Mask Making at the Makerspace Workshop

Come and check out our mask display at the South Learning Centre. Students at the Marker Space Workshop afterschool programme investigated the meaning behind masks and why people wear masks. They then researched and drafted their own mask ideas. Their brief was to incorporate an accessory that could be 3D printed.

masks

Marker Space Workshop afterschool programme delved into the World of Wearable Arts (WOW). But it was more than just costume making – it involved a trip to Creative Junk and sewing lessons with a sewing machine – but also circuit making with LEDs and Arduino chips.

Students were asked to create an Kiwiana outfit which included an electronic circuit with flashing LEDs.

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Booking and enquiries

To book a place on one of our courses please phone (03) 941 5140 or email: learningcentre@ccc.govt.nz.

Hillmorton High: Hunters & Gatherers’ Book Reviews

Here is a list of Hillmorton High: Hunters & Gatherers’ Book Reviews, as assembled by Kate into a booklist.

CoverJanuary Gabrielle Lord

This book is about a 15 year old boy called Callum that has to stay alive for 365 days. Someone is trying to kill him, and this same guy may have killed his father. This is the first book in a series, January. Each book represents each month. If you are interested in action books, you should start reading this series. The great thing about this book is that when the exciting parts come (which is almost the whole book), you get such a clear picture in your head of what’s happening.

Reviewed by Dylan

CoverBatman: Battle for the Cowl Tony S. Daniel

This book starts with letting us know that Batman (Bruce Wayne) has died. Without Batman, Gotham City has gone completely insane. Nightwing, Robin and the rest of the Bat Family have been taking control, but every time they get to the crime scene there’s a note saying, “I am Batman.” They know that this person is not the real Batman.

People who enjoy DC Batman and a lot of takedowns (‘takedowns’ are ways of knocking people out quickly) – this is definitely the book for you! This book will seem interesting to those who enjoy epic fight scenes or like mysterious things happening in books. If you’re not interested in that stuff, then this will be boring.

Reviewed by Eustice

CoverCollins Easy Learning Spanish Conversation

Spanish is a fun language to learn. The Collins Easy Learning: Spanish Conversation is a guide to having a worthy conversation in Spanish. This book is for all people that want to start speaking Spanish. It has examples with the phrases just in case you don’t understand. For example: ¿Qué te parece si nos quedamos un día más? How about staying one more day? They have phrases for almost any situation and it has a pronunciation guide too.

Reviewed by Matthew H.

The Beginner’s Guide to Adventure Sport in New Zealand Steve Gurney

The book starts off about Steve Gurney when he was young. He was the last kid picked for bull rush, and was picked on and teased about being a slow runner. He proved them wrong when he won the Coast to Coast a record 9 times! He became an adventure sport legend! He wrote this book to help beginners with adventure sport in New Zealand. He talks about tramping, biking, climbing, paddling, snow sports, and triathlons. He recommends places to go mountain biking, and good techniques for kayaking. He even shows you how to change your tyre if it pops, and suggests good protein foods for energy.  I would definitely recommend this book for beginners and people who just want that little tip, or two.

This book would most definitely be open to boys and girls! I think it would be great if there was more girls getting out there and doing adventure sporting!

It is special because Steve Gurney is a New Zealand sporting legend! An adventure sport legend giving you tips on hobbies or sports that you like is pretty amazing! I would recommend to check it out at your local library! I like this book so much and find it so interesting I have read it about three or four times! There are more Steve Gurney books out there, like Lucky Legs & Eating Dirt.

Reviewed by Matthew L.

Guinness World Records

This book gives us facts about world records like parts of human bodies and fastest vehicles at the current time. If you are like me and like to look for facts, this is a book for you. The great thing about this book is that it gives you lots of different and interesting information.

Reviewed by Neihana.

CoverBunny Drop Series Unita Yumi

Bunny Drop (also known as ‘Usagi Drop’), is a series filled with a lot of drama, comedy, and a bit of romance thrown in. It is about a 16 year old girl, Rin, who lives a motherly life unlike other teenage girls. She is adopted by her uncle, Daikichi. So, you could say, he is kind of like an uncle, but mixed in with some father. Rin has a journey to find out who she is and why she’s here. Along her journey, there are always speed bumps for her, but she has great friends with great personalities that she can count on. People who would like to read this book are probably, the ones that are into drama because trust me, it has a lot of drama! And others that like these books might be people who are into the genre – romance! I think what’s special and unique about this is all the intensity and drama. There is also a lot of scenes that can make you laugh, cry, but mostly laugh!! This series, I think is one of a kind.

Reviewed by Bernadine

CoverCaptain Underpants and the Preposterous Plight of the Purple Potty People Dav Pilkey

 This book is about how George and Harold are going to a school which is very bad, unhygienic and has terrible teachers. When George and Harold go into the Purple-Potty 3000 (a time machine they built), everything reverses so the school is very good, hygienic and has great teachers.

People who are into books like Diary of a Wimpy Kid and other Younger Fiction will enjoy this book. The special thing about this book is that it has lots of drawings, lots of comics and little things that make it fun to read.

Reviewed by Matthew C.

CoverDemon Dentist David Walliams

Alfie HATES the dentist, you could tell with his yellow rotting teeth. He hides all his dentist letters from his dad who is in a wheelchair. But ever since a new dentist came to town, the teeth under the pillows have been taken; but what was left was something unbelievable.

Who is doing this? Why would they need so many teeth?
Anyone who likes a scary book will love this book (it isn’t too scary, just a little bit).

This book is special because it isn’t like our world – in this world you might wanna hold onto those teeth!

Reviewed by Bella

CoverThe Sorcerer in the North John Flanagan

The most important characters in this book are Will and Halt. Will and Halt are two rangers that go on a long journey to kill the evil sorcerer, because people have gone missing and been getting killed in the north.

This is an amazing book to read because in some parts it’s really funny, but it has lots of action too. The Sorcerer in the North is a great book for young adults because this particular book has some swearing in it.

Reviewed by Ryan

Matilda Roald Dahl

This story is about a little girl called Matilda. She could read before she went to school. She read all the books in the children’s library. Her family doesn’t like her because Matilda reads books and her family doesn’t like to read books, they like watching TV. Matilda wants to go to school. Then finally, her Dad takes her to school. Her teacher Miss Honey tells her class to be nice to Matilda. At school the principal Miss Trunchbull, throws a boy and Matilda helps the boy to fly away with her secret, superpowers. This book made me laugh out loud, you will like this book if you are into funny books.

Reviewed by Hellen

CoverTwilight Stephenie Meyer

This book is about vampires.

Bella Swan moved to Forks after living with her mother in Arizona, now she is living with her father Charlie.

Bella is endangered after falling in love with Edward Cullen, the Vampire.

I recommend this book to a person who likes vampires and romantic stories.

This book is special because it became a movie. Also, it was the #1 New York Times bestseller.

Reviewed by Pharot

CoverExtra Special Treats (…Not)  Liz Pichon

This book is about one boy named Tom who has a cousin called Marcus.He doesn’t like Marcus because Tom throws snowballs at Marcus.

I think people who like Diary of a Wimpy Kid, people who like action and adventure, and also people who have annoying sisters would like this book. Liz Pichon is very creative and you can easily see this picture in your head.

Reviewed by Joshua

CoverLiteracy My Prize: How I learnt to Read and Write Michael Marquet

This book is about a guy who did not know how to speak or communicate with people when he was a child. Also, he did not know how to read or write, not even his name. I think this is a great book for kids with the same learning problems because the kids would not read it but their parents can read it to them. This book is very inspirational for those who are having trouble learning in and out of school.

Reviewed by Tanja-Marie

Class ACover Robert Muchamore

This book is about children infiltrating a drug dealing company. The children have to somehow make friends with the drug dealer’s children. What’s unique about this book is that there are multiple spies instead of just one kid. If you have read the Alex Rider books and liked the action in there then you would probably like the action in this as well. I would highly suggest you read The Recruit before you read this book because that way you would know more about James Adams.

Reviewed by Talal

CoverHarry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone J.K. Rowling

This book is about a young boy named ‘Harry Potter. One day he gets a letter from Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. He had no idea what this was about.

He had never heard about this place or knew that his parents were magic either! It didn’t take long for him to make some new friends Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger.

I think that this book would appeal to people that like fantasy, magic and action-packed stories with lots of suspense. It’s also the beginning of seven book series with lots more adventures. If you liked the Harry Potter movies then you will probably really enjoy this book!

This book is unique because it was something different for this age group, and I really liked it! It wasn’t really a type of book that I was used to or had really read before.

Reviewed by Reuben

Spiders Barbara Taylor

This book is nonfiction and is about Spiders which are arachnids. They can be in any shape and any colour but always have eight legs. They eat insects and some even eat big things like centipedes. Some spider species are different because they don’t make webs to catch prey instead they hunt their prey. To do this some spiders have big eyes, great jumping skills and have good camouflage.

This book has detailed pictures of spiders. It is fun to read and it has good facts. People who likes arachnids/spiders should read this.

Reviewed by Simon

Girl Online On TourCover Zoe Sugg

Girl Online on Tour is about a girl (Penny) that has anxiety. Her boyfriend Noah is a pop star, so she travels around Europe with Noah and his band and ends up in Brighton. In Brighton Noah performs in a show, watching from the crowd she loses her phone. Penny falls and hurts herself and leaves the stadium because she can’t cope with the crowd and Penny may have a panic attack.

I like that this book has different settings, from all over Europe and more stories from real life. Zoe is actually a famous Youtuber. For age 11-13. If you like her very first book would really enjoy this book.

Reviewed by Holly

Page by PaigeCover Laura Lee Gulledge

Page by Paige is a beautifully illustrated graphic novel about sixteen year old Paige who has just moved from Virginia to New York. Paige decides to try out her Grandmother’s drawing lessons and keep a sketchbook. Soon she is happy again.

I would recommend this book for any keen artist or as a teenage read. It is ideal for both girls and boys as it has strong characters.

The illustrations really tie the story together, which is what helps make it so special. I loved this book because it is a deep, moving story that is bound to capture your heart as well as your artistic self!

Reviewed by Katie

HatchetCover Gary Paulsen

This book is about a kid called Brian that goes to his Dad’s house to see him because his Mum and Dad have split up. On the way the plane pilot dies from a heart attack but Brian survives the crash and the only thing he has got is a Hatchet!

You will like this book if you like the woods and adventure stories. It is a really good descriptive book because you can see it clearly in your mind.

Reviewed by Andrew

Angus, Thongs, and Full-frontal Snogging: Confessions of Georgia NicolsonCover Louise Rennison

This book is about a young teenage girl who is about to turn 15 and struggles to handle her first crush and her stone-age parents. I recommend this book for young teenage girls because this book gives good advice on how to handle being a teenager and how not to handle being a teenager. In this book there’s a lot of twists, bumps and funny moments that can also help a young girl during the teenage phase. I really like this book because it helps control my emotions, to me, it’s like a girl bible.

Reviewed by Destiny

Never Google HeartbreakCover Emma Garcia

This book by Emma Garcia has everything a really good romance story would need. It has love, great story, someone else falls in love with the boy, and pretty much anything a great romance story needs to hook people in. What’s special about this romance is that Vivienne (The main character) wants to start a website where people can give advice to heartbroken women. What’s also unique is that at the start of every chapter, there is something like a quote or something that relates to that chapter. I would recommend this to young adults as it does have a few swear words but I think that just adds to the story so the reader can feel the emotions better. Overall, this is a great story in my opinion and would be worth reading it if you enjoy romances and suspense.

Reviewed by Jerry

Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog DaysCover Jeff Kinney

This book is about a boy named Greg who was always playing video games during the summer holidays. The rest of his family were outside playing and the weather was fine while Greg was playing games inside. I suggest this book for kids and maybe young adults. This is a really funny book and it even has a movie about it. I like the book better because it has lots of pictures in it and even though they look like stick people, it still has lots of features in the pictures. A great thing about this book is that it is part of a series and there are movies about it.

Reviewed by Maria

Double ActCover Jacqueline Wilson

The book is about identical twelve-year-old twins, named Ruby and Garnet. Ruby is the oldest and she is super hyper and she often gets in trouble. Garnet is the smart, intelligent, neat one. Ruby is mainly bossy and Garnet always does what either Ruby does or what Ruby tells her to. Everyone keeps telling Garnet she doesn’t have to be the same as Ruby, but if she doesn’t Ruby gets angry and won’t talk to Garnet. Their mother has sadly passed away, and their father is dating this woman called Rose and well Ruby absolutely hates her, but Garnet however is OK with her. Mainly the book is based on an empty old account book they found and the text in the book is their writing. The girls audition for a main twin part in ‘The Twins at St Claire’ but Garnet ruins everything. Then they both find a piece in the paper that will change their whole lives.

If you’re into drama and page turners, or books with a twist, this is the book for you. It has ups and downs. The unique thing about this book, is that there’s no other book like it. This book really is special.

Reviewed by Katy

MatildaCover Roald Dahl

This is a book about a girl called Matilda she had to take care of herself ever since she was born. She is a very different kid because when she was about 3 she started going to the library and reading lots of books.  She was 5 and a half she went to school because her Mum and Dad were not ready at all. Miss Honey is the nice teacher and Miss Trunchbull is the principal, and is really mean to the teachers and kids. Everyone is scared of her. But what Miss Trunchbull does not know is that Matilda has a secret power. If you love Roald Dahl, this is a must-read.

Reviewed by Anna

LegendCover Lu Marie

This book is about a 15 year old girl who tried to find out who murdered his brother Ian. She finds out that a boy named Day, was the one who killed his brother. Or did Day kill his brother? Find out for yourself if he is innocent, or if he is a murderer.

If you really like action, this book is for you. This book is really interesting, with lots of action and more. If you do really like it, there will be another book coming out named Prodigy. If you like The Stormbreaker, then you will LOVE this. I don’t want to spoil anymore, so have fun with this comic.

What’s special about this book you might ask, well, it has 3 categories or genres.

  1. Action                  2. Emotion                     3. Romance

When you read through this comic, you will find that action is harder than you think, emotion for you to feel and romance could be one of your talents with girls/boys, if you are very confident.

Reviewed by Conrad

Adventure Time: The Duke based on an episode by Merriwether Williams and Tim McKeown

This book is a book with lots of funny comedy scenes and a little bit of anger. It’s about a human boy called Finn and his best friend/brother Jake which is a dog. They accidently throw a boomerang potion into Princess Bubble gum’s window which makes her half bald and green!?! She thinks it is the Duke of Nuts because he eats all of her pudding, but actually it’s his obsession. So Finn and Jake help the Nut Duke avoid being put in the dungeon, and also saving themselves from trouble.

This book is a comedy book and it’s suitable for people who love cartoons. It has some twists in the book which is interesting. Also, this book is for both boys and girls which is good. It’s really interesting and cool in ways. It tells the story in a different format, which is really cool because it’s from a television episode.

Reviewed by Kaylene

One PieceCover Eiichiro Oda

This Manga is called One piece and it is about a boy named Monkey D. Luffy, that ate a Gum-Gum Devil fruit that turned him into a rubber man. His mission is to be the king of pirates by getting treasure called the ‘One Piece’ but it is in the most dangerous part of the sea called the Grand line. In the Grand Line there are monsters and other devil fruit users.

Will he get the One Piece?

If you like adventure and action you will like this book, which is what I like the most about this Manga series.

Reviewed by Shea

Death BringerCover Derek Landy

This book is about the adventures of Skulduggery Pleasant, the skeleton detective, and his young apprentice Valkyrie Cain. This is the sixth book in the nine book series. If you like lots of action, magic, a complex story, plot twists, mystery and lots of characters then this book is for you. In the sixth book in the Skulduggery series, Death Bringer builds on the story in the first five books. I would recommend reading the first five books in the series before you read this one otherwise this book won’t make any sense.

Reviewed by Riley

The 13-Storey TreehouseCover Andy Griffiths

This story is about Andy and Terry Denton. Andy is the story writer and Terry is the illustrator. They live in a treehouse with 13 storeys.

Terry turns a cat into a canary by painting the cat yellow! So I think people who like comedy and funny things will like it.

It was the first book in the series, and in every book the treehouse gets an extra 13 storeys, so if you like this one you have other books to read after this.

Reviewed by Alexander

Have your say about library events and programmes

preschool-sessionsWe are reviewing our schedule of public programmes and events and would love to hear from customers (and potential customers) about which activities you’d like to see prioritised.

Have your say! We welcome any suggestions.

If you’d rather do a paper version, fill one out at your library and pop it in the survey box. You can also download the survey [PDF] and drop the printed copy off. (consultation closes 12 Feb)

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YA reviews: Clover moon, Don’t even think about it, and Think twice

Want the skinny on books? Check out what the Cashmere High School Read and Review Team have to say.

Clover Moon by Jacqueline Wilson

Cover of Clover moonYet another (amazing) book about a broken family. This sad story about a young girl who lives in rags is definitely a must-read for Jacqueline Wilson fans. I loved the connection with Hetty Feather! The beginning of the story is all rather upsetting, with almost no chance of getting any better. But at the end things turn out just fine! Clover is a sweet girl who loves to look after children, she doesn’t tend to get along well with kids her age however Clover is brighter than most of them! She uses her intelligence to find her place at The Girls’ Institute and finally a more permanent home.  I would love another book about Clover to see what she gets up to!

Don’t Even Think About it & Think Twice by Sarah Mlynowski

Cover of Don't even think about itI absolutely love this two-part series about telepathy! Jam-packed with an amazing plot and heaps and heaps of love triangles. Before reading this book, I warn you that the ending contains a massive plot twist; that requires a little knowledge about chemical elements. Some of my favourite things about these books, besides the unique use of telepathy, was probably the range of personalities. Each character was different and all of them went on different journeys, experiencing their ESP (telepathy) in different ways.

Both reviews by Genevieve (Y9)

Read more reviews by high school students

The Beano Annual 2017

CoverDid you read comics when you were young?

I’m English and grew up on this one. If you enjoyed The Beano in your younger years, or are young now, you’ll get a laugh out of this annual. Many of the classic characters are still there – such as Dennis the Menace (and his dog Gnasher), The Bash Street Kids, Bananaman, Roger the Dodger and Minnie the Minx.

The old favourites look ever so slightly different, as some have been drawn by new artists. The stories are up to date with modern technology, media and language, but the essence of the old Beano remains.

Christchurch City Libraries also hold a really interesting History of The Beano which tells how Gnasher first arrived (then mysteriously disappears) in Beanotown. A must for purists.

CoverAnd did you know, you can also view the latest weekly issues of The Beano on PressReader? The last three months are available – just sign in with your library card number and password.

I also discovered Blimey! a blog on British comics.

Enjoy!

Summer Writing School for Youth 2017

sfyw-summer-writing-school-poster-no-marksThe School for Young Writers in Christchurch is holding a Summer Writing School and Workshops, 16-20 January 2017. The Summer Writing School comprises a week’s worth of writing for teenagers, with special guest tutors alongside some of our regulars. On the final day students will get an opportunity for 1:1 mentoring as they complete a piece for the special magazine that they will produce.

There are also opportunities for younger children (Year 7-9) to let their imaginations loose in short workshops with James Norcliffe and Heather McQuillan on the 24th January. Information can be found on their Facebook page. (Please note: the years 4-6 sessions on Jan 23rd are now full).

We spoke to Glyn Strange, founding director and Heather McQuillan, associate director of The School for Young Writers about the Summer Writing School and Workshops:

Why go to The School for Young Writers throughout the year? Who is it for and what will they get out of it?

The School for Young Writers is for Years 3 to Year 13. Young writers get the pleasure of working with skilled teachers in groups of like-minded children. Regular tuition produces results. We also have a correspondence programme for those who can’t make the class times.

What kind of writing activities and exercises do you do?

Heather: Stories, poetry in all its forms, creative non-fiction, jokes, flash fiction, memoir, song lyric, play script, monologue, twists on genre, fantasy, slam poetry, whatever the children ask for and whatever our creative tutors can come up with.

Tell us about some of the tutors at the school.

Summer school tutor, James Norcliffe

Glyn: James Norcliffe is one of New Zealand’s most admired writers of poetry (Burns Fellowship and many other awards) and fiction for young readers. Heather is also an award-winning writer of fiction for young people as well as poetry, short story and flash fiction ( She is the current National “champ” in Flash fiction). Gail Ingram is New Zealand’s best poet for 2016 (New Zealand Poetry Society). Greg O’Connell is renowned for his interactive poetry shows  and poems published in the School Journal. Stephanie Frewen is an award-winning scriptwriter. The plays her students write are broadcast on Plains FM and many are preserved for all time in Radio New Zealand Sound Archives.

Can you share some top tips for youth who want to write?

Join the School for Young Writers (of course). And enter the competitions in our Write On magazine. Teenagers submit to Re Draft – an annual anthology of the best teenage writing in New Zealand.

What about young people who think “I’m no good at writing…”

Glyn: Some of our best writers said that when they joined us. We are not there only for the gifted and talented. People don’t know they have a talent until they try it.

Heather: Sometimes young people have not had the opportunity to express their own creativity through writing. Our programmes are “low stakes.” We don’t use rubrics, mark or judge writing. Our goal is to help a young writer develop a piece to be the best expression of their ideas. This is a joyful process.

What changes do you see in the students over the course of the year?

Glyn says the changes are “immense” and Heather agrees: “For some it takes a few sessions to warm up and let their ideas free. Once they do then amazing things happen. Learning that all writers redraft is often key to the breakthrough.”

Can you share some highlights from the School for Young Writers this year?

Glyn: The greatest kick for me was to see the change in a young writer who came to us writing very dark stuff. By the end of the year, eligible to enter our annual Re-Draft competition for teenagers, this person won a place in the 2016 book The Dog Upstairs. This nationwide competition is for writers up to university level, so it’s a great achievement for such a young writer to win a place.

Heather: This year we held a poetry reading event in association with WORD Christchurch and New Zealand Poetry Day. It was a thrill to see usually shy young people stand up and read their pieces with confidence. I also love working in schools and a seeing the transformation over two days as reticent, vulnerable writers realise that they have something worthwhile to write, something that others want to read. Standouts have to be a group of Year 7/8 country boys (never laughed so much in a workshop) and a gorgeous group of teenagers in Queenstown who were open, enthusiastic and extremely talented. They even gave up their Saturday to attend.

Your favourite authors writing for children and young adults?

Of course we love James Norcliffe! Most of our young writers are also avid readers and they recommend writers to us!

cover of Pirates and the nightmaker Cover of Felix and the red rats Cover of The Loblolly boy Cover of Dark days at the Oxygen cafe

Some of YOUR Top picks of books for youth in 2016?

Heather: Being Magdalene by Fleur Beale. I went back and reread her others. Anything Patrick Ness has written. I’m a bit behind on my YA reading having been a University student this year and reading the modernists. I’m looking forward to some holiday immersion in YA books.

Cover of Being Magdalene Cover of A monster calls Cover of The knife of never letting go Cover of The rest of us just live here

What drives you to commit so much passion for this work?

Glyn: All of our tutors do it for the love of writing and with a passion for ensuring the future of New Zealand literature.

The School for Young Writers is based at Hagley College. What’s the association?

Glyn: Hagley College offered to support us and we gratefully accepted. We are a separate organisation and a registered charity. Hagley is our venue.

Tell us about the publications the writing school is associated with.

Cover of They call me ink, Re-Draft 15Glyn: The School for Young Writers has always emphasised the importance of publication. Without it, writing is like a house without a roof. Write On magazine gives everyone a chance to strive for the pleasure of seeing their name in print and encourages them to lift their game as far as possible. The Re-Draft competition began when we had developed teenage groups whose work was good enough to publish in book form. Re-Draft challenges our senior students to pit their skills against the best in the country. The results are amazingly good. New Zealand literature is alive and well and has a good future. Your blog should include this.

What are some things you’ve heard the students say about their experiences at the writing school?

Glyn: You should see the smiles on their faces when they emerge after two hours of fun learning. They don’t need to say anything. It shows. The younger ones often excitedly share their work with Mum on the way home.

Heather: They keep coming back and stay for years. For some of the students The School for Young Writers is their safe place, they make special friends and can be themselves. We love quirky. We value individuality.

Check out what is on offer for youth at the Summer Writing School this January.

imagine-write-two

Mortal Engines rule!

CoverIf you haven’t read Mortal Engines by Philip Reeve, you’d better get on to it. Or you won’t be able to compare it with the movie – our very own Peter Jackson will begin shooting on this film in March 2017!

Written for young adults, Carnegie Medal winning Mortal Engines is a fast-paced tale of good and evil. The first of four stories, Mortal Engines is set in a dystopian, steampunk future where cities and townships have become portable, driven by machines; and predatory.

The Traction City of London has chased down and eaten a small town. Eaten!!? As celebrations begin, fifteen year old Tom Natsworthy, a third-class apprentice in the Historian’s Guild, discovers corruption in the heart of the city.

The man he respects most, Thaddeus Valentine, is not what he appears to be. Tainted with this knowledge, Tom is ejected from London: pushed down a waste tube and out into the Hunting Grounds of Europe. Aided by a scar-faced girl intent on murdering his mentor, Tom must find his way back to his city, to fight for its future.

Philip Reeve creates great characters and scenes. The book is so visual that it reads like a movie. I’m excited to see how Phillip Reeve’s Steampunk ideas of huge metal and cog cities, driven by steam, will translate to the big screen.

Linwood Games – this Sunday 11 December

Head along to the Linwood Games this Sunday!

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The Games are on at Linwood Park, Linwood Avenue this Sunday 11 December, from noon to 3pm. There will be skate tricks and tips, scoot, rollerblade, bounce, jump on a crazy bike, shoot some hoops with Mai FM, play tag, face painting and much more! Free Hellers sausage sizzle.

FREE! (for more info, phone 941 8999)

Want more awesome local Linwood stuff? Check out this fab Linwood Games brochure.

linwood

There is info on the Linwood Games, but also lots more. It has a great selection of places to go and things to do in Linwood, including community events, activity centres, afterschool and holiday programmes, sports clubs – as well as local basketball hoops, playgrounds, paddling pool, skate parks and tennis courts.
And our Linwood Library at Eastgate is on the list too!

The Best (& Worst) Children’s Books of 2016

“I’m not human, I’m a librarian!”

9780803738164The Best (& Worst) Children’s Books of 2016 evening was held on Wednesday 23rd November, hosted by the Canterbury Literacy Association and Christchurch City Libraries. The books showcased at the event covered the spectrum of wondrous and picturesque, funny and gross, through to beautiful and poignant – including sobering reminders of the realities of social problems facing children today.

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A community of children’s literature enthusiasts, in attendance at the Best / Worst Children’s Books of 2016 evening, held at South Library, 23rd November.

In light of changing times, be they due to earthquakes or bookstores closing, it is heartening to see supporters of children’s literature and literacy continue to come together as a community to celebrate and reaffirm their shared joy of children’s books.

Highlights from the annual Best (& Worst) event, attended by over 70 people, were primary students from several schools speaking about their current favourite books. Alongside this youth voice was book-talking from Mary Sangster (The Original Children’s Bookshop) and even some impromptu book-singing with the audience spurred on by Lynette Griffiths, Families Outreach at Christchurch City Libraries, as part of her picture book discussion.

Best Children’s Books of 2016 as selected by Mary Sangster, The Original Children’s Bookshop

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Picture books

  • Fuzzy Doodle by Melinda Szymanik is a playful children’s story about a caterpillar/butterfly, words, books and the wonder of life.
  • Circle by Jeannie Baker follows the godwit’s incredible flight over awe-inspiring scenes as above such beautiful landmarks as the Great Barrier Reef and China’s breathtaking cityscapes.
  • The Night Gardener by Terry Fan. One day, William discovers that the tree outside his window has been sculpted into a wise owl. More topiaries appear, each one  more beautiful. Soon, William’s gray little town is full of color and life. And though the mysterious night gardener disappears as suddenly as he appeared, William—and his town—are changed forever. With breathtaking illustrations and spare, sweet text, this book is about enjoying the beauty of nature.

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Younger and older fiction

  • Olive of Groves and the Great Slurp of Time by Katrina Nannestad. Starting off in 1857 at Mrs Groves’ Boarding School for Naughty Boys, Talking Animals and Circus Performers, this story goes backwards and forwards in time after Olive is invited to go time-travelling by a strange visitor. Disturbing things start to happen at Groves as a result. Mary felt there was a nice use of language and reckons boys would like it just as well as girls. Time travel books for children in 2016 seem to be popular.
  • The Bone Sparrow by Zana Fraillon. Subhi’s imagination is as big as the ocean and wide as the sky, but his world is much smaller: he’s spent his whole life in an immigration detention centre. The Bone Sparrow is a powerful, heartbreaking, sometimes funny and ultimately uplifting hymn to freedom and love.
  • Lonesome When You Go by Saradha Koirala. Paige plays bass in high school rock band Vox Pop in the tense build-up to the Rockfest competition. This novel, published in New Zealand, is about practising solo, performing like a rockstar and how contributing your best self to something can create a force much greater than the sum of its parts.
  • Dear Charlie by N.D. Nomes. Recommended for older high school students. Sixteen year old Sam is picking up the pieces after the school shooting that his brother Charlie committed. Yet as Sam desperately tries to hang on to the memories he has of his brother, the media storm surrounding their family threatens to destroy everything. And Sam has to question all he thought he knew about life, death, right and wrong. “Absolutely fantastic.” says Mary.
  • Yong: The Journey of an Unworthy Son by Janeen Brian. Thirteen-year-old Yong resents leaving his home in China to travel with his father to the goldfields in Ballarat, Australia.

Best Picture Books of 2016 as selected by Lynette Griffiths, Families Outreach for Christchurch City Libraries

Lynette has been a librarian for all her working life and is passionate about both illustrations and words. “I’m always looking for a resource that creates a surprise and smile to its reader, be that young or old.” She says that what makes a good picture book in her world is: “One that takes me out of my comfort zone; one that pushes boundaries; something I might not of seen or heard before; something familiar but different; something that can cover all ages and something that makes me go WOW!”

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Lynette Griffiths

Lynette’s top 3 picture books of 2016

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  • A Tree in the Courtyard: Looking through Anne Frank’s window by Jeff Gottesfeld. The tree’s version of the girl in the window (Anne Frank).
  • Armstrong: The adventurous journey of a mouse to the moon by Torben Kuhlmann – Kuhlmann’s picture book transports readers to the moon and beyond! Here, dreams are determined only by the size of your imagination and the biggest innovators are the smallest of all. The book ends with a brief non-fiction history of human space travel from Galileo’s observations concerning the nature of the universe to man’s first steps on the moon. Lynnette loved the superb clever illustrations and says there’s so much information that it is nearly non-fiction.
  • Child of Books by Oliver Jeffers. A lyrical picture book about a little girl who sails her raft ‘across a sea of words’ to arrive at the house of a small boy. There she invites him to come away with her on an adventure where they can journey through ‘forests of fairy tales’, ‘across mountains of make-believe’ and ‘sleep in clouds of song.’
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A selection of some of the best picture books this year as selected by Lynette Griffiths, Families Outreach at Christchurch City Libraries, at the Best (& Worst) Children’s Books of 2016 evening.

Other picture book titles showcased by Lynette

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  • A Well-Mannered Young Wolf by Jean Leroy. A young wolf must fulfill his prey’s last wishes before he devours them.
  • They All Saw a Cat by Brendan Wenzel. In simple, rhythmic prose and stylized pictures, a cat walks through the world, and all the other creatures see and acknowledge the cat.
  • Little Red by Bethan Woolvin. A twist on the classic fairy tale.
  • Colin & Lee, Carrot & Pea by Morag Hood. Lee is a pea. All of his friends are peas; except Colin. And so begins the deliciously funny story of two very different friends.  
  • Shhh! This Book is Sleeping (board book) by Cédric Ramadier.  A mouse puts a book to sleep by covering it with a blanket, reading it a story, and giving it a big hug.

Lynette concluded by singing to the picture book version of Bob Dylan’s Blowin’ in the Wind and it was heartwarming to have the audience join in in song.

See Lynette’s list of recommended Best Picture Books for 2016.

Older Fiction and Young Adult Reads of 2016 as selected by Jane Boniface, Heaton Normal Intermediate School

Jane has a wealth of knowledge of intermediate age and young adult great reads for tweens and teens. Jane is well-recognised by the National Library and School Library Association (SLANZA) in her position as the Learning Resource Centre Manager at Heaton Normal Intermediate School. She is a leading light at the school in promoting the culture of reading and provides a variety of seminars for classes in the skills required in today’s use of libraries and accessing information.

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Jane Boniface, Learning Resource Centre Manager at Heaton Normal Intermediate School, shares a great read.

Jane’s 4 ‘Best Books’, in her own amusing made-up categories, were:

  1. Best laugh-out-loud read-aloud with short chapters:
    Charlie & the War Against the Grannies by Alan Brough. Charlie just wants a paper round but he has to battle for it against the local hostile grannies already doing it. Fans of David Walliams would enjoy this funny story set downunder. Bite-sized chapters make for an easy read. “This book is not for the erudite or sophisticated reader” says Jane, “it includes how to say ‘fart’ in 10 different languages.”
  2. Most poignant tear-jerker where one character must be a dog:
    When Friendship Followed Me Home by Paul Griffin. Like a The Fault in Our Stars for 12-year-olds. Ben, always an outsider, is led into a deep friendship with Halley, who is being treated for cancer, by the special dog he and his adoptive mother take in. “It is well-written, about humanity and themes of friendship and love. It is beautiful versus morose,” says Mary. “If you liked Wonder you’ll like this.”
  3. Book with the most potential to spark the most meaningful enquiry questions:
    Gorilla Dawn by Gill Lewis. Deep in the heart of the African jungle, a baby gorilla is captured by a group of rebel soldiers. Two children also imprisoned in the rebels’ camp. When they learn that the gorilla is destined to be sold into captivity, they swear to return it to the wild before it’s too late. But the consequences of getting caught are too terrible to think about. Will the bond between the gorilla and the children give them the courage they need to escape? Jane says: “Thought-provoking and disturbing,” It covers the not much heard about mining of coltan, used for mobile phones, and incorporates child slavery and child soldiers, climate change and gorilla habitats being destroyed. Uniquely told from different points-of-view: of both the children and the baby gorilla.
  4. Best/Worst book:
    Remade by Alex Scarrow. Leon and his sister have moved to London from New York and are struggling to settle into their new school when rumours of an unidentified virus in Africa fills the news. They witness people turning to liquid before their eyes and run for their lives. Great for reluctant intermediate readers.Jane Boniface perfectly illustrated a best/worst children’s book when she read this proclamation aloud from a passage in Remade. Although the novel, filled to the brim with gory details of a virus on the loose liquefying people, wasn’t her cup of tea, she said it was a real hit with the intermediate age boys at her school who clambered to read it after she told them it was “disgusting, grizzly and grotesque.”

    What turns a cringe-worthy story into a ‘best’ book is that it encourages the love and pleasure of reading for a certain kind of reading interest and shows that while reading tastes are subjective, the right book for the right person at the right time is what matters.

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See the list of highlighted older fiction and young adults reads discussed by Mary Sangster and Jane Boniface

Youth voice: Christchurch students pick their favourites for 2016

Viewpoints from young Christchurch readers were represented by 4 students Years 3 -6 from Heathcote Valley School, Waitakiri School and Halswell Primary School.

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This Best/Worst evening was a opportunity for these students to hone their book reviewing and book-talking skills in a nurturing environment.

Teachers, librarians, parents, booksellers, writers and illustrators cater for a wide variety of children’s tastes, interests and needs and for all types of readers (from the enthusiastic to the reluctant). The audience will have taken away a lot of new and varied book suggestions, not to mention some great book prizes in the book raffle draw. And if you want to hear about the couple of ‘worst’ books chosen, you’ll have to come next time. Chatham House Rules and all that.

Speaking of reading…

Holiday Reading List 2016 Launch
The evening also saw the launch of Christchurch City Libraries 2016 Holiday Reading List for kids. Categories include picture books, younger & older fiction, young adult and non-fiction.

Summertime Reading Club 2016 / 2017 Announced
At this event, Christchurch City Libraries also announced their annual Summertime Reading Club competition for 2016 / 2017 – this summer it will be a passport of reading activities to complete to be in to win some fabulous prizes.

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Thanks to the Canterbury Literacy Association for their organising of this annual event. The purpose of the New Zealand Literacy Association is to encourage literacy learning.

Book to film: The Changeover

Cover of The ChangeoverMargaret Mahy’s young adult novel, The Changeover was already several years old when I first picked up a worn copy in my high school library at the age of 15.

I was so taken with it that even before I had finished reading it I was re-imagining it in my head as a movie.

In that peculiarly obsessive way that teenage girls sometimes are about their favourite things my mania lead me to imagined locations and camera angles, and I had a very long list of songs to be included in the soundtrack. Most of which, upon reflection, were terrible.

When Margaret Mahy died in 2012, I felt moved to write a heartfelt blog post about how important her writing, and this book in particular, had been to me.

A couple of years later at a WORD Christchurch panel discussion on The Changeover, I learned that a film of the book was in development and felt conflicted in that way that book fans often do. Because how could that film ever live up to the book, or indeed my own imaginary movie of it?

Stuart McKenzie is, with his wife Miranda Harcourt, co-director of that film which recently finished shooting here in Christchurch.

The Changeover directors Miranda Harcourt and Stuart McKenzie
The Changeover co-directors Miranda Harcourt and Stuart McKenzie. (Image credit: Dean McKenzie)

Perhaps not fully understanding the degree of my fangirl obsession, he agreed to answer some questions about what their version of Mahy’s story will look like.

Margaret Mahy wrote a number of terrific books for young adults – what made you want to film The Changeover particularly?

We felt The Changeover was really cinematic. It’s a supernatural thriller about a troubled teenager who’s got to change over and become a witch in order to save her little brother from an evil spirit. So, it’s got a great central conflict! And its genre is very clear — yet at the same time it puts this compelling twist on it by feeling very naturalistic.

Its themes of love, loss, sacrifice and change are primal. Laura Chant feels like a real person — she struggles with herself and her kind of dispossessed place in the world, but she’s got big dreams. In other words, she’s a complex and powerful heroine who our audience can really identify with!

Another thing that made the book feel so cinematic for us was Christchurch. We updated Margaret’s story to contemporary, post-earthquake Christchurch. For us, the brokenness and reconstruction of Christchurch is like a visual metaphor for Laura’s own damage and subsequent transformation.

The Chant home set
The Chant family home in the Red Zone (Image credit: Dean McKenzie)

The book (and Margaret Mahy herself) are very beloved, by me and many others. Does that place extra pressure on you to do a good job with the film?

All along we’ve wanted to make something Margaret would love: raw and lyrical, tender and tough and true. We wanted to keep the story feeling very contemporary, as the book itself was when it was first published in 1984. Like Margaret, we wanted to find the magic in the real world, not drift away into fantasy.

We were lucky to have Margaret’s blessing from the start. Before she died, she read and loved an early draft of the screenplay. So that was a great feeling to carry through the development of the project and into the shoot itself. She really encouraged us to find the spirit of the story and not be bound by the literal form of the book. We had this quote in mind by the great French film director Jean Renoir, “What interests me in adaptation isn’t the possibility of revealing the original in a film version, but the reaction of the film maker to the original work.”

I guess you could think of the book and the film as two reflecting worlds — much in the same way that Laura herself discovers the connectedness between two powerful realities — magic and the everyday — and finding in fact that they’re really one and the same.

Margaret was always clear that Laura’s changeover into a witch is a metaphor for her becoming a young woman, an active journey to embrace her own creative power. And Laura’s story itself is a metaphor for the challenges we all face in our lives and the changeovers we all have to go on in order to grow.

Oh yeah, back to the question about doing a good job… Yes, we really feel that! And we’ve still got a lot of work to do in post-production. Helps to have great people to work with, which we have.

On the one hand The Changeover, if you’re familiar with Christchurch, is very recognisably placed here, on the other hand it’s also very vague about where it’s set. The name of the city is never mentioned. The suburbs and street names in it are all made up. Christchurch is certainly its spiritual home, but you could make a very good argument that it’s not a story that needs to be specifically told here, and yet you are telling it here. What made you want to shoot here rather than in Auckland or “Wellywood”?

As you say, Christchurch is the “spiritual home” of The Changeover and we always wanted to make it here. I was born and bred in Christchurch and spent my early teenage years in Bishopdale which Margaret calls Gardendale in the book.

The Changeover was welcomed to Christchurch by Ngai Tahu in a moving whakatau — as a production we felt hugely embraced by Christchurch, the people, the Council, the environment itself.

Shooting in central Christchurch
Nighttime shoot in central Christchurch (Image credit: Dean McKenzie)

Miranda and I were determined to film in Christchurch because its flat vistas give the film a unique look. Cinematographer Andrew Stroud and Production Designer Iain Aitken helped us reflect the everyday and often unexpected beauty of the place.

Christchurch also allowed us to explore the division between social worlds which is a key feature of The Changeover. Laura comes from a solo-parent family struggling to make ends meet. By contrast, Sorensen Carlisle lives in an architect-designed home with fine art on the walls and a sense of history and sophistication. The developing romance between Laura and Sorensen means first differentiating and then bridging these two worlds.

Mahy herself described The Changeover as having a lot of folk tale elements – there are “evil” step-parents and an enchanted brother, for instance –  but also that “the city is simultaneously a mythological forest”. Will your film retain those suggestions of a modern day fairy tale?

Yes it does and that is in the very DNA of the story. At heart The Changeover is an emotionally powerful female rite-of-passage keyed into a primal fairy tale tradition. It’s true that those fairy tale elements are more overt in Margaret’s novel.

We wanted the film to feel very contemporary and naturalistic so in our story the fairy tale nature is felt rather than seen. We often thought about Bruno Bettelheim’s groundbreaking study on fairy tale called The Uses of Enchantment. He says, “This is exactly the message that fairy tales get across to the child in manifold form: that a struggle against severe difficulties in life is unavoidable, is an intrinsic part of human existence — but that if one does not shy away, but steadfastly meets unexpected and often unjust hardships, one masters all obstacles and at the end emerges victorious.” That is something we experience through Laura in The Changeover.

In terms of characters, it strikes me that Sorensen Carlisle, at least how he’s written in the book, is something of a contradictory figure – dangerous yet vulnerable, jovial yet dark, aloof yet intense – that must present some challenges when it comes to casting. How difficult was it to find someone who can be all those things in a convincing way?

We had great casting agents in NZ and in the UK. We looked long and hard to cast this film. When we auditioned young UK actor Nick Galitzine we knew we had found our mysterious and compelling Sorensen Carlisle. And Nick and Erana James who plays Laura Chant have a powerful chemistry together. We have always said that this intensity is our special effect!

Reading the book as a teenager it was incredibly important to me that Laura was of mixed racial heritage both in a personal sense, as it was quite unusual to read about someone like me as the heroine of a novel, but also in that it marks her as being different and something of an outsider, which I think adds to her story. I’m really pleased that you’ve cast a part-Māori actress in the role. Was that always the plan?

This was totally important to us too. We love how in the book Laura is part-Maori but Margaret Mahy doesn’t make a big thing about that, it’s simply part of the unique world of the story which in fact helps make it feel universal. It’s true that Laura being part-Maori means that by her very nature she finds herself between two worlds. That’s the journey Laura is on — to open herself to new worlds, new experience.

We looked for many years for our Laura Chant — and we kept coming back to Erana James who we had met early on in our process. Of course, financiers want to cast someone in a central role like this who already has a profile. Erana hadn’t acted in a film before so she was unknown in NZ let alone internationally. But with the support of the NZ Film Commission we made a “tone reel” last year with Erana playing Laura. She was fantastic in it — and the international people involved in the project — like our sales agent and even Tim Spall or Melanie Lynskey — could immediately see that this young woman had something special.

Erana James on set as Laura Chant
Erana James on set as Laura Chant (Image credit: Dean McKenzie)

Could you hope for a better villain than Timothy Spall?

You are so right! But what drew us to Tim in the first place is that he could reveal the humanity in Carmody Braque. It’s this which makes him such a powerful adversary for Laura — because there is something of Braque in Laura herself. A desire to live more fully and expand her horizons.

We are so lucky to have Timothy Spall in The Changeover. He is mesmerising. I think Margaret Mahy would have been thrilled!

It’s clear from his answers that Stuart McKenzie is as much a fan of The Changeover as I am, so I feel much more relaxed about the movie adaptation now.

In addition to the film coming out late next year, McKenzie says there will also be a movie tie-in reprint of the (currently out of print) book. So roll on 2017!

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