resist such a catchy title?
  • The Wonders: the synopsis says it all. “Winner of the Grand Prix Award at Cannes, Le Meraviglie / The Wonders is a poignant semi-autobiographical coming of age story set in the countryside of Umbria. An ecological film where a back-to-nature lifestyle wins out over the world of reality TV. A film charged by intimate performances, female camaraderie and stunning cinematography.”
  • Zoran, My Nephew The Idiot, because it’s set in Friuli, on the border with Slovenia, a very different location from the stereotypical image of Italy.
  • Orphans & Kingdoms: Paolo Rotondo’s directorial debut feature of worlds colliding on Waiheke Island has received great reviews and strikes close to home, while retaining Italian touches such as the musical score which was composed in Rome.

Entering the competition is easy but you have got to be quick to be in!
Email competition@ccc.govt.nz with the subject line “Cinema Italiano Festival competition” by 12pm on Friday 10 June. (Sorry, staff of Christchurch City Libraries and Christchurch City Council are not eligible to enter).

The Wonders film Zoran My Nephew The Idiot film

So uncork the spumante: the Italian Film Festival is dead – long live Cinema Italiano Festival NZ!