Go Girls and Boys! Barbara Else instils a love of reading at the Margaret Mahy Memorial Lecture: WORD Christchurch Festival 2018

Barbara Else, author of Go Girl! – a Who’s who of adventurous Kiwi women, (make that a Storybook of Epic NZ Women), written for young readers – shared some of her own magic tricks on inspiring readers young and old. She followed in the footsteps of another author we knew and cherished; the colourful Margaret Mahy.

Barbara Else. Image supplied.
Barbara Else. Image supplied.

CoverBarbara is a great believer in that whatever will inspire a child (or an adult) to read, is a good place to start. Trends suggest that a lot of young readers prefer non-fiction, hence the idea for Go! Girls. Yet this is cleverly disguised as a story book, much like you might hide good vegetables in the mince.

According to National Library, there are few people in New Zealand reading for pleasure (i.e.stories) in the 21st Century. They are responding with a project to entice Kiwis back to the ‘stillness, escapism and replenishment’ of reading fiction and fantasy.

Barbara couldn’t stress enough the importance of reading to children, which in turn becomes an individual pleasure as the child grows up. From the stillness and reassurance of developing listening skills in a mother’s lap (which stimulates brain networks, we were told by a member of the audience), Barbara’s stories are aimed at giving agency to the child protagonist, a voice that affirms their experience of the world. The glow of hope at the end gives the child the courage to imagine for themselves.

It’s important to carry on reading as an adult, remembering that our experience is shared, and a way to escape into considering the big issues, while reading of others’ journeys.

Non-fiction stories help young people to contemplate their own place in the world, says Barbara, fostering their own imaginations to dream beyond the real and everyday, into the future.

Barbara touched on the importance of women in story, citing Fiona Kidman as helping it to dawn on her that using male protagonists was a default for authors. While strong female characters, ‘defending themselves from oppression’ are a feature of Else’s books, characters such as Jasper in The Travelling Restaurant; a vulnerable male lead who uses his wits to care for others, was received with overwhelming interest by boys and girls.

“Each story demands its own audience. I can’t tell the audience what to think.”

Barbara describes the process as an alchemy;

“to challenge, provoke and reassure, as a mother’s voice would do.”

Pure magic.

“Reading stories to children gives them a voice.”

Te Wiki o te Reo Māori – Māori Language Week 2018

This year Te Wiki o Te Reo Māori (Māori Language Week) is on from 10 to 16 Mahuru (September).

The theme for this year’s Māori Language Week is –

Kia kaha te reo Māori – Let’s make the Māori language strong

Join in with Ngā Kete Wānanga o Ōtautahi (Christchurch City Libraries) and our efforts to strengthen te reo Māori.

Te Wiki o te Reo Māori events at the library

We’ll be celebrating Te Wiki o Te Reo Māori with a range of events taking place during te wiki.

For kids/whānau

During te wiki our normal Wā Kōrero (Storytime) sessions for preschoolers will have added stories and songs in te reo Māori.

We’ll be having a couple of Ngā Pakiwaitara (bilingual storytimes) sessions with even more te reo, delivered by Whaea Rochelle from our Ngā Ratonga Māori team.

And our wharewhare (housie) event at Linwood Library, 3.30-4.30pm Thursday 13 September is perfect for the whole whānau to join in with.

Whaea Rochelle is the star of bilingual storytimes during Te Wiki o te Reo Māori

Kapa haka

If you enjoy some waiata (and why wouldn’t you?) head along to one of the kapa haka performances by local tamariki that we’ll be hosting during the week.

Court Theatre in the Shelves

As part of New Zealand Theatre Month, during September actors from the Court Theatre will read extracts from their favourite Kiwi plays – including a very special Māori Language Week performance which will take place on Thursday, 13 September at Upper Riccarton Library at 10.30am, and at South Library at 3.30pm.

After their readings, the performers will tell you why they’re drawn to the piece they perform, what it is to be a theatre practitioner in this country and answer any questions you might have. So, come along to see the best Kiwi theatre amongst the shelves at your local library.

Te Reo Māori at the library

Adding te reo Māori to your library experience can be as straightforward as the tap of a screen – why not simply try out the reo Māori option on our māu e tuku (self issue) machines?

Using māu e tuku/self issue
There are a variety of language options on our self-issue machines including Te Reo Māori.

Or learn a new kupu (word) by reading our bilingual library signs or even just learn to say the Māori name of your local library.

Practise your reo at a library café

Order your drink of choice in te reo Māori at any of the cafés in our libraries (South, Upper Riccarton and Te Hāpua: Halswell Centre) or at The Kitchen café on the first floor of the Christchurch City Council building on Hereford Street and from 10-16 September you’ll get an extra sweet treat to go with your drink. Need help with how to place your cafe order in te reo? Te Taura Whiri o Te Reo Māori (The Māori Language Commission) has produced this fantastic guide to awhi you.

Find Te Reo Māori resources at the library

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There are many resources available for anyone wanting to strengthen their te reo Māori knowledge, for both adults and children.

In our catalogue

We’ve also made lists of modern classic picture books in Te Reo Māori and Māori stories for older children.

Some other places you might like to try include:

If you know of other resources, events or initiatives in Ōtautahi to help people celebrate Te Wiki o Te Reo Māori, please feel free to let us know about them in the comments below.

Quick Questions with Kate De Goldi – WORD Christchurch

CoverWe are asking quick questions of writers and thinkers coming to the WORD Christchurch Festival 2018 (Wednesday 29 August to Sunday 2 September).

Kate De Goldi writes fiction for all ages and reviews books for print and broadcast media. Her most recent novel is From the Cutting Room of Barney Kettle. She is co-editor, with Susan Price, of the children’s anthology Annual 2.

Kate De Goldi. Image supplied.
Kate De Goldi. Image supplied.

What are you looking forward to doing in Christchurch?

I’m looking forward to seeing Christchurch in the spring – particularly the cherry blossoms on Harper Ave – and to having a run or two up the back roads of Tai Tapu.

What do you think about libraries?

I think libraries (and their librarians) are the beating hearts of our communities – essential, enabling hives of connectivity and possibility. I was formed and nurtured by the Christchurch library system and feel great love and gratitude for it.

Share a surprising fact about yourself.

I am a devastating chess player. Kidding.

Kate De Goldi’s sessions at WORD Christchurch Festival 2018

Charlotte Grimshaw: I and I and I – in conversation with Kate De Goldi Friday 31 August 4pm

2018 Margaret Mahy Lecture with Barbara Else, introduced by Kate De Goldi Saturday 1 September 10am

Not too old for picture book fun

Cover of Rattletrap Car by Phyllis RootI’ve been having car trouble lately.  If Sheldon Cooper rode shotgun with me, he would have a complete meltdown, because Daisy’s check engine light came on over a week ago, and I haven’t checked her engine. So, anyway, the other morning, on the way to school with the Young Lad, despite the warming up and molly-coddling, I felt that all-too-familiar stumble-chug as we were driving along. I asked the Young Lad if he thought it would help if I gave Daisy some razzleberry, dazzleberry, snazzleberry fizz like the family in Rattletrap Car. And you know what he said, that boy of mine? “I’m too old for rhymes, Mum!” (with audible eye rolling in his tone.)

I know what he really meant. He meant that he’s too old for silly nonsense, like a car that can be repaired with random items stuck on tight with “chocolate marshmallow fudge delight.” Just like he’s too old for cuddles from Mum before he goes off to his classroom in the morning. *sob*

But honestly, how can anyone be to old for rhymes and stories? I say you’re never too old for a great picture book!* And lets face it, life is too short to read boring books. If you’ve got a littley to read to, you’re gonna want to enjoy what you’re reading too. So, with that in mind, I thought I’d share a few of my favourites with you.

  • Cover of Welcome by Mo WillemsFirst up: Welcome: A Mo Willems Guide for New Arrivals.  I spotted this one on the shelf the other day, and I absolutely love it! It’s sort of like an in-flight safety instruction card for babies. The road-sign style illustrations made me giggle, and who wouldn’t laugh at Willems “instructions” about available activities (“sleeping and waking, eating and burping, pooping and more pooping”) and log-in codes (“Do not worry. You do not need to know any log-in codes, yet.”) Or his warnings about unpleasant possibilities, like “fighting and wastefulness and soggy toast” or the ice cream disasters that no-one is exempt from. Technically, this is not actually a picture book, which is all the more reason to share it with you, since you won’t find it in the picture book bins at your local library. When you look for it (and you really should!) you’ll find it in the non-fiction section.
  • 9780803739901Henry Finds His Word by Lindsay Ward.  When he was a little younger, the Young Lad enjoyed reading this book with me. He always loved books with nonsense words, and this one, with Henry’s baby-babble-nonsense as he tries to make himself understood by the grown-ups was no exception. Henry decides he needs to find his word so people will know what he’s talking about, but he doesn’t know what words look like. Are they big or small? Fuzzy? Prickly? Could one be hiding under his blanket? You’ll have to read this sweet, quirky story to find out!
  • 9780062252074Red: A Crayon’s Story by Michael Hall is a great story about a crayon who just can’t seem to draw red, even though that is what his label clearly says. His friends all think he needs practice, or should try harder, but no matter what he does, all Red’s drawings turn out to be blue! A wonderful message of acceptance, and being who you are, told in a delightfully funny way. I love the brightly coloured illustrations too, they are a mixture of  collage-style shapes and crayon drawings, that really make the story pop.
  • 9780714874081Before & After by Jean Jullien is a hilariously simple book that explores the concept of before and after in funny and surprising ways.  This is also not technically a picture book, but will be found with the board books.  While you’re looking for it, you might also want to look for Jullien’s equally hilarious This is Not a Book.
  • Reading The Scariest thing in the Garden by Craig Smith always involves lots of noise and hilarity. Would you believe that an aphid could be the scariest thing in the garden? It is to a really, really scared Brussels sprout. What about a lady-bird? They are pretty scary to an aphid. It’s fun to try to guess what the scariest thing  could be each time, and to scream along with the scared bugs and animals. And you’ll laugh when you discover what the scariest thing actually is!
  • 9780553539295Although you wouldn’t actually read ABC Dream by Kim Krans, I’m sure you’ll love sharing this beautiful and absorbing wordless picture book with your littlies. The illustrations are simply beautiful, and it’s lots of fun trying to work out all the things that begin with each letter — some are really quite tricky! I’ve shared this book with lots of children who’ve visited the library, and have been blown away by some of the things they think of. Don’t you just love it when kids surprise you?
  • And finally, no list** of my favourite picture books would be complete without Captain Pugwash by John Ryan. I just love this series of Pirate stories about Pugwash and his crew, who are the laziest afloat. Although Pugwash thought himself very brave and clever, it was always Tom the Cabin Boy who saved the day. Dad gave me this book for my 5th birthday, and it is the very first book I ever read to myself. The stories are still just as exciting and funny as they ever were, so if you have a small person who likes pirate stories, I’m sure you’ll love these books as much as I do!

After all that talk about being too old for this kind of thing, The Young Lad surprised me last night by telling me he wanted to come to the library and listen to me sharing Storytimes with the little kids. I guess you really are never too old for picture books!

*I think I may have mentioned my love of picture books once or twice before

**I had a really hard time choosing which books to share in this blog post, because once I got started…I just couldn’t stop! So naturally, I also put together a list in our catalogue of a few of my favourites. I managed (with difficulty) to keep it to just 40 books. And I’m sure I missed out at least one fabulous book that I just couldn’t remember the name of.

Quick Questions with Miriama Kamo – WORD Christchurch

CoverWe are asking quick questions of writers and thinkers coming to the WORD Christchurch Festival 2018 (Wednesday 29 August to Sunday 2 September).

Miriama Kamo is a broadcast journalist who presents the current affairs programmes Sunday and Marae on TVNZ 1. She’s a Cantabrian, a mother and a writer.

Miriama Kamo. Image supplied.
Miriama Kamo. Image supplied.

What are you looking forward to doing in Christchurch?

I’m a Cantabrian so I love coming home to Christchurch. I have family and friends there. I love Birdlings Flat and Little River – my fave destinations. Closer to town, I’m loving the way Christchurch is reshaping itself. The cafes and shopping are fantastic, loving The Colombo and The Tannery.

What do you think about libraries?

I have used libraries since I was tiny. They’re home to worlds and worlds and worlds. I remember Sister MaryAnn at my primary school giving me my first school library card and being in heaven. And, on the way home, I’d stop in New Brighton Library to borrow as many books as I was allowed.  My husband and I often take our 7 year old to the libraries in Auckland.

CoverWhat would be your desert island book?

Lordy, i really don’t know, I’m not keen on re-reading books, only because there are so many good books to read. I have read The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion three times though, so perhaps that..

Share a surprising fact about yourself.

Perhaps that I rarely drive a car – i use an e-bike to get around, it’s the best fun ever

Miriama Kamo’s sessions at WORD Christchurch Festival 2018

Embracing Te Reo Sunday 2 September 10am

The Stolen Stars of Matariki Sunday 2 September 11.45am

Adventurous Women Sunday 2 September 6pm

Quick Questions with Emily Writes – WORD Christchurch

CoverWe are asking quick questions of writers and thinkers coming to the WORD Christchurch Festival 2018 (Wednesday 29 August to Sunday 2 September).

Emily Writes is the best-selling author of Rants in the Dark: From one tired mama to another and her new collection, Is it Bedtime Yet?. A mother of two, she is editor of The Spinoff Parents.

Emily Writes. Photo credit: Chris Tse
Emily Writes. Photo credit: Chris Tse

What are you looking forward to doing in Christchurch?

I absolutely love Christchurch! I’m really looking forward to checking out some local businesses. Last time I came I went to The Tannery and I only managed to get around half the shops so I’m keen to go back there. I also want to head back to Scorpio Books they hosted an event for my first book and they were so lovely.

What do you think about libraries?

I love libraries. Growing up librarians were like mothers to me. The local librarians and the school librarian nurtured my interests, kept me safe, encouraged me and supported me. Libraries have always felt like homes away from home to me.

What would be your desert island book?

Probably He’s So MASC by Chris Tse because it makes me think of friends and love and passion and family and my community.

Share a surprising fact about yourself.

I don’t know if it’s surprising or just obvious but I got a C in journalism at high school because I couldn’t meet deadlines and I kept inserting myself into my writing (I was often told I was “not Hunter S. Thompson”).

Emily Writes’ sessions at WORD Christchurch Festival 2018

Bad Diaries Salon: #Risk Friday 31 August 10pm

Motherhood Saturday 1 September 11.30am

 

Read Aloud Day – 2018 NZ Book Awards for Children & Young Adults

CoverThe winners of the 2018 New Zealand Children’s Book Awards for Children and Young Adults were announced last night with Aotearoa: The New Zealand Story written and illustrated by Gavin Bishop, published by Puffin, Penguin Random House, being honoured as the Margaret Mahy Book of the Year (it also won the Elsie Locke Award for Non-Fiction).

Each year, ahead of the announcement, a Read Aloud Day takes place, and some nominated authors and illustrators head on tour around the country to speak to primary and secondary school children about their work, to share insights about their process, and spark a new generation of writers and artists. This year, students in Canterbury got to hear from the following speakers: Fleur Beale, Sophie Siers, Suzanne Main, Joanna Grochowicz, Alison Ballance, and Gavin Bishop. The events were presented by: New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults in association with WORD Christchurch and Harcourts Gold.

Lyla: Through My Eyes – Natural Disaster Zones by Fleur Beale

CoverA dramatic teen-view of the Christchurch earthquakes. Lyla is at the mall when the big quake strikes. Having lost touch with her friends and family, she finds her way home through a crumpled city. The long days and weeks that follow bring new challenges, and Lyla works with others to help with the clean-up and opening their home to those in need. A vivid insight into terrifying events and the impact on those who experienced them.

This story will be close to home for Cantabrian readers, but Fleur Beale gave an unlikely introduction to her book by advising some people in the audience not to read it! She offered this word of warning for anyone for whom the earthquakes are still a difficult memory. She said she had to do a lot of research for a story about the earthquakes to be believable to her readers so she collected real stories from people she knew about what had happened to them during the quakes and incorporated them into her book.

“There’s nothing like real life for putting into a book… but you still have to make it work to fit into a story.”

Beale’s advice for young writers:

“Be prepared to murder your darlings” was her advice. By this she explained that you have to be willing to let go of some of your work in the editing and redrafting process. She says its traumatic but necessary to bin stuff. For this you need to let your writing sit a while and come back to it. With an established writing career spanning over 40 books, you can trust her word on it.

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Author Fleur Beale, August 2018

Into the WhiteScott’s Antarctic Odyssey by Joanna Grochowicz

Into the White - Grochowicz, JoannaThe enthralling and harrowing true story of Robert Falcon Scott’s ill-fated Terra Nova Expedition, with evocative photographs, and illustrations by Sarah Lippett. An exciting story following the ill-fated Scott expedition to the South Pole. Scott’s team battles storms, killer whales, extreme cold, and a changing frozen landscape, even before they get off the boat. The reader can almost feel the cold and gnawing frostbite in this riveting reimagining of the horrors that this group of brave and resilient men endured as they battled the elements to follow their dreams and their leader.

Christchurch City Libraries were fortunate to host Joanna in the libraries last year. Her book contains well-researched and compellingly told tragedies set in inhumane places and recount the resilient, perseverance and curiosity in human endeavours.

Joanna was a hit with the audience of school children and brought the historic subject of lesser known yet interesting characters from Scott’s South Pole expedition to life, such as the photographer and the chef. Herbert Ponting who had the important job of keeping a visual record of their Antarctic journeys. In one riveting story, an encounter with killer whales nearly stranded him on the ice.

Thomas Clifford, the expedition chef, had to cook 3 meals a day for 25 men for a year – without fresh food like fruit, vegetable or usual meats like chicken. Instead he served penguin and seal, which horrified the children in the audience and would be illegal today. But they need a fresh source of meat to get vitamin C to avoid scurvy. Reports tell us that “seal liver curry was a favourite among the men”.

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Joanna Grochowicz

How Not To Stop a Kidnapping Plot by Suzanne Main

CoverWhen Michael overhears some men plotting to kidnap a student at his school, he and Elvis decide they must prevent the crime, even if it is his sworn enemy Angus who is the victim. A series of misadventures and wild assumptions see them zipping across town by bike, staking out the school painters and breaking a few rules. This fast-paced romp will keep the reader wondering until the very end.

When Suzanne Main described her childhood devoid of technological devices like the internet and smartphones – and gasp – no ‘Fortnite’ – there was a sound of shock and horror from a good portion of the audience. And what’s more, she says “TV was only in black and white!” So, for entertainment, she read and read and read. Authors like Enid Blyton and Roald Dahl were favourites and she laments that there wasn’t a lot of New Zealand writing back then. She loved to read so much that she barricaded herself in her room to avoid siblings interrupting her.

If she loved reading so much, why did it take her so long to become a writer she wondered? She said school back in her day didn’t put emphasis on creativity but rather getting the right answers so she focused on maths which was ‘black and white’ whereas writing is neither right or wrong. Suzanne has been an accountant most of her career but about 10 years ago she realised the desire to be a writer was buried deep inside her. She joked that it is a bad thing to be creative if you’re accountant – and such a sense of humour is a feature of her stories too.

She says as a child she was held back by shyness, being timid and a lack of confidence. By sharing this with the audience, she hopes that others who feel like she did won’t let it hold them back:

“Creative writing is like putting a tiny piece of yourself in the world for people to judge and criticise, which is hard for shy people. My fear was that I would suck” but, she advised the students in the audience, “you have to risk being rubbish when you are trying something new. Put aside your fear of not being good – you’ll become good if you put in the time and effort and determination even if you’re not good at it. Something you’re not good at today, you might be in the future.”

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Author Suzanne Main, August 2018
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Finalist authors and illustrators Sophie Siers, Alison Ballance and Gavin Bishop, St Margaret’s College, August 2018

The Gift Horse by Sophie Siers

A gentle story about a sad little girl and the horse she bonds with, which will sit with the reader long after it is finished. Sensitive pastel illustrations work well with the text, setting the emotional tone, and reflecting the themes of patience and grief. Layered with meaning, the story deals with complex emotions in a thoughtful way, giving readers a sense of hope that life will get better.

Sophie advised aspiring writers of the old adage to place your stories in an environment you know well, to help create more authentic stories. For her, this is the farm with her many animals, such as the horse that features in her story about dealing with grief, The Gift Horse. She talked about the reasoning behind writing a sad story. When something has happened to you, reading other stories about similar situations can help you understand your feelings. On the other hand, if you haven’t had a particular bad thing happen to you, maybe it has happened to someone you know or might happen to you in the future so it fosters empathy and understanding by reading about it.

Sophie has also recently published another book Dear Donald Trump that takes Trump’s idea of building a wall and translates it into the bedroom of two brothers in New Zealand who aren’t happy sharing a room. Letters to Trump from the younger brother debating the merits of the wall fill the book as the “great idea” of a separating wall is revealed to be not so great after all. This book makes a great read-aloud to school children and generates conversation about conflict. It is a lovely use of a topical political discussion translated into domestic family life.

Author and illustrator Sophie Siers engaging with readers, alongside a collection of her books, most notable her series about Allis the tractor. 

New Zealand’s Great White Sharks: How science is revealing their secrets by Alison Ballance

New Zealand's Great White SharksFrom the cold waters of Stewart Island to the warm tropics of the Pacific, New Zealand’s great white sharks are tracked by scientists seeking answers about these magnificent ocean predators. In this book, vivid descriptions and plentiful photographs capture the excitement, demands and rewards of tagging and tracking great white sharks. They demonstrate how a career in science can lead to all sorts of adventures, and how sharks and the marine environment deserve our respect and protection.

Alison Ballance is a zoologist, diver and wildlife documentary maker. She has written 29 books and dived with 14 kinds of sharks. She even has a shark named after her from Stewart Island. She says that electronic tagging has revolutionised mankind’s understanding of sharks. She says that electronic tagging has revolutionised mankind’s understanding of sharks. She showed us a map of ocean waters with the travel lines showing where specific sharks have travelled. There are websites you can track individual sharks on their journeys. Despite advanced technology, she says that there are still many questions left unanswered about sharks. Perhaps the next generation will find out more answers? Certainly many children have a fascination with sharks, as the audience’s keen questions about her team’s close calls with sharks proved.

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Author Alison Ballance, August 2018

And the winner is….

Aotearoa: The New Zealand Story written and illustrated by Gavin Bishop, published by Puffin, Penguin Random House, honoured as the Margaret Mahy Book of the Year (it also won the Elsie Locke Award for Non-Fiction).

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Author and illustrator Gavin Bishop

Aotearoa: The New Zealand Story by Gavin Bishop

This wonderfully bold and abundant book, large in format and scope, takes us from Aotearoa’s prehistory to the modern day with stories of the people, places and events that have shaped us. The dramatic and detailed illustrations, with taha Māori integrated throughout, are complemented by minimal text providing context and inspiration to find out more. A book for every home, school and library.

Known for Mrs McGinty, The House that Jack Built and original stories and retellings of Māori myths, this accomplished author and illustrator nonetheless felt panic set in once he accepted the publisher’s challenge to produce an illustrated 64-page history of Aotearoa. Since he couldn’t include everything, he realised that “this book will be about as much as I leave out as what we put in.”

“We were told a skewed impression of the history of Aotearoa at school”

he says, and Bishop’s work in this book helps rectify the misinformation he was given in his childhood. He talks about the importance of his work being checked by historians and Māori language experts. Māori brought with them their idea of the creation of the world, so Bishop covers Māori myths and legends in the book as well.

Researching other topics ranging from the influenza epidemic to WWI animals, Bishop was constantly astounded and overwhelmed by what he learnt in his research. In creating this book, he says:

“it made me think about where we have come from and where we might be going.”

Before and after: Gavin Bishop’s showed the audience how his illustrations take shape.

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A selection of Gavin Bishop’s books

More:

Read the winners of the New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults.

The HELL Reading Challenge

The New Zealand Book Awards Trust have teamed up again with HELL Pizza to encourage school-age children to read more. Their reading programme runs through schools and libraries nationwide. Christchurch City Libraries is again offering this reading challenge reward system.

Best Picks Evening – highlighting the best of writing for NZ kids and teens: Wednesday 8 August 7pm

Painted Stories invites you to celebrate the New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults by attending their annual Best Picks evening at Fendalton Library, Wednesday 8 August, 7pm. There is no charge for attending and members of the public are welcome.

A panel including Sophie O’Rourke, Desna Wallace, Saskia Hill, and Trevor Agnew will discuss the nominations.

See our full list of finalists – and #ReadNZ at its best.

Sustainability In The Library via Minecraft

This holiday programme wasn’t a relaxed, laid back affair – this one really had children thinking. The challenge was to create an Eco-House using Minecraft.

Eco House

We discussed the impact their house would have on the environment. This made the students think of the types of materials needed and how they could reduce the impact by utilizing their surroundings. Great discussions occurred, with the benefits of different materials and styles of buildings.

Many explored solar and wind power to create energy efficient houses. Others investigated the movement of water to create power.

One student harnessed the use of light sensors to store energy to allow his crops to still grow at night. Another created a wind turbine to light his house.

But the most interesting creation was an Eco Friendly Chicken House using a chickhouse nuclear reactor! See his amazing creation:

Marshmallows, Money, and Madness: Andy Griffiths and Terry Denton – WORD Christchurch

The marshmallows flew around the auditorium at Christchurch Boys’ High School when Andy Griffiths and Terry Denton came to visit. Brought to you by WORD Christchurch and Pan Macmillan Australia, this event was loud, full of ridiculousness, and an absolute delight for everyone in the audience – young and old alike.

In case you haven’t yet been introduced to them, Andy and Terry are the Aussie duo behind the ever-popular Treehouse and Just series, and this event was a chance for them to introduce their latest book, The 104-Storey Treehouse. I went along with McKenzie, who is age 9, and at the perfect age for this show. There was a moment of panic when we arrived and saw the massive queue of people snaking out the school gates, but with the sun shining and everyone in a fun mood, this was a perfect opportunity to relive some of our favourite treehouse stories, and to think about what we would have in our dream treehouse (A room full of drumkits? A giant trampoline? The opportunities are endless!) Inside, there was even a place to draw your own addition to Andy and Terry’s treehouse – and who knows? Maybe they’ll use your idea in the next book?!

This show was an hour of non-stop laughs, combining visual comedy, stand up, and interactive storytelling. Most importantly, the duo pitched it just right for the mix of kids and adults in the audience. We saw Terry’s malfunctioning money-maker spewing out banknotes, contributed to a ‘burp bank’ that Andy and Terry can use later when they need some burps, and enjoyed watching a parade of silly hats, modelled by volunteers from the audience. Needless to say, the bum hat was a firm audience favourite.

Hat parade

In a live action retelling of a pick-a-path story, we helped Andy and Terry create the story of a child who goes to the dentist and, in true Andy and Terry style, dies a number of horrible, gruesome deaths. The audience loved this! Miss 9 could barely contain herself, kneeling on her seat to see the actions better, shouting herself hoarse, and laughing uproariously from start to finish. Andy’s storytelling skills were superb, and Terry’s illustrations really brought the storytelling to life.

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Andy Griffiths and Terry Denton. WORD Christchurch event Sunday 22 July at Christchurch Boys High School. Flickr 2018-07-22-IMG_9107

But you know what? Even that wasn’t the most popular bit! The show’s finale was all about marshmallows, and I think I can safely say that never has the Boys’ High auditorium seen as many pink and white marshmallows as it did in the final minutes of this show. Without going into details, I do not think there was anyone under the age of 15 who was still sitting in their seat at this point. The duo had everyone eating out of their hand, and – if my own experience was anything to go by – the entire audience had sore cheeks from laughing so hard.

This show was an absolute delight, and if the guys come back I highly recommend getting along to see them. Until then, check out some of their books that are available here at Christchurch City Libraries.

If you are looking for more fun, have a look at the family-friendly events coming up in the WORD Christchurch Festival 2018.