What do Hollywood and libraries have in common?

You may not think there is a lot in common between a library and Hollywood.  We may not be as glamorous as the likes of Angelina Jolie or Jamie Dornan, but where would they be without Unbroken and 50 shades of grey?

However it isn’t just books that we have in common, it is our need to keep up with The Next Big Thing, and nothing typifies this more than and diet and exercise industry. You may have just come to grips with the low-fat ideology which has spawned the likes of low-fat bacon for goodness sake, only to now be told now that butter is good!

Paleo is still huge and cavemen everywhere must be beating their clubs with glee as there seems to be a never-ending plethora of books published in this area. Fasting is also popular although having holidayed with someone when they were on their fasting days was a pretty unpleasant experience, and one I don’t wish to repeat. Of course you can also use this time to detox using juices and smoothies, or you could munch your way a plate of raw food. It would seem that actually cooking food is akin to devil worship in some circles!

ECover of Embrace the suckxercise has also gone through a variety of Metamorphoses over the years. Jane Fonda feeling the burn has now been replaced by so-called gyms or  “boxes” where you push around tires and lift heavy chains. Perhaps all that paleo has indeed turned us into cavemen/women?

HIIT is  also big, High Intensity Interval training … gone are the days of slogging it out on the treadmill for hours on end. It’s all fast and intense now, perhaps better for the time hungry?

Craft is another area that is trend focused.  Fancy a bit of scrapbooking/mosaic/ beading? Well actually no, now it is all about quilting, knitting and a side of crochet, and if you branch out into the vintage aspect of things all the better.

Cover of Yarn, yarn, yarnYou may have thought hacking involved some sort of illegal action with computers, however now we have life hacks: Any Procedure or Action That Solves a Problem, Simplifies a Task, Reduces Frustration, Etc. in One’s Everyday Life.

This has been big on social media so we should expect more books on this subject in the next while.

It’s Oscar Time!

Cover of American SniperOscar nominations have been announced, you can catch up on lots of them from the Library before the February 22 ceremony (Monday 23 in NZ), as well as the books they are based on:

Best Picture nominees

American Sniper (based on this book by Chris Kyle) is up for six awards including Best Picture & Actor.

In Birdman (up for nine awards) an ex-superhero actor tries to mount a play based on the Raymond Carver story, What We Talk About When We Talk About Love.

Boyhood is on its way to the Library, get on the reserve list and watch this landmark Richard Linklater movie that was filmed over 12 years!

Haven’t seen The Grand Budapest Hotel yet? It’s been nominated for nine awards (tied for the most nominations with Birdman) and is beautiful.

Book cover of 85 years of the OscarThe Imitation Game may not be historically accurate, but hopefully the play it is based on (Breaking the Code) is, or the book that the play that the movie was based on (Alan Turing: The Enigma) is.

Selma is based on voting marches led by Martin Luther King from Selma to Montgomery in 1965. Read Marching for Freedom for an introduction to this topic, or listen to the music of the marchers online.

The Stephen Hawking bio-pic The Theory of Everything (also nominated for Best Actor and Actress) is based on Travelling to Infinity, a memoir by his first wife.

Whiplash is an original story based in the world of jazz. You can listen to thousands of jazz tracks on Freegal and our other Music eResources.

Best Actress

Book cover of Still AliceJulianne Moore has been nominated in the Best Actress category for Still Alice, based on the novel by Lisa Genova, about a professor diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease.

Rosamund Pike is nominated for Gone Girl. We have the fantastic novel as well as the movie in our collection.

Reese Witherspoon has been nominated for her turn as a women who embarks on a huge solo hike after some personal tragedy. The movie was based on Cheryl Strayed’s memoir – Wild.

Best Actor

Steve Carrell has been nominated for Foxcatcher, which is a bit of a feat for someone whose only other entry in the Library database is for Anchorman 2. We have the recently released book in now.

Best Animated Feature Film

We have The Boxtrolls, How to Train your Dragon 2, and the not nominated but phenomenally popular The LEGO Movie, although I was always more of a Torro girl myself.

Cool stuff from the Selectors: Books into film

American SniperMany of the bigger recent movies have either been original scripts or based on novels, so 2015 may be a bit different in that there are some big numbers coming up based on non-fiction work.

The reviews have been best with American sniper, based on the Chris Kyle bestseller about the man who holds the record as the deadliest sniper in American military history for his confirmed 150 killings. Clint Eastwood has directed the film version which has Bradley Cooper as Kyle and Sienna Miller as his wife.

Nathaniel Philbrick’s book, In the heart of the sea, is a gripping read about the sinking of the Essex and its fatal encounter with a whale.  Ron Howard has directed the film version with Chris Hemsworth, Brendan Gleeson, Cillian Murphy  – and Ben Whishaw as the author of Moby Dick, Herman Melville.

Cheryl Strayed’s Wild is an interesting account of the author’s 1100 mile solo hike on the Pacific Crest Trail. Advance reviews have been enthusiastic for the film version with Reese Witherspoon.

Reviews have been less enthusiastic for Angelina Jolie’s directorial account of another bestseller, Laura Hillenbrand’s Unbroken, about Olympic runner Louis Zamperini and some critics felt it was a gruelling slog that didn’t justify its “if you can take it, you can make it” tagline.

If you have extra Sky channels you may have seen the adaptation of Bill O’Reilly’s Killing Kennedy (Rob Lowe as Kennedy) and coming up is Killing Jesus with Kelsey Grammar as King Herod.

Zinio for Libraries – prepare for your eMagazine conversion!

Over 1,000 copies of eMagazines are downloaded from Zinio For Libraries each week from our library. Zinio is a digital library of eMagazines. The over 300 eMagazine titles contain the same content as the print and are released at the same time. The most popular eMagazine in October was Hello Magazine and in November it was The Economist.

It is hardly surprising our attentions shift to the economy now that we are close to Christmas and having our purses sucked dry by promises of eternal happiness if we would keep buying, drinking and eating. With costs high and wages low I have become a bit more of an economist myself and subscriptions can cost a lot of money.

What will these eMagazines cost you on Zinio for the same content? ZERO, $0.00, Nadir, Zip, Naught, Blank, Nix, Zilch. In other words nothing. The five minutes it takes you to sign up could save you hundreds. You can even sign up for email reminders when a favourite title comes in.
Zinio Cover of Hello Cover of The Economist Cover of New Zealand marketing Cover of Pets   Cover of In style

All you need is your library card number and password/PIN and an internet connection to download the eMagazine to your portable device from home or in libraries. You can read it offline after that and it it yours to keep until you decide to delete it.

Search the catalogue for titles on Zinio for Libraries.

Exciting school programmes at South Learning Centre

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Thorrington School Minecraft sessions

Tuesday 2 December, 10.45am – 12.30pm

This is education within the gaming world. Teaching and Learning in the medium of Minecraft. Students are learning what a community is and how to physically build one. They are discovering the essential workings within a community, for example decision making, voting on decisions and negotiating ideas, and are learning with and from other peer experts.

All you teachers out there this is a chance not to be missed. Be involved in this new opportunity. It’s free professional development to learn the intricacies of Minecraft and see why children are so enthused by it.

3D-Technology

Horizons From 2D to 3D

Wednesday 3 December, 1.00pm – 2.30pm

This programme is experimenting and creating in 3D design. Moving from the 2D world into 3D, students are learning the New Zealand curriculum technology design process of  idea > target market > purpose > specifics > production model > testing prototype > evaluation. Students are learning to create in 123D design software then 3D print their prototype.

Media

Film School with Canterbury Home Educators

Friday 5 December, 11.00am – 12.30pm

Film School discovers script writing, filming and software editing to create short movies and documentaries. Students narrate their own script and learn how to film using good lighting and set design. They collate images, footage and interviews into iMovie software, where they then edit keys, transitions and music and share their final short movie with Youtube and South learning Centre website.

Peter Jackson watch out!

Horizons Robotics with Science Alive

Friday 5 December, 1.00pm – 2.30pm

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This is a joint venture with Science Alive with a focus on creating Lego robotic vehicles and learning how to programme them to manoeuvre. Add light and ultra sonic sensors to complete challenges. Be creative and add a pencil/paint brush to your vehicle for your own masterpiece!

In our Learning Centre, students experience e-learning programmes aligned with the New Zealand Curriculum document. These programmes provide learning in a technology-rich environment and the teaching within these programmes keep abreast with the latest teaching philosophies and strategies.

If you are interested in working with us to tailor an existing programme or work alongside us  please contact us Tel: 941 5140 or  Learningcentre@ccc.govt.nz

Read the book before you see the film

How many times do you read a book and like it, then hear that it is being made into a movie? It seems that a really good book may have qualities that don’t translate to a good movie.

Cover of Gone GirlIt was said once – and I can’t remember who said it – that more bad books make good films rather than the other way round. Mario Puzo’s The Godfather is a good yarn, but a long way from being a great piece of literature. The film version, however, is one of the great American movies of all time with the bad bits – especially the sex scenes that even Harold Robbins might laugh at – jettisoned.

What can make a book fall over when it hits the screen? Reviews have been less than enthusiastic for the film version of S. J. Watson’s Before I Go to Sleep and it may be that gimmick-style revelations at the end can’t work when the many readers of the novel know them. Will this make the film version of Gone Girl, expected soon, go the same way?

Cover of Z for ZachariahThere are, however, some interesting adaptations coming up and they may work well on the screen. The film of Z for Zachariah, the classic YA novel by Robert C. O’Brien, may be the first major movie filmed on location in Port Levy and a cast that includes Chris Pine, Chiwetel Ejiofor and Margot Robbie sounds promising.

Further up the island, in the Marlborough Sounds, filming has begun on an adaptation of the excellent novel by M. L. Stedman, The Light Between Oceans, the story of a lighthouse keeper and his wife who find a boat washed ashore with a dead man and an infant on board. Their decision to raise the child as their own drives the plot of the novel which is actually set in Australia. The film has Michael Fassbender, Rachel Weisz and Swedish actress Alicia Vikander in the cast.

Cover of A Hologram for the KingOne of my favourite writers –if you like state of the nation novels – is Dave Eggers and the film version of A Hologram for the King is an interesting choice for a big American film in that it’s about a middle class man trying to hold himself and his family together as the world economy falters by trying to sell himself and his ideas to the burgeoning Arabian world. Tom Hanks is in the lead.

The dystopian world of J. G. Ballard is perfectly captured in his High Rise which is set in a luxury high rise building where things start to go wrong, leading to a major social breakdown. The novel, firmly set in the Thatcher era, has been on the cards for decades and is only now coming to film with Jeremy Irons, Tom Hiddleston, Luke Evans and Sienna Miller in the cast.

Cover of The Family FangNicole Kidman’s career may be faltering at the moment, but good on her for buying the rights to one of the most outrageous and funny novels, around, Kevin Wilson’s The Family Fang, featuring the worst parents imaginable, a couple of performance artists and their children who live in permanent embarrassment at the idiotic performances their parents dream up. Kidman and Jason Bateman play the parents with Bateman directing. Continue reading

My Life in Books

I was busy, as librarians often are, returning items one day and to my surprise, I noticed I had returned three DVDs, one right after the other, in the right order, which uncannily mirrored a pretty large chunk of my life so far – all in three movie titles!

We Bought a Zoo encapsulated the child raising years, where at times my kids were monkeys, other times brainless chickens, and the teenage years were more like herding rabid hyenas into a bag.

Look Back in Anger were the divorce years. Bitter and twisted times, I was a wronged woman who wasn’t always kind, nor brimming with forgiveness.

The Spectacular Now is my present life. Well, not always spectacular, but often filled with much fun, love, laughter and music and more than a little dollop of gratitude.

Book cover of the grapes of wrathIt made me think of other movies or book whose titles could encapsulate a life.

The Grapes of Wrath could document the mornings after when I should have known better, and perhaps Someday, Someday Maybe, would aptly sum up my exercise regimen. What I Know for Sure, is that I know very little, and The Hunger Games covers that time period between morning tea and lunch.

A Short History of Nearly Everything is what I will tell you over Three Cups of Tea.

So, are there books or movies that remind you of your life, or parts of it? Can you encapsulate your life so far in three titles?

Aunty and the Star People: Documenting Lives

Gerard SmythOne of the most successful films at the New Zealand International Film Festival had a New Zealand author as its focus: Jean WatsonAunty and the star people explores the “fascinating double life” of Jean Watson (author of Stand in the rain) who started a children’s home in Southern India. It was completely sold out during the Festival and will be released in cinemas very soon.

Gerard Smyth (the director of Aunty and the star people) and Jean discussed her life and work in India as part of WORD Christchurch.

28 years ago, Joy Cowley invited Jean to accompany her to India to explore her interest in religion. During the trip, Joy had to rush home but Jean decided to stay. She says she’s been there “ever since, emotionally when not physically”.

For the last 27 years, Jean has set up, funded and run Karunai Illam, a Children’s home in India where children from dysfunctional or destitute homes live and attend school. They now also have a school and vocational training community college. There are currently 43 children in the home and 269 attending the day school. Jean spends about three months a year in India. She says “When I’m there, I forget about here. When I’m here, I can’t forget about there.”

Jean first found literary success with Stand in the Rain, a fictionalised account of her life with Barry Crump. Gerard described this novel as meeting “with huge acclaim”. Jean countered with “Not huge acclaim.” “Some acclaim.” Gerard compromised, Jean clarified with “Well, there weren’t many writers then…” Needless to say, Jean is very humble. She said “my ordinary life seems described as extraordinary in the media, to me it is an ordinary life, maybe I should make it more extraordinary.”

Throughout her career, Jean has met many New Zealand literary luminaries:

  • Bob Lowry: He gave Jean a job after he inadvertently got her fired from the Salvation Army by showing up to visit her in an inebriated state. Jean said he was renowned as the best typographer in New Zealand and taught her how to set up type.
  • Dennis Glover: “Very sort of sarcastic, open person. You could never take offence at him. I remember him calling me a middle aged Ophelia. Whatever that means.”
  • Janet Frame: Jean met her when she was trying to get a reference to get into University from Frank Sargeson. Janet eventually wrote her a reference as well. “Just a young lady with red hair who seemed to me extremely nice and empathetic.”
  • Joy Cowley, long-time friend and Patron of Karunai Illam, said “Unwrapping Jean’s writing takes you to  place beyond words.” Jean now wants to focus on her existential writing, similar to Address to a King, complete her autobiography and write a follow-up chapter for Karunai Illam, her book describing the establishment and running of Karunai Illam. Although her goals may change; when Gerard reminded her that “55 [her age when she started the Illam – ed.] is quite old to start a new life.” She countered with “I don’t know, maybe I’ll start a new one tomorrow. Time is an illusion.”

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Exciting things for kids at South Library

Hillmorton Network news (HNN) have been busy on location at Washington Way Skatepark.

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Lego Animation was a big hit during the holidays. Look out for more film & animation programmes.

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Scratch is a coding programme. Horizons students created their own Maths Games then had fun creating their projects using the skills they had learned.

Scratch Lucy

 

In our Learning Centre, students experience e-learning programmes aligned with the New Zealand Curriculum document. These programmes provide learning in a technology-rich environment and the teaching within these programmes keep abreast with the latest teaching philosophies and strategies.

If you are interested in working with us to tailor an existing programme or work alongside us  please contact us Tel: 941 5140 or  Learningcentre@ccc.govt.nz

Film Festival Literary Connections

The New Zealand International Film Festival is coming to Christchurch in August and we recently chatted to the Festival Director, Bill Gosden about cinematic books that inspired him.

Book cover of The new biographical dictionary of filmBill said he was indebted to Dunedin Public Libraries where he had his unofficial film education while at high school. Titles that helped spur his interest in film included:

Take a look at our collection of movie related resources to get some inspiration for your future-film-festival-directing endeavours. If you are more interested in watching films than curating them however, there are a bunch of films in the Festival that have literary connections. We’ve got a list of them on our website, as well as a list of upcoming film and TV adaptations  and a huge list of books that have previously been filmed. Here are some of the highlights:

There are a lot more titles on our list. Let us know in the comments if we have missed any literary connections in this years Festival.