Get thee to a bookshop for NZ Bookshop Day – Saturday 29 October

NZ Bookshop DayThis Saturday 29 October your mission is to visit your local bookshop. Choose to accept it!

It is the second official NZ Bookshop Day – a celebration to get booklovers pulses racing. Booksellers New Zealand are doing some cool competitions to get you into the NZ Bookshop Day spirit. Win $500 worth of NZ book tokens by sharing the bookshop love: Get a postcard from a participating bookshop, fill it out and hand it back, tell the bookshop just why you love it. And win book prizes on the NZ Bookshop Day Facebook page, and Booksellers NZ Twitter #nzbookshopday in the lead up to NZ Bookshop Day.

Here’s my NZ Bookshop Day to-do list (it’s a trifle ambitious but that’s a tribute to how much excellent stuff is on!):

  • Buy copies of Annual by Gecko Press for Christmas presents for the kids in my life.
  • Take part in Scorpio Books Lit Quiz (fingers crossed for a respectable showing).
  • Get the kid along to a Children’s illustration workshop to hone her My Little Pony and Powerpuff Girls drawing skills.
  • Hear Mr Yipadee in action at South City Paper Plus.
  • And of course enter all the comps with the goal of winning books and/or book tokens.

Christchurch events and competitions for NZ Bookshop Day


Here are some of the competitions and Christchurch events as listed on the Booksellers NZ website:

Scorpio Books

Favourite book photo competition
Take a photo of your favourite book in an inspired location, post it on Instagram or Facebook with the hashtags #scorpiobooks and #nzbookshopday to win a $200 Scorpio Books voucher. Entries close on 31 October, winner announced 5 November.

12 favourite books for only $12 each on NZ Bookshop Day
Scorpio staff have gathered together 12 of their favourite books and for a special deal on NZ Bookshop Day, they will be $12 each. In store only. While stocks last.

Books in Schools
Make a purchase at Scorpio Books on NZ Bookshop Day and choose a Christchurch school to receive 15% of your purchase to spend on books of their choice!

Children’s Illustration Workshop – Scorpio Books, 120 Hereford Street
A free workshop on Children’s Illustration with Lynne McAra, the illustrator of Toby Goes To Grandma’s and Toby Goes Cycling. 2:30pm – 4pm. Suitable for ages 6 – 12. Limited spaces available, to book a space email:

Scorpio Lit Quiz – Scorpio Books, 120 Hereford Street
Hosted by Joe Bennett. Bring a team of up to 5 people to test your literary knowledge. $60 per table. 7pm. Spot prizes, drinks and nibbles provided. Limited spaces available. Purchase your table from Hereford St or phone 377 8462.

Readings from our Favourite Books – Scorpio Books, 113 Riccarton Road
Local authors share and read from their favourite books, in conversation with Chris Moore.
Browse and listen to all time favourite stories. 10am-4pm

The Original Children’s Bookshop Christchurch

Join illustrators Jenny Cooper and Helen Taylor instore between 11.00 and 1.00. Storytelling with Zac McCallum at 2.30pm. Spot prizes for the best costumes, download colouring competitions from the website.

Piccadilly Books

10am. Book signing and information session with Amanda Tiffen and Leigh Brown with their books A Life less Sugar and A Life Less Sugar Recipes.

Paper Plus

Mr Yipadee, a best-selling Kiwi children’s musician and author, making it big in the UK. His songs have messages of positivity and FUN and children LOVE him. He is coming home to help promote his new book Jingle Bells, Rudolph Smells, and will be singing a few songs and signing books. He will appear at the following Paper Plus stores:

All about NZ Bookshop Day

Cool stuff from the Selectors: Children’s and adult fiction

CoverWild animals of the North by Dieter Braun
A children’s book about the animals who live across the 3 regions of North America, Europe and Asia. This book has been getting a lot of good reviews. The illustrations are stars. They are bright, stunning and show the animals as full of life and personality. This is the first in a series that will cover the animals of the world.

The Guardian has great examples of the illustrations.

CoverAnother animal book, this time from the always superb husband and wife team of Steve Jenkins and Robin Page. (They have produced 16 books together): Flying Frogs and Walking Fish : Leaping Lemurs, Tumbling Toads, Jet-propelled Jellyfish, and More Surprising Ways That Animals Move. 46 creatures in the typical paper collages against crisp white background style, showing  how they might march, stroll, tiptoe or perhaps glide soar or coast.


On the fiction front there are promising titles such Days Without End by the Irish writer Sebastian Barry, which is a kind of literary western along the lines of that terrific novel The Sisters Brothers. Barry’s earlier novel  The Secret Scripture has been filmed (with Rooney Mara, Vanessa Redgrave and Eric Bana) and is expected to bring more publicity to this very talented writer.

Other titles coming up from first rate novelists include Michael Chabon Moonglow, Alice Hoffman Faithful,  Alan Moore Jerusalem,  Ron Rash The Risen,  Zadie Smith Swing Time Stephenie Meyer The Chemist.

So … something for everyone


Sleuths and Spies day

sleuths and spies

Put on your gum shoes, trench coat and fedora and come along to our Sleuths and Spies fun day on Saturday the 29th of October at Central Library Peterborough!

Get your magnifying glass ready to crack our secret codes and puzzles, follow clues to solve a mystery, test your dexterity on the laser beam course and discover how crimes are solved at our forensics station. Science Alive! will also be there with “Science Snippets: Spies and Secret Messages” between 1.30 and 2.30pm, so come as your favourite spy or detective and follow the clues to 91 Peterborough Street.

But don’t worry: if you’ve misplaced your deerstalker hat then you can use our photobooth to create a disguise on the day!

In the meantime check out some of our favourite spy and mystery fiction for kids and teens:

Cover of Precious and the MonkeysCover of A Pocket full of MurderCover of Liar & SpyCover of A Spy in the House

Announcing Annual – a treasure trove for Kiwi children

annual_coverWe’re so excited about the eagerly-awaited publication release of Annual from Gecko Press (edited by Kate De Goldi & Susan Paris). Annual is a real game-changer as the first publication of its kind in New Zealand.

Annual is a 136-page smorgasbord of stories, comics, satire, how-tos, poems, games and puzzles aimed at 9-12 year old children – and their families.

There’s a dictionary of crazy words that come in handy on car trips, a sophisticated ‘spot the similarity’, a found poem from school newsletters, a maths-nerd’s memoir full of tricky logic puzzles, and top-class fiction that spans Christchurch Botanic Gardens in the 19th century, the loss of a brother, a Kiwi beach holiday and a board game.

A Box of Birds: A Collection of Odd Words to Take on a Road Trip by Kirsten McDougall, in Annual

Annual’s fantastically illustrated double-spread contents page by Dylan Horrocks is a work of art in itself and the publication features a curation of specially commissioned pieces and collaborations from 41 New Zealand writers and illustrators, including: Bernard Beckett, Fifi Colston, Gavin Bishop, Dylan Horrocks, Barbara Else, Coco Solid, Samuel Scott, Whiti Hereaka, Paul Beavis, Renata Hopkins, Ben Brown, Sharon Murdoch, Damien Wilkins, Jonathan King and many others!

Why a New Zealand annual?

Kate De Goldi, co-editor of the Annual from Gecko Press, could see there was a “hectic” trend in children’s writing – popular books for children such as those that are slapstick or fantastical or series titles (think Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Captain Underpants). She says that while these books are great, the current market does not run in the favour of more nuanced, complex books.

Inspired by, and harking back to memories of children’s annuals in the UK like Bunty The Books for Girls, De Goldi reminisces that “Annuals were like Mary Poppins’ carpet bag – you always see something new every time you opened one.”

Annuals were full of literary miscellany – a home for practitioners, writes, emerging talent. Kate remembers being given annuals for Christmas and how for some children it may have been the only book they got in a year so it was something to be savoured and enjoyed all year long.

With Annual, the editors set out to “reimagine an iconic book format for today’s young readers.” Lorde, Taylor Swift and “selfies” are in there. Indeed one of the charms of Annual is how it manages to reference pop culture yet still feel nostalgic.

The Island of Misplacia from B.O.N.E. by Gavin Mouldey, in Annual

Christchurch writers, illustrators and artists showcased

Street art by Wongi
Whare & Whānau by Wongi, Flickr File Reference: 014-12-15-IMG_3940

Speaking of nostalgia, it’s evident Kate De Goldi has a soft spot for Canterbury. Born and raised here, a Christchurch connection appears throughout Annual in various forms: From local writers such as Gavin Bishop, Ben Brown and Renata Hopkins to the street art of Christchurch in a commentary on Wongi Wilson’s Whare & Whānau (2014) in Spray Can Renaissance.

Due to the CBD’s rebuild, Wilson’s mural, that was on the corner of Tuam and Manchester streets is barely visible now, making this snapshot of a certain time and place more poignant.

We asked Kate to tell us more about the inaugural Annual:

Kate, how did the idea for Annual came about?

Author, Kate De GoldiFor some time I’d been bothered by the fact that there seemed to be a dearth of good, original New Zealand reading material for readers between 8 to 12, the reading group that American publishers/booksellers call ‘middle-grade’ (between ’emerging’ readers and young adult readers), roughly between 8 and 12 years. Additionally, I was sorry that there were no publications anymore for emerging writers for that age group to publish short form material.

One day a couple of years ago while I was out running round the hilly streets of Wellington and thinking about these things, it suddenly occurred to me that an Annual – a miscellany of stories, comics, poetry, articles, art, puzzles, games etc – would be a great solution to both of these issues. By the time I’d finished my run I’d thought of two people who could help make it happen – Julia Marshall, the publisher for Gecko Press and Susan Paris, the editor of the School Journal.

Why is this ‘Annual’ so significant for New Zealand?

As far as we know there’s never been a New Zealand publication like this for New Zealand children. This is the first publication of new, commissioned material across a variety of forms for this age group. It’s also the first publication to draw contributions from such a wide range of writers and artists – well known writers and illustrators for children, but also new writers and artists or writer/artists who usually produce work for an adult readership.

Annual is also an attempt to broaden the notion of what is allegedly ‘suitable’ for children. We believe that the 9-12 age group is a very sophisticated readership, one that’s hungry for different kinds of reading – fiction, non-fiction, graphic material, and great art – so we’ve commissioned work that is varied and substantial and with real literary merit. But the editors (Susan and me) have a pretty developed sense of the absurd, too, so we wanted the Annual to have funny – even silly – contributions as well as solid stuff.

Tell us about your childhood memories of annuals?

I grew up in a house full of books, including a wide range of very good children’s books. Comics were kind of frowned on, though – but I loved them… I read them at other people’s houses whenever I had the chance.

All the well-known British children’s comics of that post-War period (Girl’s Crystal; Princess; Rupert; Beano, Bunty, to name some) also had an Annual (a kind of bumper issue of the comic) published in time for the Christmas market. As a non-comic household we tended not to get the Annuals either – except one year when, for some reason, my sister Clare got Bunty. She was 8 that year, but claims she was still reading that Bunty Annual until she was 18. I believe her – the thing I noticed about annuals was that they seemed to last forever…every time you picked up a well-thumbed, familiar annual there was somehow always something you hadn’t noticed before and were very pleased to read.

When we were first thinking about our annual we knew we wanted it to be like that – a gift that kept on giving. It’s roughly aimed at a 9-12 readership but we hope that those readers will keep on dipping in over the years; and we’re confident there will be both younger and older readers – and adults – outside the designated age group who will enjoy many of the contributions between the covers.

How did this annual come together?

Once I had the annual idea I contacted Julia Marshall who was immediately very keen on the idea of Gecko Press publishing a miscellany of this kind (Gecko’s catchphrase is ‘curiously good books’). Then I contacted Susan Paris, who is a good friend, but more importantly has 12 years experience commissioning and editing the New Zealand School Journal a publication embedded in the history of children’s writing and illustrating in New Zealand and which is in many ways like Annual –  miscellany of varied forms, but for use in the classroom.

Susan and I began by dreaming up ideas for stories, poems, articles etc and then worked out who we thought would be the best writers and artists to work with those ideas. We needed to come up with the ideas ourselves to ensure a balance across the annual – different moods (sad, funny, silly, reflective); different settings (urban, rural); gender and cultural balance; different forms (realist, fantasy, historical etc). We worked hard to match our ideas with the right artist/ writer…for example, we liked the idea of a ‘found’ poem composed entirely of lines taken from school newsletters. We asked James Brown to have a go at that – we knew he was great with different poetic forms. We approached writers and artists who we knew enjoyed working within certain parameters but who could still make the piece their own.

Commissioning was just the first stage – we edited all the work for publication and worked with Gecko Press to find illustrators for many of the pieces. It was particularly interesting for me – a tyro* in this regard – to see a project of this size right through from inception to publication. Every aspect of the process was fascinating – and quite consuming…debating the best sequencing of all the contributions, debating the title and cover, the color of the cover…and more. And finally there’s spreading the word ahead of publication – talking to librarians, booksellers, teachers, any prospective buyers – preparing the website to go live. (* Tyro = beginner or novice).

Kate, you say that Annual is meant to be enjoyed by ‘backwards browse.’ What does that mean?

This was new to me – Julia told us that people nearly always explore a book, especially a volume of mixed material, from the back to the front.

It’s perfectly true. I do it myself, though I’d never noticed…and we’ve enjoyed watching people pick up Annual and check it out by fanning the pages from back to front. That’s good from our point of view – the first piece they see, then, is Naked Grandmother, the board game which is pretty entertaining. A ‘backwards browse’ will find you flicking through an annual until you fall on what you want to sink yourself into.

Annual’s cover is quite subtle compared to the treasure trove inside. Was that intentional?

Yes, that was intentional – the title written vertically and two lovely drawings by Gregory O’Brien…the chirping bird kind of heralding something good to come. And then there’s the color – a radiant orange.

We wanted the cover to be a striking design (that’s the work of Spencer Levine who also designed the interior) so that the prospective reader would be drawn to pick up Annual – and then begin the ‘backwards browse’ through the material between the covers – which is rich indeed, a real feast for the eye.

What is your hope for the book?

Firstly, I hope the book finds its way to the readers we had in mind when we were working on it – all those readers between 9-12 who are smart, curious and hungry for new material. I hope that readers outside that age group will check it out, too. I hope especially that it is bought by school libraries – that way Annual can reach readers who may not otherwise come across the kind of material inside.

We hope that Annual becomes an annual publication! We’re working on the second volume now and hope that we can keep on producing for as long as there’s an audience…We hope to keep on finding new writers and artists and giving them a platform to publish. We hope, too, that NZ writers and artists for children aspire to be published in Annual, that it builds an audience among practitioners as well as readers.

Kate, you’re very prolific. What is your next project?

Cover of From the cutting room of Barney KettleSusan (Paris) and I are well launched on the commissioning of Annual 2 – which is huge fun…We meet twice a week and spend hours talking and pitching ideas to each other, refining them and working out how best and who might turn them into gold.

I’m also working on a film script of my children’s novel From the cutting room of Barney Kettle another first for me and very interesting. (Set in High Street, Barney Kettle is a homage to Christchurch pre and post-quake).

Kate De Goldi is starting work on a novel in the new year and continuing a long term non-fiction project. (Her current project is a book about children’s literature bibliophile, Susan Price).


Here are some personal highlights from the book:

Continue reading

Diwali – The Festival of Lights

Do you wish to extend your appetite beyond your usual Indian takeaway order? Perhaps you are intrigued by the rhythmic dance moves which so often feature in Bollywood movies? Or maybe you need to learn some basic Hindi for a friend’s wedding in Mumbai? This week marks the celebration of Diwali. Here at Christchurch City Libraries we have many resources on offer to help you learn more about this auspicious occasion and displays and crafts on at libraries.


Diwali or dīpāvali, the festival of lights, is traditionally celebrated by Hindus, Jains and Sikhs with the rising of the new moon at the end of the month, Ashvin. However, in a country as diverse as India, where people from many different faiths live side by side, the festival is not limited to one particular faith for it represents the victory of light over darkness and the triumph of wisdom over ignorance. Throughout cities and villages the darkness will be symbolically turned back. Clay lamps (diya) will be lit in homes and shops, fireworks will be released into the sky and the streets will be filled with music.

As a result of the Indian diaspora, the festival is now celebrated worldwide. The first Indians to settle in Christchurch arrived in the 1850s with Sir John Cracroft Wilson (though it is possible that Indians working on whaling ships may have visited the region at an earlier date). Although the number of migrants started to grow in the first half of the twentieth century, Diwali celebrations in Christchurch initially remained limited to small community and family events.

In recent years the Indian Social and Cultural Club (ISCC) has been responsible for bringing Diwali to the wider Christchurch community with their Diwali – Indian Festival of Lights event. The first public celebration was held in 2010 at Victoria Square. Since then the festival has been held at Horncastle Arena. Sponsored by Singapore Airlines, it has grown in size and variety. This year’s event is on Saturday 22 October, from 3 to 9pm.


For many, a highlight of the Christchurch event are the dance performances. Various local groups, from university student dance clubs to dance companies, whose performances range from traditional to Bollywood fusion, take part. Many of these groups spend months preparing their routines for the event.

Another draw card is the variety of food available. Tired of tikka masala? Then try street stall food such as pav bhaji and aloo chaat. Sweets are also an important part of Diwali. Make an effort to track down gulab jamun (dumplings soaked in a sugary rose water syrup), or barfi (sweetened milk mixed with pistachios and left to set).

While at the festival you will hear many different languages being spoken. In fact, there are 122 major languages and 1599 minor languages to be found in India. However, Christchurch City Libraries can prepare you for this challenge. All Christchurch City Libraries users are free to use Mango Languages to learn a range of Indian languages including Hindi, Urdu, Punjabi, Bengali, Tamil, Telugu and Malayalam.

Diwali Festival 2015
Diwali Festival, Horncastle Arena, 24 October 2015. Flickr Diwali-2015-IMG_0873.jpg

Christchurch City Libraries has prepared a list of selected titles, both fiction and non-fiction, as well as a selection of movies and audio CDs, which can offer an introduction to the vibrant cultures of India.

  • Find resources about Diwali in our collection
  • Read about Diwali in the World Book Reference Centre
  • View Diwali photos in our Flickr collection.

Simon Daisley
Digital Content & Serials

Photo Hunt October: School Bus at Coopers Creek, Oxford, 1922

School Bus at Coopers Creek, Oxford.
Highly commended entry in the 2015 Christchurch City Libraries Photo Hunt by Dave Howell. PH15-005.jpg CC-BY-NC-ND. 3.0NZ

“26 Model T Bus at Coopers Creek near Rangiora. The lady, my late mother and her two brothers. No windows, doors or window tarpaulins, so a curtain needs to be rolled down if it rains, also one for the door.”

  • View more images of buses on Kete Christchurch.

Christchurch City Libraries has been running an annual Photo Hunt in conjunction with the city’s Heritage Week since 2008.  The 2016 Photo Hunt is running again from 1 – 31 October. During the month of October we will be posting a series of images from earlier Photo Hunts.

Enter the 2016 hunt online or at your local library.

Kete Christchurch is a collection of photographs and stories about Christchurch & Canterbury, past and present. Anyone can join and contribute.

Photo Hunt October: Off to the game

Off to the game..
Entry in the Christchurch City Libraries 2008 Photo Hunt. File Reference: HW08-ANZC-098 CC-BY-NC-SA 3.0NZ

“Three Christchurch Boys High lads at the Lancaster Park turnstiles on their way to watch a Wednesday afternoon rugby match in 1956.”

Lancaster Park opened on 15 October 1881 and was Christchurch’s  primary sports venue until it closed following the earthquakes in 2010/2011.

Christchurch City Libraries has been running an annual Photo Hunt in conjunction with the city’s Heritage Week since 2008.  The 2016 Photo Hunt is running again from 1 – 31 October. During the month of October we will be posting a series of images from earlier Photo Hunts.

Enter the 2016 hunt online or at your local library.

Kete Christchurch is a collection of photographs and stories about Christchurch & Canterbury, past and present. Anyone can join and contribute.

Inspiring girls to work in STEM – Ada Lovelace Day 2016

Today is Ada Lovelace Day – a celebration of the achievements of women in science, technology, engineering and science. It’s celebrated on the second Tuesday in October.

STEM (Science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) is a field that needs more women. Careers NZ looks at where women are working in STEM, and job opportunities.

Having inspiring examples for girls and young women is an important part of adding balance into the sector. Curious  Minds – He Hihiri i te Mahara does it well – Increasing girls’ and women’s participation in STEM publishes profiles of women in science, technology and engineering, and new profiles are added each week. Dr Victoria Metcalf’s New Zealand women in STEM – talented and diverse is a cool look into Curious Minds.
Like Curious Minds on Facebook and follow on Twitter.

Fabriko Electronic Stickers Fun Palace
Fabriko Electronic Stickers Fun Palace, Central Library Peterborough. Sunday 2 October 2016. Flickr 2016-10-2-IMG_6300

STEM at libraries and learning centres

Science Snippets in the library hosted by Science Alive! After school sessions start back next week Monday 17 October.

Anna and Gen from Science Alive!
Anna and Gen from Science Alive!

See also:

Books to give girls STEM inspiration


Our previous Ada Lovelace Day posts

Photo Hunt October: Daffodils in Hagley Park, 1944

Daffodils in Hagley Park
Entry in the Christchurch City Libraries 2009 Photo Hunt. Kete Christchurch-HW08-D-009-Daffodils in Hagley Park. CC-BY-NC-SA-3.0 NZ

Kevin and his mum amongst the daffodils in Hagley Park in Spring 1944.

See more images of daffodils from Kete Christchurch.

Christchurch City Libraries has been running an annual Photo Hunt in conjunction with the city’s Heritage Week since 2008.  The 2016 Photo Hunt is running again from 1 – 31 October. During the month of October we will be posting a series of images from earlier Photo Hunts.

Enter the 2016 hunt online or at your local library.

Kete Christchurch is a collection of photographs and stories about Christchurch & Canterbury, past and present. Anyone can join and contribute.

Photo Hunt October: Little Kaye gets on a plane

Kaye Neely from Wellington leaving from Christchurch Airport with an NAC air hostess.
One of the winning entries in the 2015 Christchurch City Libraries Photo Hunt. PH15-055. CC-BY-NC-ND- 3.0 NZ

Kaye Neely from Miramar Wellington, departing at Christchurch Airport with an NAC air hostess. Kaye had come down for a holiday with her older cousins. As she was only four at the time she’d had to tell a “little white lie” saying she was five (the minimum age to travel unaccompanied. She was beautifully dressed in the new dress her mum had made for the occasion and wearing a hat and matching bag. Date: 1974.

Christchurch City Libraries has been running an annual Photo Hunt in conjunction with the city’s Heritage Week since 2008.  The 2016 Photo Hunt is running again from 1 – 31 October. During the month of October we will be posting a series of images from earlier Photo Hunts.

Enter the 2016 hunt online or at your local library.

Kete Christchurch is a collection of photographs and stories about Christchurch & Canterbury, past and present. Anyone can join and contribute.