Holiday boredom-busters

The holiday season is upon us and it’s a great time to spend time with some quality books, movies, and music.

Here are some titles that will tantalise you with their mystery, entertain you with their storytelling, amaze you with their creativity, and leave you with a sense of satisfaction. We’ve got Fiction, Audiobooks, Graphic Novels, Music CDs, and DVDs, all just waiting for you at your local library.

Cover of An unwanted guestSo firstly, if you find yourself in the mood for a well crafted locked-room mystery in the style of an Agatha Christie murder mystery, get yourself a copy of An Unwanted Guest by mystery master Shari Lapena. It’s a group of strangers held captive by the elements in a secluded boutique hotel. When the guests begin to fall victim to murder the story weaves and wraps around in a classic whodunit style with a good twisty-turny plot. A perfect choice for a bit of summer escapism.

How about hearing some tales of the Norse Gods, written and read by Neil Gaiman – a self-confessed devotee of the classic sagas.

Cover of Norse mythology by Neil GaimanThese stories are fantastical, full of deceit and murder, trickery and beauty, and expertly read by the author in the audiobook edition available on our eResource BorrowBox. You’ll discover the strange relationship between Thor and his brother Loki, learn how the Gods came to be in possession of their most treasured artifacts like Thor’s hammer, named Mjolnir, or how Loki came to bear his children – a brilliant story of Loki’s trickery coming back to bite him. Amazing stories and a privilege to be able to listen to the author present them just as intended – casual and conversational storytelling.

What about music…? If you’re looking for some tunes this season then I would suggest you check out the award-winning new album from Kiwi contemporary music legend Eve De Castro RobinsonThe Gristle Of Knuckles. New Zealand’s contemporary music is in a fine state if this album is anything to go by. It’s from the hand/mind of one of the countries most respected music educators and composers and features many of our most celebrated musicians. It’s outstanding – dynamic, inventive, masterfully performed, and well worth a listen if you like jazz and contemporary music as an artform.

Cover of DemonAnd there’s always a Graphic Novel to help you while away an evening.

A darkly comedic tale of a man who wants to die but instead, whenever he tries to die, he just shifts over into whoever is around him. A brilliantly funny and darkly curious take of modern life by an expert artist. It’s simplistic artwork counterpoints the bleak nature of the subject matter – a comedy about suicide!? And what results is book of gravity and heart.

And finally, what to watch..? If you like twisted retellings of classic folktales then you’ll love Tale of Tales

A grown up fairytale from the legendary Giambattista Basile that is dark, twisted, and engrossing. Three kingdoms exist within the lands, each ruled by very different monarchs. Through the lives and demands of the people and the supernatural worlds, their stories intertwine to create a masterpiece of imaginative film making. A brilliant cast and a story that will stay with you long after.

Definitely some good options if you’re looking to enter our Summertime Reading Challenge!

Happy festive season and good reading to you,

^DevilStateDan

Ant Sang: Dharma Punk — WORD Christchurch Festival 2018

Ant Sang has worked on a diverse range of projects, ranging from solo novels such as Dharma Punks and Shaolin Burning to collaborative projects such as working on bro’Town, or their most recent collaboration with screenwriter Michael Bennett on graphic novel Helen and the Go-Go Ninjas. Writer and comics fan Tracy Farr questioned Ant on his artistic process, the ideas behind his works, and his progression as a cartoonist.

Ant Sang. Image supplied.
Ant Sang. Image supplied.

How does he translate someone else’s words into pictures (as in Helen and the Go-Go Ninjas)? Through reading the script, trying to get a feel for the characters and the world and what that looks like, and doing a lot of sketches. This can take time because they aren’t his creations, having to figure out what his connections are to the characters. This is often an evolving process — for example, Helen at one point had a shaved head, but Ant joked that she looked a bit too Charlize Theron in Mad Max and so her hairstyle changed.

When asked about his decision to include strong female characters in his work, Ant seemed understandably baffled.

I didn’t set out consciously to do it… I write a lot of Asian characters because I am Chinese, but I didn’t set out to represent them, it just felt natural. I’m very interested in where you fit in the world, what makes you comfortable in your skin, as I always feel like an outsider. In pākeha culture I’m conservative, coming from a Chinese background, but I’m a weirdo in the Chinese community. I’m looking at how we find ways to fit in.

This comes through in his exploration of martial arts and training in his novels, as a transformation physically, emotionally and mentally — “How you get from one state of mind to another is really interesting to me.”

Regarding his use of colour, it all comes down to practicality. The Dharma Punks was in black and white because in the 90s most cartoonists were photocopying their comics — “We’d exchange tips on which photocopiers in Auckland produced the purest black with no smudge lines” — whereas Shaolin Burning was intended to be sold in bookshops and therefore required a more subtle shades of grey approach. Helen and the Go-Go Ninjas is in colour due to the go-ahead from the publisher, which suited the vibrant and hopeful Helen. Similarly the decision to tailor the story to young adults came from the publishers, who thought it suited a teen audience. Ant and Michael bounced some ideas off each other and Helen became an environmental activist rather than an unhappy wife.

Ant’s next project will be smaller scale, a futuristic dystopia featuring a young character on the run being hunted down by a sinister group. Something to look out for!

Saving the Future: Interview with Ant Sang

Ant Sang, self portrait.Ant Sang is one of New Zealand’s most acclaimed cartoonists and graphic novelists.

His best-selling graphic novel, Shaolin Burning, won an Honour Award at the 2012 New Zealand Post Children’s Book Awards. He’ll be appearing in Ant Sang: Dharma Punk with Tracy Farr, Saturday 1 September, as part of WORD Christchurch Festival 2018.

Welcome to Christchurch, Ant!

Graphic novels are very popular here across all age groups, as are animated series and films. New Zealand artists compete well in this genre. Can you say why you think the comic strip and cartoon has remained a popular genre?

I think cartoons are naturally appealing to people, from a young age.

And with the breadth of work being produced in the comic form there really is something for everyone; from easy-to-read comics for younger readers, experimental ‘alternative’ comics, Japanese horror and romance manga, superheroes and so much more.

As a kid I read Monster Fun, The Beano and Judge Dredd. What early cartoonists and artists appealed to you as a young person?

I read so many comics when I was young. Asterix, Tintin, Footrot Flats, Beano, Tarzan, Uncle Scrooge, Richie Rich; anything i could get my hands on really!

Cover of Shaolin Burning by Ant SangI enjoyed the clear black and white plates of Shaolin Burning, not to mention the great plot and strong characters. It appeals to those (like me) who don’t like too much text, or are reading graphic novels for the first time.

Was Shaolin Burning your interpretation of a folktale, or a myth of your own creation?

Thanks. Shaolin Burning was a retelling of kung fu myths and Chinese history, interwoven with my own original characters. I really liked the idea of creating characters who were written out of history, but who might have interacted with famous kung fu personalities such as Wing Chun.

Helen and the Go-Go Ninjas is a standout as your first foray in colour comics. How did you make this transition and how did you find it as a medium?

I loved working in colour for Helen and the Go-Go Ninjas. I’ve worked with colour previously in my illustration and comic projects, but never on the scale of this book. To make it visually interesting I wanted to use different colour palettes for different locations and times of day so that there was a sense of a varied landscape and a long passage of time throughout the book.

The Dharma Punks, Shaolin Burning and Helen and the Go-Go Ninjas feature strong female characters. How did you develop Helen’s character?

Helen was created by my co-author Michael Bennett, who originally wrote the story as film script. As we developed the graphic novel, Helen did evolve; for instance in the original script she was married, and a few years older. But at the heart of it, it’s always been a story about a young woman finding herself and her place (or time) in the world.

Not just action-adventure, your comics address strong themes. In Helen we touch on disability, environmental destruction, state control and domestic violence, to name a few. Were these issues part of Michael Bennett’s original script idea, or did they develop as you responded to it?

A lot of these were very much a part of Michael’s script, though we did emphasise the environmental issue as we developed the script into comic form. Originally the collapse of civilisation was more mysterious and wasn’t fully explained, and Helen wasn’t an environmental activist.

These things became clearer as we collaborated on the comic and dug deeper as to Helen’s motivations and character. That’s something I really love about collaborating with other creatives; the process of pushing our work into new and undiscovered directions.

How do you think zine culture and comic strip writing could be better nurtured and preserved in New Zealand?

I think there’s already so much great work being produced here in New Zealand. Back when I started, it was all about using photocopiers to make and self-publish mini-comics, but now there’s a huge amount of great work being produced as webcomics.

Do you have any advice tor people planning to run a comic or ‘zine workshop?

I’ve been teaching comics at MIT here in Auckland for the last two years, and I think it’s a good idea to give participants an environment where they can create in a hands-on way. For short workshops, I like to focus on one topic and let participants get into it.

Lastly, we all loved Bro’ Town. Can we hope to see more of your series animated? (Helen and the Go-Go Ninjas would make a great film!)

The Naked Samoans have been busy writing a bro’Town feature script, and I really hope it goes into development. It’d be great to get together with the bro’Town crew again. As for my other projects, I’d love to see them all adapted into films. I’m currently making an animated kung fu short film about the young woman Wing Chun, so that’s a start.

Find out more

More about WORD Christchurch Festival

2018 Hugo Award Winners: A great year for women in science fiction and fantasy

Hugo Award logoThe World Science Fiction Convention* that was hosting the Hugo Award ceremony has finished, the results are in and this year’s Hugo Award winners have been announced.

Women dominated this year’s Hugo Awards in what has turned out to be a great year

for women in science fiction and fantasy; a genre, that it is fair to say, has been dominated historically by men.

So without further ado, here are the winners of this year’s Hugo Awards.

Cover of The stone skyBest Novel: The Stone Sky, by N.K. Jemisin

This year’s Hugo Award for best novel goes to Book three of The Broken Earth Trilogy by N.K. Jemisin. Books one and two, The Fifth Season and The Obelisk Gate respectively, are both previous winners of the award. This also makes N.K. Jemisin the first author to win three Hugo Awards for best novel in a row as well as making The Broken Earth the only trilogy in which all three novels are best novel winners (the closest to doing so previously was Kim Stanley Robinson‘s Mars Trilogy with two wins and a finalist position).

Cover of No time to spareBest Related Work: No Time to Spare, By Ursula Le Guin.

Essentially, this is the reward for best piece of non-fiction related to the world of science fiction and fantasy and understandably, recently deceased Ursula Le Guin, now six time winner of the Hugo Award and Science Fiction royalty, is the winner of this category. ‘No Time to Spare’ is a collection of Le Guin’s musings on various subjects from the mundane to the philosophical.

Cover of Monstress vol. 2Best Graphic Story: Monstress, by Marjorie Liu and Sana Takeda

The best graphic novel of the year is the sequel to 2017’s winner: ‘Monstress Vol. 2’. Monstress is an apocalyptic steampunk fable notable for its exceptional artwork (with artist Sana Takeda also winning this year’s award for Best Professional Artist) and interesting world building.

Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form: Wonder Woman, screenplay by Allan Heinberg, story by Zack Snyder & Allan Heinberg and Jason Fuchs, directed by Patty Jenkins (DC Films / Warner Brothers).

What essentially amounts to the award for best film, Wonder Woman takes the cake for its adaptation of the DC Comic hero in a film that captures the essence of this year’s Hugo Awards winners.

Winners of all categories are as follows:

Best Novella: All Systems Red, by Martha Wells

Best Novelette: The Secret Life of Bots, by Suzanne Palmer

Best Short Story: Welcome to your Authentic Indian Experience™, by Rebecca Roanhorse

Best Series: World of the Five Gods, by Lois McMaster Bujold

Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form: The Good Place: “The Trolley Problem,” written by Josh Siegal and Dylan Morgan, directed by Dean Holland

Best Editor, Short Form: Lynne M. Thomas & Michael Damian Thomas

Best Editor, Long Form: Sheila E. Gilbert

Best Professional Artist: Sana Takeda

Best Semiprozine: Uncanny Magazine, edited by Lynne M. Thomas & Michael Damian Thomas, Michi Trota, and Julia Rios; podcast produced by Erika Ensign & Steven Schapansky

Best Fanzine: File 770, edited by Mike Glyer

Best Fancast: Ditch Diggers, presented by Mur Lafferty and Matt Wallace

Best Fan Writer: Sarah Gailey

Best Fan Artist: Geneva Benton

Don’t forget to check out previous year’s winners for best novel, best related work, graphic story, novella, and short story.

*Worldcon comes to New Zealand in 2020, with Wellington having hosting duties.

Surprise yourself!

image_proxy (2)If you had told me a year ago that I would be rushing home from work to do some knitting, watch Doctor Who and read children’s comic books (not all at the same time) I don’t think I would have believed you. However, sometimes it’s really good to go back to old hobbies, re-watch something you haven’t seen for a while or explore a genre you know nothing about – and which isn’t going to show up in your “recommended for you” selections.

In our libraries we look after all sorts of books in all sorts of formats, and we need to be able to talk to you – our users – about them. A few years ago I was looking after adult fiction at a library, however I hadn’t read a lot of popular authors. So what I decided to do was to read a book by each of the most popular authors on our annual list. I can’t say that I found a new favourite author, but I certainly felt more confident about answering enquiries from fiction readers.

image_proxyIn a similar way, I always wanted to find out more about our graphic novel collections. They seemed pretty popular, but I didn’t really know where to start. One day I happened to spy a graphic novel called The Gigantic Beard that was Evil and I thought it sounded fun – and it was! And thoughtful, intelligent and different. I’m really glad I gave it a go.

image_proxy (1)After that initial foray, I didn’t explore much further – so many books, so little time! But then a chum with excellent taste was recommending the work of Neill Cameron. I investigated further and found a series of great children’s comics which are funny, feature a range of different characters, explore interesting topics like British mythology and the future of robotics – and which I can’t put down.

Yes – it is always good to read a comfort book or author or genre (and I’m so excited that Bright we Burn has just arrived), but sometimes it can be just as good to look beyond your horizons – and with a few recommendations – find a new favourite book or author or genre.

What books (etc) have your surprised yourself by liking?

Hot tips for the Winter Read Challenge (for ages 13 to 18)

Winter Read Challenge is ON! Here are some hot reading ideas from teens who have already got their entries in – thanks to you all for your v. cool suggestions.

I love Harry Potter and Divergent! I also loved Shiver because I like the supernatural. Best series ever! Zoe, 13

My favourite read was the Maze Runner trilogy. It was my favourite because I find dystopian novels very interesting. I love seeing how a world impacted by a catastrophic event can affect people in the future. Another read I loved was Warriors. I loved the idea of animals having personalities and reasons to show virtues. Many characters in this series had very strong arcs that I loved to learn about. Treasa, 15

My favourite read was Flawed by Cecelia Ahern which is a dystopian novel. I really enjoyed reading this because of the really creative storyline and all the unexpected plot twists. It is probably my all time favourite book. Another book that I really enjoying reading was actually a graphic novel called Smile by Raina Telgemeier. I normally don’t read many graphic novels but this reading challenging inspired me to give it a go. I really enjoyed Smile – I found it quite funny and the illustrations were superb! Phoebe, 13

A Court of Thorns and Roses series, Six of Crows duology, Leah on the Offbeat, Boy Meets Boy, Carry On, Sweep series, You Know Me Well, Been Here All Along, The Folk of the Air series. Lily, 16

My favourite reads were Me Before You and Still Alice because they both confronted the lives of someone with an illness or a disability. They challenged stereotypes and commonly-held perceptions in witty ways that made me laugh, cry and feel so emotionally connected to the characters. Amazing novels! Ewen, 15

I love to read fantasy books I also love to read romance stories. My favourite author would have to be Marissa Meyer because of the books she has written. Talei, 15

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More reading ideas

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Enter the Winter Read Challenge and win prizes!

Armageddon is coming…next week!

This year the masses will descend on Horncastle Arena for the annual Armageddon convention on the weekend of 2-4 June. The 4th of June being, conveniently, Queen’s Birthday holiday.

I myself have attended Armageddon religiously since 2012, after discovering that an actor from one of my then (still) favorite television shows would be in attendance. Last year I somewhat satiated my Tolkien obsession and obtained Pippin’s [Billy Boyd’s] signature on my beautifully illustrated yet dog-eared copy of ‘The Lord of the Rings.’ Other highlights include spending my hard-earned money on a replica Evenstar and discovering the stall that sells moonshine in hipster-ish mason-style jars. Does this still exist? Where was it last year? ;-(

Not much has changed. Still a shameless fan girl.

Because I get excited about these things, in preparation I will be wading through several of my favourite Armageddon-worthy television shows over the coming weekends: check out our catalogue for inspiration, and for my top picks.

And if you have a lot of time on your hands…check out these books:

Armageddon 2018- Must Reads

Cover of A Game of Thrones by George R. R. MartinA Game of Thrones – George Martin’s epic fantasy is intimidating to say the least, but well worth the time. Pick it up now and you just might get through it before the long-awaited Season 8 is released.

Supernatural – Ah, Dean and Sam. Sam and Dean. The excellent chemistry between the two lead actors carried me through a whooping 13 seasons of the TV show, but this fan-fiction is helping with my withdrawals somewhat.

Cover of Epic cosplay costumesEpic Cosplay Costumes – Who doesn’t love a good dress up…and the chance to upstage all the other Armageddon-goers.

Star Trek – Star Trek 101. Visually stunning effort by DK. If not the most comprehensive of guides, a great intro to the world of Star Trek for budding fans!

View Full List

Photos from our Collection

For those of you who haven’t had the pleasure of attending an Armageddon convention before, here is some of what you’ve been missing out on:

Three Furry Creatures. File reference: 2015-03-13-DSC00749
Pop culture baby onesies
Little nerds in the making. File reference: 2015-03-07-IMG_6159.
Pinhead cosplayer
A Pinhead Looking for Action. File reference: 2015-03-07-IMG_6156.

See more photos from Armageddon’s gone by

Youth Week events at Shirley Library

For all you gamers and budding artists out there, in honour of Youth Week we are putting on some exciting events at Shirley Library. Come along to our Playstation Tournament this Friday to WIN great prizes, and get in on this Drawing and Visual Storytelling Workshop, hosted by comic illustrator/fantasy artist Ryan Green, this Saturday.

So back to Armageddon. I’ll be there, rubbing shoulders with the sweaty rabble and hoping for a glimpse of a certain someone who may have rubbed shoulders with a certain Jon Snow.

Will you be dressing up this year? See you there 🙂

The Amazing Jeff Kinney – WORD Christchurch

He’s the author of the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series, creator of Poptropica, and thanks to WORD Christchurch I got to see him speak on Wednesday.

The auditorium was packed full of excited kids and parents. We were all waiting for 6 o’clock to finally arrive and the star to walk out on stage, I looked around at the demographics represented. It was wonderful seeing kids of all ages present – most clutching well-worn copies of Diary of a Wimpy Kid books. I’m sure one kid was carrying the whole series, his stack of books was almost too big to carry. Several kids got up to boogie along to the pumped vibe music – it was just too exciting to keep still.

Finally Jeff Kinney himself walked on stage – oh my gosh, one of the coolest authors for kids was actually within throwing distance!

If you want to get your kid into reading, introduce them to Diary of a Wimpy kid. You won’t regret it.

Jeff Kinney
Jeff Kinney, author of the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series. WORD-JeffKinney-IMG_7788

He talked a bit about his history, why he became an author and things from his childhood that shaped him. Reading all kinds of things from his local bookstore was a big part of his childhood, particularly comics.

“Comics can also be literature” he said.

Remember that, pictures and the meaning they bring are so important. His books have his cartoons dispersed throughout the text. He describes this as “little islands to swim to,” which is why these books are so great for all levels of readers.

Encourage your kid to read comics, if that’s what they like.

Jeff Kinney and young artist
Jeff Kinney, author of the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series. WORD-JeffKinney-IMG_7798

Jeff’s iPad was hooked up to the big screens, so we could see him draw in action. He taught us how to draw his main characters, and showed us how a slight difference in line can make the character have a completely different emotion.

Have a go! Then try do it blindfolded. He had a couple of volunteers up on stage drawing with him, with hilarious results.

It all ended too quickly, and I can’t wait till I get to see him speak again.

*scurries off to read Diary of a Wimpy kid again*

More Jeff Kinney

Another great writer for kids coming to town …

Heads up! Andy Griffiths and Terry Denton (the Treehouse series guys) are coming to New Zealand! The Christchurch show is sold out – but there’s still space in the Dunedin one!

Andy Griffiths. Image supplied.

Life is just better on roller skates

Just over two years ago I started training for roller derby – at about the same time that I started working as a library assistant. I’m still working on the roller derby and in the library.

Roller Derby is an athletic and strategic full-contact sport, played on quad skates with two teams competing against each other or a flat track. Mention it to most people and they think of some sort of chaotic cat-fight and conjure up scenes from the movie Whip it (and just to clarify a whip is a term for assisting a team-mate – usually a jammer on the track to get past opposing blockers).

What is less well known is that Christchurch has two roller derby leagues: Dead End Derby Christchurch Rollergirls – whose All Stars team are currently ranked number one in New Zealand and Otautahi Roller Derby League.

Cover of Derby girlNew Zealand has more roller derby players per capita than any other country. The library even has books on the subject from the award winning children’s graphic novel, Roller Girl by derby player Victoria Jamieson (the novel that “Whip it” was based on), Derby Girl by Shauna Cross, to practical non-fiction guides like The Roller Derby Athlete, to books to help you to develop mental toughness as an athlete such as Daniel Coyle’s The Talent Code. As roller derby is a journey of highs and lows these are really invaluable resources.

Cover of Roller Girl

Roller Girl is a fantastic read for girls who struggle to fit in and discover who they are. It also explores the ups and downs of friendships as interests and priorities change. A visit to Jamieson’s website also leads to a downloadable e-book about the making of “Roller Girl” with helpful info about real-life derby girls. FYI, girls and boys aged 8-14 can also join junior derby in Christchurch.

For an inspirational read about fearless athletes who have had to jump farther, run faster and fight harder to prove themselves in the athletic arena, then look no further than Women in Sports. This is such a motivating read that will hopefully empower lots more athletes.

Win tickets to DED All Stars vs Northland

We’ve been lucky enough to have a double pass for a lucky winner to go and experience a top class derby bout in Christchurch on Saturday 30th September as DED All Stars take on Northland in their only home game of the season. To win, we want to know, what would your derby name be? (Most derby players chose a derby name that they are known by. Sometimes these are puns or reference derby in some way).

Email competition@ccc.govt.nz with your derby name and contact details by 5pm, Wednesday 27th September.

Find out more

Best book covers of 2016 – My pick of New Zealand’s finest

2016 has seen the publication of a bunch of great and interesting New Zealand books, with plenty of strikingly attractive covers. Here are my picks for New Zealand’s best book covers of the year:

Number one is Mansfield and me: A graphic memoir by Sarah Laing, published by Victoria University Press. The cover, as drawn by Sarah, is a thing of beauty. It also draws you into the compelling counterpointing of Sarah and Katherine Mansfield – the very heart of the book.

mansfield_and_me_final_cover__50890-1467692638-1280-1280

Here’s what Sarah had to say about her cover design:

It’s quite a different proposition designing your own book cover as opposed to designing for others. I had a couple of other options but it was pretty easy to settle on the one I liked the most. I took Mansfield’s profile from a famous 1915 photograph, and tried to draw my own to match it. I wanted to echo the vase/profile illusion, and also to have us facing each other, when, in so much of the book, our stories run in parallel. Later in the book, Katherine and I share a cup of coffee, and I used to print from my coffee cup as a motif in the background.

Katherine Mansfield. Ref: 1/2-003106-F. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. http://natlib.govt.nz/records/23065921
Katherine Mansfield. Ref: 1/2-003106-F. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. http://natlib.govt.nz/records/23065921

A close runner up is Can You Tolerate This? Personal Essays by Ashleigh Young. It’s also published by Victoria University Press. The difficult second cover on Ashleigh’s blog Eyelash Roaming explains how the cover came to be:

Well, for my second book, I asked Elliot Elam to draw me a picture, though I didn’t know what the picture should be … Maybe more importantly, a stranger is picked out of the anonymous crowd and made knowable. Without getting too lofty… in a way that’s what I wanted to do with this book of essays: attempt an impression of things that otherwise would have rushed by.

Can you tolerate this?

Bronze medal goes to Hera Lindsay Bird’s eponymous book of poetry. An interview with Hera by Ellen Falconer in The Wireless has a bit about how that distinctive cover came to be:

Ashleigh Young [my editor] has a friend called Russell Kleyn who is a really great photographer and she set me up with him. I had quite a different idea; I have quite a funny portrait of myself and I wanted a really Dorian Gray thing, where there was a portrait of me holding a dorky portrait of myself, but it actually didn’t turn out that well.

He saw this yellow raincoat in this weird attic I was living in and he just wanted to take a few photos of that, so it was kind of a random shot. But I really like the way it turned out and that it obscures my face. What I told him was that I kind of wanted [it to have] an Yvonne Todd vibe about it – feminine but also a bit creepy and off.

Hera Lindsay Bird

Fergus Barrowman, VUP publishers comments on the triple victory:

The books make the covers (that is, if the books weren’t great and successful no one would be noticing the covers); all three were ferociously art-directed by the authors with only gentle pressure from the publisher.

So my three picks for best book covers also happen to be books I loved inside and out. They also are all published by Victoria University Press. So I think I can officially say it – VUP gives good cover. They have cannily produced postcards to show off them fine looking jackets. Next stop, VUP badges and tshirts??

More standout covers from 2016

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Cool covers for kids

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Special mentions

Let’s take a walk

C1 Book launch
Artwork from Let’s take a walk

A Christchurch book that deserves a special mention is a picture book produced by C1Espresso, and edited by owners Sam and Fleur Crofskey. Let’s take a walk looks at Christchurch places before and after the earthquakes. It was written by Nicole Phillipson, and the exquisite illustrations are by Hannah Beehre. The design and layout – with all its fascinating fold outs – is by Alec Bathgate & Tahlia Briggs.

Have a read of Moata’s interview with Sam Crofskey about this poignant pop-up book.

Gecko Annual

The cover of the Gecko annual is a zingy orange red with a dash of gold on the cover. But it’s the contents that are a symphony of beaut design work. Have a look at Kim’s blog post for some pics from inside the annual. It’s a stunner.

Best book covers of previous years

For more book cover and design, see the PANZ Book Design Awards.