Tutor available 24/7 – Lynda.com

Have you started studying this year and are feeling a little out of your depth? or do you want something to help you be at the top of your game. We have just the thing for you – a tutor available 24/7. Lynda.com has tutors for heaps of courses – to either help you with your studies, or try a course before you buy. Check out these great study starters to set you off on the right foot. All you need to get started is a library card and password/PIN.

 Learning Speed Reading

Learn how to read faster. Improve your reading speed and comprehension with these proven speed-reading techniques. Speed-reading is a skill everyone can benefit from, and this course provides proven techniques to improve how much information you absorb and how fast you absorb it.

 Learning Study Skills

Get tips for improving your reading speed and memory, creating detailed notes and preparing for tests. The information in this course is appropriate for all levels of learners, from school  to university students and full-time members of the workforce. Start watching now—you’ll never approach studying the same way again.

 Information Literacy

Information literacy is the ability to discover and use various types of information. It’s an essential skill for navigating the information age. Learn about strategies for finding information – from a library, archive, database or the internet – and the ethics of using what you find. This one is definitely one to trust – the tutor is a Librarian!

 Improving your Memory

Improve your memory with these memorization techniques. It explains the best methods for different situations, like remembering names, important dates, passwords, to-do lists, quotes, and more. These techniques will prove invaluable, whether you’re memorizing facts for a test at school, points for a work presentation, or trivia to impress your friends.

 Learning Algebra: Pre Algebra

Pre-algebra is the first step in high school math, forming the building blocks that lead to geometry, trigonometry, and calculus. This course will help you master the basics: from addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division to new types of numbers (integers and negative numbers) and concepts such as the order of operations and distribution.

Happy Pride! Christchurch Pride Week – 15 to 24 March

It’s nearly Pride Week! Lasting a little bit longer than an actual week, starting Thursday 15 March, Pride Week is a celebration of sexuality- and gender-diverse folks in Ōtautahi, and it’ll feature allsorts, from parties to seminars, art shows to dog walking. The rainbow flag will fly at the Christchurch City Council Civic Offices from 15 to 25 March.

However, pride celebrations have pretty sombre beginnings. The first pride marches in the USA were protests against the mistreatment and discrimination of LGBT+ people by the police, public services, and the law. As rainbow communities have largely seen great leaps forward in these areas over the past 40-50 years, these pride events focus more and more on celebrating diverse identities – but it’s important to take a moment to remember that there is still a struggle; that people are still being discriminated against because of their sexuality or their gender identity, both close to home, and globally.

Find out more about Christchurch Pride:

Pride Picks

Here’s my top 3 pride events you should check out happening in Ōtautahi in the coming weeks:

QCanterbury Quiz Night

I have a slight bias towards this event because I’m the MC! But who doesn’t like a quiz??
Friday 23 March 7pm to 10pm, The Foundry, 90 Ilam Road

Art Show

Christchurch Pride has started with an Art Show for a few years now, and it’s always a good night, with lots of mingling and snacks! Plus there’s an opportunity to buy some new artwork and support local LGBT+ artists at the same time. Thursday 15 March 5pm to 8pm, Windsor Gallery, 386 St Asaph Street

Bingo Fundraiser

I’ve been along to this event in previous years, and it is ridiculous fun. With all proceeds going towards a local youth support group, and the chance to win some fabulous prizes, it’s well worth it…who knew bingo could be so much fun?! Tuesday 20 March 7pm to 10pm.  Sixty6 On Peterborough, Christchurch Casino

More Pride

If this is a topic you’d like to learn more about, the library has some great reading/viewing material! Here’s some of the things I’ve enjoyed recently:

CoverQueer: A Graphic History  Meg John Baker and Julie Scheele – A non-fiction graphic novel style book delving into the history and key milestones of LGBT+ rights, as well as an introduction to queer theory. Engaging and witty and fun to read!

CoverPride – a film with all your favourite British actors about an unlikely partnership between gay and lesbian activists and striking miners in Wales.

Milk – a beautiful and heartbreaking film about Harvey Milk, an openly gay politician and activist in San Francisco in the 70s.
CoverThe library has a book about Harvey – and an opera.

CoverTomboy Survival Guide – Ivan Coyote – Brilliant, funny, serious, adventurous stories about growing up in rural Canada and navigating gender and sexuality.

Read our blog posts about Ivan, and Look up Ivan on YouTube too! They’re an incredible live storyteller.

Of course, there’s a never ending list of books and films to read and watch that explore what it means to be sexuality- and gender-diverse from a range of different cultural perspectives – Why not introduce yourself to something new this Pride Week?

Regardless of your orientation or identity, pride is a time to celebrate diversity and promote inclusion – a good reminder to have a look at your workplaces and community spaces and check they are inclusive and welcoming environments; or educate yourself on some new language or ideas within the rainbow community; find out what is going on for rainbow communities in other parts of the world; and, most importantly, check in with LGBT+ people in your life and remind them that they are loved.

Happy Pride!


Canterbury Japan Day 2018

Canterbury Japan Day is an annual event organised by The Japanese Society of Canterbury with the aim of sharing authentic Japanese culture with Cantabrians. In 2018 it will take place from 9.30am to 4.30pm on Sunday 4 March at Riccarton Park, 165 Racecourse Road.

The theme this year is the Japanese Summer. The venue will be filled with decorations relating to Tanabata – The Summer Star Festival. There will be stalls, indoor events, an anime cosplay cafe and outdoor events.

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The history of Canterbury Japan Day

The inaugural Canterbury Japan Day was held on 11 March 2012 to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Japanese Society of Canterbury and the 60th anniversary of diplomatic relations between New Zealand and Japan. It also marked the anniversary of the 2011 East Japan earthquake and tsunami.

Canterbury Japan Day
Canterbury Japan Day, Flickr CCL-2012-03-11-CanterburyJapanDay-March-2012 DSC_0569.JPG



New year, new reads: Sci-fi, fantasy and mystery for teens

I’ve read so many YA books recently it’s difficult to choose which ones to blog about! I’ve made a list of my favourite teen reads in 2017 (all but one published last year and all highly recommended), so that frees me up to talk about some YA books from the new year.

If you like… science fiction

Cover of Martians Abroad

Martians Abroad by Carrie Vaughn

Polly is happy living in a colony on Mars, hoping one day to pilot a spaceship across the galaxy — but then her mother sends her and her twin brother to Earth to attend the prestigious Galileo Academy. Struggling to adapt (both socially and to the increase in gravity), Polly has to deal with more than just agoraphobia on her school field trips — something (or someone) seems to be targeting her and her group of friends. And each time, they’re raising the stakes…

If you like… fantasy set in Hungary

Cover of Blood Rose RebellionBlood Rose Rebellion by Rosalyn Eves

Anna Arden is unusual in being born into a prestigious magical family but having no magical ability herself — instead of casting spells, she breaks them. When she breaks her sister’s debutante spell she finds herself pretty unpopular with both her family and with noble magic society in general, so Anna finds herself packed off to Hungary with her grandmother. But Hungary might not be the best place to lie low, with resentment towards the Austro-Hungarian Empire rising. Soon Anna finds herself embroiled in a plot to overthrow the magic elite — and her magic-breaking ability might just be the key.

The second book in the trilogy (Lost Crow Conspiracy) is due to be published next month, so now’s a good time to start reading.

If you like… Sweeney Todd and demon librarians

Cover of Evil LibrarianEvil Librarian by Michelle Knudsen

A silly romp of a book reminiscent of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Cynthia is amused when her best friend Annie falls in love with the new school librarian Mr. Gabriel, but amusement turns to horror when she realises Mr. Gabriel is actually a demon hell-bent on sucking the life force out of all the students and making Annie his demon bride. Luckily he also loves musicals, so Cynthia has until the opening night of the school production of Sweeney Todd to try and save her best friend and banish her demon(s).

If this sounds like your cup of tea be sure to grab new sequel Revenge of the Evil Librarian as well!

If you like… twisty turny books that turn your head inside out

Cover of Jane, UnlimitedJane, Unlimited by Kristin Cashore

This starts innocuously enough, with Jane being invited to stay at an old friend’s island mansion (as you do). Once there, however, it’s soon clear that there’s a lot more to the island that meets the eye — a cornucopia of mysteries await Jane’s investigative eye! And she investigates them all, the book gradually revealing more and more until she finally figures out the answer to the question she’s been asking all along — what really happened to her Aunt Magnolia?

If you like Jane, Unlimited then I’d also recommend Iris and the Tiger by Leanne Hall, which also involves aunts, mysteries and a bizarre house full of secrets, but set in Spain.

Te Tiriti o Waitangi / The Treaty of Waitangi, 1840

Waitangi Day is coming up so why not find out more about the Treaty of Waitangi? The Treaty of Waitangi Collection is an amazing resource. It has all the essential content for learning about the history of the Treaty and its relevance today. The collection is indexed by place and iwi so you can explore the history of the Treaty by your iwi or by your area. Bridget Williams Books and Christchurch City Libraries have provided this fact sheet on Treaty of Waitangi in the Canterbury region. This includes facts like:

Tī ovens (umu-tī) that date from the thirteenth century have been found in South Canterbury. These ovens were used to cook the roots and lower stems of young cabbage trees.
Read more about pre- European archaeology in chapter three of Tangata Whenua in the Treaty of Waitangi Collection.

By 1800, an estimated 20,000 people lived in the tribal area of Ngāi Tahu. This population spread from Kaikōura on the east coast and Tai Poutini on the west all the way down to Rakiura (Stewart Island) and other southern islands.
Read more about Ngāi Tahu in chapter one of New Myths and Old Politics in the Treaty of Waitangi Collection.

eBook titles in the Treaty of Waitangi Collection include:

Te Tiriti o Waitangi / The Treaty of Waitangi 1840

This eBook has reproductions of the nine sheets of the Treaty of Waitangi, comprising of the original document first signed at Waitangi on 6 February 1840 and eight copies. It also provides information about the sheets, and a map, and information about where the Treaty was signed. This title also includes some short biographies of many of the signatories, which show the range of people who signed Te Tiriti o Waitangi.

He Whakaputanga/The Declaration of Independence, 1835

He Whakaputanga o te Rangatiratanga o Nu Tireni – known in English as the Declaration of Independence of the United Tribes of New Zealand – is a constitutional document of historical and cultural significance. It was signed first by a group of powerful Northern chiefs at British Resident James Busby’s house at Waitangi. Also included in this title are some short biographies of some of the signatories.

The Treaty of Waitangi by Claudia Orange

Claudia Orange has produced several works on the Treaty of Waitangi including this award-winning title published in 1987. Other Treaty titles by Claudia Orange available in the BWB Treaty of Waitangi Collection include The Story of a Treaty; An illustrated History of the Treaty of Waitangi; What Happened at Waitangi?

Stories without End: Essays 1975-2010 by Judith Binney

This is just one of Judith Binney’s books that is available on the Treaty of Waitangi, she is regarded as one of New Zealand’s leading scholars on the subject. This book is a selection of essays that explore sidepaths and previously unexamined histories. They notably delve into the lives of powerful early Māori figures, including the prophets Rua Kenana and Te Kooti, their wives and their descendants, and the leaders of the Urewera.

More about Te Tiriti o Waitangi

Get in the driver’s seat with Youthtown – Sign up for Learners Licence workshops starting 12 February

Christchurch City Libraries is hosting Youthtown’s six week after-school Learners Licence Workshops from 12 February. It costs $130 for six sessions. The workshop for teens aged 16 to 18 involve four group theory sessions going through the road code and practice tests, with snacks provided. On session 5, your tutors will take you to book in your test, and on session 6 they will take you to sit the test. The workshop also has a Facebook closed group you can join and be tested daily on questions from the road code.

Learner Licence Workshop schedule


Monday 12 February to Monday 26 March at Ōrauwhata: Bishopdale Library and Commmunity Centre, 3.30pm to 5pm

Upper Riccarton

Thursday 15 February to Thursday 29 March at Upper Riccarton Community and School Library, 3.30pm to 5pm

New Brighton

Friday 16 February to Friday 30 March at New Brighton Library, 3.30pm to 5pm

There is also a programme downstairs in Eastgate Mall:


Tuesday 13 February to Tuesday 26 March in the mall opposite Bed, Bath, Beyond.


The course is delivered by professional Youthtown tutors who are highly experienced in delivering the programme and making sure all young people get the best chance possible to qualify for their learner licence.

More about learning to drive

More about Youthtown

Youthtown is a nationally operated, not for profit organisation. In their own words:

Since first opening our doors as Boystown in 1932, we have evolved into one of New Zealand’s leading youth organisations within key communities. We are highly regarded for the developmental programmes we offer young people and we’re committed to providing a safe environment where young New Zealanders can dream it, then do it the Youthtown way. We empower young New Zealanders, aged 5-18, to be the best they can be! Their journey with Youthtown alongside their schooling, supplements the learning and development they receive there, in a physical, creative and social way.

Read Aloud. Change the World – Thursday 1 February is World Read Aloud Day

Thursday 1 February is World Read Aloud Day, because:

We think everyone in the world should get to read and write. Every year, on World Read Aloud Day, people all around the globe read aloud together and share stories to advocate for literacy as a human right that belongs to all people.

Llama Llama and the Bully Goat

When I was in primary school, “Library Day” was one of my favorite days. Every second Friday, the book-bus pulled up outside our school and we  chose a book each. Later that day, we would visit my grandmother and her sister. One of them would gather up the five of us and read our books to us. I loved it, especially if a hard book had been chosen and it had to be read to us. Even when we were old enough to read the library books by ourselves, being read to was enjoyed by all.  The Just so stories and The Arabian nights were popular reads in my grandmother’s house and they eventually became a bit shabby. Reading aloud continued until our grandmother and our elderly aunt could no longer see well enough to read. Then it became our turn to read to them.

When was the last time you read aloud? Was it when your child was little? Was it before they stated to read? Have read to an older child or an adult?

I have read to an older child and we enjoyed it. We were able to share stories and talk about the themes and issues raised by the authors. We were able to share stories that the child didn’t have the literary skills to read alone.  It was a time to chat, share and discuss anything and everything. The result was, the child was exposed to stories, words and ideas that they would not have had exposure to if they had just read the stories that everyone was reading.

I always thought that reading aloud was a good idea. According to Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research, reading aloud to a child, puts them almost a year ahead of children who do not receive daily reading alouds. Reading aloud obviously improves literacy and everyone in the world should get to read and write. Every year, on World Read Aloud Day, people all around the globe read aloud together and share stories to advocate for literacy as a human right that belongs to all people. Here’s why that’s important:

According to UNESCO, 258 million adults – two thirds of them women – lack basic literacy skills. Among the youth population, female literacy rates have risen quickly, but still three fifths of the illiterate are women. A child who is born to a literate mother is 50% more likely to survive past the age of five than a woman who is illiterate. A literate, educated girl is less likely to acquire AIDS, have a higher income and will have a smaller healthier family than her literate counterpart.

So, borrow some books.
Find a reading buddy.
Visit litworld.org and get ready to read out aloud.

Read alouds


Best (& Worst) Children’s Books of 2017

The end of one year and the start of another gives rise to lots of ‘Best of’ lists and reflections on what has stood out for the year. Here’s yet another literary round-up… 

The Best (& Worst) Children’s Books Evening co-hosted at the end of the year by the Canterbury Literacy Association and Christchurch City Libraries once again celebrated the best in children’s books.

Held annually, the event is a way to shout about and share the best books in a light-hearted end-of-year event, with no actual prizes awarded but an opportunity to hear from various experienced and enthusiastic practitioners and experts. It’s also a chance to gather together for the holiday season as a community of children’s literature enthusiasts, with like-minded folks across Canterbury. Attendees included a diverse section of professionals interested in children’s books from the National Library, the University of Canterbury, Christchurch City Libraries and Selwyn Libraries, to teachers and school librarians, all coming together at the newly rebuilt Ōrauwhata: Bishopdale Library and Community Centre.

And the ‘winner’ is…

CoverIt quickly became apparent that Nevermoor: The Trials of Morrigan Crow – a debut novel by Australian Jessica Townsend – was the most notable book of the night, having been picked by several panellists who presented their top picks of 2017. But never mind about Nevermoor for now, let’s have a look at their other individual favourites…

Bookseller Picks

First up presenting was a representative from Paper Plus Bush Inn, Jo Harvey, who – aside from just Nevermoor – was also enthusiastic about:


She also wants everyone to know about Those Shipwreck Kids by and Magnus Chase Ship of the Dead. And as for favourite picture books, she picked Tidy by Emily Gravett.

PaperPlus Bush Inn kindly donated bursting book bundles for the evening’s raffle draw.

Dyslexic-Friendly Texts

Katie Lumsden, from Christchurch City Libraries, spoke next about dyslexic friendly texts, and sang the praises about new changes to Overdrive (Overdrive is a digital content platform used by libraries to offer eBooks and audiobooks). It now has a feature to make some texts more accessible for dyslexic readers. An app called Libby has a feature that highlights the text as it reads aloud (only applicable on our Read Along collection). Katie has recently delivered talks on dyslexic-friendly texts and resources at the 2017 LIANZA conference in September in Christchurch.

AshboyKatie chose Ash Boy: A Cinderfella Story by Lucy Coats as her top dyslexic-friendly read of the year. It’s a good fun story says Katie, and, like other books from publisher Barrington Stokes, is printed in traditional dyslexic-friendly reading format using yellow pages, specific layout techniques and sans serif typeface. It has an interest level of age 8-12, yet is edited to a reading level of age 7, to allow ease of reading while still pitching to older readers.

When Cinder Ashok’s father remarries, Cinder finds himself lumped with a horrible new step-mother and step-brothers! They bully Cinder terribly – all he wants is to be left alone in the library, his favourite place in the world. But will a fairy godfather and a royal quintain tournament mean Cinder has a happily-ever-after on the horizon? Fun spin on the Cinderella story.

You can read the first chapter of Ash Boy here.

Top Student Picks

Each year we hear directly from the voice of young readers themselves. Primary school children from Waitākiri Primary School and Redcliffs School Mia, Otto, Evie & Flynn each spoke well and confidently about their favourite titles they read in 2017:


Katie Lumsden (L) and Sophie O’Rourke (R) presenting their top picks at the Best (& Worst) Children’s Books of 2017 event, Ōrauwhata: Bishopdale Library and Community Centre, November 2017 

Best Picture Books

Sophie O’Rourke, junior teacher at Waitākiri Primary School, shared her plethora of engaging picture book titles of 2017 that stood out in her classroom, reading some funny highlights and telling us about the reactions and responses she gets from her Year 0-2 to the books – the real test of how well the authors and illustrators have hit the mark. A few highlights from the dozen chosen are  The Scariest Book Ever, Triangle, Creepy Pair of Underwear, A Place to Read (also titled as Are You Sitting Comfortably?) and Bug Bear.


Read Sophie O’Rourke’s full list of Best Picture Books of 2017

Best Junior Fiction

Zac McCallum, school librarian

Zac McCallum, formerly a children’s librarian from Christchurch City Libraries and also a previous children’s book awards judge, and now school librarian at Halswell Primary School, shared his delights of 2017 in the junior fiction category, including Nevermoor and:

The Goldfish Boy by Lisa Thompson. Synopsis: Twelve-year-old Matthew is trapped in his bedroom by crippling OCD, spending most of his time staring out of his window as the inhabitants of Chestnut Close go about their business. Until the day he is the last person to see his next door neighbour’s toddler, Teddy, before he goes missing. Matthew must turn detective and unravel the mystery of Teddy’s disappearance… Page-turning, heartbreaking, but ultimately life-affirming, this story is perfect for fans of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time and Wonder. It is a book that will make you laugh and cry. See Zac’s glowing review of The Goldfish Boy.


See Zac’s Best of 2017 Junior Fiction book list

Also check out My Best Friends are Books, Zac’s brilliant blog of children’s book reviews.

Best Older Fiction and Young Adult Reads

Author Rachael King, WORD Christchurch Literary Director

Ending the evening was author Rachael King, Literary Director at WORD Christchurch, who told engaging anecdotes about her favourite older fiction and young adult books read in 2017. She was also a judge in the 2017 New Zealand Post Book Awards for Children & Young Adults so naturally her list includes a number of notable New Zealand titles.


No surprise Nevermoor was also in Rachael’s top picks along with The Book of Dust by Philip Pullman and also by Pullman, a graphic novel: The Adventures of John Blake: Mystery of the Ghost Ship 

See the full list of Rachael’s Best of Older Fiction & Young Adult Reads of 2017 and read the library’s interview with Rachael King which includes her all-time top picks of books for children and young adults.

Rachael also wanted to give special mention to what is actually an adult book, Tess, a page-turning eerie novella about a 19-year-old woman – a somewhat supernatural story set in late 1999 Masterson, by New Zealand author and publicist Kirsten McDougall.

WORD Christchurch also donated tickets to raffle off to celebrity children’s author David Walliams sold-out show which they were hosting. Priceless!

That’s a wrap…

Nevermoor was certainly the favourite on the night with three speakers having brought the book along as their favourite of 2017. Touted as Harry Potter meets Alice in Wonderland, the story is about “a cursed girl who escapes death and finds herself in a magical world – but is then tested beyond her wildest imagination.” The panelists said they were pleasantly surprised to find that the book really did live up to its marketing hype. (There are eight more books in the series due out!)

And as for the ‘worst’ part of the event’s title? The books chosen as the ‘worst’ of the year are of a ‘you have to have been there’ type nature – Chatham House rules – but we can say that books about poo got the poo poo!

Big thanks to MC Scott Wolfe, literacy facilitator at UC Education Plus, and member of the Canterbury Literacy Association, who did a cracker job mc’ing – and cracking jokes – at this end-of-year event.

canterbury literacy association-logo

Read More

A large audience of enthusiasts in attendance at the Best (& Worst) Children’s Books of 2016 Event, South Library, November 2016


Child’s Play – Lauren Child

New Zealand is fortunate to have been visited by internationally celebrated children’s authors such as David Walliams, Andy Griffiths and Dav Pilkey in the last year or so, and I have had the pleasure of hearing them. One of the visitors was Lauren Child, the Children’s Laureate for 2017-2019. The best-selling children’s author and illustrator spoke to a huge crowd of fans at her appearance at the Auckland Writer’s Festival in 2017 and we got to hear about her fictional ensemble, what inspires her stories … and what next?

When you think of children’s books you wouldn’t think of Hitchcock, film noir and James Bond but all these are inspirations behind best-selling children’s author and illustrator Lauren Child’s popular books series Ruby Redfort.

Children’s author Lauren Child speaking at the Auckland Writer’s Festival, May 2017


Child, the multi-talented, prize-winning creator of the Charlie and Lola, Clarice Bean and Ruby Redfort series has sold millions of books, but only – she is at pains to point out –  after years of rejection. Child says:

I never decided I wanted to be a writer… it was drawing and design and love of film that brought me to writing.

Child’s mother was a creative writing teacher who was always trying to get her to write “more exciting” and gave her helpful writing advice, such as the technique of starting a story right in the middle of the action.

For anyone aspiring to break through with their craft or talent, she says “hang in there!” Hers wasn’t instant fame.  She was in her 20s when she wrote her first book (Clarice Bean) but it was a long time before it was published. After it faced many years of rejection, she says she succeeded through determination, not just talent, and having the strength to resist suggested changes she felt would compromise her original vision.

Excuseme but that is my bookClarice Bean Utterly MeClarice Bean DOn't Look NowRuby RedfortRuby Redfort Feel the Fear

Behind the stories: movies and screen as story-writing inspiration

For Child, the subject of Clarice Bean is ‘family’ and “about finding peace and quiet and a place of your own in a busy household.” She adds: “we need daydreaming, floating out the window, blank time” – it is how we get our ideas. Where did Child get her ideas from? Child loved watching TV, especially with other people, when she was growing up – “there was community to it” which she says we have lost with watching things on devices.

Child said growing up her family couldn’t afford a TV Guide, so they just watched whatever came on next. In fact, Child loved television so much she said she would even watch the test cards! One show she loved was Hart to Hart, about a millionaire couple and socialites (complete with a butler) and she got her story-writing ideas from this TV series. Jonathan and Jennifer Hart were an inadvertent crime-solving couple who were disconcertingly upbeat despite the murders that occurred around them each episode. Child says she loves the combination of thriller, comedy, jeopardy and domesticity in stories like this and brings that to her own writing.

Ruby Redfort started as a TV show that Clarice Bean watches in her stories. Ruby is a clever 13-year-old American school-kid who is recruited to a secret agency as a coder. Child has given Ruby vacuous dim-witted parents and their butler is a secret agent minding Ruby and training her up. Child has always been a fan of big thrillers from the 60s, 70s, and 80s – like Hitchcock and Bond – and likes their slower pacing. She loved Bond’s gadgets like poison pens and sleeping dust and set her Ruby Redfort stories in the 1970s because technology then wasn’t like it was today- it was all about “gadgets” (like Ruby’s watch radio) she said then the idea of having your own personal phone would have been amazing. Instead, she makes it so that Ruby has to go to the library (fancy that) to learn new things versus using things like Google and smartphones that are so pervasive in our world today.

Frank Lloyd Wright’s architecturally famous Fallingwater was the inspiration for Ruby Redfort’s home.

Movies and TV have really inspired my work. TV made me understand from a very young age how to construct a story. Movies are like picture books in a way because you’re telling as much in pictures as you are in words.

She wrote Ruby Redfort as a film:

I can only write when I can see pictures so although most of them are not illustrated, I can see it like a movie.

Child says she was really moved by Tim Burton’s Edward Scissorhands because he’s such an auteur… “he’d made something that beautiful in so many ways… it was joined up – one vision where everyone employed to be a part of the film created the vision he wanted so it looked and sounded like a Tim Burton film.”

When she was announced in June 2017 as the new Waterstones’ Children’s Laureate, she declared that her aim will be to forge “stronger links between the world of children’s literature and other art forms such as fine art, film, music, television and design.” The question is, since she loves film and screen so much, when is she going to work on a movie based on her own titles?

Child admires the auteur work of filmmaker Tim Burton.

Love of reading

Over the years, changes have been made to Child’s books when translated to the small screen. In the Charlie & Lola animated series, junk food chips were changed to banana chips and gymnastics had to be portrayed on a mat instead of a lawn (to role model health and safety.) PC-police aside, Child says that it’s about getting children hooked on reading – “it should be about a love of reading –  not what we should read – so I made Clarice Bean be crazy about this fictional writer and I made it as stupid as I could.”

Child’s childhood – miniature worlds

Child has a young daughter recently adopted from Mongolia, but she doesn’t abide by some by people’s view that unless you’ve had your own children you can’t possibly write for the children, “because we were all children once.”

What seems like an interesting aside to Child’s life is actually another manifestation of her compulsion to create stories. As a young child she got involved in making doll houses and models from about age 7. She was mentored by a miniaturists, becoming one herself. She was using power tools at a young age and says “making miniature scenes taught me a lot.” She explains there’s more sophistication to this than it seems:

You’re creating a world and theme and you’re creating story, there’s quite a lot going on – controlling your world and having things play out they way you want.

She has been working on one particular doll house miniature since she was a a teenager and finds it therapeutic “making and doing.” Later Child got a job as an assistant to renown artist Damien Hirst, albeit only doing spot painting.

Artful text

Child shared with her audience the joy she gets from the interplay between typography, illustration and story. Child says she loves how words can be illustrated (like POW!) and how things don’t have to stay in one form and that it was helpful for her to think about comics when she was writing. She likes using type as animation and with Clarice Bean, she gave each character their own font and typefaces as the ‘voice’ of the character.


Lauren Child’s miniature scenes are used to illustrate classic fairytales such as her versions of Goldilocks and the Three Bears and The Princess and the Pea: In Miniature : After the Fairy Tale by Hans Christian Andersen

Children’s author Lauren Child signing books at the Auckland Writer’s Festival, May 2017

What’s next?

Now that she’s finished the Ruby Redfort series she is currently working on a young fiction series that is heavily illustrated – she says it is sort of like the Nigel Molesworth stories (about a boy talking about his school life). We look forward to seeing where her inspirations and talent take her readers next.


What’s a young person to do this summer?!

The summer holidays are upon us at last and there’s now lots of daytime hours to pursue your extracurricular interests and one of those interests is sure to be reading, but just WHAT do you read..?!?

I have compiled a reading list just for you so you don’t have to waste your precious summer moments searching for your new favourite book.

There’s everything in here, from steampunk adventure to wilderness survival, sci-fi alien battles to swords and sorcery, everyone will find something to rock their world this summer. There’s not a lot of romance in here, it’s all action, adventure, and fantastic tales – just the ticket for the long hot season!

So get looking through the list, place holds, search your local library, and talk to your local librarians…

Teenage Kicks

List created by DevilStateDan

A list of action-packed, non-sentimental, teenage reads!


The Obsidian Blade
The first book of a trilogy that hurtles through dimensions as the young protagonist seeks answers and the truth behind what has happened to his family. Fast paced, full of action, and confronts the ideas of organised religion – great read!

High octane adventure as a young man gets recruited into the secret service – action packed!

Mortal Engines
Cities on wheels scouring the globe eating each other..?? A brilliant future-fantasy/steampunk adventure, and the first of four books. Hugely inventive and creative in it’s world building, and non-stop action!

A desert island survival adventure with a fantasy twist, and it’s Terry Pratchett so you just know it’s going to be full of heart and humour.


Starship Troopers
If you like science fiction then this is the one for you! A huge story of alien battles, military camaraderie, and a high level of irony make this space adventure story a huge winner! Once you’ve read this book then watch the 1997 movie of the same name – you’ll never look at humanity in the same way again!!

Another wilderness survival story, this time in the wilds of Alaska and a young man alone. A great coming of age story – he goes into the wild a boy and becomes a man, but does he survive…??

The Outsiders
Gang life in the 1980s is where this story is at, with all the highs and lows of growing up in a poor and struggling family, trying to find your way in the world. This is a modern classic and a must read for all teens!

The Book Thief
As my colleague AliReads describes this book; “The Book Thief, Leisel, embodies the idea that humans need stories to continue being human. Like a lot of these other books, it’s a holding-on-to-your-humanity story, because war will strip you down.”


What would you do if everyone fifteen or older was suddenly gone? No explosion, no green alien smoke, just … disappeared.

A Wizard of Earthsea
Wizards. Dragons. Good vs Evil. Oustanding and classic fantasy storytelling complete with the reluctant hero and a great quest. This has also been made into a movie by the legendary Japanese filmmaker Goro Miyazaki (Studio Ghibli)

A natural disaster survival story about a young man trying to reconnect with his family after a devastating volcanic eruption negotiating dangerous terrain and perilous people.

Modern fantasy by the best in the business right now – Neil Gaiman.


The Knife of Never Letting Go
I’ll let my colleague stewaroby describe this one; “Where have all the women gone? 13-year-old Todd Hewitt must solve this mystery and escape a strange, all male society on a strange,, harsh planet. He will need to find a new way to be a man”…sounds beaut!

A young farmer finds a dragon egg and is propelled headlong into the action and intrigue of a swords and sorcery fantasy story – dragons are cool, this story is cool.

Cycle of the Werewolf
Werewolves are terrorising a small town in this horro story from the godfather of horror; Stephen King – a great place to start for a young horror enthusiast!

The Hitch-hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy
The one that started it all! Follow Arthur, Ford, Trillian and friends as they travel through the universe together, guided along the way by the best known travel book ever – and don’t forget your towel!

The Maze Runner
Think of an escape room… now make it as big as a city and extremely dangerous! That’s where a young man wakes up suddenly one day, finding himself in the company of strangers who together have to figure their way out of their deadly predicament!

The Lord of the Rings
The classic fantasy trilogy – it’s got everything, awesome world building, swords and sorcery, a quest of great significance… if you haven’t read this yet then do so now!

Ender’s Game
With humanity under threat from an alien race, six-year-old Ender Wiggin leaves his family on Earth to journey to the Belt. There he enters Battle School and is strictly disciplined in mind games and mock battles. In instinct, compassion and genius he is unequalled, for his is a unique destiny.

But hey! maybe Graphic Novels are your thing…?!? No worries, we have you covered and Ma1co1m’s reading list is full of the best of the best graphic novels for 2017.

But wait….there’s more!!

With reading comes your chance to WIN!

That’s right, all you have to do to be in the running to win a Westfield voucher, an MTA voucher, or book or movie vouchers is either visit one of our libraries or our website, complete the challenge sheet and hand it in and you’re chance to win! You can find out more by visiting our website (where you can also download a copy of the challenge sheet!)

And remember; if you can’t find the information you need, come and talk to one of our librarians and they’ll set you up with a beaut new read.

Happy Summer to you 🙂