Christchurch kids! Give Tūranga’s Bookbots Earth names & win prizes! (2 to 31 July)

Kids can win awesome prizes by filling out this special online survey. All you have to do is help name Tūranga’s intergalactic heroes, the Bookbots.

During the month of July, local primary and intermediate students can vote on their favourite names for the digital characters and go in the draw to win prizes, including a real-life interactive robot for their school, with training provided by PBTech, and a class workshop with Imagination Station. Bluetooth speakers from Spark and giant Bookbot wall decals are also up for grabs.

Voting is open to local primary and intermediate students until 31 July 2018 (limited to one entry per student).

Free fun in the school holidays

The school hols are on from Saturday 7 July to Sunday 22 July. Here is what you can do that’s fun and FREE (and none require bookings, so you can just turn up):

LIBRARIES

Coolstuff will be visiting our libraries in the two weeks before KidsFest. Come along and say “Hi!” and be in to win some sweet prizes! Pick up a special KidsFest colouring sheet and a More FM Mata Riki Parade instruction sheet and you could win even MORE prizes! Free event, no bookings required.

Free, drop-in holiday activities

Free, drop-in holiday activities – there is no charge or booking required for these sessions.

  • Create your own mini world (sessions at various libraries and times)
    Come and make your own mini world or diorama using shoe boxes, plenty of craft materials and your imagination!
  • Shadow puppets Linwood Library at Eastgate, Tuesday 10 July 3pm to 4pm
  • Board games Linwood Library at Eastgate, Thursday 12 July 3pm to 4pm
  • Board games Linwood Library at Eastgate, Tuesday 17 July 3pm to 4pm
  • Makerspace Linwood Library at Eastgate, Wednesday 18 July 3pm to 4pm

Craft a Creature workshops are part of our Dr Seuss Creation Competition

Come to a free Craft a Creature workshop, where we’ll have loads of material available for use (the workshops are on from 10 July to 19 July).

KIDSFEST

Some KidsFest events are FREE (but make sure to check, as you’ll need to make a booking for some):

The Big Chill at Linwood Park – Saturday 7 July 12pm

Kicking off KidsFest 2018 is The Big Chill in Linwood Park, full of wacky activities, skate boarding, bouncy castles, faeries and fury creatures.

Brighton Buccaneers Treasure Trail – every day, 7am to 10.30pm New Brighton Beachside Playground

Come down t’ Brighton ‘n discover our treasure trail. Solve th’ clues, find th’ spot, get some evidence o’ yer findin’s (Take a rubbin’ o’ our hidden treasure) ‘n enjoy th’ surroundin’s!
Fun fer th’ whole family! If you want to give this a try, download the activity sheets or you can grab a sheet from the New Brighton library or from the New Brighton Union Church, cnr of Union and Collingwood Street. Subscribe to the Facebook event. Find out more.

New Brighton Beachside Playground.

Grass Games at One Central – every day, 8am to 6pm

Check out the new maze, sports pitch and giant board game imprinted on the One Central development area, just off Manchester Street between Hereford and Worcester.

Explore your city scavenger hunt – every day, 8.30am to 5pm, Christchurch i-Site Visitor Centre

Explore the central city on our self guided scavenger hunt, discovering new and interesting things along the way. This is a great way to learn more about what’s new and what’s happening your town! Participants who complete the scavenger hunt go into the draw to win cool prizes!

Dino Detectives – Discover the Giants of Gondwana – every day, 10am to 4pm, Botanic Gardens

There’s a dinosaur loose in the Botanic Gardens and it’s eating all the trees! Follow the trail to save the Gardens from a hungry dino.

The Story Vending Machine – at various KidsFest events

The Story Vending Machine, a breakthrough of perambulatory narrative technology, roams various locations during KidsFest dispensing custom-made fictions, fables and flights of fancy for all ages! If there are any cancelled due to weather conditions check out the KidsFest Facebook page for pop-up appearances in the Christchurch City Council Foyer.

KidsFest Church service – Sunday 8 July 10am to 10.45am

A Church service for kids held at the Cardboard Cathedral, Latimer Square. Church with a difference – fun, music, drama and who knows what?!

Elgregoe Magician at Eastgate – 9 to 15 July

Elgregoe Magician at Eastgate is appearing from Monday 9 to Sunday 15 July,  two shows daily at 11am and 1pm.

Grass Games: Little Kickers football coaching for 4-7yr olds – Tuesday 10 July

Run alongside KidsFest by the experienced coaches of Little Kickers, this is a fun “play not push” approach football coaching session tailored for young children aged 4 to 7. Hosted by Little Kickers Canterbury NZ and Gap Filler. Subscribe to the Facebook event.

Galactic night at the Museum – 10, 12, 17, 19 July

This July, join in the Galactic Night at the Museum.

Calling all space invaders, star trekkers and aliens. Explore a galaxy, not so far away, in an astronomical after-hours adventure at the Museum. Dress up as your favourite space character or creature and follow the clues to unscramble some amazing space facts. You could win a prize! Koha appreciated. Free and no bookings required.

Tuesday 10 July 6pm to 8pm
Thursday 12 July 6pm to 8pm
Tuesday 17 July 6pm to 8pm
Thursday 19 July 6pm to 8pm

Rockets and Robots Fun Day – Wednesday 11 July 10am to 4pm

See robots and rockets at the Air Force Museum! Discover how robots and rockets are used in our world! Check out one of the NZ Defence Force’s Explosive Ordnance Disposal robots* in action, and try on parts of their protective bomb suit. Get curious and learn more about the University of Canterbury’s own rockets and robots at this FREE, one-day-only event. Suitable for 3-13 year olds.

Cardboard Cathedral Tours – Wednesday 11 July and Wednesday 18 July 10am to 11am

Come and enjoy a tour of the Cardboard Cathedral – the only one made substantially of cardboard!

Springfree Jumpfest – Thursday 12 July and Thursday 19 July 10am to 3pm

Springfree Trampoline will be hosting a Jumpfest. Come along with your children for a fun day of jumping, games, prizes and enter the draw to win a trampoline. This will be weather dependent and we will advise on the morning of the event if it will be cancelled.

Breakmission – Saturday 14 July 1.30pm to 5.30pm

Breakmission Workshops with Keza Wardlaw and other recognised instructors teaching young people Hip Hop, Breakdance and Graffiti Art. Breakdance / B-Boy competition taking place, with dance demonstrations by a dance studio between competition phases.

Eastgate Colourful colouring in competition – Monday 16 to Friday 20 July

Eastgate’s Colourful colouring in competition is on from Monday 16 to Friday 20 July, 10am to 2pm.

Stampfest 2018 – Saturday 21 July 1.25pm to 3.45pm

Join in Stampfest “for a stamp filled afternoon where you can learn all about your stamps, various aspects of the hobby, its history and see how you can travel the world without leaving home.”

More FM Mata Riki KidsFest Parade – Saturday 21 July, 4.30 to 6.30pm

The More FM Mata Riki KidsFest Parade starts in Cathedral Square. Join an exciting exploratory night time journey through central Christchurch from Cathedral Square to The Terraces around the Ōtākaro/Avon River Precinct. Bring along your own creations, lanterns, wearable light art or torches. Mata Riki or Little Faces is connected with celebrating Māori New Year – the perfect match for the KidsFest Parade. Dress up warm.

KIDS MARKETS

MORE FREE FUN IN CHRISTCHURCH

For more events and activities, search Eventfinda.

New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults – 2018 finalists announced

The finalists for the 2018 New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults have been announced.

“From sharks and dawn raids to earthquakes, kidnap plots, Jean Batten and the familiar chaos that is kids at breakfast time, their range is diverse. But they all share the magical ability to transport, inform and delight, says convenor of judges, Jeannie Skinner. “These books, fiction and non-fiction, help us try on different lives, see the world through another’s eyes, and be inspired by stories of our past, present, and possible futures.”

The judges say the real strength of the shortlist is the range of vividly drawn and memorable characters who encounter challenges, both physical and mental. They were also delighted by the richly authentic voices, which reflect the unique New Zealand landscape, vernacular and humour, with convincingly drawn family and peer dynamics. Powerful settings of imagined futures, whether dystopian, inter-planetary or steampunk, add variety and wild imagination to the vibrant mix. (Read the judges’ full comments).

The awards are administered by the New Zealand Book Awards Trust and the final award winners will be announced Wednesday 8 August 2018.

A special congratulations to Canterbury finalists Gavin Bishop for Non-Fiction and Jenny Cooper (Amberley) for Illustration.

Finalists

Picture Book Award Finalists

Wright Family Foundation Esther Glen Award for Junior Fiction Finalists

The authentic voices of young New Zealanders are heard loud and clear in the Wright Family Foundation Esther Glen Junior Fiction shortlist. Whether in the past or present, drama or comedy, the judges found the characters to be warm and vividly real, as they face challenges and negotiate relationships.

Read Christchurch City Library’s interview with Stacy Gregg about The Thunderbolt Pony and keep an eye out for her following book The Fire Stallion (due out late September 2018).

Copyright Licensing NZ Award for Young Adult Fiction Finalists

The Copyright Licensing NZ Award for Young Adult Fiction was another exceptionally strong field this year, with themes of survival against the odds, challenges and mental health issues. Most importantly, the judges say, the authors in this category all nailed the voice of their young adult characters “in these well-written and deftly plotted books”.

Everythingiswrong

Elsie Locke Award for Non-Fiction Finalists

The judges were excited to see such a bountiful number of high calibre nominations for the Elsie Locke Non-Fiction Award and they say the finalists shine with the authors’ expertise and passion for their subjects. “These non-fiction books take sometimes complex subjects and distil the essence, clearly and honestly, for their young audience to show what makes our world so interesting, wonderful, and various.”

Wright Family Foundation Te Kura Pounamu Award for Te Reo Māori Finalists

The entries in the Wright Family Foundation Te Kura Pounamu Award for books written entirely in te reo Māori were described as ‘Ahakoa he iti he pounamu’ …they were “precious like greenstone”, and the judges praised both the content and the quality of the language used.

  • Hineahuone, Xoë Hall, translated by Sian Montgomery-Neutze (TeacherTalk)
  • Te Tamaiti me te Aihe Robyn Kahukiwa, translated by Kiwa Hammond (Little Island Press Ltd)
  • Tu Meke Tūī! Malcolm Clarke, illustrated by Hayley King (AKA Flox), translated by Evelyn Tobin (Mary Egan Publishing)

Russell Clark Award for Illustration Finalists

Best First Book Award

Everythingiswrong

Christchurch City Libraries was pleased to host a session with author Joanna Grochowicz in the 2017 school holidays based on her book about Scott’s Antarctic Odyssey, Into the White.

More information about the New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults:


An integral part of the New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults is the HELL Reading Challenge, now in its fifth year. It has been hugely successful in getting kids reading and enjoying the pleasure of stories (and pizza). Kids can pick up their reading challenge cards at Christchurch City Libraries (open until December 2018).

KidsFest 2018

KidsFest is full of winter holiday fun for kids in Christchurch and Canterbury. It runs from 7 to 21 July. KidsFest is always popular and many events book out quickly, so have a look and secure your spot! Tickets are on sale now!

KidsFest at Christchurch City Libraries

Coolstuff will be visiting our libraries in the two weeks before KidsFest. Come along and say “Hi!” and be in to win some sweet prizes! Pick up a special KidsFest colouring sheet and a More FM Mata Riki Parade instruction sheet and you could win even MORE prizes! Free event, no bookings required.

July 2018 holiday programmes

During school holidays our libraries and learning centres offer a mix of free, drop-in activities and bookable classes with a small charge per child.

Free, Drop-in holiday activities

Free, drop-in holiday activities – there is no charge or booking required for these sessions.

  • Create your own mini world (sessions at various libraries and times)
    Come and make your own mini world or diorama using shoe boxes, plenty of craft materials and your imagination!
  • Shadow puppets Linwood Library at Eastgate, Tuesday 10 July 3pm to 4pm
  • Board games Linwood Library at Eastgate, Thursday 12 July 3pm to 4pm
  • Board games Linwood Library at Eastgate, Tuesday 17 July 3pm to 4pm
  • Makerspace Linwood Library at Eastgate, Wednesday 18 July 3pm to 4pm

Craft a Creature workshops are part of our Dr Seuss Creation Competition

Come to a free Craft a Creature workshop, where we’ll have loads of material available for use (the workshops are on from 10 July to 19 July).

Bookable holiday activities

Bookings are required for the following programmes – call (03) 941 7923 or email:learningcentre@ccc.govt.nz (conditions apply).

Makey Makey Music with Scratch

Learn how to create and code your very own electronic instrument using Makey Makey and Scratch. You’ll learn how to build a musical instrument out of cardboard and make it come to life! No prior coding experience or electronics knowledge necessary.
Ages: 8–10 years
Cost: $7

RoboFun

Working with a range of robots, you’ll learn the basics of how robots work and how to programme them to use sensors to complete a set of challenges.
Ages: 10 years+
Cost: $15

Stop Motion Animation

Get creative using Lego and discover the process of producing animated movies. Plan a story themed on being kind to our world, create a set and craft your own movie using stop motion photography.
Ages: 8–12 years
Cost: $20

My First Book

An interactive programme for kids to create their very own digital story or comic book.
Ages: 5–7 years
Cost: $7

Minecraft Game Zone

Minecraft Game Zone is a 3D gaming experience that involves creating your own virtual world and interacting with others online. To really enjoy this programme, you’ll need to have a basic understanding of Minecraft. Book in for a two hour session and play to your heart’s content.
Ages: 8–12 years
Cost: $7

Minecraft 3D Paper Design

Minecraft is a virtual world where you can discover and create interesting worlds. This event takes it to the next level! Learn how to use graphic design tools to create your own paper 3D Minecraft character.
Ages: 7–10 years
Cost: $15

This is the way we sing and play

Join the Julie Wylie Musical Play team at this interactive musical event for parents, grandparents, caregivers and children aged 2–4 years (younger and older children are welcome to attend). You’ll enjoy a range of musical play activities which promote singing, listening, moving and playing. Children and adults will have great fun together, as they respond musically with props such as the parachute, rainbow ring and organza. Look out for the Julie Wylie Musical Play rainbow flag!

Email juliewyliemusicalplay@gmail.com to book your space. Children $10 (babies who are not yet crawling, only $5) and caregivers $5.

More cool KidsFest events

The Big Chill at Linwood Park – Saturday 7 July 12pm

Kicking off KidsFest 2018 is The Big Chill in Linwood Park, full of wacky activities, skate boarding, bouncy castles, faeries and fury creatures.

More FM Mata Riki KidsFest Parade – Saturday 21 July, 4.30–6.30pm

The More FM Mata Riki KidsFest Parade starts in Cathedral Square. Join an exciting exploratory night time journey through central Christchurch from Cathedral Square to The Terraces around the Ōtākaro/Avon River Precinct. Bring along your own creations, lanterns, wearable light art or torches. Mata Riki or Little Faces is connected with celebrating Māori New Year – the perfect match for the KidsFest Parade. Dress up warm.

More FM Lantern Parade 2016

CoCA Create! Printing Workshops

Work together and dye, paint, print, and create a large colourful installation of ribbons in response to Tiffany Singh’s Om Mani Padme Hum at CoCA.

Ages: 5 to 13
Cost: $10 Caregiver optional (but required for under 8 year olds) (free)
Book online, phone 366 7261 or email info@coca.org.nz

  • Tuesday 10 to Thursday 12 July 11am to 12.30pm

CoCA Create! Cardboard Construction

This workshop will involve a large scale communal project where kids will learn manipulation and fastening techniques with cardboard craft architecture.

Ages: 5 to 13
Cost: $10 Caregiver optional (but required for under 8 year olds) (free)
Book online, phone 366 7261 or email info@coca.org.nz

  • Tuesday 17 to Thursday 19 July 11am to 12.30pm

Info from CoCA curator Jen:

Our KidsFest events are in response to Tiffany Singh’s exhibition, A Collective Voice, which consists of two major recent installations of hers reconfigured for CoCA. Gaby Montejo is running two workshops in response to the two works! The ribbon printing workshop is in response to OM MANI PADME HUM, a work consisting of over 1500 metres of colourful silk ribbon hanging from our walls, creating an immersive experience, and the cardboard construction workshop responds to the themes of storytelling and citybuilding in Journey of a Million Miles, which collects and shares stories of migration to New Zealand. Both of the works are really socially conscious and encourage empathy and compassion, so we’re aiming for the workshops to reflect that.

Image of OM MANI PADME HUM by Tiffany Singh. Image supplied.

SCAPE Public Art – Bubbles Painting

Come and experience the fun and quirky artwork Conduct Cumulus in the South Quad at the Arts Centre. We’ll explore the artwork by walking around it and experiencing it together, then move into The Common Room to create a unique bubble painting. Gold coin donation appreciated.

Monday 9 and Tuesday 10 July; Monday 16 and Tuesday 17 July
10.30 am to 11.30am; and 1pm to 2pm

Christchurch Art Gallery – The Moon and Crawling Colour

We read Jimmy and Jane and the Tale of the Yellow Moon, a humorous story about moon-dwelling Lunatrons and what happens when colour comes into their world. Then make your own raised painting using salt and dye and see how it morphs into an amazing array of colours and patterns.

  • Ages: 5 to 7
  • Cost: $8 Caregiver required (free)
  • Bookings essential. Book online, phone 941 7382 or email Lana.Coles@ccc.govt.nz

Monday 9 to Friday 13 July 11am to 12pm
Monday 16 to Friday 20 July 11am to 12pm

Christchurch Art Gallery – Rama Tuna – KidsFest Paper Lantern Workshops

The Rama Tuna lesson is led by Māori artist Piri Cowie, and will focus on the cultural significance of Tuna from Ngai Tahu and Māori perspective. We will be creating paper lanterns that may be used in the MoreFM Mata Riki KidsFest Parade.

  • Ages: 8 to 13
  • Cost: FREE! Children only
  • Bookings essential

Thursday 12 July 3pm to 4.30pm
Friday 13 July 3pm to 4.30pm

Christchurch Art Gallery – Clay World

You’ll adore rolling, squeezing, twirling and pulling clay to sculpt animals, make jewellery, create dinosaur fossils or simply let your imagination run riot and create  something unique!

  • Ages 7-11
  • Cost $10
  • Caregiver optional (free)*  (but required for under 8 year olds).
  • Bookings recommended, Book online, phone 941 7382 or email Lana.Coles@ccc.govt.nz

Monday 9 to Friday 13 July 1pm to 2.15pm
Monday 16 to Friday 20 July 1pm to 2.15pm

Galactic night at the Museum

The Museum is changing up their annual Explorer night at the Museum. We go most years, it is busy and fun romping around the Museum on a cold winter night. This July, join in the Galactic Night at the Museum.

Calling all space invaders, star trekkers and aliens. Explore a galaxy, not so far away, in an astronomical after-hours adventure at the Museum. Dress up as your favourite space character or creature and follow the clues to unscramble some amazing space facts. You could win a prize! Koha appreciated. Free and no bookings required.

Tuesday 10 July 6pm to 8pm
Thursday 12 July 6pm to 8pm
Tuesday 17 July 6pm to 8pm
Thursday 19 July 6pm to 8pm

The Christchurch Brick Show – Saturday and Sunday 14 and 15 July

Fun for all the family – amazing LEGO displays to admire, hands-on play areas, and more. Don’t miss out on this amazing LEGO exhibition. Enthusiasts and collectors alike will display their designs, collections and contraptions. Children will also have the chance to get hands-on with a fun LEGO play area.

Like The Christchurch Brick Show on Facebook.

Subscribe to The Christchurch Brick Show Facebook event.

  • All ages
  • Cost: $5
The Christchurch Brick Show 2015

See the full list of fun stuff to do on the KidsFest website.

Find out more

eResources for kids

Here’s another things for kids – whether on holiday or during term. Our eResources enhance kids’ learning, fun and play.They are free, and all you need is your library card number and password / PIN.

Kids eResources

Fun Holiday Programmes

Have a look back at our April Holiday Programmes in the Learning Centres:
‘Lego Animation’ is always a good way to kick start the holidays! We had our young movie buffs directing and producing their own short animated movies over at Te Hāpua: Halwell Centre.

At Upper Riccarton, it was all about “reduce, reuse and recycle” with our new Earth Smart programme. The children loved the activity with the miniature recycling bins.

Here at South Learning Centre, the kids had fun completing challenges using the MBots in ‘Robofun’.

Kids at South also delved into 3D printing. Their challenge was to create their own desk organisers.

Everyone loves to receive positive feedback and we did for our ‘Chill Out Tunes’ programme in New Brighton.

“I’d like to provide glowing feedback. She loved it, learned a lot, and is excited and abuzz about the programme. As a parent, I loved that I got to hear the music she’d made, and got the music emailed to me. She also had a poster of herself as David Bowie, and a CD with a cover she’d made herself.  Big thanks and Kia ora to everyone involved”.

So, if you didn’t get a chance to pop in and see what was happening, then make sure to check out the ones coming up in July.  We have a few new goodies in there! So, watch this space (new holiday programmes will go live on Friday 1 June).

Tai Sila
Programmes, Design & Delivery Team

Great reads for not-so-eager readers

Ever found yourself asking “What will get my younger reader hooked on reading? Here’s a few key tips from librarians:

  • Graphic novels (or comics) are legit
    They actually use more of your brain than just reading words alone, because you’re deciphering the messages from the words and the pictures together – so don’t tell me they’re not real reading, ok!
  • Audio books are also great
    If the reading isn’t for school and you just want to foster a love of reading – include some audio books! Kids don’t need to be challenged all the time. With an audio book, a kid can get the joy of the story and use their imagination, without the possible struggle or brain strain of reading
  • Over-size fiction = amazing
    Ask a librarian where they’re stored at your local library. They’re kind of a cross between a picture book and a chapter book. Sometimes they don’t have many words at all, but the meaning is really deep. Otherwise, just pick up a great picture book!
  • Be the change
    Are you reading yourself? Do you read to them? Also, start to think about reading being fun and model that in how you react to what they choose (or don’t choose) to read (that Minecraft book is reading too).

Here’s a few great lists with fantastic titles to hook your younger reader:

Best of 2017: Younger Fiction – Christchurch City Libraries

View Full List

Best of 2017: Picture Books – Christchurch City Libraries

View Full List

Good reads for younger dudes

View Full List

When was the last time you read a kid’s book yourself? Here’s a fantastic recommendation: the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series by Jeff Kinney!

Stay tuned to hear more about the author Jeff Kinney – he is talking in Christchurch tomorrow, brought to you by WORD Christchurch and Penguin Books NZ in a sold-out event. We will be reporting back!

Credo DK Eyewitness eBooks for Kids

Credo Reference is a great series of online eBooks that you can search and browse. Filled with pictures as well as information, they make a perfect starting point for that school project, or a interesting resource to satisfy a curious mind. Keep the kids entertained (and still learning) in the holidays, with this collection of eBooks.

Whatever they want to do when they grow up, we have it covered.

Meteorologist

Palaeontologist or Archaeologist

Astronaut or Astrophysicist

Geographer

Marine Biologist

Historian

Spy

International Tabletop Games Day Saturday 28 April – and more fun and games!

Saturday 28 April is International Tabletop Games Day. Celebrate with us at Fendalton Library from 2pm to 4pm.  A selection of board games will be laid out with a few being led by staff.  All games can be explained in 2-3 minutes and run for under an hour (most are 15-30 minutes) so that multiple games can be enjoyed. Games include 5 Second Rule, LINKEE, Pictionary, Connect 4, Sequence, Werewolves of Millers Hollow, Two Rooms and a Boom and more!

There is more fun if games are your thing. Come along and try a new board game in the library at Te Hāpua: Halswell Centre! We have:

  • Ticket to Ride
  • Civilisation
  • Agricola
  • Infernal Contraption

These fantastic games are aimed at ages 13 years plus but all are welcome on Tuesday 24 April from 9am to 3pm, and Friday 27 April from 9am to 5pm.

How about Magic: The Gathering? Bring your decks to Shirley Library! Come along to play, swap cards, or hang out (snacks provided). This is on the first Saturday of each month, from 1pm to 4pm (aimed at ages 8 to 18 years).

Best (& Worst) Children’s Books of 2017

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

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

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

And the ‘winner’ is…

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


Bookseller Picks

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

CoverCover

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

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


Dyslexic-Friendly Texts

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

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

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

You can read the first chapter of Ash Boy here.


Top Student Picks

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

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IMG_3987
Katie Lumsden (L) and Sophie O’Rourke (R) presenting their top picks at the Best (& Worst) Children’s Books of 2017 event, Ōrauwhata: Bishopdale Library and Community Centre, November 2017 

Best Picture Books

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

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


Best Junior Fiction

Mr-McCallum-225x300
Zac McCallum, school librarian

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

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

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See Zac’s Best of 2017 Junior Fiction book list

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


Best Older Fiction and Young Adult Reads

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Author Rachael King, WORD Christchurch Literary Director

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

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

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

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

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


That’s a wrap…

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

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


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

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

 

Child’s Play – Lauren Child

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

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

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

Beginnings

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

She wrote Ruby Redfort as a film:

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

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

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

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Child admires the auteur work of filmmaker Tim Burton.

Love of reading

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

Child’s childhood – miniature worlds

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

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

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

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

Artful text

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

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

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

What’s next?

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