Haere ra Raumati, Kia ora Ngahuru: The change of season in children’s books

As the mother of a preschooler, one thing I’ve noticed is how much small children respond to learning about topics that they can see reflected in their day to day life. Whether it’s seeing a picture of a tuna (eel) or a duck (both creatures we’ve fed on the Avon River), or stories about diggers (of which there are many in Christchurch), or picture books about Christmas at that time of year – little ones really love stories that they can relate to what they see in the world.

Yesterday (21 March) marked the official beginning of autumn in the southern hemisphere and already there are clear signs of summer’s departure that even small folk can make note of – fruit from neighbourhood trees dropping, new warmer pyjamas being bought, some trees already losing their leaves, and the need for rainjackets or gumboots on rainy days. So now’s a great time to comb the library’s bookbins for titles that either explain the change of seasons or reinforce those signs of autumn that younger family members might be noticing.

There are plenty of titles in the library to choose from. Here are just a few to get you started:

Change of Season (Autumn)

List created by ChristchurchKids

Books about the change of seasons and the signs of autumn. A Christchurch City Libraries list.

Cover of LeavesCover of Weather and seasonsCover of Goodbye summer, hello autumnCover of AutumnCover of SeasonsCover of Awesome Autumn

Find more

Canterbury Japan Day 2018

Canterbury Japan Day is an annual event organised by The Japanese Society of Canterbury with the aim of sharing authentic Japanese culture with Cantabrians. In 2018 it will take place from 9.30am to 4.30pm on Sunday 4 March at Riccarton Park, 165 Racecourse Road.

The theme this year is the Japanese Summer. The venue will be filled with decorations relating to Tanabata – The Summer Star Festival. There will be stalls, indoor events, an anime cosplay cafe and outdoor events.

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The history of Canterbury Japan Day

The inaugural Canterbury Japan Day was held on 11 March 2012 to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Japanese Society of Canterbury and the 60th anniversary of diplomatic relations between New Zealand and Japan. It also marked the anniversary of the 2011 East Japan earthquake and tsunami.

Canterbury Japan Day
Canterbury Japan Day, Flickr CCL-2012-03-11-CanterburyJapanDay-March-2012 DSC_0569.JPG



Read Aloud. Change the World – Thursday 1 February is World Read Aloud Day

Thursday 1 February is World Read Aloud Day, because:

We think everyone in the world should get to read and write. Every year, on World Read Aloud Day, people all around the globe read aloud together and share stories to advocate for literacy as a human right that belongs to all people.

Llama Llama and the Bully Goat

When I was in primary school, “Library Day” was one of my favorite days. Every second Friday, the book-bus pulled up outside our school and we  chose a book each. Later that day, we would visit my grandmother and her sister. One of them would gather up the five of us and read our books to us. I loved it, especially if a hard book had been chosen and it had to be read to us. Even when we were old enough to read the library books by ourselves, being read to was enjoyed by all.  The Just so stories and The Arabian nights were popular reads in my grandmother’s house and they eventually became a bit shabby. Reading aloud continued until our grandmother and our elderly aunt could no longer see well enough to read. Then it became our turn to read to them.

When was the last time you read aloud? Was it when your child was little? Was it before they stated to read? Have read to an older child or an adult?

I have read to an older child and we enjoyed it. We were able to share stories and talk about the themes and issues raised by the authors. We were able to share stories that the child didn’t have the literary skills to read alone.  It was a time to chat, share and discuss anything and everything. The result was, the child was exposed to stories, words and ideas that they would not have had exposure to if they had just read the stories that everyone was reading.

I always thought that reading aloud was a good idea. According to Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research, reading aloud to a child, puts them almost a year ahead of children who do not receive daily reading alouds. Reading aloud obviously improves literacy and everyone in the world should get to read and write. Every year, on World Read Aloud Day, people all around the globe read aloud together and share stories to advocate for literacy as a human right that belongs to all people. Here’s why that’s important:

According to UNESCO, 258 million adults – two thirds of them women – lack basic literacy skills. Among the youth population, female literacy rates have risen quickly, but still three fifths of the illiterate are women. A child who is born to a literate mother is 50% more likely to survive past the age of five than a woman who is illiterate. A literate, educated girl is less likely to acquire AIDS, have a higher income and will have a smaller healthier family than her literate counterpart.

So, borrow some books.
Find a reading buddy.
Visit litworld.org and get ready to read out aloud.

Read alouds


Cool stuff from the selectors: An array of great children’s books

You can usually rely on children’s books to have interesting inviting covers. This month’s selection do not disappoint.  Designed for children – but equally enjoyed by adults –  there should be something here that appeals to all ages.

The World of Moominvalley by Philip Ardagh

9781509810017The ultimate guide for any Moomin fan, old and new. A 350 page introduction to the unique hippo-esque shaped world where the best use for gold nuggets is as flowerbed borders, and a lending paw is more important the even the largest of large rubies.

Filled with illustrated maps and family trees, facts about Moomintroll behaviour and habits, this gorgeous book contains all you could wish to know about the beloved characters from the original Moomin stories and the world in which they live.

The Ways of the Wolf by Smriti Prasadam-Hall

9781526360304A stunning tribute to the majestic and fierce, proud and strong wolf. Follow them as they hunt and roam through their lands. Find out how they communicate, where they live and who their enemy is.

Wildlife illustrator Jonathan Woodward brings these animals to life with breath-taking papercut collage artwork.

We travel so far by Laura Knowles

9781910277331Small stories of incredibly giant journeys. From the epic migration of the huge humpback to the unbelievable determination of the tiny hummingbird. Each tale is told by the migrating animal and is wonderfully brought to life by the glorious illustrations of Chris Madden.

Book of Bones : 10 record-breaking animals by Gabrielle Balkan

9780714875125There’s a lot going on in this book. First you examine animal skeletons and guess who they belong to.  The answers are revealed in vibrant, full-colour scenic habitats, with easily understood and humorous explanations. For example a reticulated python would need a row of 5 king-sized beds to stretch out on. (What a dreadful thought!)

This entertaining introduction to the connection between animal bones (anatomy) and behaviour is playful, relatable, and includes touch-and-feel finishes that bring the bones to life!

Child’s Play – Lauren Child

New Zealand is fortunate to have been visited by internationally celebrated children’s authors such as David Walliams, Andy Griffiths and Dav Pilkey in the last year or so, and I have had the pleasure of hearing them. One of the visitors was Lauren Child, the Children’s Laureate for 2017-2019. The best-selling children’s author and illustrator spoke to a huge crowd of fans at her appearance at the Auckland Writer’s Festival in 2017 and we got to hear about her fictional ensemble, what inspires her stories … and what next?

When you think of children’s books you wouldn’t think of Hitchcock, film noir and James Bond but all these are inspirations behind best-selling children’s author and illustrator Lauren Child’s popular books series Ruby Redfort.

Children’s author Lauren Child speaking at the Auckland Writer’s Festival, May 2017


Child, the multi-talented, prize-winning creator of the Charlie and Lola, Clarice Bean and Ruby Redfort series has sold millions of books, but only – she is at pains to point out –  after years of rejection. Child says:

I never decided I wanted to be a writer… it was drawing and design and love of film that brought me to writing.

Child’s mother was a creative writing teacher who was always trying to get her to write “more exciting” and gave her helpful writing advice, such as the technique of starting a story right in the middle of the action.

For anyone aspiring to break through with their craft or talent, she says “hang in there!” Hers wasn’t instant fame.  She was in her 20s when she wrote her first book (Clarice Bean) but it was a long time before it was published. After it faced many years of rejection, she says she succeeded through determination, not just talent, and having the strength to resist suggested changes she felt would compromise her original vision.

Excuseme but that is my bookClarice Bean Utterly MeClarice Bean DOn't Look NowRuby RedfortRuby Redfort Feel the Fear

Behind the stories: movies and screen as story-writing inspiration

For Child, the subject of Clarice Bean is ‘family’ and “about finding peace and quiet and a place of your own in a busy household.” She adds: “we need daydreaming, floating out the window, blank time” – it is how we get our ideas. Where did Child get her ideas from? Child loved watching TV, especially with other people, when she was growing up – “there was community to it” which she says we have lost with watching things on devices.

Child said growing up her family couldn’t afford a TV Guide, so they just watched whatever came on next. In fact, Child loved television so much she said she would even watch the test cards! One show she loved was Hart to Hart, about a millionaire couple and socialites (complete with a butler) and she got her story-writing ideas from this TV series. Jonathan and Jennifer Hart were an inadvertent crime-solving couple who were disconcertingly upbeat despite the murders that occurred around them each episode. Child says she loves the combination of thriller, comedy, jeopardy and domesticity in stories like this and brings that to her own writing.

Ruby Redfort started as a TV show that Clarice Bean watches in her stories. Ruby is a clever 13-year-old American school-kid who is recruited to a secret agency as a coder. Child has given Ruby vacuous dim-witted parents and their butler is a secret agent minding Ruby and training her up. Child has always been a fan of big thrillers from the 60s, 70s, and 80s – like Hitchcock and Bond – and likes their slower pacing. She loved Bond’s gadgets like poison pens and sleeping dust and set her Ruby Redfort stories in the 1970s because technology then wasn’t like it was today- it was all about “gadgets” (like Ruby’s watch radio) she said then the idea of having your own personal phone would have been amazing. Instead, she makes it so that Ruby has to go to the library (fancy that) to learn new things versus using things like Google and smartphones that are so pervasive in our world today.

Frank Lloyd Wright’s architecturally famous Fallingwater was the inspiration for Ruby Redfort’s home.

Movies and TV have really inspired my work. TV made me understand from a very young age how to construct a story. Movies are like picture books in a way because you’re telling as much in pictures as you are in words.

She wrote Ruby Redfort as a film:

I can only write when I can see pictures so although most of them are not illustrated, I can see it like a movie.

Child says she was really moved by Tim Burton’s Edward Scissorhands because he’s such an auteur… “he’d made something that beautiful in so many ways… it was joined up – one vision where everyone employed to be a part of the film created the vision he wanted so it looked and sounded like a Tim Burton film.”

When she was announced in June 2017 as the new Waterstones’ Children’s Laureate, she declared that her aim will be to forge “stronger links between the world of children’s literature and other art forms such as fine art, film, music, television and design.” The question is, since she loves film and screen so much, when is she going to work on a movie based on her own titles?

Child admires the auteur work of filmmaker Tim Burton.

Love of reading

Over the years, changes have been made to Child’s books when translated to the small screen. In the Charlie & Lola animated series, junk food chips were changed to banana chips and gymnastics had to be portrayed on a mat instead of a lawn (to role model health and safety.) PC-police aside, Child says that it’s about getting children hooked on reading – “it should be about a love of reading –  not what we should read – so I made Clarice Bean be crazy about this fictional writer and I made it as stupid as I could.”

Child’s childhood – miniature worlds

Child has a young daughter recently adopted from Mongolia, but she doesn’t abide by some by people’s view that unless you’ve had your own children you can’t possibly write for the children, “because we were all children once.”

What seems like an interesting aside to Child’s life is actually another manifestation of her compulsion to create stories. As a young child she got involved in making doll houses and models from about age 7. She was mentored by a miniaturists, becoming one herself. She was using power tools at a young age and says “making miniature scenes taught me a lot.” She explains there’s more sophistication to this than it seems:

You’re creating a world and theme and you’re creating story, there’s quite a lot going on – controlling your world and having things play out they way you want.

She has been working on one particular doll house miniature since she was a a teenager and finds it therapeutic “making and doing.” Later Child got a job as an assistant to renown artist Damien Hirst, albeit only doing spot painting.

Artful text

Child shared with her audience the joy she gets from the interplay between typography, illustration and story. Child says she loves how words can be illustrated (like POW!) and how things don’t have to stay in one form and that it was helpful for her to think about comics when she was writing. She likes using type as animation and with Clarice Bean, she gave each character their own font and typefaces as the ‘voice’ of the character.


Lauren Child’s miniature scenes are used to illustrate classic fairytales such as her versions of Goldilocks and the Three Bears and The Princess and the Pea: In Miniature : After the Fairy Tale by Hans Christian Andersen

Children’s author Lauren Child signing books at the Auckland Writer’s Festival, May 2017

What’s next?

Now that she’s finished the Ruby Redfort series she is currently working on a young fiction series that is heavily illustrated – she says it is sort of like the Nigel Molesworth stories (about a boy talking about his school life). We look forward to seeing where her inspirations and talent take her readers next.


Summer Holiday Activities

All ages are welcome at these activities. sessions are FREE, and they don’t require bookings (unless mentioned otherwise)! Join in from Tuesday 9 January 2018.

No-Sew Cushion Creation

Using cut material and a number of knots – create a super-cute ‘no sew’ cushion. Use it at home, or give it as a present!
Find out where and when these sessions are on: No-Sew Cushion Creation

Make a Pin Wheel Fan

Create a spinning fan to cool you off this summer by using simple materials like straws, paper, scissors, and pins.
Find out where and when these sessions are on: Make a Pin Wheel Fan

Summer Reading Photo Booth

Love reading and taking photos? Bring along your own device and take pics of yourself in our summer-themed photo booth. All ages welcome.
Find out where and when these sessions are on: Summer Reading Photo Booth

3D Printing Demo

Drop in and have a look at how 3D printing works.
Find out where and when these sessions are on: 3D Printing Demo


Help your Bee-Bots find their way around a map using entry-level coding.
Find out where and when these sessions are on: Bee-Bots

Create a Lion Note Holder

Use a special quilling tool and lots of bright craft materials to create your own super cute lion note holder. Library staff will help you with your creation. All craft material sourced from the MAKE Company. Free, but bookings are essential – phone 9417923.  For ages 5 to 12 years.
Find out where and when these sessions are on: Create a Lion Note Holder

Treasure in the Libraries

Come along to a taonga (treasure) themed school holiday session and discover what cool things are hidden in your library. Enjoy storytelling, go on a scavenger hunt to discover treasuers, and then get crafty and make a treasure box to take home. Free, but bookings are essential – phone 9417923.  For ages 5 to 12 years.
Find out where and when these sessions are on: Treasure in the Libraries

SEE ALSO: Summertime Reading Club

On until Friday 19 January 2018!


Christmas in the backyard, 1958: Picturing Canterbury

Christmas in the backyard, 1958. Kete Christchurch. PH13-410. Entry in the 2013 Christchurch City Libraries Photo Hunt. Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 New Zealand License.

“A family Christmas in our back yard in Opawa. I am showing off my new scooter, my sister Jenny has a cane dolls pram and my cousin Wayne has a carpentry set. I can’t see what his brother Chris has. My dad has obviously just painted the shed as I can see the ‘wet paint’ sign propped against it.”

Date: 1958

Entry in the 2013 Christchurch City Libraries Photo Hunt.

Do you have any photographs of Christmas in Canterbury? If so, feel free to contribute to our collection.

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

It’s Margaret Mahy Playground’s 2nd Birthday!

The Margaret Mahy Family Playground opened on 22 December 2015.

Three mornings a week I bike past it, on the corner of Manchester and Armagh Streets. The Park was once part of the Elsie Locke Playground, while the new expanded area was named after Margaret Mahy, one of Canterbury’s most-loved authors.

Portrait of Margaret Mahy by Glenda Randerson
Portrait of Margaret Mahy by Glenda Randerson. Flickr CCL-2012-07-24

Part of the Government’s Recovery Plan following the earthquakes of 2010/11, the playpark is the largest playground in the Southern Hemisphere. Its designers won a New Zealand Institute of Landscape Architects Award of Excellence for 2017.

Known for her rainbow coloured wig, her love of children and magic, Margaret Mahy’s books are all about empowerment through exploration and imagination. The park’s activities reflect her philosophy, encouraging children to take safe risks in their development.

Margaret Mahy Playground, November 2017.
Margaret Mahy Playground, November 2017.

There is always activity there. From grandparents taking little ones out for the morning, to larger groups of children in the afternoon, there is something for everyone to play on. There is water play too – great for hot days. The playground offers opportunities for children to take safe risks to promote development and well-being. This explains the “screams of terror and excitement” reported by The Press. The playground is safe for all ages, with lots of safety matting, and sports sun shades too, after this question was raised with the community after opening.

I also see many walking through – there is a pathway into town along the River Avon (Ōtākaro), which borders the park. It is well-lit at night, as is the playground for late night visitors.

My favourite to play on? The tunnel slides on the bank!

Stories at the Margaret Mahy Family Playground
Under 5s storytelling session, Margaret Mahy Family Playground, Thursday 3 February 2016. Flickr 2016-02-03-photo_3263

The Mobile Library will be at the Margaret Mahy Playground on Tuesdays in January 2018 – the 9th, 16th, 23rd, and 30th.

Christmas movies for everybody

Whether you’re a massive Christmas fan or something of a grinch, there should be something in the list below to keep you entertained for at least one and a half hours out of the festive season.

How you make it through the rest of the hours is up to you. Maybe a nice book?

Anyway, take your pick from the below and Meri Kirihimete!

For the Romantic

Two thirds of this list features Colin Firth and that can’t be an accident.

For the Traditionalist

Family friendly and comfortingly familiar.

For Kids

Watchable for kids (and not so terrible as to be unwatchable for everyone else)

For Fans of sex and violence

Movies for people who enjoy “adult themes”.

Have yourself a very library Christmas

Get yourself into the festive season with these free Christmas Crafts and Activities at your libraries:

Pohutukawa and music notes

Make your own Popsicle Stick decorations – Mon 18 to Fri 22 Dec

Find out when and where

Recycle and Repurposed Christmas Craft at South Library – Mon 18 to Fri 22 Dec

Join us for Christmas craft. Recycled papers and cardboard as well as pens, crayons and other recycled materials will be provided to be re-purposed for Christmas decorations and gifts.
11am to 2pm from Monday 18 December to Friday 22 December.

Family Christmas Storytimes at Linwood Library – Thurs 21 Dec

Linwood Library would like to celebrate the Christmas season by having a special family Christmas Storytimes on Thursday 21 December 2017 from 5.30- 6.30 pm.

A Library Christmas Carol at South Library  – Thurs 21 Dec

A library Christmas Carol. Bring the whole family for a relaxed evening of Dickens’ Christmas Carol and songs and live music! Outside South library bring a rug and cushion. Thurs 21 December 6pm to 7pm.

Check also: