I love small squarish books. I like the feel of them in my hands, their unexpected heft, their solidity. Customers in libraries ask all sorts of questions, like “Where are your Biographies? Do you have any Italian books? How do I log-on to the computers?” and “Where are the toilets?” to name but a few. But as of yet, no one has ever asked me to direct them to the Small Seductive Books section.
But just recently I have been spoilt for choice. Here are 5 small, but perfectly formed chunky little books: A Dog a Day by Sally Muir is a collection of Muir’s dog drawings – a different dog every day over 365 days. I am moved by this book in more ways than one: I love drawing (and I try to draw every day), I love dogs (though Muir has omitted Scottish Terriers – what was she thinking?), and it is small and squarish. Win, Win, Win.
In the midst of the dreary grey winter weather that was such a feature of life in Christchurch a few weeks ago, a small jaunty book stood out from all the drabness and said “Pick Me!”, and that’s how Brolliology (A History of the Umbrella in Life and Literature) ended up in my book bag. What substances are these people imbibing to get such an off-the-wall idea as linking literature and umbrellas? Whatever it is – Give It To Me Now!
Everyone know’s that I love café culture, that I never take my meals at my workplace, but each day treat myself to a capuccino at a nearby café. Some libraries even have café’s on site – that works too. Lonely Planet’s Global Coffee Tour is a neat little book that I wish I’d had in my possession when we travelled to Italy. I checked out the New Zealand and South African cafés and I am pleased to report and I am ahead of the pack in these two countries. If you are about to travel, have a flick through this muscular little number.
Now, let’s put it all to music. Donna Leon, well known crime novelist has brought out a beautiful little book on an intrinsic aspect of Venetian life: the Gondola, and it comes with its own CD of well known Gondolier renderings. This book is arguably one of the most beautiful books I have ever held. It is also informative and entertaining. One of the first chapters “I Think I Could Do This” tells of a dinner guest who was given the blueprints of a gondola as a gift. It took him over 5 years to build, and 32 men to lift its 350kg weight onto the truck that would take it to its launching place. That’d keep Greg busy in his retirement!
And finally, step aside Hygge, because Japonisme is about to knock you right off your perch. In an exploration of your Ikigai (purpose), Kintsugi (repairing broken ceramics with gold) and wabi-sabi (the transience of life) and more, you will be gently exposed to much wisdom, such as:
One who smiles rather than rages is always the stronger.
And I am delighted to tell you that all the above-mentioned seductively small books did indeed make me smile.
Yes, you could shell out over $100 to buy that enormous, spectacularly illustrated coffee-table-worthy publication you saw at Whitcoulls. Alternatively, you could use your free library membership to borrow one of Christchurch City Libraries’ own gorgeous, larger-than-life tomes. What is more, your coffee table can play proud host to a different book each month! Paris this week, Hieronymus Bosch the next…never again will you have to stare at the same photographs of wild bears for years on end because you were a poor student and could only afford the one, heavily discounted, over-sized ‘Spirit of the Bears’ from Borders (RIP).
A thoughtfully selected coffee table book can add that much needed pop of colour to a room. It can also provide an excellent conversation reviver, or swiftly become an effective weapon. There is a coffee table publication for you, whatever your requirements.
Here are some of our biggest and best (click on an image to find out more).
Just be sure to clear out some room in your boot first.
Lyttelton Library’s Stories after Dark starts at 6.30pm on Thursday 28 June – head down to the library and join us for stories, songs and rhymes followed by crafts and hot chocolate. We will entertain your 4-7 year olds, and the whole family is welcome. Come along in your PJs and bring Teddy too!
Friday 29 June is the night for the annual, spectacular Lyttelton Festival of Lights! Lyttelton Library will be closed as usual, but we’ll be doing our bit with several lightshows in our own space, and projected onto neighbouring buildings. Come through the tunnel for fabulous food vendors, lively musical entertainment, the Lyttelton Primary School parade, and the Lyttelton Port of Christchurch fireworks display at 8pm!
Parking in Lyttelton is extremely limited, especially with the extensive roadworks going on at the moment. For a parking-stress-free evening, check out the festival park and ride information (scroll down to Public Transport Information).
The chill of frosty mornings. Puddles to splash in. Trees a-flame with orange, red, and yellow leaves… and the crunch of those leaves underfoot. There’s no doubt about it. Autumn is here, and she’s arrived in all her glory. Sure, she’s on her way out, and the early-morning frosts are starting to creep in, but let’s enjoy this season while we can.
This time of the year marks the start of the Māori New Year, and the celebration of Matariki. It’s a time of preparing for the coming year, and celebrating with our friends and whānau. This year, Christchurch City Libraries is celebrating the ‘earth stars’ (Tupu-ā-nuku, Tupu-ā-rangi), and the ‘wind star’ (Ururangi), with a focus on sustainable natural resources, and the ways we can protect the environment around us.
During the colder months, it can be tempting to just stay indoors, but since we know that being outdoors in nature is good for our mental and emotional well-being, why not find a way to bring nature inside? Sure, we could go out, buy paint, and create a mural on a wall … but leftover paint may get poured down a drain, end up in our seas and rivers, and kill our fish. We could go to a gift shop and buy a cool plastic bird to put in our bedroom, or go and buy an African wall-hanging … but the plastic bird will be wrapped in plastic that will end up in the landfill, and the plane trip the wall-hanging took to get here to Aotearoa New Zealand has a huge carbon footprint.
So let’s see if we can support the kaupapa of this year’s Matariki theme, look for ways to decrease our more environmental footprint, and use sustainable natural resources to decorate instead.
I’m not overly artistic, but even I know that there’s something relaxing about collecting objects from the outdoors, then creating something from them. Leaf people, pinecone animals, bookmarks made of leaves and flowers covered in contact paper – I spent hours creating these when I was little, and I’m not ready to stop making natural art just yet. There are multiple ways of artfully stacking stones, creating leaf art, and using attractive twigs in ways that are as fun for adults as they are for kids, and as the days start to get shorter we can use those longer evenings to let our creative juices flow.
So why not make the most of the natural resources around us, and create some art using just what Mother Nature has given us? If you’re stuck for inspiration, check out some of these Christchurch City Libraries’ books for ideas.
The Wild Dyer by Abigail Booth
I have always loved the idea of staining paper with coffee or tea to make the paper look tattered, old, and parchment-like. In this book, you can do the grown-up version of this! Learn how to use plants, seeds and foods from your kitchen, garden, and surrounds to dye fabric and create lovely soft furnishings to keep your home cosy and welcoming. This is a great way to use up the ends of veges when you are cooking, and minimises green waste.
Wandering around outdoors, you find so many interesting shapes in the leaves and nature around you. What better way to celebrate this variety than by creating your own unique prints on stationery, clothing, and furniture? With ideas for projects ranging from simple to complex, you’re bound to find something that suits your tastes, and your talent levels.
If you would prefer your arts to your craft, this could be the book for you. Pencils, inks, bowls for the ink, paintbrushes, books – this book teaches you how to make all this (and more!) using just the resources around you. Even if you are like me, and don’t have the time to create all your gear from scratch, this is a fascinating read, and the photos throughout the book really demonstrate how versatile the world around us can be. If you are up for the challenge, though, instead of buying plastic paintbrushes or commercially-produced books which have travelled from overseas, give this try.
Children are made to be outdoors, moving, exploring, and discovering the world around them, and they naturally scavenge to find little treasures in their environment. This book has a whole section on crafts using natural resources, from natural inks, to pinecone animals, to games of driftwood noughts and crosses. Creating and playing with natural toys and games is much more environmentally-friendly than using disposable plastic toys, so next time your little explorers need to stay inside, why not use some of these ideas for a fun afternoon of creativity.
Christchurch City Libraries will be celebrating Matariki throughout the month of Pipiri/June, so keep an eye out for an event near you!
KidsFest is full of winter holiday fun for kids in Christchurch and Canterbury. It runs from 7 to 21 July. KidsFest is always popular and many events book out quickly, so have a look and secure your spot! Tickets are on sale now!
Coolstuff will be visiting our libraries in the two weeks before KidsFest. Come along and say “Hi!” and be in to win some sweet prizes! Pick up a special KidsFest colouring sheet and a More FM Mata Riki Parade instruction sheet and you could win even MORE prizes! Free event, no bookings required.
Learn how to create and code your very own electronic instrument using Makey Makey and Scratch. You’ll learn how to build a musical instrument out of cardboard and make it come to life! No prior coding experience or electronics knowledge necessary.
Ages: 8–10 years
Get creative using Lego and discover the process of producing animated movies. Plan a story themed on being kind to our world, create a set and craft your own movie using stop motion photography.
Ages: 8–12 years
Minecraft Game Zone is a 3D gaming experience that involves creating your own virtual world and interacting with others online. To really enjoy this programme, you’ll need to have a basic understanding of Minecraft. Book in for a two hour session and play to your heart’s content.
Ages: 8–12 years
Minecraft is a virtual world where you can discover and create interesting worlds. This event takes it to the next level! Learn how to use graphic design tools to create your own paper 3D Minecraft character.
Ages: 7–10 years
Join the Julie Wylie Musical Play team at this interactive musical event for parents, grandparents, caregivers and children aged 2–4 years (younger and older children are welcome to attend). You’ll enjoy a range of musical play activities which promote singing, listening, moving and playing. Children and adults will have great fun together, as they respond musically with props such as the parachute, rainbow ring and organza. Look out for the Julie Wylie Musical Play rainbow flag!
Email firstname.lastname@example.org to book your space. Children $10 (babies who are not yet crawling, only $5) and caregivers $5.
The Big Chill at Linwood Park – Saturday 7 July 12pm
Kicking off KidsFest 2018 is The Big Chill in Linwood Park, full of wacky activities, skate boarding, bouncy castles, faeries and fury creatures.
More FM Mata Riki KidsFest Parade – Saturday 21 July, 4.30–6.30pm
The More FM Mata Riki KidsFest Parade starts in Cathedral Square. Join an exciting exploratory night time journey through central Christchurch from Cathedral Square to The Terraces around the Ōtākaro/Avon River Precinct. Bring along your own creations, lanterns, wearable light art or torches. Mata Riki or Little Faces is connected with celebrating Māori New Year – the perfect match for the KidsFest Parade. Dress up warm.
CoCA Create! Printing Workshops
Work together and dye, paint, print, and create a large colourful installation of ribbons in response to Tiffany Singh’s Om Mani Padme Hum at CoCA.
Ages: 5 to 13
Cost: $10 Caregiver optional (but required for under 8 year olds) (free) Book online, phone 366 7261 or email email@example.com
Tuesday 10 to Thursday 12 July 11am to 12.30pm
CoCA Create! Cardboard Construction
This workshop will involve a large scale communal project where kids will learn manipulation and fastening techniques with cardboard craft architecture.
Ages: 5 to 13
Cost: $10 Caregiver optional (but required for under 8 year olds) (free) Book online, phone 366 7261 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Tuesday 17 to Thursday 19 July 11am to 12.30pm
Info from CoCA curator Jen:
Our KidsFest events are in response to Tiffany Singh’s exhibition, A Collective Voice, which consists of two major recent installations of hers reconfigured for CoCA. Gaby Montejo is running two workshops in response to the two works! The ribbon printing workshop is in response to OM MANI PADME HUM, a work consisting of over 1500 metres of colourful silk ribbon hanging from our walls, creating an immersive experience, and the cardboard construction workshop responds to the themes of storytelling and citybuilding in Journey of a Million Miles, which collects and shares stories of migration to New Zealand. Both of the works are really socially conscious and encourage empathy and compassion, so we’re aiming for the workshops to reflect that.
SCAPE Public Art – Bubbles Painting
Come and experience the fun and quirky artwork Conduct Cumulus in the South Quad at the Arts Centre. We’ll explore the artwork by walking around it and experiencing it together, then move into The Common Room to create a unique bubble painting. Gold coin donation appreciated.
Monday 9 and Tuesday 10 July; Monday 16 and Tuesday 17 July
10.30 am to 11.30am; and 1pm to 2pm
Christchurch Art Gallery – The Moon and Crawling Colour
We read Jimmy and Jane and the Tale of the Yellow Moon, a humorous story about moon-dwelling Lunatrons and what happens when colour comes into their world. Then make your own raised painting using salt and dye and see how it morphs into an amazing array of colours and patterns.
Ages: 5 to 7
Cost: $8 Caregiver required (free)
Bookings essential. Book online, phone 941 7382 or email Lana.Coles@ccc.govt.nz
Monday 9 to Friday 13 July 11am to 12pm
Monday 16 to Friday 20 July 11am to 12pm
Christchurch Art Gallery – Rama Tuna – KidsFest Paper Lantern Workshops
The Rama Tuna lesson is led by Māori artist Piri Cowie, and will focus on the cultural significance of Tuna from Ngai Tahu and Māori perspective. We will be creating paper lanterns that may be used in the MoreFM Mata Riki KidsFest Parade.
Ages: 8 to 13
Cost: FREE! Children only
Thursday 12 July 3pm to 4.30pm
Friday 13 July 3pm to 4.30pm
Christchurch Art Gallery – Clay World
You’ll adore rolling, squeezing, twirling and pulling clay to sculpt animals, make jewellery, create dinosaur fossils or simply let your imagination run riot and create something unique!
Caregiver optional (free)* (but required for under 8 year olds).
Bookings recommended, Book online, phone 941 7382 or email Lana.Coles@ccc.govt.nz
Monday 9 to Friday 13 July 1pm to 2.15pm
Monday 16 to Friday 20 July 1pm to 2.15pm
Galactic night at the Museum
The Museum is changing up their annual Explorer night at the Museum. We go most years, it is busy and fun romping around the Museum on a cold winter night. This July, join in the Galactic Night at the Museum.
Calling all space invaders, star trekkers and aliens. Explore a galaxy, not so far away, in an astronomical after-hours adventure at the Museum. Dress up as your favourite space character or creature and follow the clues to unscramble some amazing space facts. You could win a prize! Koha appreciated. Free and no bookings required.
Tuesday 10 July 6pm to 8pm
Thursday 12 July 6pm to 8pm
Tuesday 17 July 6pm to 8pm
Thursday 19 July 6pm to 8pm
The Christchurch Brick Show – Saturday and Sunday 14 and 15 July
Fun for all the family – amazing LEGO displays to admire, hands-on play areas, and more. Don’t miss out on this amazing LEGO exhibition. Enthusiasts and collectors alike will display their designs, collections and contraptions. Children will also have the chance to get hands-on with a fun LEGO play area.
Me neither. That’s why I borrow films and tele series’ from the library! It’s a much better way of being in control of what you’re actually watching during screen time, and you can tailor your viewing to perfectly suit your taste and your timetable, WIN-WIN and, no more infomercials!!
And it’s really just about good old-fashioned storytelling isn’t it!? For me, film and television is a coming-together of multiple artforms that, when it’s done well, has the ability to move you at a level many other artforms might not individually.
So here’s a list of the best films and series’ that I’ve had the pleasure of viewing this year, so far – many more to come!
These are the best films and television series’ that I have explored throughout the year so far, all available to you through Christchurch City Libraries membership.
The fencer– Post WWII Estonia. The Germans are gone and the Russians are taking control. They’re especially interested in those Estonians that fought for the Germans and are systematically hunting them out. This story is about one such man, a world-class fencer who is concealing himself as a sports teacher for a country college. This is a stunning and heartfelt film about humanity, strength, and love.
Get Out– A gripping story of a young black man heading away for a weekend with his as-yet un-met in-laws… what comes after is a web of dark intrigue and something is definitely not right!
The Curious World of Hieronymus Bosch – Ever wanted to know more about the mysterious Hieronymus Bosch?!? Then get a load of this – it’s a part of the ‘Exhibition on Screen’ series that takes viewers on a tour of the works and life of some of history’s great artists. This one is all about Hieronymus Bosch and is surprising in its revelations about who he was and where his inspirations were drawn, plus you get up close with some of his most amazing works!
Chasing Trane– The latest telling of the life, love, and music of the great jazz saxophonist, John Coltrane. Rare footage and loads of interviews with music legends that were close to him. He was truly a musical visionary and died at such a young age from liver cancer, it begs the questions of how much more impact could he have had on contemporary music!? A must-watch for all music fans!
Saint Amour – An old man and his adult son go on a wine-tasting road trip around France in order to reconnect. Sounds normal, but this is French comedy and things get strange! Good story.
The Limehouse Golem– I really liked this film – a Victorian Whodunnit! I loved the Victorian era look of it, the clever direction, the story was weaving and uncertain – as it should be for a classic whodunnit! And the acting was solid and dramatic without being over the top. It’s a small shame that I picked the killer in the first 20mins but I still liked the story and enjoyed it to the end!
The Dinner – A family of privileged white Americans meet for a very posh dinner to discuss an incident that involved their children. The details slowly emerge as the film unfolds and explores the issues of parenting, mental health, social navigations etc. Great performances from the four lead actors.
Detectorists– A short series about the engrossing world of metal detecting in rural Britain. Written and directed by Mackenzie Crook (from the Office, and Pirates of the Caribbean), it’s full of pathos and at once hilarious, cringey-embarrassing, and full of heart. It’s about how even small lives are big and important and that everyone deserves to be happy. Highly recommended if you like British comedy.
Rellik – A dark and twisted crime series with an uniusual device; the story is told in reverse. We begin with the outcome of a police investiagtion into a series of acid-burn murders, from there we go back in increments of hours/days as the foundations are explored and new light begins to show on reasons for behaviours evident earlier/later… it’s a little confusing to explain so just watch it, it’s quality crime drama!
Swinging Safari – A gloriously retro look at family life in 1970’s Australia. Try to think of every brand name, in-safe parenting practice, cliché, and add a bit of over-styling and you’ve got it. Loosely wrapped as a coming-of-age story, it centres around 3 Aussie families living, loving, and loafing. Very funny film, especially if you’ve lived through some of these circumstances.
It is, of course, with much sadness that I heard about the recent death of Tom Wolfe, who was without doubt a towering figure in literary circles for most of the second half of 20th century. Along with people like Hunter S. Thompson, and several other (mostly male) American writers of his generation, he turned journalism into literature, to be read for pleasure, inventing in the process a new kind of non-fiction and influencing generations of authors whose work I have been enjoying ever since. But for me, Tom Wolfe’s legacy is a decidedly mixed one.
In my youth, I loved the vivid, day-glo prose of his psychedelic classic, The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test. As a window onto a world I knew very little about it was one of those books that broadened my horizons and helped me become aware that there are many more ways to live a life than my rather conventional upbringing had prepared me for. Another favourite was The Right Stuff, about the Mercury Seven astronauts, arguably the real pioneers of manned spaceflight (at least in the Western hemisphere), among the very first to venture off-planet, and lone-travellers in their single-seat capsules. It wasn’t just the incredible tales of the astronauts themselves that I enjoyed, but also the stories of those around them, their girlfriends, wives, and families, and the ground crew that supported them, which made the space race feel, to me at least, like a crazy mad adventure that (unlike the trips of Ken Kesey’s Merry Pranksters described in “…Acid Test”) everyone could buy into – at least that’s how I felt at the time – and it helped to fuel my life-long interest in science and technology.
When I was a bit older I read, and thoroughly enjoyed, From Bauhaus to Our House, Wolfe’s searing critique of the worst excesses of modernist architecture. It was bitingly funny and satirical, but actually, I gradually realised, I quite liked a lot of the buildings Wolfe was ridiculing. Although I was with him in his disdain for the cynical manipulation of public taste by those in power, which he so expertly took down, was I simultaneously allowing myself to be manipulated perhaps? Nevertheless, I thought I saw a conservatism coming through in his writing that I hadn’t noticed before and it didn’t sit well with me, which might be why I stopped reading his books after that. It wasn’t a deliberate, or even conscious, turning away, it was just that there were always other things I wanted to read more. So, I never read any of his fiction, which came later in his career, or the books he is now perhaps most lauded for, such as Bonfire of the Vanities. Wolfe’s right-wing credentials were confirmed when he came out as a supporter of George W. Bush, but I think his politics were more complicated and nuanced than this might suggest, and the claim that he was a racist because of derogatory remarks he made about the Black Panther Party in his book Radical Chic, in which he mocked all manner of left-wing intellectuals, are, I think, overstated; above all it seems he was a contrarian who delighted in taking an opposing view to whatever appeared to be the zeitgeist at the time.
As someone who has spent much of my adult life as an academic working in the field of evolutionary biology, for me, the last straw came with his book The Kingdom of Speech, which was strongly critical of Charles Darwin and his theory of evolution by natural selection, the cornerstone of modern biology. I haven’t read this book, so perhaps I shouldn’t comment on it, but I remember the furore it caused at the time of its publication for its anti-Darwinian stance. Some biologists saw value in Wolfe’s critique, not I think of Darwin as biologist, but of the way his ideas have sometimes been applied outside biology, but for most I think the feeling was something like ‘How dare this hack, without any formal training in biology, take on one of our most treasured icons?’. But of course, daring iconoclasm was what Tom Wolfe was all about, and he was well-versed in evolutionary theory, although for me at the time this felt like a step too far.
For these, and other reasons (like his affected style in later life of wearing white suits and carrying elaborately carved wooden canes – a harmless eccentricity perhaps, but one I found off-putting), I have been ambivalent about re-reading Wolfe’s books, or filling in the gaps, but his death has led me to reconsider. The other day I pulled “…Acid Test” off the shelf, and the first few pages immediately brought back the excitement I felt reading it for the first time all those years ago, so I think I will finish it. I’m not a big re-reader of books, but I think there are things in it that I will see quite differently this time. For example, in the opening scene, one of the hippies in the back of the van hurtling through the streets of San Francisco to meet Ken Kesey after his release from prison is none other than the environmentalist Stewart Brand. I wouldn’t have known who he was when I first read the book, but since then I have read some of Brand’s own books, and followed his more recent enthusiasm for de-extinction (another controversial topic, which I will perhaps re-visit in another blog). I think there’s a good argument to be made that “…Acid Test” is a modern classic that should be widely read. I’m not so sure about “The Right Stuff”, which I don’t intend to read again. I don’t think Wolfe’s glorification of the test pilots, turned early astronauts, and their male-dominated world would seem so appealing to me this time round, and in any case, since then I’ve read lots of other books on the subject that I would far rather read again (again, a subject for another blog). I’m not sure about re-reading “Our House to Bauhaus”, and it’s not a field I’ve continued to follow or read many other books about, but for satirical bite I think I might try The Painted Word, which I haven’t read before, but is on a similar topic and of a similar vintage. As for the fiction, I think I might leave that for my retirement.
In the end, my remembered fondness for Wolfe’s early books must trump my reservations about his later work. Despite his flaws, I think my reading life has been significantly enriched by my encounters with Wolfe’s writing and those he influenced, and for that I am very grateful.
The auditorium was packed full of excited kids and parents. We were all waiting for 6 o’clock to finally arrive and the star to walk out on stage, I looked around at the demographics represented. It was wonderful seeing kids of all ages present – most clutching well-worn copies of Diary of a Wimpy Kid books. I’m sure one kid was carrying the whole series, his stack of books was almost too big to carry. Several kids got up to boogie along to the pumped vibe music – it was just too exciting to keep still.
Finally Jeff Kinney himself walked on stage – oh my gosh, one of the coolest authors for kids was actually within throwing distance!
If you want to get your kid into reading, introduce them to Diary of a Wimpy kid. You won’t regret it.
He talked a bit about his history, why he became an author and things from his childhood that shaped him. Reading all kinds of things from his local bookstore was a big part of his childhood, particularly comics.
“Comics can also be literature” he said.
Remember that, pictures and the meaning they bring are so important. His books have his cartoons dispersed throughout the text. He describes this as “little islands to swim to,” which is why these books are so great for all levels of readers.
Encourage your kid to read comics, if that’s what they like.
Jeff’s iPad was hooked up to the big screens, so we could see him draw in action. He taught us how to draw his main characters, and showed us how a slight difference in line can make the character have a completely different emotion.
Have a go! Then try do it blindfolded. He had a couple of volunteers up on stage drawing with him, with hilarious results.
It all ended too quickly, and I can’t wait till I get to see him speak again.
Credo Reference is a great series of online eBooks that you can search and browse. Filled with pictures as well as information, they make a perfect starting point for that school project, or a interesting resource to satisfy a curious mind. Keep the kids entertained (and still learning) in the holidays, with this collection of eBooks.
Whatever they want to do when they grow up, we have it covered.
Kia ora. We need your input to help plan exciting programmes at Tūranga. Tell us the programmes you would be most interested in attending and what times would suit you best. This survey will take about 5 minutes to complete.
Tūranga will be nearly 10,000 square metres in size, making it the largest public library in the South Island. It is part of a network of 19 community libraries, as well as a mobile library and a digital library. In 2017, the Christchurch City Libraries network hosted 3.7 million visits and issued almost 4.5 million items.