Beetle Boy – A mystery that will really bug you

Cover of Beetle boyOne of the best books I’ve read recently is all about beetles. Beetle Boy by M.G. Leonard is about a boy called Darkus, whose dad has mysteriously disappeared from a locked room in a museum.  Darkus has been sent to stay with his Uncle Max while the police look into his dad’s disappearance. While staying with his uncle, Darkus finds out some things about his dad that he never knew, which all add to the mystery. With the help of his new friends Bertolt and Virginia, and a rhinoceros beetle called Baxter, Darkus sets out to uncover the truth of his father’s disappearance.

Beetle Boy is an action-packed mystery story, chock full of beetles of all kinds and some crazy characters. The villain of the story, Lucretia Cutter, is one of my favourite book villains because she is so evil and horrible. If you want a book that will really grab you read Beetle Boy. It’s the first book in a trilogy and I really can’t wait to read the next book!

You’ll discover all sorts of beetles in this story, from horned rhinoceros and stag beetles to the bombardier and blister beetles that shoot acid. Beetle Boy got me really interested in beetles and I wanted to find out more about them. What better place to find information about beetles than the library!

Here are some great books and resources about beetles that I found in the library:

  • Cover of Ultimate Bug-opediaThe Beetle Book by Steve Jenkins has some basic information about beetles alongside Steve Jenkins’ distinctive collage illustrations.  An interesting fact from this book – ‘Line up every kind of plant and animal on Earth and one of every four will be a beetle.’
  • Ultimate Bug-opedia: The Most Complete Bug Reference Ever by Darlyne Murawski and Nancy Honovich is bursting with bugs of all shapes and kinds.  There is introductory information about bugs (What is a Bug?) and more detailed information about the different insect orders. There are heaps of amazing close-up photos of bugs in this book too. An interesting fact from this book – The scientific name for beetles is Coleoptera.
  • The Book of Beetles, edited by Patrice Bouchard is the go-to guide for anyone who is bug mad!  If you want detailed information about almost all the beetles on the earth, including where they live and what they eat, this book is for you. An interesting fact from this book – scientists study beetles to develop new products and materials like adhesive-free tape and domes to help clear fog from airport runways.
  • Our Britannica Library Kids eResource is a great place to find some more information on beetles. You can choose whether you want basic information or more advanced and they have some great photos and diagrams as well.
  • Search for more books about beetles for kids

 

Te Kupu o Te Wiki – Toru (three)

Kia ora. To encourage the use of Te Reo Māori we are publishing weekly kupu (words) and phrases that can be used with children.

Kupu (word)

toru
three

Kia toru ngā momo hua rākau.
[Choose] Three pieces of fruit.

Whāngahia te Reo

Watch out everyone! Here comes Cat

The library is the perfect place for finding new friends and discovering hidden treasures. A couple of weeks ago my wife discovered a series of picture books about a mischievous cat that had the whole family laughing out loud.

Cover of Here comes the tooth fairyThere are currently four books in the series written by Deborah Underwood and illustrated by Claudia Rueda – Here Comes Easter Cat, Here Comes Valentine Cat, Here Comes the Tooth Fairy Cat and Here Comes Santa Cat.  Each of the books is a hilarious conversation between the reader and Cat.

Cat is a bit grumpy. He hates Valentines Day and he’s jealous of the Easter Bunny, but the reader helps Cat work through his problems. Cat is tricky too so you often have to get him back on the right path again. He tries tricking the tooth fairy and wants to send Dog in to space in a rocket.

These books are so funny because Cat interacts with the reader using just signs that he holds up and his facial expressions. Here’s just one example:

From Here Comes Valentine Cat by Deborah Underwood, illustrated by Claudia Rueda
From Here Comes Valentine Cat by Deborah Underwood, illustrated by Claudia Rueda

We loved Cat’s facial expressions. Claudia can show you that Cat is up to no good just by raising his eyebrow or showing him smirking. Cat holding up the signs works really well too because you often have to use these to work out what Cat is thinking.

We originally got just a couple of the Cat stories but we had to reserve the others because they’re just so brilliant. They’re perfect for both young and old and you won’t mind reading them again and again. We even have an eAudiobook copy of Here Comes Easter Cat through OverDrive that is narrated by the author, which is fabulous.

Te Kupu o Te Wiki – Tina (lunch)

Kia ora. To encourage the use of Te Reo Māori we are publishing weekly kupu (words) and phrases that can be used with children.

Kupu (word)

tina
lunch

He aha hei tina māu, e te tau?
What would you like for lunch, my darling?

Whāngahia te Reo

A Life in Pictures – the work of Michael Foreman

I fell in love with Michael Foreman’s illustrations many years ago when I first discovered Michael Morpurgo’s books. I soon found out that he also wrote and illustrated his own stories, including War Boy and War Game which were stories about his experience of World War II. I found out a lot more about Michael Foreman and his huge body of work when I borrowed a fascinating new book from the library called A Life in Pictures.

Pages from A life in pictures
A glimpse inside A life in pictures by Michael Foreman

A Life in Pictures is written by Michael Foreman himself, and looks back over his long career in the creation of books for children. It is a beautiful book that is packed with Michael’s illustrations and stories about the books that he has worked on and the people he has worked with. You can read about Michael’s war childhood, the importance of location and landscape in his illustrations, the people that have influenced him and the people that he has collaborated with.

If you’ve read a Michael Morpurgo book you’ve probably seen Michael Foreman’s illustrations. The M-Team have been collaborating for over 20 years (their first book together being Arthur, High King of Britain, published in 1994).

I’ve always felt that Michael Foreman’s illustrations are the perfect match for Michael Morpurgo’s stories. Michael Foreman mentions in A Life in Pictures that ‘Michael Morpurgo not only writes good stories, he writes good pictures. His stories are full of them.’ His illustrations for Morpurgo’s stories are usually in black and white, but it’s the smaller, shorter stories, like Little Manfred, where his full-colour illustrations shine.

Over the years Michael Foreman has worked with many other authors, both living and dead.  He has brought the stories of Shakespeare, Robert Louis Stevenson, Charles Dickens and Kenneth Grahame to life, bringing the ‘classics’ to a new generation of children.

My favourite edition of Michael Foreman’s classics is Kenneth Graham’s The Wind in the Willows.  The colours are so vibrant and the characters leap off the page. Michael also travelled to New Zealand in 1987 to visit Kiri Te Kanawa to research a book based on legends told to her by her grandmother. This book became The Land of the Long White Cloud.

A Life in Pictures is a fascinating read for anyone who loves books for children and would be a valuable resource for artists or those wanting to become illustrators.

New Zealand Music Month 2016

May is New Zealand Music Month! Celebrate New Zealand music throughout May with Christchurch City Libraries – there’s a lovely batch of NZ Music Month events at your libraries. Subscribe to our NZ Music Month Facebook event for regular updates.

NZ Music Month

NZ Music Month launch – Sunday 1 May, 7.30pm

Kane Strang at the Christchurch Art Gallery
Sunday 1 May, 7.30pm All ages (ID required)
Tickets $15 ($20 door sales if not sold out)
Follow the Facebook event

Start NZ Music Month the right way! Dunedite Kane Strang brings the tousled charm of his off-kilter indie-rock songs to the Gallery for the evening. Support from Candice Milner and Jack Montgomery.

Photo: Loulou Callister-Baker
Photo: Loulou Callister-Baker

Free gigs at your local library

There are gigs of all sorts, including:

Here’s the full list of performances at libraries.

John Chrisstoffels: The Novel and the Theremin
John Chrisstoffels performing at WORD Christchurch. Flickr 2014-08-31-IMG_1811

Gig guide flyer
Download the NZ Music Month gig guide [1.36 MB PDF]

Alternative radio: RDU98.5FM since 1976

Celebrate 40 years of iconic Christchurch radio station, RDU98.5FM in a new exhibition at Canterbury Museum. 18 March – 14 August 2016. Find out more.

The following RDU gigs take place in NZ Music Month:

RDU Live to air
A performance by a local Christchurch musician. Special Exhibitions Hall, Canterbury Museum
Sunday 1 May, 12pm

RDU Live to air
A performance by a local Christchurch musician. Special Exhibitions Hall, Canterbury Museum
Saturday 14 May, 12pm

RDU Live to air
A performance by a local Christchurch musician. Special Exhibitions Hall, Canterbury Museum
Saturday 21 May, 12pm

RDU LIVE GIG! Kill your television
Featuring Scythes, Transistors, Salad Boys and The Bats. Canterbury Museum, Saturday 28 May from 7pm. Tickets available via dashtickets.co.nz from 2 May.

NZ music resources

NZ Music Month on Twitter

See #nzmm tweets

The Strange Sagas Short Story and Illustration Competition for Canterbury kids aged 6 to 12 years old

We’d like to share information on this local competition for kids – entries must be received by 6 May 2016.  Local author and NZSA member Michele Clark McConnochie is celebrating the release of the final book in The Strange sagas of Sabrina Summers trilogy. This competition is dyslexia friendly – just have fun with your imagination. You can enter the illustration contest or costume competition too!

Go to Michele’s website to find out more about how to enter.

Find out about the 13 May prizegiving at Central Library Peterborough, 4.30pm. You can meet local authors Gavin Bishop, Heather McQuillan, Helen Mongillo and Michele Clark McConnochie, find out if you’ve won and join in the fun! Spot prizes for best fractured fairytale costumes, readings from Michele Clark McConnochie and from the winning entries, plus games and more.

Sabrina

How to enter

WHAT?

Short stories of between 200-500 words on the theme “The Day I became a Fairytale Character.” Extra points for making the judges laugh!
OR
A colourful illustration of one of your favourite fairytale characters, but make it strange!

WHEN?

Entries opened on 2 April 2016 and must be received by 6 May 2016.

Judges are
Illustration: Gavin Bishop & Helen Mongillo
Story: Bob Docherty, Heather McQuillan and Michele Clark McConnochie

This comp is open to all Canterbury residents aged between 6 and 12 years of age.

Prizes

Best story: $50 Smiggle voucher & copy of The Uncooperative Flying Carpet
Best illustration: $50 Smiggle voucher & copy of The Uncooperative Flying Carpet
Surprise spot prizes for best costume on Friday, 13th May!
School or homeschool libraries will receive copies of all three books in both dyslexia-friendly format and traditional paperback.

Where have all the young men gone?

(Note to reader: This post starts with housework but is actually about kids’ DVDs.)

When it comes to housework, I tend to be a bit all or nothing. Weeks and weeks can go by, and I’ll just do the barest minimum, and then I go crazy-mad and clean just about everything in sight. Like, the other day, I walked into the bathroom just intending to give the vanity a quick wipe, and ended up not leaving till I had cleaned the ceiling, scrubbed the floor, and attacked just about everything else in between. And as if that wasn’t enough, I then walked into the living room, took one look at the couch, which looked frighteningly like this couch* —

crappy-couch-1
Image: ©2011-2015 Crappy Pictures LLC

— and realised I couldn’t live with it a single moment longer and cleaned that too.

It seems I’m a bit the same with blogging…no posts since before Christmas, then all of a sudden, three posts in (almost) as many weeks!

Anyhoo…this post isn’t actually about housework**, it’s about kids DVDs. See, I noticed something the other day while I was popping DVDs back on the shelf… a whole cohort of the TV heroes and heartthrobs of my youth have taken to making — (wait for it… )

— pony movies and shaggy dog tales. Ya huh.

horseRemember Luke Perry from Beverley Hills 90210? Well, he’s swapped dreamboat for dad in Black Beauty (a modern retelling of Anna Sewell’s classic story — though Miss Missy and I thought the stories don’t have that much in common apart from the title). I know he was a teen heartthrob and all, but really, Luke Perry makes a better dad anyway — remember Dylan’s prematurely receding hairline and wrinkled brow?  Luke Perry also stars in A Fine Step and K9 Adventures.

What about Kevin Sorbo from Hercules: The Legendary Journeys, remember him? Who could forget those open shirts and woven leather pants? No more mythical Cretan Bulls for him — he’s now roping rodeo bulls in Rodeo Girl.

Apparently Kevin Sorbo actually auditioned for the role of Superman in Lois & Clark, but of course Dean Cain got that role — and now you can see him without a cape in Horse Camp and The Dog Who Saved Summer.

Does anyone remember Ricky Schroder from Silver Spoons? My big sister had a bit of a crush on him, as I recall. No more spoiled rich kid for Ricky, now he’s playing the rugged cowboy father in Our Wild Hearts.

I was too young to actually watch Miami Vice, but nothing says ’80s TV quite like Don Johnson in a white suite, pastel t-shirt, and shades. Well, he’s dropped the white suit, but he’s still wearing shades in Moondance Alexander. Although it’s a pretty a typical girl-finds-horse-overcomes-odds story, Miss Missy and I did enjoy watching it.

Lastly, even though it’s not a pony story, I have to tell you about A Little Game, which stars Ralph Macchio, otherwise know as The Karate Kid (sorry folks, we don’t have the original at the library, we’ve only got the Jaden Smith and Jackie Chan version). There’s no “wax on, wax off” in this one, but it’s a similar tale of a young protégée and an older mentor, but instead of teaching karate, he’s teaching chess — and of course a few life lessons along the way.

So if the kids are getting bored over the holidays (especially if the rain keeps up!) why not give one of these movies a try? We’ve got plenty of new DVDs for kids, and they’re free to borrow!

*Minus the books propping up the corner. Of course I would never do that, what kind of librarian do you take me for? BTW, if you liked the Crappy Picture, you might enjoy Amber Dusick’s ebooks

**If you actually wanted a post on housework, I wrote one on clutter awhile back

Escape into a good book these holidays

The school holidays are the perfect time to come to the library, grab a stack of books, find a nice comfy spot and loose yourself in a story.  Whether you are going away on holiday or staying home there is no better companion than a good book.

Whether you prefer the touch, feel and smell of a paper book or the ease of an ereader loaded with books we’ve got something for you.  These books are some of the books that I have really loved recently so they come highly recommended.

Mango and Bambang: Tapir all at Sea by Polly Dunbar, illustrated by Clara Vulliamy

Cover of Mango & Bambang

This is the second book of stories about a girl called Mango Allsorts and Bambang, an Asian tapir, who is learning all about life in the big city.  These stories follow the antics and mishaps of Bambang, from discovering his perfect hobby to trying to keep out of the clutches of his nemesis, Cynthia Prickle-Posset.  The books are illustrated throughout and these add to the humour of the stories.  The are very funny stories, perfect for ages 7-10.

The Many Worlds of Albie Bright by Christopher Edge

Cover of The many worlds of Albie Bright

Whether you love science or just a funny adventure story, The Many Worlds of Albie Bright is for you.  The story follows Albie, whose mum has recently died.  His parents were both scientists, and when Albie goes hunting through his mum’s research he finds everything he needs to be able to travel between dimensions.  With only a computer, a box, and a banana, Albie sets off to find his mum in another dimension.  He knows that there will be small changes between dimensions but he isn’t quite prepared for the crazy situations he finds himself in.  This is a funny, inter-dimensional journey, perfect for ages 9+.

The Adventures of Miss Petitfour by Anne Michaels

Cover of The Adventures of Mis Petitfour

Meet the utterly irresistible Miss Petitfour. She loves baking and making and dancing with her cats, but most of all she loves to fly. All she has to do is pick up a favourite tablecloth (preferably the one with the paisley print), catch the breeze and she swooshes off on an adventure with her many cats (Minky, Misty, Taffy, Purrsia, Pirate, Mustard, Moutarde, Hemdala, Earring, Grigorovich, Clasby, Captain Captain, Captain Catkin, Captain Clothespin, Your Shyness and Sizzles) dangling paw-to-tail behind her.  These stories are delightfully silly and you’ll love the antics of the cats.  I really loved the illustrations and the authors love of words that shines through in the writing. Perfect for ages 7-12, especially anyone who is cat mad.

Anzac Heroes by Maria Gill and Marco Ivancic

Cover of Anzac heroes

Anzac Day is coming up later this month and this is a great new book that highlights some of the heroic men and women who fought for their country.  Anzac Heroes features 30 courageous Anzacs who served in World War One and Two.  There is a profile on each of the heroes, including when they fought, how they were involved and what medals they were awarded.  There is also a background on each of the wars, with a detailed map and a timeline.  One of the things I love about this book is the Hall of Medals at the back of the book, that has information about each of the medals that were awarded to the Anzacs.  This is a book to get lost in.  It will keep you entertained for hours. It’s perfect for ages 9+.

For more great reads check out:

Te Kupu o Te Wiki – Makawe (hair)

Kia ora. To encourage the use of Te Reo Māori we are publishing weekly kupu (words) and phrases that can be used with children.

Kupu (word)

makawe
hair

Ka heru i ō makawe, e te tau.
Brush your hair, my darling.

Whāngahia te Reo