This Beats Perfect: YA author Rebecca Denton sings out

CoverThis Beats Perfect is a contemporary young adult story about finding your voice. There’s music, social media and girl meets boy. Author Rebecca Denton was a teenager in Dunedin in the early 1990s rocking out to the ‘Dunedin Sound‘ and has been ensconced in the music scene ever since. Her novel even includes a playlist. We went ‘backstage’ to talk to Rebecca about writing her first book and musical influences.

The novel’s title is a perfect play on words. The story is based a little bit on the author’s own life experiences of being 17. Denton was a singer-songwriter herself but too shy to put herself forward due to a “fear of failure.” She says that “always in the back of my mind since I was really little I wanted to write… a book, a movie… write, write, write” and that it was a matter of finding “creative courage” to do so. In a way, this first novel is like putting a song out there. I interviewed Rebecca to hear more.

Rebecca Denton (image supplied)
Rebecca Denton (image supplied)

Rebecca, you have said you still feel like a kid, 18 at heart, and in This Beats Perfect you say you get to revisit dreams that you didn’t chase. Can you tell us more? Both the main male character Amelie and Maxx are held back by a fear of failure – about playing their own music to a wider audience – whether it’s anonymous Amelie feeling performance anxiety as she falters at her auditions or famous Maxx afraid to break out of the boy band mould he’s found himself in. Has this focus on a fear of failure come from somewhere for you?

I picked up the guitar from 14 (after I rather shortsightedly deemed my piano and trumpet were highly uncool). I wrote a few songs and played the odd gig but I was so terrified performing that I never chased this passion with the ferocity I should have. As a teenager I was afraid of being judged for many reasons but one of the most critical was that I felt if I wasn’t exceptional then it wasn’t worth trying.

This all or nothing fear of being nothing but *the best* never left me. It followed me right through my career in advertising and TV and really held me back. I was too afraid to stand out creatively, make bold decisions and believe in and listen to my own voice. Because of this I never fully put myself out there.

Then I got older, wiser, and realised that creativity can be a personal pleasure and it didn’t matter if that outspoken friend or peer I looked up to didn’t like what I did. It didn’t need to be for them. When you get wise to the fact that critics are not the custodians of pleasure, you become free. See: PUNK ROCK.

“Not everyone is going to like what you do no matter how real you are.” – from This Beats Perfect

How does the saying ‘write what you know’ apply to your novel?

When I decided to write a book, I didn’t have time for tonnes of research (due to small children) so I thought: What did I do at 18? Who did I want to be? Let’s relive that. And luckily I’d spent my career working and being around music and musicians so I was able to draw on that. I didn’t know everything of course. I got a little help from some friends.

Rebecca, you moved to Dunedin as a young teenager and went to Logan Park High School. How has growing up in Dunedin shaped this young adult novel? Tell us more about the influence of this time and place on your novel?

Frankly, I hated high school. But Logan Park has produced some pretty crazy talented folk* over the years. I didn’t click with my music teacher, or perhaps any teachers while I was there, but I appreciate some things looking back. The school was far more liberal and supportive of creativity than some of the more conservative single sex schools in Dunedin.

By the last couple of years of school I was so tediously bored and from about the age of 16 I started sneaking out of school and hanging out at the student union at Otago University in my school uniform or this little café near the university where they sold Dime bars, mugs of tea and single Camel cigarettes.I fell in with a music crowd and started sneaking into gigs at the Empire and the Crown. The 3Ds, The Clean, The Chills, The Bats, Bailterspace, Straitjacket Fits – I listened to or saw them all, multiple times. I was so lucky to be living in Dunedin at that time – it felt important. And in the days before the internet, small towns in the South Island never really felt important.

This time of my life totally influenced the book. I had the most amazing, clever and eccentric group of girlfriends with whom I shared everything and explored everything. There was a lot to love, and a lot to leave behind but it’s still with me, everyday. There are elements of people who have been a part of my life intertwined everywhere.

* Such as Kiwi musicians Andrew Brough, Jane Dodd, Graeme Downes, Martin Phillips
Read more from the library about the Dunedin Sound

The tagline title to This Beats Perfect is ‘She’s NOT with the band…’ In your novel, the main character Amelie is definitely NOT a groupie. Tell us about the character’s need to not be defined by a either a boy or her father.

I wanted to explore an area of music we don’t normally find a lot of women – and that is production and composing. PRS for Music (The Performing Rights Society) did a report in 2011, and discovered that only about 13% of registered composers in the UK were woman – I’ve not seen the numbers but I’m pretty sure it’s around the same or maybe even less in engineering and producing. So a heroine songwriter was a must – but a budding engineer was even more interesting to me.

Amelie shows her nuanced musical knowledge in the novel, rattling off obscure genres (like Nerdcore, Japonoise, Baby Metal, Nintendocore, Happy Hardcore and Fidget Bass). A depth of music appreciation shows in your writing. The playlist aspect you’ve created to tie-in with the book is unique. Each chapter is titled after a song. Can you tell us more about that idea?

My editor gave me feedback in the editing process that I needed to pack the book with more music. And I was struggling to come up with titles for chapters – so I thought, ‘hang on what about a playlist that reflects Amelie, the story and me?’

Listen to the This Beats Perfect playlist

The playlist includes New Zealand’s own The Chills (Heavenly Pop – funny ‘rock’ video, literally), The Clean‘s Tally Ho and Edward Gains. There’s hip-hop and The Beach Boys. Delightful discoveries in this playlist for me were Regina Spektor’s The Consequence of Sound and Sufjan Stevens’ Futile Devices. Amelie’s favourite artists mentioned in the novel include Marika Hackman, Laura Marling, SZA and Aldous Harding.

Hannah Harding: Lyrical writing
Aldous Harding at Lyrical writing session, WORD Christchurch Writers and Readers Festival 2014. Flickr 2014-08-31-IMG_1823

You have specifically referenced Lyttelton musicians Aldous Harding and Marlon Williams in your novel. When Amelie’s sound engineer father encourages Maxx to find the soul of his own music, he takes him to see a musician he feels embodies this…

“His voice was deep as Johnny Cash, but with a modern cabaret feel, inspired and exquisite storytelling over timeless melodies.” “This isn’t songwriting for money, for fame, even for the audience’s entertainment.” … “Reminds me of Marlon Williams…”

I just want to support Kiwi musicians as much as possible, and I absolutely love what Marlon and Aldous are doing. Marlon Williams’ cover of the Screaming Jay Hawkin’s track Portrait of a Man is just so… so good.

Read our blogpost about Aldous Harding’s session on songwriting at the WORD Christchurch Writers and Readers Festival.

Any favourite memories or places in Christchurch for you?

When you live in Dunedin, Christchurch is the big smoke. I specifically remember I saw The Bats there when I was 16 (braces and all) with my friend Marea. She wore my mum’s home-knitted emerald green ’60s dress and I wore some cobbled together monstrosity.

What did you READ when you were a teenager?

You know, not a lot. I kind of stopped reading at around 13, well books anyway, and all my spare time was dedicated to music. Playing, listening, memorising lyrics. I did love books like Flowers in the Attic (yikes!) but honestly I just didn’t really read very much. I wish I had. I think if there had been a more interesting YA (young adult) reading community like there is today I would have read much more.

What role did (or do) libraries play in your life?

My father is an academic and writer so I spent a LOT of time in libraries with him when I was younger. Even today, when my Dad visits there will probably be some kind of trip to the library involved. I love going to them with my kids as well, snuggling up on a sofa and reading Hairy Maclary for the 100th time.

What’s your next project Rebecca? Any encores?

Book 2 follows on from This Beats Perfect, but it’s not Amelie’s tale, but the story of two young women: the privileged daughter of a record label executive who gets caught up in the business of selling celebrity secrets. And a hyper bubbly fangirl who has outgrown her idols and looking for what to do next. It’s fun, but also probably more layered than This Beats Perfect. Book 3 is in the same fictional world as well. I’m just starting it, but it will be about an all-girl punk band who scam their way to international glory. I can’t wait to write this book.

Rock on Rebecca!

More

This Beats Perfect would make a great read for artistically inclined teens or any young person wanting to give their passions and talents a push. This is the sort of book I want to give my musically minded daughter in her teens. It is published by Atom Books and Hachette New Zealand.

This Beats Perfect
by Rebecca Denton
Published by Hachette New Zealand
ISBN: 9780349002729

Rebeccalaunch
Author Rebecca Denton at This Beats Perfect book launch February 2017 (Photo credit: Carolyn Burke)

More about the author: Rebecca is originally from Melbourne, moved to Dunedin as a young teenager and later spent many years in the UK. New Zealand sits deepest in her heart. She now lives in Austria with her young daughters, a trumpet, 2 guitars, a keyboard, several vintage computer games. She spent her career travelling the world making music TV for MTV and Channel 4, and wrangling young adult audiences for the BBC and ITV. She’s filmed Iggy Pop, MIA, Kaiser Chiefs, Sonic Youth, Jack White, Dirty Pretty Things and The Klaxons, to name a few.

Rebecca’s recommendations

Rebecca says: YA literature is SO MUCH MORE than fantasy. There are so many incredible books out there (200+ debuts in the USA alone this year).

CoverCoverCoverCoversimonversusthehomosapienstheloveinterest

Read

Everyone teenager (and adult) needs to read The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas. The story was inspired by the killing of Oscar Grant, an unarmed 22 year-old African America by a transit officer and is one of a crop of books exploring racial injustice out this year.

Read Kiwi

Fellow writery mum Bianca Zander‘s Predictions or The Girl Below.

Magic

A great escapist read was Caraval by Stephanie Garber. Great fun – I really just lost myself in that book.
Read our Caraval review.

Queer stories

Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli is going to be a cult movie – so read the book first! And one of the most hotly anticipated YA books of the year is The Love Interest by Cale Dietrich. A fellow YA author said to me that it is ‘one of the best books you’ll ever read.’

Listen

Start your ‘women in punk‘ journey with Patti Smith’s record Horses.

Watch

Grace Taylor. Seek out some of her spoken word performances online or Taylor’s TedX Talk. And then buy, share, support and help to raise up voices of the marginalised in New Zealand.

Support art

Go to Art Ache if you can (it offers original pieces of art at affordable prices). There was one recently in Dunedin, and they happen regularly in Auckland. Buy some affordable limited edition pieces by other New Zealanders and help boost our artists.

If you like the sound of This Beats Perfect …

lonesomewhenyougoYou may also like the recently released Lonesome When You Go by Saradha Koirala. Paige plays bass in high school rock band Vox Pop, which means keeping steady even in their most raucous rock and roll moments. But in the tense build-up to the Rockfest competition, Paige finds she can’t control everything in her life, no matter how hard she practises. Lonesome When You Go is a novel about practising solo, performing like a rockstar, and how contributing your best self to something can create a force greater than the sum of its parts.
Author Saradha Koirala taught English at high school in Wellington for ten years.
Read an excerpt from Lonesome When You Go.

Knights and Princesses Day

Knights and Princesses fun dayHear ye, hear ye!

The Princess and the PonyThe populace of Central Library Peterborough invite one and all for an afternoon of medieval entertainment, to take place from 1-3pm on Saturday the 25th of March. There will be crown decorating for those of royal blood, and shield making for any knights in need of armour. Catapults will be created and tested! If you are of an active disposition we invite you to attempt the quest, or if of a more mellow nature try out some medieval crafts and board games.

Prizes will be granted for the best costumes so bring your sense of chivalry and your best royal and/or knightly outfit to win! All welcome. This is a free event.

Need help getting into character? Check out my list of favourite books about knights and princesses for kids and teens.

Cover of Sir Gawain the TrueCover of The Princess in BlackCover of Tuesdays at the CastleCover of The Winter Prince

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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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!

Podcast – Youth engagement in elections

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

This episode discusses issues around youth engagement with elections such as –

  • youth engagement in the recent NZ local-body elections and disappointingly low levels of voter turnout
  • contrasted with high levels of youth engagement in the American presidential elections despite those elections being less immediately relevant to the lives of young people in Christchurch
  • the role of memes (and social media in general) to encourage youth engagement – the positives and negatives of this type of social commentary
  • what lessons might be taken from these two experiences and brought to bear on the national elections next year
  • the responsibility of youth leaders in encouraging youth engagement in elections

The panel for this show includes host Sally Carlton, Tayla Reece Work of Youth Voice Canterbury, Tei Driver of Global Development Tour 2017 and Sofie Hampton of Christchurch Youth Council.

Transcript of audio file

Organisations mentioned in the show

Find out more in our collection

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More about Speak up – Kōrerotia

The show is also available on the following platforms:

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.

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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.