WORD Christchurch 2018: Spoilt for choice – Roberta’s Picks

It’s the first law of any truly great literary festival that you’ll almost certainly wish you could be in two places at once. That’s because just about everything you really want to see (or do) will probably be on the same day (quite often at exactly the same time) and in completely different venues. And WORD Christchurch 2018 is no exception to this rule.

It’s a hard life, but programme in one hand, good coffee in the other, here are some of the tricky festival choices I have made – grouped like this: Something Old; Something New; Something Borrowed and Something Blue:

Drawn OutSomething Old: I choose Catherine Chidgey: Transformations (Friday 31st August) because reading In a Fishbone Church seventeen years ago was when I first started to love New Zealand writing, and Chidgey has never let me down since then. She’ll be chatting to Morrin Rout about how she brings her own life to her writing. Tom Scott’s: Drawn Out (Saturday 1st September) is another choice of mine that stretches back to my early New Zealand days when I would laugh out loud at a Tom Scott cartoon over my cappuccino and huge muffin in the food court next to the old Farmer’s in Central Christchurch. I was such a lonely immigrant then. Thanks for the laughs Tom!

Something New: I just can’t go past The Witches of Gambaga (Friday 31st August). This is a documentary by Yaba Badoe  about a group of women ostracised as witches in Northern Ghana. I know nothing about witches or Ghana, and it all seems worlds apart from the venue at the Art Gallery in Christchurch, but how magical is that? Also new to me is my festival hot favourite Around the World in 80 Trees (Friday 31st August) by Jonathon Drori. I love trees. Were I a tree I would hope to be a tall, straight, slim-waisted Nikau Palm throwing my arms up in the air at the sheer joy of living. Please let me not be tempted to reveal this weirdness at this event!

Jonathan Drori
Author Jonathan Drori. Image supplied.

The Diary of a BooksellerSomething Borrowed: For me this is all about learning from other peoples’ experiences. My two picks are The Diary of a Bookseller (Saturday 1st September) by Shaun Bythell – he’s young, he’s Scottish and in this day and age he sells books. No Brainer! And Explosive Archaeology (Sunday 2nd September) in which a poet, a curator, a novelist and an academic discuss the underappreciated artists they love. I’m bound to learn something off-the-wall here.

How we met

Something Blue: And finally some luuuuurve. My pick is Let Love In (Saturday 1st September). Catherine Robertson and Michèle A’Court both write about love, but from very different perspectives (romance or quirky realism). But in the end it all comes down to our fondness for our own love stories – question time should be a blast. I feel warm and fuzzy already!

And of course in any respectable festival day there’ll be the little side forays into interesting cafés. Maybe I’ll take in a 20 minute lecture from Cabinet of Curiosities, and I’ll certainly loiter in the Piano foyer to get that magic feeling of reconnecting with my literary tribe again. No secret handshake required. Just see you there!

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Astroman at the Court Theatre – We talk to writer Albert Belz

One of the prizes in our Winter Read Challenge for teens is three double passes to see Astroman at The Court Theatre. This show is on from 27 October to 10 November. It sounds like a ripper – the 80s, video games, and Michael Jackson moves:

It’s 1983, and young Hemi ‘Jimmy’ Te Rehua knows how to dominate the games at the Whakatāne Astrocade Amusement Parlour. Too smart for his own good, Jimmy has a knack for trouble.

In this vid, playwright Albert Belz talks about Astroman to The Court Theatre’s Artistic Director Ross Gumbley.

We asked Albert a few questions:

How would you describe your play Astroman in a couple of sentences?

A coming of age story set in the small town N.Z. 1980s where a young boy genius discovers what it really means to be brave.

Do you have any tips for teens who want to get into writing plays?

Write with humour about the things that make you most angry.

What are your fave things – games, books, comics, movies, tv etc?

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Kia ora Albert, and good luck to all of you entering the Winter Read Challenge.

More about Albert

Reading many lives

With regards to the quote above, if one were of a sardonic frame of mind one might point out that at the rate at which Game of Thrones author George R. R. Martin kills off his characters a thousand lives might be an understatement. Nevertheless the basic premise stands. Reading allows anyone the chance to “inhabit” a great many people and characters.

This is never more true than when you’re reading a book of short stories. Though you may become attached to a character, the next protagonist is probably only a few page turns away. Sometimes this is a relief. Sometimes it leaves you wanting more.

Recently I’ve found myself reading books that work with the theme of many lives but in very different ways.

Cover of deleted scenes for lovers by Tracey SlaughterDeleted scenes for lovers by Tracey Slaughter. I think her surname is appropriate because she killed parts of my soul with this book (in a good way). Her short stories are set in New Zealand, but a rather grimy, rundown one. The stories, with exception of the last one which is a novella, are short and sometimes brutal vignettes from the lives of damaged and lost people. You’ll want to set aside time between each one. This is not a book to rush through. The writing is incisive and brilliant and made me feel a lot of things, some of them against my will.

Cover of Meet cuteMeet cute is rather anodyne by comparison. It’s a collection of young adult short stories, all by different writers and all featuring the “how they met” story of two characters. As with any collection like this some authors and characters resonate more than others, and while the bulk of the stories have a contemporary romance kind of vibe there are a couple of sci-fi/fantasy genre tales too. Most, though not all, of the stories are about straight couples – one of the unexpected joys of the book is that you don’t know when you’re introduced to the main character whether their story will be a boy-meets-girl or a girl-meets-girl one – I found it was fun to try and guess in the first page or so.

He rau mahara: To remember the journey of our Ngāi Tahu soldiers: From the pā to the battlefields of the Great War is completely different again – a nonfiction title produced by Ngāi Tahu’s whakapapa unit about the iwi’s First World War soldiers. It’s a beautifully put together book, filled with photographs of soldiers with names you might recognise – Nortons, Pōhios and Skerretts. Nearly two thirds of the book is dedicated to a profile of every Ngāi Tahu soldier who took part in the Great War, with the first part of the book featuring a sample of stories of soldiers, war, and their families. A gorgeous and poignant memorial to South Island soldiers and their whānau, and the lives they lived.

Staff picks for the Winter Reading Challenge (for ages 13 to 18)

How are you going with the Winter Reading Challenge? We have highlighted some of the fab books picked by teens, now here are some staff picks to help you tick off some challenges:

The first book in a series

Truly Devious Maureen Johnson
Unsolved mysteries, kidnapping, murder, and super smart teenagers at an isolated boarding school in Vermont. Alina

The Raven Boys Maggie Stiefvater
The story of Blue, the only non-psychic in her family of fantastic women, and the Raven Boys – four boys from a private school on a quest for a dead Welsh King. Full of humour, teen angst, almost-kisses and magic. (Also available as an audiobook.) Alina

Chaos Walking trilogy Patrick Ness
Todd Hewitt is the last man on the planet. All the females are gone, you can read everyone’s thoughts, and nothing is quite as it seems. A brilliant series, fantastic as an audiobook, and coming out as a movie in 2019. Kate

Find more:

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A book that was made into a movie

The Hate U Give Angie Thomas
When Starr witnesses the death of her childhood friend at the hands of a police officer, she struggles to decide what to do — speak up against injustice, or keep her family safe? (Read it before the movie comes out in October!) Alina

Everything Everything Nicola Yoon
What do you do when you literally can’t leave the house, and the thing you want most in the world is just outside the front door? Kate

Every Day David Levithan (picked by Saskia, Cashmere High Library)

The Book Thief Markus Zuzak (picked by Saskia, Cashmere High Library)

The Maze Runner James Dashner

The Fifth Wave Rick Yancey

Ready Player One Ernest Cline

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A book with non-human characters

Year of the Griffin Diana Wynne Jones
When Elda, the griffin daughter of the great Wizard Derk, arrives for schooling at the Wizards’ University, she encounters new friends, pirates, assassins, worry, sabotage, bloodshed, and magic misused. Alina

Find books about:

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A graphic novel/comic book

Nimona Noelle Stevenson
Nimona is an impulsive young shapeshifter with a knack for villainy. Lord Ballister Blackheart is a villain with a vendetta. As sidekick and supervillain, Nimona and Lord Blackheart are about to wreak some serious havoc. Alina

Unbeatable Squirrel Girl Ryan North
She’s part squirrel, part girl – she’s Squirrel Girl! Lots of fun, lots of laughs. Kate

One punch man

Spill Zone Scott Westerfeld

Find more:

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A love story

The Only Thing Worse Than Me Is You Lily Anderson
A loose retelling of Much Ado About Nothing featuring fandom, extra-smart teens and a lot of snark. Alina

Autoboyography Christina Lauren
It can be hard enough being a gay teenager when you live somewhere liberal and progressive. It’s even harder in the middle of Mormon Utah. Kate

Eleanor & Park Rainbow Rowell (picked by Kim)

Emergency Contact Mary H.K. Choi (picked by Alina)

Pieces of You Eileen Merriman (picked by Rachel from Scorpio Books) [NEW ZEALAND]

Find more:

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Listen to a podcast or audiobook

Nation Terry Pratchett
Finding himself alone on a desert island when everything and everyone he knows and loved has been washed away in a huge storm, Mau is the last surviving member of his nation. He’s also completely alone – or so he thinks until he finds the ghost girl. Narrated by Tony Robinson (don’t worry, he doesn’t sound like Baldrick from Blackadder in this). Alina

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe Benjamin Alire Saenz
Fifteen-year-old Ari Mendoza is an angry loner with a brother in prison, but when he meets Dante and they become friends, Ari starts to ask questions about himself, his parents, and his family that he has never asked before. Superbly narrated by Lin-Manuel Miranda. Alina

Find more:

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A book about identity

Lies We Tell Ourselves Robin Talley
In 1959 Virginia, Sarah, a black student who is one of the first to attend a newly integrated school, forces Linda, a white integration opponent’s daughter, to confront harsh truths when they work together on a school project. Alina

I am Thunder Muhammad Khan
Muzna is a regular British teenager, so how does she end up involved with Islamic radicals? Kate

A quiet kind of thunder Sarah Barnard
Being a teenager is hard. Being a teenager with anxiety is even harder. And being a teenager with anxiety who doesn’t speak is even harder again… especially when love’s involved. Kate

Girl mans up M-E. Girard
Pen doesn’t want to be a boy – she just wants to look like one, and that confuses people. This is her look at frenemies, love, and teen pregnancy. An awesome read – I wish it had been written when I was a teenager! Kate

Juniper Lemon’s Happiness Index Julie Israel (picked by Rachel from Scorpio Books)

Girl Missing Sophie McKenzie (picked by Saskia, Cashmere High Library)

You’re welcome, universe Whitney Gardner

Simon vs The Homo Sapiens Agenda Becky Albertalli

Find more:

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A dystopian novel

Chaos Walking trilogy Patrick Ness
Todd Hewitt is just one month away from the birthday that will make him a man. But his town has been keeping secrets from him. Secrets that are going to force him to run. (First in a series and also available as an audiobook.) Alina

Little Brother Cory Doctorow
A standalone cyber-thriller packed full of teen hackers, revolution, terrorism, a police state, and an awesome romance. Alina

The Giver Lois Lowry (picked by Julianne)

Replica Lauren Oliver

Flawed Cecelia Ahern

Find more:

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Inspirational biographies

Hope in a Ballet Shoe Michaela DePrince
Adopted in the United States, a young girl from Sierra Leone dreams of becoming a professional ballet dancer. A great read, even if you’re not a dancer. Kate

In the sea there are crocodiles: The story of Enaiatollah Akbar Fabio Geda
Based on the true story of 10-year-old Enaiatollah’s escape from Afghanistan, and his journey across the mountains and seas to safety in Italy. Kate

In order to live Yeonmi Park (picked by Saskia, Cashmere High Library)

Being Jazz Jazz Jennings

Never fall down Patricia McCormick (a work of fiction based on the true story of a Cambodian child soldier).

Find more:

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More recommendations

Personal recommended reads from librarians – from classics to new publications!

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Rachel from Scorpio Books recommended these books for teens:

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Saskia from Cashmere High’s library recommendeds the following good reads:

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More reading ideas

Enter the Winter Read Challenge and win prizes!

Harry Potter’s Birthday Celebrations

On Tuesday 31 July at Parklands Library and Fendalton Library (and a bit earlier on Friday 13 July at Shirley Library) Christchurch City Libraries will be celebrating Harry Potter Day. This is a day to recognise our enjoyment of J.K. Rowling’s literary creation Harry Potter, fittingly on his birthday. Lovable, bespectacled Harry and his friends stormed into our collective minds over two decades ago. Hard to believe!

You are invited to come along to our family friendly Harry Potter Day events. See our calendar for dates and times. Personally, I don’t think I want to get too close to Dobby’s lost sock…but there will also be a storytimes, potions class and wand-making craft along with other marvellous activities.

Harry Potter display
Harry Potter display. South Library. Tuesday 26 July 2016. Flickr 2016-07-26- IMG_5247

What was Harry up to on the 31st of July? Well:

  • 1980 Harry was born to James and Lily Potter.
  • 1991 Rubeus Hagrid came to the hut-on-the-rock where the Dursleys were hiding out, to hand deliver Harry his Hogwarts acceptance letter.
  • 1992 The Dursley family had dinner with Mr and Mrs Mason while Dobby and Harry argued in the background- prompting Dobby to cast a hover charm over a giant pudding – which was then unceremoniously deposited on top of Mrs Mason. This resulted in the Ministry of Magic sending Harry (unjustly) a warning letter rebuking the use of underage magic.
  • 1996 Harry celebrated his 16th birthday at the Burrow.
  • 1997 Harry turned 17 and received a birthday kiss from Ginny Weasley, much to the revulsion of her brother Ron.

Every HP fan has the books proudly lined up on their bookcase. My copies of The Philosopher’s Stone, Chamber of Secrets and Prisoner of Azkaban are hard-backed, beautifully illustrated by Jim Kay and reside in a shelf all of their own. I have given husband a strict Christmas/birthday present list covering the next three years. This will take care of the remaining volumes.

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You will find the complete Harry Potter series on our catalogue. Readwatchlisten or download Harry.

I first discovered that I love reading fantasy when I picked up The Lord of the Rings as an almost teenager. As I broadened my fantasy horizons, I eventually ceased to read anything else, and wondered what it was that drew me in. When I would read these books or watch the films it was as though I was dead to the outside world. I was so entranced, and remained so long after I’d put down the book. They left me spellbound and strangely nostalgic, for something I couldn’t grasp.

I think it must be pure escapism. I like to dwell on the element of setting when I am reading  having no qualms about toiling through pages upon pages of lavish, descriptive world building – the foundations of any fantasy tome. Themes and values which underpin fantasy also captivate me: the pull between good and evil: and values such as friendship, loyalty, perseverance or fighting and suffering for something greater than yourself. These things are nice to believe in – and being packaged in such a pleasing way with none of the bothers or constraints of reality – of course I would be drawn in like so many others.

Reading a good fantasy novel always ends with me underlining compelling passages every few pages (not on any library copy, of course). I do love quotes. Here is an excellent Harry Potter passage which always makes me chuckle:

“Non-magic people (more commonly known as Muggles) were particularly afraid of magic in medieval times, but not very good at recognizing it. On the rare occasion that they did catch a real witch or wizard, burning had no effect whatsoever. The witch or wizard would perform a basic Flame Freezing Charm and then pretend to shriek with pain while enjoying a gentle, tickling sensation. Indeed, Wendelin the Weird enjoyed being burned so much that she allowed herself to be caught no less than forty seven times in various disguises.” 

Wendelin the Weird sounded like a bit of a fetishist.

So I hope you have read Harry Potter. If not, shame on you. Join the library it’s free and you can borrow Harry. If you have and are wondering “what can I read next, that is Harry Potter, but at the same time not?”, then we subscribe to some fantastic eResources. Our reading advisory eResources – Novelist Plus, Novelist K8 (Novelist Plus for kids) and Books & Authors are designed for librarians and library patrons to assist with finding your next read. They will help you ferret out exactly what you liked about a book, and recommend material based on this input.

Of course, you could always turn to the walking reading advisory resource – your local librarian.

To conclude, here is a short list of fantasy reads I believe anyone interested in the genre should tick off. In no particular order:

A luncheon interval on Mt Sebastopol while on a ski trip at Mount Cook National Park: Picturing Canterbury

A luncheon interval on Mt Sebastopol while on a ski trip at Mount Cook National Park [1926?]. File Reference CCL PhotoCD 14 IMG0086
Do you have any photographs of skiing in Canterbury? If so, feel free to contribute to our collection.

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

A Luncheon Interval On Mt Sebastopol While On A Ski Trip At Mount Cook National Park

Curate Your Own Personal Film Festival (from the Library DVD Collection)

The Press reporter Charlie Gates wrote a fascinating article about the decline in DVD rental stores in Christchurch: Ghosts and survivors in fading DVD market. There may be fewer places to hire DVDs from, but you can still get ’em at your local library!

Because I am decidedly average at getting to the movies, the library DVD collection is there to rectify my movie fails. I watched The Last Jedi recently, re-watched the beautiful Japanese animated time-travel body swap movie Your Name, and am looking forward to watching Lady Bird and Phantom Thread.

DVDs - Matuku Takotako: Sumner Centre
DVDs at Matuku Takotako: Sumner Centre. Flickr Sumner-2017-08-18-DSC03137

This led me to make my own list of an imaginary Film Fest of recent(ish) NZ docos!

New Zealand Docos

No Ordinary Sheila

The story of this writer, illustrator, natural historian and outdoors adventurer Sheila Natusch.

Spookers

“Every weekend come rain, hail or shine, this diverse group of amateur performers unite to terrify punters at the southern hemisphere’s largest scream park, situated in a former psychiatric hospital. Director Florian Habicht reveals the transformative and paradoxically lifesaving power of belonging to a community that celebrates fear. “

Poi E

“With humour, energy and emotion, the movie Poi e is the story of how that iconic song gave pride to generations of New Zealanders.”

My Year With Helen

“With unique access to high-ranking candidate Helen Clark, award-winning filmmaker Gaylene Preston casts a wry eye on proceedings as the United Nations turns itself inside-out choosing a new Secretary-General.”

McLaren

The story of Formula One motor racing team originator Bruce McLaren “A fearless racing driver, a visionary and brilliant engineer”.

Pecking Order

“Join members of the Christchurch Poultry, Bantam and Pigeon Club in the lead up to the NZ National Championships, as they battle history and each other in a quest for glory and for the love of their birds.”

Seven Rivers Walking

“With walkers, rafters, farmers and fishing folk, we journey the alpine to spring rivers of Canterbury. Exploring above and below the surfaces, uncovering ways through our current freshwater crisis. This lyrical documentary from New Zealand is an intimate portrait of the struggles around water – globally the most precious resource of our time. ”

Tickled

“After stumbling upon a bizarre “competitive endurance tickling” video online, wherein young men are paid to be tied up and tickled, reporter David Farrier reaches out to request a story from the company. “

The Art of Recovery

“As demolition gangs reduce ruins to rubble, a dynamic group of artists, innovators and entrepreneurs are bringing life back to the streets of post-quake Christchurch, empowering the people and creating a promising future for a dynamic new city. ”

Hip Hop-eration

“These Hip-hoppers may each be almost a century young, but for Kara (94), Maynie (95) and Terri (93), the journey to the Las Vegas World Hip Hop Dance Championships is just the beginning of a life’s journey. ”

Find New Zealand documentary films in our collection.

 

A Matariki poem: Ururangi – Seventh born

Ururangi – Seventh Born

E Ururangi – Seventh born,
yonder in the heavens,
cloaked within your stardust korowai,
we see you, I see you…
amid your celestial whānau Matariki,
Ururangi, I entreat, throw off your cloak and shine brightly,
herald in the gentle winds,
so as we may rest and celebrate good fortune,
E Ururangi – Seventh born,
yonder in the heavens.

An original poem about Matariki that references one of the stars of the cluster, Ururangi – the star of the wind. The kaupapa (focus) for Matariki 2018 is sustainable natural resources of Matariki – Tupu-ā-nuku, Tupu-ā-rangi and Ururangi. These whetū (stars) are connected to food that is grown in the earth, food that comes from the sky, and the wind. It is essential for us to look after our Earth, and its natural resources, so that it can continue to sustain us.

Podcast – Homelessness

Speak Up Kōrerotia logoChristchurch City Libraries blog hosts a series of regular podcasts from specialist human rights radio show Speak up – Kōrerotia. This show is created by Sally Carlton.

Three expert guests share their knowledge regarding the state of homelessness in New Zealand.

  1. Part I: Alan Johnson (Social Policy and Parliamentary Unit, Salvation Army)
    Overview of homelessness in NZ; statistics; geographic differences across NZ; reasons driving homelessness
  2. Part II: Matthew Mark (City Missioner, Christchurch City Mission)
    Homelessness in Christchurch including post-earthquake
  3. Part III: Green Party Co-Leader MP Marama Davidson
    2016 ‘Ending homelessness in New Zealand’ report; government actions on reducing homelessness

Transcript – Homelessness

Mentioned in this podcast

Find out more in our collection

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CINCH – Community Information Christchurch

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More about Speak up – Kōrerotia

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Garden bird survey: 30 June – 8 July 2018

Fantail

There are birds in my garden. Lots of them. I’m not an overly keen gardener, so birds, bees and insects love our place. Wax-eyes love the flowers and silver beet that have gone to seed. Other birds like scratching up the mossy lawn looking for worms. I love the sound of birdsong. Especially the bird that flies to the top of my neighbour’s garden and sings. I didn’t know that birds are an important indicator of the health of our environment.

You can participate in this citizen science project. There are lots of activities and resources to help you identify birds. For creative kids, there is colouring in, masks to make and quizzes to do.

You may be wondering why we count garden birds, especially introduced species. We learn about the health of our towns and cities. Scientists can’t do this on their own. They need you. We need a good picture of the birds in our country. The more people counting birds, the more we learn about our bird population. Doing the survey is fairly easy. Print out the tally sheet and choose a day that suits you. Find a comfortable spot to sit (either inside or outside). Look and listen for one hour. For each type of bird, record the highest number seen at one time. Use Landcare’s online form to enter your count.

Fantastic! You have just helped scientists understand our bird population.

To help you with identifying birds and encouraging birds to visit your garden, here is my list of recommended books.

Cover of Attracting birds and other wildlife to your garden in New ZealandCover of The field guide to the Birds of New ZealandCover of Birds of New ZealandCover of A photographic guide to birds of New ZealandCover of All about New Zealand birdsCover of A mini guide to the identification of New Zealand's land birdsCover of Which New Zealand bird?

New Zealand Garden bird survey: 30 June – 8 July 2018

List created by Valerie_L

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