Margaret Mahy Miscellany

March 21 is the 78th anniversary of the birth of Margaret Mahy. Although it has been nearly two years since she passed away on July 23 2012, her name is still in the news.Book Cover of Magical Margaret Mahy

Plans are full steam ahead for the Margaret Mahy Family Playground. Billed as ‘the most amazing playground’ the city has ever seen, it promises activity zones aimed at different ages, comfortable places for adults to supervise and relax, and challenging play equipment, all inspired by the stories of Margaret Mahy.

It’s almost time for the New Zealand Post Children’s Book Awards to begin. The finalists will be announced on Tuesday 8 April, and the winners will be announced on Monday 23 June. The supreme winner wins the title of New Zealand Post Margaret Mahy Book of the Year, and an additional $7500 prize. The award was re-named in honour of Margaret Mahy in 2013 and Into the River by Ted Dawe won the inaugural award.

If you are itching for some Margaret Mahy screen goodness, you can check out full episodes of her award-winning TV adaptions and scripts on NZ On Screen:

The Haunting of Barney PalmerCover of The Haunting
Which ’80s kid wasn’t totally freaked out by this spooky film?

This thriller inspired many a secret gang and clubhouse in the playground.

Cuckoo Land
If you haven’t seen this psychedelic, video-effect laden show, narrated by Paul Holmes, you should stop reading this and check it out immediately. I don’t remember seeing it as a kid, possibly because my parents thought it was some sort of medication-induced hallucination.

For the full list of Margaret Mahy media, head over to the NZ On Screen site.

If watching these makes you want to get back into some the source material, check out our full list of Margaret Mahy titles  on our catalogue and revisit some childhood favourites.

Then get onto our Margaret Mahy pages and check out the latest, and sadly last, titles published by this Kiwi taonga.

Cover of Footsteps through the FogCover of The Man from the Land of FandangoCover of The Green Bath

Watchmen director to tackle Guardians of Ga’Hoole

Find Guardians of GaHoole in the Library collection
Find "Guardians of Ga'Hoole" in the Library collection

Zach Snyder (director of The Watchmen) is directing an animated The Guardians of Ga’Hoole movie. Guardians of Ga’Hoole is a kids fantasy series by Kathryn Lasky. It’s a Watership Down type tale of anthropomorphic animals (in this case owls) engaged in a battle against evil.

The choice of Director makes me a tiny bit worried (the decision to film a Watchmen movie wasn’t one I entirely agreed with) but this series is totally different so hopefully a good film adaption will compliment the series and bring more readers to it (or Tu-Whit).


We are so lucky to live in NZ! School Library Journal this month has a huge article about self-censorship in American libraries. Apparently some Children’s and Young Adult Librarians feel pressured to not select certain books for their library, not because people have complained about inappropriate content, but because they are worried that someone will.

I’ve worked at the Library for 10 years and can only remember 3 book challenges during this time. From talking to my colleagues in the US, it seems like a common occurance. I wonder why it is such a huge deal in America, but such a tiny blip here?

News Flash

Not a book and yet available from a library!
Not a book and yet available from a library!

The award for most obvious headline of the week goes to…The Washington Post who tells us “Libraries are not just for books” 

Really? I’m going to get myself down to that library and see if they have LPs for my gramophone yet.

If you are interested in the mysterious non-book holdings of the library, check out this info about our latest tech offering.

Are you annoyed by Alternate Endings?

Recently I hired a couple of DVDs from our library’s fine collection (4164titles and going strong). They were good movies and everyone was verily pleased, until we made the mistake of watching the “Alternate Endings”. Hmm…One was described as “thought-provoking” and the other as “mind-blowing”. The only problem was that they were EXACTLY the same as the original ending, sure, one added a voice over and another had a different location but the changes were cosmetic to say the least.

Seems to me like an example of the back cover hyperbole that we were talking about a few weeks ago. Do people who write the descriptions think we don’t notice? To me, a true alternate ending is like this Simpsons ending for Gone With The Wind (re-edited for seniors) :

Scarlett :  “Oh Rhett! Where will I go, what’ll I do?”

Rhett: “Frankly my dea-I love you, lets remarry!”

Kipper goes Postmodern

The Centre for the child received a new Kipper book today. Kipper, in case you are not familiar with him, is a brown and white dog and the star of many books for preschoolers written by Mick Inkpen.

Hide me, Kipper!
Hide me, Kipper!

The book we received today was different. Hide me, Kipper! was released to celebrate Kipper’s 18 birthday and it is both a fun Kipper story and a metafiction narrative. Rife with intertextuality and in-jokes, surely it will appeal to adults who have read the many Kipper books aloud to the children in their life.

Inkpen’s books are always sharp. The other main character of his books is Wibbly Pig, and if you want to read a touching tale of friendship and realising our own falliability, you should check out Wibbly Pig’s Silly Big Bear.

Does anyone care that Hide Me, Kipper! is metaficiton? Am I just making a good kids book unnecessarily complicated?

Who knows? I tried to contact Mick and ask him but his e-mail address was nowhere to be found on the whole big world wide web. So this will have to remain an unknown, unless the next Kipper title is Kipper visits the beach with Kurt Vonnegut.

Best First Lines

I’ve got a nomination for the best first line of 2008. It’s from a short story; Bad Things by Libba Bray in The Restless Dead edited by Deborah Noyes.

It was Brian’s idea to go devil worshipping


Another one I’ve read this year, though it was published in 2006, is from On The Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta.

My father took one hundred and thirty-two minutes to die. I counted. It happened on the Jellicoe Road.

I listened to this on CD and it was great.

Watching you…

Search Engine Optimization Bible
Search Engine Optimization Bible

Google is the most popular search engine, even being promoted to verb status, but which search engine is number 2? According to Comscore, it’s YouTube with Yahoo! coming in third by .2 million hits. According to a study by Ellacoya Networks, YouTube videos now makeup 10 percent of all Internet traffic!

Interested in getting your content onto the 2nd most popular search engine? The library has an electronic subscription to the Search Engine Optimization Bible by Jerri Ledford, choose “View Online” to start reading. You just need your library card and pin number to access this, you can get a Pin by contacting us, and yes we do IM.

The Tomorrow Code by Brian Falkner


The Tomorrow Code

Read. This. Book. That is all.

Books inspired by games

Finally! Instead of a book inspiring a movie which inspires an awful computer game, a computer game has inspired a book. When I say ‘finally’ I am of course ignoring all Doom, Pokemon and Halo books, the Resident Evil franchise, Warcraft novels and Shin Megami Tensei.

A Prince of Persia graphic novel has come out and it reminded me how although every book that gets made into a movie gets an uninspiring computer game to accompany it (anyone remember Ghostbusters on the C64?) it hardly ever works the other way around. The novel is getting good reviews, although Publishers Weekly calls it a game “byproduct” which sounds sort of gross.

Kingdom Keepers is another gaming franchise that has made the small leap from the DVD shelf to the book shelf recently. Ridley Pearson has written the first two volumes in the second book series based on the PS2 game “Kingdom Hearts”.  I haven’t read either of them so far, but how long can I resist a book in which the little dolls from “It’s a Small World” start eating park visitors?