World Animal Day – 4 October 2018

What did the Bison say when his son left for College?

“Bison.”

World Animal Day is on Thursday 4 October 2018. It is important to recognise our furry friends of the animal kingdom, and World Animal Day is all about raising awareness to improve animal welfare standards across the world. 

World Animal Day was a concept originating with German writer and publisher Heinrich Zimmermann. He coordinated the first World Animal Day event in Berlin on 24 March 1925, and held it in the Sport Palace (Berlin Sportpalast) where over 5,000 people attended. Aside: Incidentally, the Berlin Sportspalast later proved a popular venue for party rallies and speeches during the rise of the Third Reich. 

Four years later, in 1929, World Animal Day migrated to its current date of 4 October. Whilst involvement was initially limited to Germany, Switzerland, Czechoslovakia and Austria, Zimmermann lobbied hard to have World Animal Day recognised universally. In 1931 he achieved this goal when his proposal was unanimously accepted at a congress of the world’s animal protection organisations in Italy, and World Animal Day became recognised globally as it is today.  

What is the significance of 4 October? This is the day of Francis of Assisi, the patron Saint of ecology. Two days before my birthday too, just in case husband is reading this (lol) and wants a birthday gift idea

Endangered Species

Endangered species are those plants or animals considered to be at risk of extinction. Contributing factors include loss of habitat (e.g. through deforestation), hunting, poaching, disease and climate change. 

The critically endangered Gorilla (photo not of real thing). Bosca by Chris Meder Ellerslie International Flower Show 2010. Flickr CCL-CHCH-2010-03-09-DSC-02997.

At present, critically endangered species include: 

  • Black Rhinoceros – which is in fact grey, and has been poached to the point of near decimation. The black rhinoceros is sought after for its horn, which is used in traditional Chinese medicine and in the making of traditional dagger handles in Yemen. 
  • Both the Eastern and Western Gorilla – the largest of the apes. The decline of the Western Gorilla is attributable to loss of habitat through deforestation and the Ebola virus, which wiped out a third of their population between 1992-2007. Eastern Gorillas – situated in the Virunga Volcanoes region, the Democratic Republic of Congo and parts of Uganda – face the poaching of their young, and are often caught in the crossfire of armed conflict occurring in and around their habitat. 
  • The Northern Hairy-Nosed Wombat of Australia. One of the worlds rarest critters, these wombats declined due to drought and the introduction of livestock, decreasing their access to food. Recovery plans are in place, but the plight of the animal is grave. 
  • Red Wolf – The red wolf roams the USA, and is threatened by loss of habitat due to agriculture, and being hunted to near extinction.  

Sadly, this is merely the tip of the iceberg, and many of the world’s beautiful and exotic creatures are in imminent danger of slipping away forever. Just to think that in my lifetime we may bid adieu to the majestic tiger, is a terrible thought. And it’s not only animals who are heading for extinction, many of the earth’s plants, algae and fungi are also disappearing. 

You can find information on the status of any animal on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, and Arkive also has some in depth coverage on conservation issues and the endangered species of plants and animals. 

Quick Animal Facts

On a lighter note, here are some rather riveting animal facts in honour of World Animal Day:

  • An elephant creates around a tonne of poo every week. No more said. 
  • Caterpillars have 12 eyes. That’s four more than a spider. How creepy of them. 
  • Mosquitoes are attracted to feet that smell. Explains a lot. 

Explore more fun facts on National Geographic Kids

Animal eResources: Students & Adults

Find out all you need to know about animals and the natural world through Christchurch City Libraries’ impressive selection of eResources. Here are just a few, click on the links to find out all about your favourite animals ūüôā :

National Geographic Virtual Library & Britannica Library for Adults
Here you will find in-depth reference material, articles, photos and books on animals.

NZ Geo TV
NZ Geo TV contains documentaries on the natural world –  New Zealand and global.

Student Resources in Context
Focused reference material and images targeted at students.

Smithsonian Global Sound for Libraries
If you prefer your music to be of the natural variety, check out this eResource which has access to thousands of music tracks, both animal and human made. Like this birdsong.

Explore these and much, much more on our eResource A-Z page. All you need is your library card and PIN

Animal eResources: Kids & Teens

New Zealand Birds and Animals, Dogs & Frogs
Informative pages put together for our website, by our librarians.

Britannica Library for Kids & World Book Kids
Encyclopedia and reference material aimed at school aged kids.

National Geographic Kids
Archives from the popular kids magazine- all sorts of fun images, maps and articles on the natural world around us.

All of our other eResources for Kids can be found on our website.

Web Resources 

Books & Magazines

I would recommend Adventures of A Young Naturalist, the exploits of British broadcaster David Attenborough, and any of his groundbreaking and educational documentaries about the natural world which you can borrow for FREE at Christchurch City Libraries (in case you hadn’t heard, documentaries are now free at our libraries!). 

Some of our latest animal titles: 

You will also find animal mags online through our eMagazine resource RBdigital:

Browse for other books about animals through our catalogue.

Programming: Reading With Our Furry Friends

Jock the dog at Christchurch City Libraries. Flickr 2015-07-02-9429.

What kind of monster could resist that face? Reading to Dogs sessions are designed to provide a relaxed, non-threatening atmosphere in which children may practice their reading skills and develop a love of reading. Our dogs are the beloved pets of the Christchurch City Council Animal Management team, and have all been trained and tested for health, safety and temperament. Our dogs:

  • Can increase a child’s relaxation while reading
  • Listen attentively
  • Do not laugh, judge or criticise
  • Allow children to proceed at their own pace
  • Can be less intimidating than a child’s peers

Library staff and a dog handler will be present at all times to help facilitate the sessions. 

See our online calendar for dates and times

How Can You Help? NZ Organisations Helping Animals

Animal Shelters, Rescues and Adoption Agencies

Animal Rights Organisations

Zoos & Educational Facilities

As always, more information can be found in our community directory CINCH: Community Information Christchurch.

Recreational non-fiction – a mid year review

I’m a pretty avid reader and mostly I love good fiction, but this year I have made a determined effort to read more non-fiction, but not just any old non-fiction – what I was after was “Recreational Non-Fiction”!

After a great deal of library exploration, and some very, VERY dry encounters with some non-fiction authors and their writing, I soon discovered that I’m particularly drawn towards non-fiction that is;

a) interesting / informative (gotta love what you’re reading about, right?)

b) conversational (this is very important to me!)

c) about an individual’s own explorations on a subject (it’s great to go along for the ride while someone makes discoveries!), and

d) based on the natural sciences (that’s just what floats my boat I guess!)

And I’ve been building a list this year to keep track of the “recreational non-fiction” titles that I have really loved, and here they are along with some notes on each;

2018 – The Best of Recreational Non-Fiction

List created by DevilStateDan

These are my best titles for the year under the banner of “recreational non-fiction”. Most of these titles are new releases, some are from decades ago, all are great! I do have a particular liking for the natural sciences so most of these books will be on this topic…

New Zealand Geographic¬†– I love this magazine for championing and celebrating all the good things in New Zealand’s natural world. Every issue is packed full of interesting scientific projects being undertaken, updates on the status of various endangered species, and how humans are impacting on the environment and what we can do about it as individuals.

Cover of Smith journalSmith Journal РThis is a great periodical, full of insight, information, and learning opportunities. Stories about potentially world-changing initiatives mix with current trends in sciences, and the revolution of traditional crafts, all from around the world. Very entertaining read!

The Secret Life of Flies¬†– Do you like chocolate?!?! Then you’re relying on the humble and, misunderstood fly – they are the only pollinator of the cacao tree! Shocking hey!? Flies have so much more to offer the environment than we realise. Have a read of this entertaining and informative book, it may change the way you view these annoying pests for good!

Curious Encounters With the Natural World¬†– This is a masterpiece of recreational non-fiction! Written conversationally (like you sitting with the author at the pub over a couple of pints discussing the natural world!), hugely informative, and hilarious, this book offers a very real access point for those who don’t read non-fiction or find in inaccessible. If you’re interested in the natural world, here’s one for you!

Cover of The truth about animalsThe Unexpected Truth About Animals¬†– Another brilliant book about some of the lesser known creatures of the Earth and their own particular nuances. It’s very easy to read and pretty funny, making the science really attractive and easy to digest. Great dinner party fact fodder!

Blowfish’s Oceanopedia¬†– The story of the seas from the coast to the deep. This book is divided up into quickfire digestible facts on all manner of issues and powers of the most abundant ecosystem on the planet. A great read for lovers of natural science.

Cover of SpinelessSpineless¬†– Juli Berwald really likes jellyfish and this book proves it! Follow her story as she travels the globe learning about the state of jellies in our oceans, how they are coping with climate change, and what’s leading to the huge and unpredictable super-blooms of jellies. There’s so much information in this book about this underrated creature of the seas that it makes you wonder why we know so little about such a successful and abundant animal. A solid, insightful, and entertaining read and I look forward to seeing her future work.

Cover of American WolfAmerican Wolf РFollow the committed souls who observe the wolf packs of Yellowstone National Park. Wolves have only recently been reintroduced to the wild in this region and careful monitoring has led to some quite simply amazing discoveries about the ecological balance of a region. But not everyone is so keen to have the wolves back and as we follow the pack that she-wolf O-Six we learn how hard it is to survive in the wild under diminishing environment and increasing threats. One of my books of the year, this one!

Cover of The soul of an octopusThe Soul of An Octopus РIn this book we follow the author as she becomes increasingly enamoured with all things octopus! We get to share the experience of learning SCUBA and see first hand behind the scenes at the New England Aquarium Рa facility dedicated to sea life and full of passionate and knowledgeable staff and volunteers. And throughout the narrative we think on the idea of consciousness and emotions in all life Рdid you know that fish dream?!?

View Full List

I’ll continue to add to this list as the year progresses and I have a feeling that this is only just the start of a beautiful relationship between myself and recreational non-fiction!

Pax: searching for peace

A recent addition to the children’s fiction shelves, Pax by Sara Pennypacker is a deeply emotional story that explores the special connection between a boy and his fox. The narratives of the two main characters, Peter and his fox Pax, are beautifully entwined in the tale of an epic journey through a world threatened by war.

Peter and Pax have both faced difficult family challenges early in their lives. When Peter finds and rescues Pax, an important relationship begins to develop that proves mutually supportive and healing. When Peter and Pax are separated by forces beyond their control (the decisions of their human elders and the destructive forces of war) the strength of their bond calls each of them back to one another. Their journey to be reunited turns into a voyage of self discovery. Along the way, both characters encounter two- and four-legged companions that hesitantly, yet expertly, guide them. But will they ever manage to find each other and will their respective experiences have changed the bond between them?

CoverThis is a story that presents a realistic view of life from the perspective of both children and animals. As hinted at in the naming of the fox Pax, it explores the journey taken to find an inner peace. The novel addresses mature topics such as war, grief and anger. These are treated sensitively, and balanced with discussion of ideas such as acceptance, the peace and freedom that comes from knowing oneself, what it really means to be home Рand the importance of letting go.

Perhaps more suitable for readers 8 years and older, it may still suit those in the younger age bracket if time is allowed for discussion around some of the heavier themes involved. It is also a fantastic read for teenagers and adults!¬†I particularly enjoyed the way in which Pennypacker’s extensive research of red fox behaviour lent credibility to the story of Pax. The portrayal of Pax’s thoughts and feelings is realistic and offers the kind of insight not often seen in more idealised animal characters of children’s fiction.

With both dystopian and fairytale undertones, the world of Peter and Pax is brought to life in the book with the aid of the moody illustrations of Jon Klassen. The author Sara Pennypacker also wrote the acclaimed Clementine series as well as many other popular children’s stories.

If you are interested in this book you may also wish to take a look at…

Pax
by Sara Pennypacker and Jon Klassen
Published by HarperCollins New Zealand
ISBN: 9780008158286

Cool stuff from the selectors: An array of great children’s books

You can usually rely on children’s books to have interesting inviting covers. This month’s selection do not disappoint.  Designed for children – but equally enjoyed by adults –  there should be something here that appeals to all ages.

The World of Moominvalley by Philip Ardagh

9781509810017The ultimate guide for any Moomin fan, old and new. A 350 page introduction to the unique hippo-esque shaped world where the best use for gold nuggets is as flowerbed borders, and a lending paw is more important the even the largest of large rubies.

Filled with illustrated maps and family trees, facts about Moomintroll behaviour and habits, this gorgeous book contains all you could wish to know about the beloved characters from the original Moomin stories and the world in which they live.

The Ways of the Wolf by Smriti Prasadam-Hall

9781526360304A stunning tribute to the majestic and fierce, proud and strong wolf. Follow them as they hunt and roam through their lands. Find out how they communicate, where they live and who their enemy is.

Wildlife illustrator Jonathan Woodward brings these animals to life with breath-taking papercut collage artwork.

We travel so far by Laura Knowles

9781910277331Small stories of incredibly giant journeys. From the epic migration of the huge humpback to the unbelievable determination of the tiny hummingbird. Each tale is told by the migrating animal and is wonderfully brought to life by the glorious illustrations of Chris Madden.

Book of Bones : 10 record-breaking animals by Gabrielle Balkan

9780714875125There‚Äôs a lot going on in this book. First you examine animal skeletons and guess who they belong to.  The answers are revealed in vibrant, full-colour scenic habitats, with easily understood and humorous explanations. For example a reticulated python would need a row of 5 king-sized beds to stretch out on. (What a dreadful thought!)

This entertaining introduction to the connection between animal bones (anatomy) and behaviour is playful, relatable, and includes touch-and-feel finishes that bring the bones to life!

Review: The Fox and the Ghost King

Cover of The Fox and the Ghost KingWhat do you get when you cross foxes with football and the ghost of King Richard III?

Give up?

Well, I’ll tell you. You get Michael Morpurgo‚Äôs The Fox and the Ghost King, that’s what. It’s a pretty odd sounding combo, I know, but the result is a really sweet against-the-odds, underdog (or should that be underfox?) story.

It’s a little bit of fairy-tale blended with a little bit of history, and a whole lot of pluck.

Cover of The Tale of Jemima PuddleduckI don’t know any foxes personally, but think they have a bit of a bad rap. They are usually portrayed as villains – the Sandy Whiskered Gentleman in Jemima Puddleduck, for example. ¬†But they are so darn cute, I’m sure they don’t really deserve it, do they? The fox family in this story are definitely on the cute side, anyway.

What I didn’t know about foxes¬†is that they are football fans. And no matter where they live, their favourite team is Leicester City, otherwise known as The Foxes (naturally). Now, what I didn’t know about foxes is far surpassed by what I didn’t know about football. I know now¬†that Leicester City have long been the underdogs of the Premier League, till in 2015-16 when a little bit of magic turned things around for them. This bit of the story really is true.¬†The other bit of truth in the story is the discovery of¬†Richard III’s body – under a carpark if you recall.

The magical bit is the way that Michael Morpurgo weaves these threads together, telling the tale through the eyes of a cute and cheeky little fox cub. Odd combo it may be, but it definitely makes a fabulous read for a small person.

Further reading

Animals at the library

The eagle-eyed among you might have spotted a theme in our school holiday events – toy animal sleepover, making owls, snakes on a plain – yes, we will be busy with animal-themed programmes and activities.

School holiday programmes

If your kids enjoy watching the wildlife, there are plenty of books and DVDs in our collection as well as the following resources:

Animal names

Find out the words for male, female, child and groups of different types of animal.

New Zealand birds and animals

New Zealand has an amazing amount of wildlife, we’ve collected some facts and resources in New Zealand birds and animals.

Cover Cover Cover Cover Cover

National Geographic Kids

Learn about the natural world us with National Geographic Kids magazine online.

Booklists

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There’s a collection of Children’s animals eAudiobooks and eBooks on OverDrive for Kids.

Want more animal stuff?

Reading to dogs

All creatures great and small – celebrate World Animal Day 2015

Cover of Brother Sun, Sister MoonWorld Animal Day is an international day of animal rights. It is held annually on 4th October, on the feast day of St Francis of Assisi.

On this day, some churches have the blessing of the animals. I don’t have any experience with this, but if the Vicar of Dibley is anything to go by, it’s a bit chaotic.

On a more serious note, it is good to know that (even in 13th century Italy) someone was sticking up for the animals. Animals need our help and protection, whether they be family pets, farm animals, zoo animals, or animals living in the great-out-doors.

Organizations such as SPCA, Cats Protection League, Department of Conservation, Forest and Bird and our own Christchurch City Council all champion the right for animals to have a good life.

For those who want more, we have a selection of books on animal rights. If you are a pet owner, check out our books on pet care. If your interest is wild animals, our collection of books on wildlife conservation will be of interest.

To get involved with other animal lovers, search for the specific animal you are interested in in our CINCH directory.

Cover of Why Animals Matter Cover of A New Zealand Book of Beasts Cover of All Creatures Great and Small Cover of The Ten Trusts

Welcome to the Greatest Show on Earth!

You know sometimes when you see a book and instantly fall in love? I had one of those moments recently when I laid my eyes on Creaturepedia by Adrienne Barman. I first saw this book on one of my favourite book websites, Love Reading 4 Kids and the cover really caught my eye. When I finally got my hands on a copy of the book from my library I fell in love.

Creaturepedia is a¬†visually stunning book about creatures from all over the world. The book’s by-line is ‘Welcome to the Greatest Show on Earth,’ and it’s not wrong.¬† Adrienne Barman introduces us to creatures great and small, huge and miniscule.¬†Adrienne has split the book up into different sections, with names like ‘The Champion Breath-Holders,’ ‘The Masters of Camoflage,’ and ‘The Show-Offs.’

The beauty of this book though is that it is perfect for dipping in and out of. You could pick any page¬†at random and it would make you go ‘Wow!’ Curious children could flick to ‘The Lilliputians’ and discover that the Bee Hummingbird is the world’s smallest bird at 5.7cm long or that the Dwarf Gecko is the world’s smallest reptile at 1.6cm long.

The text in the book is sparse, letting the reader focus on the gorgeous illustrations that portray these creatures. Children will discover creatures that they¬†never knew existed and will want to find out more about them. Adrienne’s illustrations are vibrant, quirky and fun. Each of the creatures has its own unique personality. Take a look at just a couple of the page spreads from the book:

Artwork credit: This is an excerpt from Creaturepedia by Adrienne Barman, published by Wide Eyed Editions.

Artwork credit: This is an excerpt from Creaturepedia by Adrienne Barman, published by Wide Eyed Editions.

Before you even open the book you can tell you’re holding a work of art in your hands. The publisher of Creaturepedia, Wide Eyed Editions, clearly knows what makes a great book. The love that went into producing this book is evident, from the hardcover to the binding and the vibrant colours to the¬†high-quality paper.

Get your hands on a copy of Creaturepedia by Adrienne Barman and fall in love with this stunning book!

Quite Graphically Fantas(y)tic

If anyone had told me that I would become a huge fan of fantasy graphic novels with an anthropomorphic badger and more, I would have suggested they change their prescription.

Cover of Grandville Bete NoirDon’t get me wrong – I like graphic novels, well, some anyway.¬† I give a wide berth to superheroes and the like, but Grandville and the nicely put together Detective Inspector LeBrock and his terribly English, monocle-wearing sidekick Detective Sergeant Roderick Ratzi have me hooked.

The Grandville books are set in a steampunk world with murder, greed and political conspiracy as the themes. When I reserved the first book in the series I had no idea they were fantasy, or that my would-be heroes were animals. While most of the characters are anthropomorphic animals, there are a few ‚Äúdoughfaces‚ÄĚ representing humans.

England has recently won independence from superpower France (Napoleon won!). The far right have bombed Robida Tower, with the English being accused. Having created the fear, the scheming politicians/moguls plan to unite their citizens in a war against terrorism, thus overcoming any further socialist republic tendencies. They are working on the explosive finale, but not if our heroes have anything to do with it.

Cover of Grandville Mon AmourArchie LeBrock is no gentleman when it comes to dishing out justice and the body count is high in Grandville, the first book in the series. Think working-class Le Carré, Conan Doyle, Ian Fleming and pure fantasy. The steampunk theme is a perfect match for the characters and the stories, and adds an extra quality to the whole series. I found myself studying the background instead of just reading the words and moving onto the next frame.

The English resistance movement have struggled against France and have won independence, but at what cost? LeBrock and Ratzi find power does indeed corrupt and they have to face the unthinkable in the second title in the series, Grandville Mon Amour. Once again they burrow their way through the political system to find the rotten apples at its core. As a wee sideline, we get a small hope that Archie might find love again.

I love the sly digs, the twisted, quite fictional history and the visual and verbal puns which are a large part of the pleasure of reading these books. Despite my initial wariness (I mean, fantasy!?) I will read these books again and wait for the next two that will finish the series. I’m yet to read book number 3, Grandville Bete Noir, having saved it for a treat.

Cover of The Tale of One Bad RatI first came upon the terrific penmanship and fertile mind of the author of the Grandville series, Bryan Talbot, with The Tale of One Bad Rat set in the Lake District of England.

It would be hard to find a graphic novel less like standard comic books than this. I loved the almost Beatrix Potter-like watercolour drawings and the moving story of teenage runaway Helen and her pet Rat. Her story evolves, her past and her reasons for running away slowly becoming obvious as Helen tries to deal with her fear and self-loathing and  find her place in the world. An excellent combination of a sadly familiar story with a satisfactory ending, enhanced by beautiful drawings.

Have you ever had your reading tastes altered by a book, as firmly as I have? Ever tried reading graphic novels? Put a book back on the shelf after spotting the word ‚Äúfantasy‚ÄĚ and thought, not for me? I have enjoyed having my head turned by all of these books and will be more open-minded (I hope) in future.

Selfies, Maps and a Prince Philip cult: Cool new stuff from our Selectors

Cover of Tigers foreverTigers forever: Saving the world’s most endangered big cat by Steve Winter
This book showcases a decade of beautiful photographs and stories of tigers in the wild.  Alongside the spectacular photography by Steve Winter, and award winning National Geographic photographer are the stories of the committed people from all around the world who dedicate their lives to saving the tiger from extinction

Cover of My first AnimaliaMy first Animalia by Graeme Base
Animalia was first published in 1986, immediately capturing the imagination of children and adults around the world.  My First Animalia celebrates the magic of Animalia in a playful introductory format for the very young, but will appeal to all ages!

Cover of GoGo : a Kidd’s guide to graphic design by Chip Kidd
The author is an award winning graphic designer who has created a kid friendly (and adult friendly too) book on how to get your design ideas across to the world, showing how to make design dynamic and interesting. The back of the book contains 10 suggested projects to get started and these can then be posted to gothebook.com

Cover of MapsMaps by Aleksandra Mizielinska
This collection of 52 highly illustrated maps details not only geographical features and political borders, but also places of interest, iconic personalities, native animals and plants, local peoples, cultural events, and many more fascinating facts associated with each region. Check examples of the maps Рthey really are quirky and very interesting.  The New Zealand map has lots of well known icons, but nothing for Christchurch.  What is our global icon now?

Cover of SelfiesSelfies: Self -portrait photography with attitude by Jan-Haje Kamps
Apparently the Selfie is more than just pointing the camera at yourself and making a duckface. “Selfie” was added to the online version of the Oxford dictionary in August and is being considered for future inclusion in the more traditional Oxford English Dictionary so it must be here to stay!¬† This book might be the answer to those endless rather banal images that clutter Facebook, or perhaps Kim Kardashian (the expert in self promotion) can also set you on the right path?

Cover of Man belong Mrs QueenMan belong Mrs Queen : adventures with the Philip worshippers / Baylis, Matthew.
This has to one of the months more unusual books as it is about a Prince Philip- loving cult (Yes you did read this right – the Prince Philip of the dreadful gaffes) that exists on the South Sea Island of Tanna.

On the rumbling slopes of this remarkable volcanic island, banjaxed by daily doses of the local narcotic, suffering from a diet of yams and regularly accused of being a divine emissary of the Duke, Baylis uncovered a religion unlike any other on the planet. Self-deprecating, hilarious and enlightening, “Man Belong Mrs Queen” is travel writing at its horizon-expanding best.