Start your Chinese learning with nursery rhymes

Nursery rhymes are easy to remember, short to sing and have fun actions! So, in preparation for New Zealand Chinese Language Week (16-22 October) why not start your Chinese learning with Chinese nursery rhymes? Here are some easy Chinese nursery rhymes you can try. The best part is that you don’t have to worry about the different tones in Chinese. Try to match the tune.

Twinkle Twinkle Little Star

Twinkle, twinkle, little star
How I wonder what you are
Up above the world so high
Like a diamond in the sky
Twinkle, twinkle, little star
How I wonder what you are

小星星
xiǎo xīng xīng
一闪一闪亮晶晶
yì shǎn yì shǎn liàng jīng jīng
满天都是小星星
mǎn tiān dōu shì xiǎo xīng xīng
挂在天空放光明
guà zài tiān kōng fàng guāng míng
好像許多小眼睛
hǎo xiàng xǔ duō xiǎo yǎn jīng
一闪一闪亮晶晶
yì shǎn yì shǎn liàng jīng jīng
满天都是小星星
mǎn tiān dōu shì xiǎo xīng xīng

Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes

Head, shoulders, knees and toes,
Knees and toes, knees and toes,
Head, shoulders, knees and toes,
Eyes, ears, mouth and nose.

頭兒,肩膀,膝,腳趾
tóu ér jiān bǎng xī jiǎo zhǐ
膝,腳趾 膝,腳趾
xī jiǎo zhǐ, xī jiǎo zhǐ
頭兒,肩膀,膝,腳趾
tóu ér jiān bǎng xī jiǎo zhǐ
眼,耳,鼻和口
yǎn,ěr,bí hé kǒu

Numbers

1, 2, 3
yī èr sān
4, 5, 6
sì wǔ liù
7, 8, 9
qī bā jiǔ
10
shí
(repeat backwards)

Christchurch City Libraries have a good range of Chinese learning materials as well as the eResources Mango Languages and Rosetta Stone.

Come join our New Zealand Chinese Language Week Celebration in the libraries from October 15th to 22nd.

If you would like to learn more Chinese nursery rhymes, do check out the Bilingual Babytimes every Tuesday at 11am in Te Hāpua: Halswell Centre.

Bilingual storytime with Anita
Bilingual storytime with Anita, New Zealand Chinese Language Week 2016, Flickr File Reference: 2016-09-Bilingual_storytime-Anita.jpg

Anita
Te Hāpua: Halswell Centre

Diwali 2017 at Christchurch City Libraries

To celebrate Diwali 2017 Christchurch City Libraries will be holding a variety of events including live performances, story times and craft making sessions.

What is Diwali?

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.

Diwali display at Linwood Library 2016.

Dance performances

We have two local dance groups performing on Saturday 14 October at three different library venues.

Revathi Performing Arts will perform a puṣpāñjali (welcoming dance) set to Carnatic (Southern Indian) music at:

Hornby Library                                               11.30 am to 11.45 am

Te Hapua Halswell Centre                              1.30 pm to 1.45 pm

Christchurch Hindi Class performing group will showcase a traditional dance at:

Linwood Library                                              1pm to 2pm.

Rāmāyaṇa

Diwali is also closely associated with one of the great epics of India, the Rāmāyaṇa. The focus of the epic is the journey of Prince Rāma, an avatar (incarnation) of the god, Viṣṇu, to rescue his wife, princess Sītā, who was abducted by Rāvaṇa, the king of rākṣasas (demons). Aided by an army of monkeys and bears, led by the monkey general, Hanumān, Rāma laid siege to the island kingdom of Lanka and eventually defeated Rāvaṇa. Returning to their kingdom of Ayodhyā, Rāma and Sītā were greeted by people who lined their route with lamps to welcome them back. The lighting of lamps at Diwali is said to represent the lights guiding the couple back to their kingdom.

The Rāmāyaṇa will feature in our Super Saturday Storytime at Upper Riccarton Library on Saturday 21 October.

Lighting candles and clay lamps during Diwali night. Wikimedia Commons.

Find out more

  • See our Diwali programme list for further Diwali related events at our libraries.
  • Find resources about Diwali in our collection.
  • Watch a short film about the Rāmāyaṇa.

Beca Heritage Week 2017

BECA Heritage Week is back again, 13-23 October, and this year the theme is Plains, Port Hills and Peninsula – Finding our way.

Beca Heritage Week logo

The big event on Sunday 15 October is the City of Cycles family fun day, at The Arts Centre which will offer music, entertainment, and films as well as food vendors, vintage markets and… valet parking for bicycles!

Other events during heritage week will include talks, tours, classes on researching family history, and much more.

Pick up a programme flyer at your local library or find Heritage Week events online.

Library Heritage Week events

The library had a range of activities to celebrate our local heritage:

Exhibition – The lost cave baches

This exhibition will show photographs and tell stories of the Lost Cave Baches, located between the east end of Taylors Mistake and Boulder Bay. A booklet will be available with photographs and stories.

Matuku Takotako: Sumner Centre
13-23 October during library opening hours

Lyttelton by Rail

In celebration of the opening of the Lyttelton Rail Tunnel 150 years ago, members of the public are invited to share their stories, memories and images of travelling on the Lyttelton to Christchurch passenger train. These memories will be collected and recorded in the Lyttelton Library by volunteers for the Lyttelton Museum. There will be an accompanying display of images and information about the Lyttelton Rail Tunnel at the Lyttelton Library.

Lyttelton Library
14 – 21 October during library opening hours

Entrance to a tunnel on the Christchurch railway [ca. 1868]
Entrance to a tunnel on the Christchurch railway [ca. 1868] CCL PhotoCD 18, IMG0029

City of Cycles Family Fun Day

Look out for library staff and the following events at City of Cycles family fun day, at The Arts Centre on Sunday 15 October.

Heritage Display

Come and see a heritage display reflecting Christchurch’s past in the Classics Building at The Arts Centre. Library staff will be on hand to answer your questions about our heritage images collection and our Christchurch Photo Hunt competition.

Storytime sessions

All aboard for a special storytimes adventure incorporating stories, songs and rhymes with a Cantabrian flavour (and plenty to please train fans too). Set inside a magical star tunnel, these sessions will run every half hour from 10am to 3pm in the Classics Building at The Arts Centre. Suitable for children aged 3-7 years. Bookings will be taken on the day.

Ride On: A pedal through Christchurch’s cycling history

An exhibition for those who love freewheeling. Here you’ll see a fascinating display illustrating Christchurch’s colourful cycling history. It will include heritage bikes on display, as well as images and historical research pulled from Christchurch City Libraries collections.

Book talks – Port to Plains; Over and under the Port Hills, the Story of the Lyttelton Railway Tunnel

David Welch, author of the recently published book, “Port to Plains; Over and Under the Port Hills, the Story of the Lyttelton Railway Tunnel” shares stories about the railway tunnel, the Bridle Path and  the section of the original Sumner Road, from Ferrymead via Sumner to Lyttelton. Participants are invited to join in an open discussion about local history and various research methods.

Lyttelton Library
Monday 16 October 6.30–8pm

Matuku Takotako: Sumner Centre
Tuesday 17 October 3.30–4.30pm

Book Talk – Head of the Harbour by Jane Robertson 

A history of Governors Bay, Ōhinetahi, Allandale and Teddington, this immensely readable, impeccably researched and superbly illustrated book tells the stories of the families who settled at the head of the harbour, of the homes they built, of their relationship with the land and sea, their working and recreational lives. It traces the influence of well-known residents such as Thomas Potts, Hugh Heber Cholmondeley and Margaret Mahy. Author Jane Robertson has interviewed many residents and ex-residents, whose experiences and photographs enrich a book that is not just for those with connections to this special place, but for anyone interested in the history of Canterbury and of New Zealand.

South Library
Friday, 20 October 11am-12pm

eResource Tasters – Ancestry Library Edition

Ancestry library edition logoAn introductory session on how to use Ancestry Library Edition, which is free within the library. Come and get some tips to help you discover your family’s history.
You will gain an overview of the wide variety of vital records from New Zealand, Australia, United Kingdom, Europe and the United States from this eResource. Free, no booking required.

South Library
Thursday 19 October 11am-12pm

Christchurch Photo Hunt

Christchurch Photo Hunt Our annual heritage photo competition takes place in October. It’s an opportunity to contribute to the photographic record of our city.

So dig out your photos of local people, places or events. Entries can be made online, or by dropping into your local library.

Previous years’ photo hunt entries can be found on Kete Christchurch.

Stacy Gregg’s latest pony book is close to home: an interview with the author of The Thunderbolt Pony

Stacy Gregg’s latest pony book The Thunderbolt Pony is a children’s novel very close to home, both for Cantabrians and for the author. Set in the aftermath of an earthquake in the real life town of Parnassus, near Kaikoura, the story is about 12 year-old Evie and her determination to save her beloved Arabian pony Gus, her loyal border collie Jock and her aptly named cat Moxy.

Scorpio A4 Poster 2017.jpg

Stacy Gregg portrays strong, independent, fearless girls in her books and here Evie bravely overcomes not only the forces of nature but her anxiety disorder, which she has been suffering since her dad became terminally ill. Evie’s OCD manifests itself in the belief that she if she doesn’t stick to set routines, it will cause bad things to happen, making her the ‘bringer of earthquakes.’ Evie must embark on both a physical and mental journey, in a race against time to get to a rescue boat.

Stacy Gregg has experienced the effects of anxiety disorder firsthand, with her own daughter developing OCD a couple of years ago, and she brings the specificity of what it can be like into the story. In fact, Stacy manages to intertwine quite a lot into this pacy yet reflective story. There’s also Greek mythology in here too with reference to Poseidon, who makes the perfect tie-in as not only the god of the sea but of earthquakes and horses as well.

You don’t have to be a horsey person for this story of adventure and animal friendship to appeal. Gregg’s style of historical fiction applied here will particularly resonate with many middle-school children in New Zealand and those around Canterbury, the Hurunui and Kaikoura will feel especially immersed in the familiar settings. Overriding everything, however, is Stacy’s signature quality storytelling.

Interview with Stacy Gregg

We interviewed Stacy on the release of her latest book – she talks about her research and writing process and about her experiences with anxiety disorder in her family.

StacyGreggCarolynHaslett.jpeg
Children’s author Stacy Gregg. Photo credit: Carolyn Haslett (photo supplied). 

Stacy, what types of research did you do for The Thunderbolt Pony?

As well as reading lots around my subjects, I’ve always travelled for my research. My books have taken me to Arabia and Spain, Italy and Russia and now for The Thunderbolt Pony, Kaikoura and the East Coast of the South Island. It was important to me to travel the route that my heroine will take, the 64-kilometre stretch between Parnassus and Kaikoura. I was hoping the earth might move while I was there, but it didn’t. I had to rely on second-hand accounts of what the earthquakes were like because I’ve only ever been in a minor tiny tremor once here in Auckland.

What did you find in your research of the earthquakes that surprised you?

That they are noisy! You don’t think about the sound an earthquake makes, you think about the feeling of the land moving underneath you. But everybody I spoke to talked first about the noise. The boom that comes beforehand and the sound like a train surging beneath you. Like the rumble of the thunder that comes before the lightning – it gave me the title for the book.

Surviving 7.8My Story Canterbury Earthquake
Read first-hand accounts of the November 2016 Kaikoura earthquakes in Surviving 7.8 and Aftermath. And for a child’s fictionalised point of view, My New Zealand Story Canterbury Earthquake.

Stacy, did you have a real person in mind when you were writing the character of Evie, who has OCD?

Evie’s journey is based very much on my own daughter’s struggles with OCD. When I first had the idea for writing the book I asked Issie what she thought about having a character who suffers from OCD and she was really, really supportive of me writing about it. She felt like it was important to raise awareness of the condition so that kids who are suffering from anxiety disorders realise how common it is and that they aren’t alone. There’s been such an overall increase in anxiety disorders in pre-adolescents, but this is especially true in places like Canterbury and Kaikoura where the kids have been through an earthquake and the ongoing aftershocks. Statistics in a recent study in Christchurch have shown that four out of five kids in the region have some level of PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder). It’s a very real issue.

What did you find in your research about anxiety disorders like OCD that surprised you?

My daughter gets really cross people say stuff like “Oh I totally need to keep the kitchen clean – cos I’m so OCD!” Because that’s not OCD at all – that’s just liking things to be neat! I remember there was a time when the word “schizophrenic” was misused in the same way. Then the mental health community stepped up and reclaimed it and said “hey it’s not okay to talk about schizophrenia as if it means you have a split personality -it’s actually a real condition that people suffer from.” I think the same thing will happen now with OCD.

There are a lot of mistaken preconceptions about OCD being a ‘clean freak’ condition where you have to wash your hands or keep things perfectly tidy. Yes, it can manifest in that way, but it’s just as likely for you to have OCD and have a super-messy bedroom! For many OCD sufferers it’s about wanting to protect people – or animals – you love and make them safe by adhering to rituals and counting. It’s a bit like superstition on steroids. If you have OCD you are compelled to carry out your rituals and you get really anxious and upset if you can’t do them right as you really do believe you are risking harming everyone that you love. You’re carrying the weight of the world on your shoulders. In The Thunderbolt Pony, Evie is fighting her OCD and trying to get a grip on her actual reality, but she’s got a lot to contend with.

How challenging was it to write about a condition in your family? Was this a helpful process for you, to write about it?

It was tough at times to open the wound and examine it – but it’s better than letting it fester I think. Issie and I are both the same like that, we confront stuff head on and she was very honest with me and trusted me to tell the story. OCD is a rough gig. It can totally dominate someone’s life in a very debilitating way. Issie did a lot of really hard work with her clinical psychologist and that work gave her the tools to overcome it. I’m really proud of how open and brave she was, and I’m really grateful to our psychologist Hilary, for the support he gave her. The character of Willard Fox is very much based on him and he gets a big thank you in the dedication.

image_proxyWhat has been the response so far from readers of The Thunderbolt Pony?

I just toured in Australia around schools in Sydney and what amazed me was that the kids there all knew what OCD was and they were very open to talking about anxiety disorders and seemed to really naturally engage with it. I’m just about to begin the South Island tour now – kicking off in Kaikoura – and I admit I am anxious about talking to the kids who have actually experienced the real earthquake. It’s going to be special, going back to the place where the book is set, but it’s also daunting. I hope they like it.

One thing really engaging about your books is the historical fiction aspect, how you use real places, events and real experiences in many of your stories. Why do you choose to write this way?

I think it’s the ex-journalist in me – I love to do solid research and I like to have a true story as a base foundation for my fiction. The Princess and the Foal was the start of that for me – it is the real story of the childhood of Princess Haya of Jordan. Her mother died in a helicopter crash when the Princess was 3 and she became really emotionally withdrawn and shut down after her death. When the princess was 6 her father, King Hussein, gave her an orphan foal to raise and said. “This foal has no mother, just like you. It’s on your shoulders now to be in charge and care for this young life.” This was the turning point for Princess Haya and her whole life story, her incredible success as an Olympic show jumper and as a powerful world influencer, came from that moment. It was so special to me to tell her story and to be given access to the royal palaces and the stables. My love of telling a true story sprang from working on that book.

PrincessandtheFoalTheIslandofLostHorsesTheGirlWhoRodetheWindTheDiamondHorse

You often write your historically-based stories from two points of view but in The Thunderbolt Pony we have just Evie’s viewpoints, one during the rescue adventure and one reflecting on her journey later (both physical and mental journey). Is this your way of using your ‘dual narratives’ device in this story?

That is a really good question in terms of discussing structure and the devices an author uses. I have frequently used dual narratives in previous books – dovetailing two girls with perspectives that are historical and modern-day up against each other. For this story though, there is just one voice, it is Evie’s story and hers alone. However, I didn’t want to write it in a linear fashion – I felt like we needed to see her two journeys – the physical and the mental – intertwined. It gives the book a different pace and that’s why we make time leap back and forth. The skill for a writer I think, is to construct a tricky timeline and make it feel like it makes sense and is effortless so that the reader doesn’t notice!

You’ve said you like to “get rid of the parents in a story” – can you tell us more about that and why?

It’s not just me who likes to get the parents out of the way. Look at Harry Potter. Or Lemony Snicket. Parents are a problem because they like boring stuff like routines and being safe. They are all about healthy meals and bedtimes and they are also on hand to help you when things get rough. If there are no parents you can have big crazy adventures where you must be brave and do everything yourself and there’s no one to stick their oar in and say “hang on a minute this is madness let’s stop and have a proper dinner!” That is why you get rid of the parents – they are too sensible and they ruin your fun and crush the spirit out of the adventure.

You write about strong female characters who are fearless, independent, self-sufficient. Can you tell us more about that?

I’ve always written strong girls as my heroines. Horses make girls powerful. You can’t be a powderpuff. You need to be mentally and physically tough to handle them. And at the same time you need to stay vulnerable and soft, because it’s in those unguarded moments that you create a true bond with a horse. My daughter rides competitively and when we roll up at competitions I’m always impressed at these women turning up driving massive trucks and handling enormous powerful warmbloods. We just don’t think anything of it – we don’t expect men to come and help with any of it. It’s a very feminist sport.

How long did the writing process take for this book?

I write a book a year. I spend about three months researching, three months writing and then another three months with my editor, pushing the manuscript back and forth through various stages beating it into shape. Then the next three months are publicity and touring and preparing to do it all over again. I love every stage of the process, I’m very lucky to do the job that I do.

What’s next? What are you working on at the moment?

My next book is called The Fire Stallion and it’s set in Iceland. As usual, I have the whole thing plotted out already – but I’m not giving away any spoilers yet!

What have you recently enjoying reading and what’s on you ‘to-be-read’ pile?

I have just finished Neil Gaiman’s book on Norse Mythology (OK that’s a big clue for the subject matter of my next book). But I won’t be able to read anything for a while now. I am an all-or-nothing reader and I can’t read other authors when I am in writing mode as I’m a terrible mimic. I have to isolate myself for the next few months and then I will binge read when the new book is finally done. On the bedside table until then are Magpie Murders by Anthony Horowitz, The Dry by Jane Harper, and My Absolute Darling by Gabriel Tallent.

NorseMythologyMagpie MurdersThe DryMy Absolute Darling

Thanks for your time Stacy!

StacyGreggSigning
Stacy Gregg at a book signing. Photo credit: Kelly Bold (photo supplied).

Thank you to HarperCollins.

The Thunderbolt Pony
by Stacy Gregg
Published by HarperCollins New Zealand
ISBN: 9780008257019

Cool stuff from the selectors: Children’s books

Nadiya’s Bake me a story by Nadiya Hussain
Winner of the 2015 Great British Bake Off combines traditional tales and recipes for all the family. She also has a new Christmas title Bake me a Festive Story arriving in October.

CoverCoverCover

Fish girl by Donna Jo Napoli
Napoli teams with Caldecott winner David Wiesner in this Graphic Novel about a young mermaid who is the main attraction in an aquarium. She can’t talk and she can’t walk but she can make friends with a girl named Livia. Can she find a new life on land?  Like all David Wiesner’s books the pictures in this book are outstanding.

Celebration of Beatrix Potter : art and letters by more than 30 of today’s book illustrators
Wonderful re-imaginations of some of Beatrix Potter’s famous tales by artists like Jon Agee, Tommie dePaola, Brian Pinkney and Rosemary Wells, the fabulous David Wiesner makes another appearance here also.  Each illustration is accompanied by text from the artist explaining what that character means to them, making this a true celebration of Beatrix Potter.

Christchurch – Our Underground  Story by Phil Wilkins
If you have a child who has been fascinated by all the trucks, bulldozers, diggers and construction going on around Christchurch then this rather quirky book could be a hit.  Designed as a large board book with lift the flaps it contains everything you did (or perhaps didn’t want to know) about what has been going on under our feet.
Read our post on Christchurch – Our underground story

A look inside Christchurch: Our underground story by Phil Wilkins and Martin Coates

Stars of storytelling: Te Reo Wainene o Tua

Hei whakanui i Te Wiki o te Reo Māori/ to celebrate Māori Language Week, Christchurch City Libraries teamed up with Te Reo Wainene o Tua to deliver storytelling events across the city.

Te Reo Wainene o Tua are a group of high-profile role models and Māori language advocates who are motivated by desires to revitalise pūrākau and normalise Te Reo Māori. The group travel both nationally and internationally, to deliver the craft of Māori storytelling.

Rāapa – On the third day of Te Wiki o te Reo Māori I had the privilege of experiencing Te Reo Wainene o Tua in action for the first time at Te Kete Wānanga o Wai Mōkihi – South Library. After getting over the initial fangirl moment of course. Tamati Waaka (those of you who follow Te Matatini will know this Te Whānau a Apanui celebrity) captivated the audience, children and adults alike. Among his stories was Te Whatukura o Tangaroa, I have read this many times and yet I have never gained such an understanding of the story as I have now after watching Te Reo Wainene o Tua in action.

Rāpare – On Thursday we had Pāpā Joe Harawira down at Te Kete Wānanga o Karoro – New Brighton Library. Watching this expert at work with our tamariki was an absolute joy. For the second day in a row we had the pleasure of hosting an event inclusive of students from Kura Kaupapa Māori like those in attendance from Te Kura Whakapūmau i te Reo Tūturu ki Waitaha.

Rāmere – Our final day collaborating with Te Reo Wainene o Tua featured Scotty and Stacey Morrison at Ōrauwhata: Bishopdale Library and Community Centre. These high-profile Māori personalities dazzled our youngsters with their waiata, pūrākau and Moana references. As one of the many tamariki who grew up with Stacey Morrison as a role model, speaking at events that I attended when I was young, to watch her continuing to motivate and inspire our tamariki was very special.

Te Reo Wainene o Tua
Scotty and Stacey Morrison get tamariki moving at Ōrauwhata: Bishopdale Library and Community Centre, Friday 15 September 2017.

The Te Reo Wainene o Tua experience was inspiring to say the least. To see the many random passers-by stop to hear the sounds of Te Reo Māori normalised in our public spaces, sit down with their tamariki and listen was heartening. More than once I was taken back to my childhood listening to my own Pāpā with the smell of fried ham coming from the kitchen and the sound of the waves lapping the shore on Paekakariki beach. They truly represent that Sweet Story of Yester – year. As well as this, they recover that which is lost in translation when Māori stories are translated into English.

Kia ora te Reo Māori!
Let the Māori language live.

Check out some pukapuka by the presenters:

Harry Potter and the Cursed Sequel

Based on a story by JK Rowling, Jack Thorne, and John Tiffany, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is the transcript of the celebrated London play. The story takes place 19 years after the battle of Hogwarts or, (in muggle terms), ten years after publication of ‘Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows’, the last instalment in this beloved series.

Harry, now married to Ginny, is the father of three children, and works for the Ministry of Magic (couldn’t they have given Harry a slightly cushier job? I mean we muggles would at least have given him a knighthood …).

Ron has taken over Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes’ (he kind of helped to save the world too by the way people, just saying, headmaster of Hogwarts maybe?…). Hermione and Ron are happily married with a daughter, and that is all we care about, right? Wrong. The main focus of this story is on Harry’s difficult relationship with his son Albus. Living in the shadow of his father, Albus Potter is a bitter, alienated teen, with something to prove, and slowly, as the story goes on, well, he doesn’t really prove it. He does however cultivate a great friendship with Draco Malfoy’s wonderfully drawn son, Scorpius. Fun, endearing, and emotionally intelligent, Scorpius saves this play from just being a bit of a cheesy reunion with the Harry Potter cast. There is some good banter between the two such as:

Albus: We’re ready to put our lives at risk.
Scorpius: Are we?

How Draco produced a real brick, and Harry produced a bit of a plank, is something we will gloss over, as we will the fact that Harry, perhaps the greatest wizard of all time, still wears glasses and hasn’t managed to conjure up some twenty/twenty vision for himself after all these years.

The story centres around the death of Cedric Diggory at the Triwizard tournament, back in Harry’s fourth year at Hogwarts. Albus and Scorpius, determined to correct the past, end up rewriting the past with dangerous consequences. There are some traditional, and ever welcome, Rowling plot devices along away- such as poly juice potions, time turners, and appearances at Hogwarts. Like the main Harry Potter novels, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is very character driven and fans will be thrilled by appearances from old characters like Snape, Dumbledore, and even Harry’s parents.

While this did have a bit of a fan fiction feel about it for me, I loved getting the chance to hang out with the Harry Potter crew again. I grew up with Harry, Ron and Hermione, so, like any respectable Harry Potter fan, reading this was not an opportunity to be passed up on. While the plot wasn’t a typically clever, intricate Rowling plot, it certainly kept me engaged until the very end, and I enjoyed a lot of the fun dialogue:

GINNY: I’m scared too. 
RON: Nothing scares me. Apart from. Mum.

Harry-ites will have to bear in mind that ‘Harry Potter and the Cursed Child’ is in play format, and was not written by Rowling herself, if they want to have a good time reading this. Harry Potter and the Cursed Child was always going to be a bit of cursed sequel as most fans have been gagging for a follow up for the past ten years. The pressure to be as good as the rest of a bestselling series is always huge, not made easier in this situation by the fact that Rowling herself is not the writer. If you are keen to make some allowances and not expect a ‘sequel’, I guarantee you’ll just have a fun time reuniting with the world of Harry Potter again. After all, as Albus Dumbledore said, ‘perfection is beyond the reach of humankind’. Except, I will add, if it has been written by JK Rowling.

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child parts 1 and 2.
Published by HarperCollins New Zealand

Celebrate Te Wiki o Te Reo Māori with Tuhinga Pikitia – Te Reo Māori Picture Books

Some people might say they’re just here for the kai, but I would say I’m just here for the tuhinga pikitia*. I love picture books, I really do. A good picture book is a work of art.

9780143502838One of my all-time favourite picture books is Kei Te Pēhea Koe? by Tracy Duncan. I love it because the illustrations are so evocative, just one look at the picture for “makariri” makes me shiver, and there’s no mistaking how hungry the little girl on the “matekai” page feels. The words are in both Māori and English which is great for people like me, who aren’t fluent in te reo.

9781775430117Another favourite of mine is Ngā kahumoe o te ngeru by Catherine Foreman. I remember the first time I read this book, when it came through the returns slot one quiet evening at Fendalton Library. The cat looked so sweet, tucked up in bed with his colourful pjs and his cuddly little rabbit, that I had to read it, even though I knew I probably wouldn’t understand a word. This is a lovely story, about a cat who wears a different pair of pyjamas each night, which inspire wonderful dreams…but when he wears his MONSTER pyjamas — well you can guess what happens! I understood all of this, just from the pictures. Because, as they say, a picture is worth a thousand words. I enjoy the English version too, but somehow, when I read it, it doesn’t seem quite as magical as that time I “read” the te reo version.

9781775432968Just the other week, I discovered a beautiful new favourite — Hush by Joy Cowley. This is a kiwi version of the classic lullaby, beautiful illustrated by Andrew Burdan. When Miss Missy was a baby, I used to sing Hush Little Baby to her, but I couldn’t remember the words properly, and made up my own version — I wish this book had been around then! Joy Cowley is much better than I am at making up words! The te reo translation is at the back of the book — I think it’s a shame the two languages aren’t together on the same page, but still, it’s a lovely book, and a beautiful song to share with your tamariki.

9780473201791If you like waiata, then Sharon Holt is worth keeping an eye out for. She has lots of te reo titles, which include CDs to sing along with, which is a great way to learn the reo. Kei te Peke Ahau is lots of fun, with all the rere, peke, and pakipaki  (flying, jumping, and clapping). Each page has a different animal and action to do, ending up with e moe pēpi — sleeping like a baby (not an animal, I know…unless it’s jungle hour, then babies are definitely animals).

9780473331504Speaking of pēpi, it is the beautiful illustrations of pēpi and tamariki in Kanohi by Kitty Brown that make this book. This bilingual pukapuka is full of gorgeous, cheeky kids, with text in both te Reo and English. I can’t quite make up my mind if my favourite is the taringa picture or the ngutu one. This series of board books are perfect if you want to teach your tamariki a little bit of te Reo, or maybe learn a bit yourself. In fact, it was Kitty Brown’s desire to reconnect with her reo that prompted her to write the books. You can read more about this in our interview with her.

If you want more ideas for ways to share te Reo with your tamariki, then check out our page of resources

During te Wiki o te Reo Maori, we’ll have Storytimes with te reo Māori at all our libraries.

*The food is pretty good too. OK, I’m actually just here for the food AND the picture books!

With lashings of ginger beer*

It is difficult not to reveal one’s age when discussing anything you may have read or watched in your childhood but I loved watching the Famous Five on TV.

I was an Enid Blyton reader during my childhood but my oeuvre during my younger years had been more along the lines of the Magic Faraway Tree and the dubiously titled “Mr Pink Whistle Interferes.” So whenever I picture the Famous Five they will always be the TV versions.

As I got older mystery and adventure books drew me in and I started reading the Five’s adventures plus I also discovered Trixie Belden and Nancy Drew…who doesn’t love a story with secret passageways, torches, penknives, trapdoors, panelling that moved to reveal hiding places, treasure maps, spooky castles and adults whose dastardly plans were foiled by children (and a dog) – clearly I was an Agatha Christie reader in development.

The Famous Five were brothers Julian and Dick, their sister Anne, cousin George (Georgina) and Timmy her dog. They seemed to never age – which was sort of true as Blyton hadn’t planned on writing so many (she planned 6 but wrote 21) – and so Five seem to go into a time vortex and remain perpetually pre-teens! Either that or they never went to school and are on never-ending school holidays!

I imagine everyone had a favourite in the group. Julian was the self-assured older brother, while Dick was the more laid-back and famished second child, and the youngest sibling was Anne (who always seemed to be turning her ankle). But it was cousin George that I think most readers probably wanted to be – mainly because Timmy was her dog!

This year in September the Famous Five are turning 75 – hoorah! – as ‘Five on a Treasure Island’ was first published in 1942.

Cover of Five on a treasure island  Cover of Five on a treasure island  Cover of Five on a treasure island  Cover of Five on a treasure island  cover of Five on a treasure island

As a grown-up you realise that all was not well in Blyton land – she had a troubled personal life – and her books can seem anachronistic and politically incorrect in 21st century terms. But her books still endure today and are still heavily read by children (and adults). She was extraordinarily prolific and wrote hundreds of books for children of all ages – including Noddy, The Secret Seven, Mallory Towers and St Clare’s school stories, and the aforementioned Magic Faraway Tree books.

But it is the Five that are perennial favourites with lots of readers.

I suspect it has a lot to do with children getting the upper hand on adults, and the endless eating – ice cream, scones, sticky buns and cakes, hard bolied eggs, apple pies, etc.

In fact I’m off to have a cup of tea and a slice of ginger cake now…

Cheerio!

Five forget mother's day

*Note: With lashings of ginger beer never appeared in an EB book but rather was coined by the writers of the Comic Strip Presents in their parody Five Go Mad in Dorset.

Win tickets to Captain Underpants: the First Epic Movie – plus an activity pack

Hey kids! Win a prize to celebrate the release of Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie on 28 September.

The author Dav Pilkey is passionate about promoting reading and writing and we have a Captain Underpants prize pack to give away to a lucky library member, including:

  • 2 movie passes to see ‘Captain Underpants: the First Epic Movie’ at any Christchurch Hoyts cinema, and a Captain Underpants activity book pack.  Thanks to Hoyts Northlands for supplying the movie passes!
  • All you need to is make up your own creative title for a pretend Captain Underpants book and complete the entry form.
  • This competition is open to ages 5 to 18.

Want some book title inspiration?

Cover of Captain Underpants Cover of Dav Pilkey Cover of Captain Underpants Cover of Captain Underpants Cover of Ricky Ricotta

Terms and Conditions

  1. Competition is open until 5pm Monday 18 September 2017.
  2. All winners will be announced on the Christchurch City Libraries Facebook page, and website.
  3. Entries must have all correct contact details completed on the entry form.
  4. Maximum one entry per child.
  5. We will notify winners by telephone and/or email. Please ensure membership contact details are up-to-date.
  6. Employees of Christchurch City Council are not eligible to enter the prize draw. Their immediate families are allowed to enter.
  7. If you are a winner, you consent to your name, photograph, entry and/or interview being used for reasonable publicity purposes by Christchurch City Libraries.
  8. The judge’s decision is final and no correspondence will be entered into.
  9. Prize are as stated and are not transferable.