The family of Arthur John Inwood (1850-1932) and his wife Angelina (1860?-1919) pictured outside their dwelling: Picturing Canterbury

The family of Arthur John Inwood (1850-1932) and his wife Angelina (1860?-1919) pictured outside their dwelling [ca. 1900]. File Reference CCL PhotoCD 18, IMG0003.
Arthur Inwood farmed in the Burwood area and gave his name to Inwoods Road.

Do you have any photographs of early Burwood? If so, feel free to contribute to our collection.

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

Christmas in the backyard, 1958: Picturing Canterbury

Christmas in the backyard, 1958. Kete Christchurch. PH13-410. Entry in the 2013 Christchurch City Libraries Photo Hunt. Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 New Zealand License.

“A family Christmas in our back yard in Opawa. I am showing off my new scooter, my sister Jenny has a cane dolls pram and my cousin Wayne has a carpentry set. I can’t see what his brother Chris has. My dad has obviously just painted the shed as I can see the ‘wet paint’ sign propped against it.”

Date: 1958

Entry in the 2013 Christchurch City Libraries Photo Hunt.

Do you have any photographs of Christmas in Canterbury? If so, feel free to contribute to our collection.

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

Lucy Dillon – All I Ever Wanted

Cover of All I ever wantedCaitlin and Eva have something and nothing in common. They’ve both lost their husbands. While Eva is the poised, business-like widow of a celebrity actor, Caitlin is a free spirit who dropped out of university to have a child, and is seperated from Eva’s brother, Patrick.

When Patrick volunteers Eva’s pristine, designer house for fortnightly visits between Patrick and his children Joel and Nancy, Eva is forced out of her comfort zone of grief and into facing her future without Mick, her famous husband.

Nancy, only four, is carrying a secret. Unable to speak since the separation, Nancy thinks it was her wish that made her father go away…

All I Ever Wanted tells the story of how this family is broken apart, then brought together by a common goal: to get Nancy to speak again,

Lucy Dillon writes with an eye for physical detail and emotional nuance, she skillfully relates the feeling of a parent unable to help their child, the frustration of a couple unable to communicate and the pain of Eva’s childllessness. She notes the personality traits that make us unique, and the ways in which we understand and misunderstand one another.

I was swept up in the often moving journey of her characters. A little gushy towards the end (I’m not normally a romance reader) this is a powerfully written book.

All I ever wanted
by Lucy Dillon
Published by Hachette New Zealand
ISBN: 9781444796049

Photo Hunt October: Marshall Family Swimming, 1960s

Marshall Family Swimming.
Entry in the Christchurch City Libraries 2010 Photo Hunt. Kete Christchurch HW10-S-Sp-076 CC-BY-NC-ND NZ 3.0

“Coe’s Ford. Swimming in the river-Sally on Dad’s (Bruce) back. Lynne on the Lilo. Family picnic day.”

Date: Circa 1960.

This image is available as a free postcard as part of our Christchurch Photo Hunt promotion.

Christchurch City Libraries has been running an annual Photo Hunt in conjunction with the city’s Heritage Week since 2008.  The 2016 Photo Hunt is running again from 1 – 31 October. During the month of October we will be posting a series of images from earlier Photo Hunts.

Enter the 2016 hunt online or at your local library.

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

Identity and race in young adult fiction

Ahh, who doesn’t love heartbreaking books about family, racism and explosions? No? Just me? In a follow up to my previous post about race in YA fiction, I’ve had to add three more outstanding books to my Bibliocommons list. (Not all of them are super upsetting, I promise!)

Out of Darkness, Ashley Hope Perez

Cover of Out of DarknessNaomi is Mexican, recently moved with her two (white-passing) half-siblings to live with their father in East London, Texas. This hasn’t been great for her — her step-father seems more interested in a housewife than a step-daughter, so she spends more of her time washing his oil-stained shirts than trying to keep up with schoolwork. Naomi is strong in a quiet way; she protects her twin siblings, she keeps her budding relationship with (African American) Wash secret, she plans their escape. It’s not her fault that the school starts using untreated gas from the local oil fields…

See No Color, Shannon Gibney

TCover of See No Colorransracial adoptee Alex loves two things more than anything: her (white) family, and baseball. She’s one of the best players on the team and spends most of her time training for, talking about or playing the game. Unfortunately some spanners are thrown in the works: puberty (hampering her baseball performance) and the discovery of letters sent from her African American biological father. Cue identity crisis, fairly par for the course for a YA novel, but with some added angst related to racial identity (raised white, born black, hello imposter syndrome) and a complicated romance with African American baller Reggie.

Peas and Carrots, Tanita Davis

Cover of Peas and CarrotsAnother book about adoption! This time we follow white Dess and her transferral to an African American foster family (in order to live with her biracial little brother). Dess has a hard shell to crack, having dealt with physical abuse from her father, multiple foster and group homes, and a drug-addict mother. Luckily her foster sister Hope (Bambi eyes, bookish) and the rest of her lovely family manage to warm her heart and mine after some inevitable conflict.

My heart is bruised and battered but still up for more. Can anyone recommend any more fantastic books that make you reach for the tissues? Although I’ve just started The Ballroom, which is set in a mental asylum in 1911, so maybe some lighthearted reads would be a good change of pace.

New Zealand Fashion in Pictures: Our Image Collection

For New Zealand Fashion Week we’re sharing some of our favourite images of New Zealand fashion.

Over the years, Christchurch City Libraries has built up a collection of local images. Many of these are donated from private collections and capture the places and people of Christchurch, and Canterbury’s history. Some of these we’ve grouped into themed image collections, including one on Costume and Fashion.

Our image collection is mostly made up of early 20th century images but is less comprehensive in terms of more recent history. If you’ve got photos that you think we’d be interested in then please contact us.

In the meantime, here are some oldies but goodies in the fashion stakes –

Suits you

Members of the Christchurch Drainage Board and visitors present at the opening of the septic tank, Bromley sewage farm [4 Sept. 1905] CCL PhotoCD 2, IMG0084
Members of the Christchurch Drainage Board and visitors present at the opening of the septic tank, Bromley sewage farm [4 Sept. 1905] CCL PhotoCD 2, IMG0084
A group of Maori women dress reformers [1906] CCL PhotoCD 11, IMG0096
A group of Maori women dress reformers [1906] CCL PhotoCD 11, IMG0096
 Mr E. H. Hughes, Mr R. E. Alexander (Director of the College), and Mr Walter Macfarlane [1909] File reference P7030226
Mr E. H. Hughes, Mr R. E. Alexander (Director of the College), and Mr Walter Macfarlane [1909] Selwyn-P7030226

 The diploma winners of 1913. File reference P3051336
The diploma winners of 1913. Selwyn-P3051336

Continue reading

Giving up on parenting

To quote Mrs Bradley, sleuth, psychotherapist and heroine of Gladys Mitchell’s golden age detective novels:

There are three golden rules for bringing up children – sadly nobody knows what they are

I’m pretty sure that nothing has changed, but there have certainly been plenty of ideas and theories put forward on parenting since the 1930’s. You can find the latest useful ideas at your library, including help for all sorts of individual situations

I’m pretty sure any devoted parent would be ferreting out as many useful tips as possible ( remembering Nigel Latta’s “teenagers are not right in the head” has certainly help me keep me in a rational frame of mind in a difficult moment) but in the end I can’t help feeling that Mrs Bradley is right –  the most important thing to know is that you can’t be a perfect parent- and shouldn’t try to be.

Cover of Battlefield WisdomCover of How not to be a perfect mother

Dinner – not always all about happy families

book coverAs is frequently the case for me, I arrived at work one day last week to find a mystery book on my reserve shelf.  I still can’t figure out how many of these book titles get on my holds list, and am often startled by what I find.  Happily, most of my apparent choices turn out to be great, with only the occasional What Was I Thinking? moment.

This week’s arrival, I have to say, was one of the most winning-est yet.  On the face of it, it was already on a winning streak – what’s not to love about a book about food, posh food, in a posh restaurant, and featuring a giant lobster on the front cover?

I started reading late on Sunday afternoon.  I was still reading very late Sunday evening.  I got up early to read before work on Monday, carried the book around all day and spent ALL my breaks with the lobster.  Monday evening I was nearing the end, and by ignoring a) my family, b) the dishes, and c) all phone calls and text messages was able to turn the final pages around 11.15pm.

The premise (as all the reviewers point out) is simple.  Two brothers and their wives meet in a restaurant, to discuss a family problem.  This seems to be about the only point on which the reviewers agree, though.  This, and the fact that the cover quotes are astonishingly misleading: I certainly wouldn’t describe it as a heartstopping thriller, nor (as on another cover version) would I use the tagline: How far would you go to protect the ones you love?  Proper reviewers on important websites compare it to books like The Slap, and We Have to Talk About Kevin, but are divided on whether this is a GOOD or a BAD comparision.

I’m not going to talk about what transpires over the course of the dinner, as that would involve spoilers of the worst kind, and would also, I think, ruin the best thing about this book – not the storyline itself, although that is part of it; but instead, the creeping sense that as much as you guess about where the book is going, the actual truth of what is happening to these families is revealed to be worse with each turning of the page.  Character judgments are futile – who’s the hero, and who’s the villain; as are attempts to figure out a nice tidy plot resolution. Instead, and very much unlike my usual approach, I just had to let go and let the story take me with it.

What I will say is that, very unexpectedly, The Dinner turned out to be one of my Best Reads of 2012.  I don’t think it’s going to challenge my current lead, but it has certainly already led to some passionate and enthusiastic tea-break discussions.

Who else out there has read it? Loved or loathed it?  Do tell …

Movies for big kids and little kids

coverAs a kid I never shared movies with my parents – there just wasn’t much opportunity to see movies except on special occasions. Now movies are so much more accessible and the chances of parents and children bonding over a favourite film are much, much higher.

There is something about a good film that makes connections across the generations. It might be the nostalgia thing for parents – as their kids discover cartoons for the first time, parents relive their own childhood pleasure. Or it might just be a story that is so much fun and so classic that it appeals on many levels. In our house the star movie would probably be –  “My name is Inigo Montoya, you killed my father, prepare to die” – yep The Princess Bride.

But there are so many more out there. With school holidays upon us why not borrow a DVD,  make the popcorn, buy in some ice-cream and cones, settle down on the sofa, dim the lights and have a family movie night.

What is your family’s favourite shared movie experience?

Nigel’s advice for Christchurch parents

Cover image of "Quaky cat"Who else watched Nigel Latta on TV One last night?

Nigel Latta is a forensic psychologist best known for his parenting advice. He is also one of my New Zealand heroes. I really admire his humour and honesty – he’s the guy who’ll point out the elephant in the room and even climb on for a ride.

While “After the Quake” was obviously filmed before the quakes on Monday, Nigel’s suggestions couldn’t have come at a better time.  Like he says, no 30-minute television show can solve all the problems those living in Quakeville may be experiencing, but a brief overview of how to deal with ongoing trauma is a start.

It’s difficult to try to hold yourself together and keep going while also helping your children cope. Here’s a summary of Nigel’s advice:

Advice and reassurance from Nigel

  • Flashbacks, avoidance and increased adrenaline are all normal reactions to a traumatic event;
  • Sometimes the best therapy for children is family;
  • Reassure your children they are safe, surround them with family and friends, act calm so your children learn how to respond calmly too, get them involved to keep them busy and give them a sense of self-advocacy, and maintain hope – things will get better;
  • Continuing routines and rules where possible is important – the quake isn’t a “get-out-of-jail-free” card for bad behaviour;
  • Teach your kids relaxation exercises to use whenever they get worked up;
  • Introduce new vocabulary so they have more ways to label how they are feeling and a greater sense of control in the situation;
  • Break big problems that cause anxiety down into small, more manageable steps;
  • Reliving experiences through play and drawing is a really healthy coping mechanism, so don’t worry if your children set up a tent in the lounge, shake its walls, scream “Earthquake!”  then stand outside the wrecked tent with their toys and wait for EQC to show up;
  • Visit Safe and Sound for more helpful suggestions and support;
  • Christchurch City Libraries is here for you, too!

If you missed the progamme, watch it online.