Astroman at the Court Theatre – We talk to writer Albert Belz

One of the prizes in our Winter Read Challenge for teens is three double passes to see Astroman at The Court Theatre. This show is on from 27 October to 10 November. It sounds like a ripper – the 80s, video games, and Michael Jackson moves:

It’s 1983, and young Hemi ‘Jimmy’ Te Rehua knows how to dominate the games at the Whakatāne Astrocade Amusement Parlour. Too smart for his own good, Jimmy has a knack for trouble.

In this vid, playwright Albert Belz talks about Astroman to The Court Theatre’s Artistic Director Ross Gumbley.

We asked Albert a few questions:

How would you describe your play Astroman in a couple of sentences?

A coming of age story set in the small town N.Z. 1980s where a young boy genius discovers what it really means to be brave.

Do you have any tips for teens who want to get into writing plays?

Write with humour about the things that make you most angry.

What are your fave things – games, books, comics, movies, tv etc?

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Kia ora Albert, and good luck to all of you entering the Winter Read Challenge.

More about Albert

Staff picks for the Winter Reading Challenge (for ages 13 to 18)

How are you going with the Winter Reading Challenge? We have highlighted some of the fab books picked by teens, now here are some staff picks to help you tick off some challenges:

The first book in a series

Truly Devious Maureen Johnson
Unsolved mysteries, kidnapping, murder, and super smart teenagers at an isolated boarding school in Vermont. Alina

The Raven Boys Maggie Stiefvater
The story of Blue, the only non-psychic in her family of fantastic women, and the Raven Boys – four boys from a private school on a quest for a dead Welsh King. Full of humour, teen angst, almost-kisses and magic. (Also available as an audiobook.) Alina

Chaos Walking trilogy Patrick Ness
Todd Hewitt is the last man on the planet. All the females are gone, you can read everyone’s thoughts, and nothing is quite as it seems. A brilliant series, fantastic as an audiobook, and coming out as a movie in 2019. Kate

Find more:

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A book that was made into a movie

The Hate U Give Angie Thomas
When Starr witnesses the death of her childhood friend at the hands of a police officer, she struggles to decide what to do — speak up against injustice, or keep her family safe? (Read it before the movie comes out in October!) Alina

Everything Everything Nicola Yoon
What do you do when you literally can’t leave the house, and the thing you want most in the world is just outside the front door? Kate

Every Day David Levithan (picked by Saskia, Cashmere High Library)

The Book Thief Markus Zuzak (picked by Saskia, Cashmere High Library)

The Maze Runner James Dashner

The Fifth Wave Rick Yancey

Ready Player One Ernest Cline

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A book with non-human characters

Year of the Griffin Diana Wynne Jones
When Elda, the griffin daughter of the great Wizard Derk, arrives for schooling at the Wizards’ University, she encounters new friends, pirates, assassins, worry, sabotage, bloodshed, and magic misused. Alina

Find books about:

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A graphic novel/comic book

Nimona Noelle Stevenson
Nimona is an impulsive young shapeshifter with a knack for villainy. Lord Ballister Blackheart is a villain with a vendetta. As sidekick and supervillain, Nimona and Lord Blackheart are about to wreak some serious havoc. Alina

Unbeatable Squirrel Girl Ryan North
She’s part squirrel, part girl – she’s Squirrel Girl! Lots of fun, lots of laughs. Kate

One punch man

Spill Zone Scott Westerfeld

Find more:

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A love story

The Only Thing Worse Than Me Is You Lily Anderson
A loose retelling of Much Ado About Nothing featuring fandom, extra-smart teens and a lot of snark. Alina

Autoboyography Christina Lauren
It can be hard enough being a gay teenager when you live somewhere liberal and progressive. It’s even harder in the middle of Mormon Utah. Kate

Eleanor & Park Rainbow Rowell (picked by Kim)

Emergency Contact Mary H.K. Choi (picked by Alina)

Pieces of You Eileen Merriman (picked by Rachel from Scorpio Books) [NEW ZEALAND]

Find more:

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Listen to a podcast or audiobook

Nation Terry Pratchett
Finding himself alone on a desert island when everything and everyone he knows and loved has been washed away in a huge storm, Mau is the last surviving member of his nation. He’s also completely alone – or so he thinks until he finds the ghost girl. Narrated by Tony Robinson (don’t worry, he doesn’t sound like Baldrick from Blackadder in this). Alina

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe Benjamin Alire Saenz
Fifteen-year-old Ari Mendoza is an angry loner with a brother in prison, but when he meets Dante and they become friends, Ari starts to ask questions about himself, his parents, and his family that he has never asked before. Superbly narrated by Lin-Manuel Miranda. Alina

Find more:

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A book about identity

Lies We Tell Ourselves Robin Talley
In 1959 Virginia, Sarah, a black student who is one of the first to attend a newly integrated school, forces Linda, a white integration opponent’s daughter, to confront harsh truths when they work together on a school project. Alina

I am Thunder Muhammad Khan
Muzna is a regular British teenager, so how does she end up involved with Islamic radicals? Kate

A quiet kind of thunder Sarah Barnard
Being a teenager is hard. Being a teenager with anxiety is even harder. And being a teenager with anxiety who doesn’t speak is even harder again… especially when love’s involved. Kate

Girl mans up M-E. Girard
Pen doesn’t want to be a boy – she just wants to look like one, and that confuses people. This is her look at frenemies, love, and teen pregnancy. An awesome read – I wish it had been written when I was a teenager! Kate

Juniper Lemon’s Happiness Index Julie Israel (picked by Rachel from Scorpio Books)

Girl Missing Sophie McKenzie (picked by Saskia, Cashmere High Library)

You’re welcome, universe Whitney Gardner

Simon vs The Homo Sapiens Agenda Becky Albertalli

Find more:

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A dystopian novel

Chaos Walking trilogy Patrick Ness
Todd Hewitt is just one month away from the birthday that will make him a man. But his town has been keeping secrets from him. Secrets that are going to force him to run. (First in a series and also available as an audiobook.) Alina

Little Brother Cory Doctorow
A standalone cyber-thriller packed full of teen hackers, revolution, terrorism, a police state, and an awesome romance. Alina

The Giver Lois Lowry (picked by Julianne)

Replica Lauren Oliver

Flawed Cecelia Ahern

Find more:

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Inspirational biographies

Hope in a Ballet Shoe Michaela DePrince
Adopted in the United States, a young girl from Sierra Leone dreams of becoming a professional ballet dancer. A great read, even if you’re not a dancer. Kate

In the sea there are crocodiles: The story of Enaiatollah Akbar Fabio Geda
Based on the true story of 10-year-old Enaiatollah’s escape from Afghanistan, and his journey across the mountains and seas to safety in Italy. Kate

In order to live Yeonmi Park (picked by Saskia, Cashmere High Library)

Being Jazz Jazz Jennings

Never fall down Patricia McCormick (a work of fiction based on the true story of a Cambodian child soldier).

Find more:

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More recommendations

Personal recommended reads from librarians – from classics to new publications!

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Rachel from Scorpio Books recommended these books for teens:

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Saskia from Cashmere High’s library recommendeds the following good reads:

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More reading ideas

Enter the Winter Read Challenge and win prizes!

Hot tips for the Winter Read Challenge (for ages 13 to 18)

Winter Read Challenge is ON! Here are some hot reading ideas from teens who have already got their entries in – thanks to you all for your v. cool suggestions.

I love Harry Potter and Divergent! I also loved Shiver because I like the supernatural. Best series ever! Zoe, 13

My favourite read was the Maze Runner trilogy. It was my favourite because I find dystopian novels very interesting. I love seeing how a world impacted by a catastrophic event can affect people in the future. Another read I loved was Warriors. I loved the idea of animals having personalities and reasons to show virtues. Many characters in this series had very strong arcs that I loved to learn about. Treasa, 15

My favourite read was Flawed by Cecelia Ahern which is a dystopian novel. I really enjoyed reading this because of the really creative storyline and all the unexpected plot twists. It is probably my all time favourite book. Another book that I really enjoying reading was actually a graphic novel called Smile by Raina Telgemeier. I normally don’t read many graphic novels but this reading challenging inspired me to give it a go. I really enjoyed Smile – I found it quite funny and the illustrations were superb! Phoebe, 13

A Court of Thorns and Roses series, Six of Crows duology, Leah on the Offbeat, Boy Meets Boy, Carry On, Sweep series, You Know Me Well, Been Here All Along, The Folk of the Air series. Lily, 16

My favourite reads were Me Before You and Still Alice because they both confronted the lives of someone with an illness or a disability. They challenged stereotypes and commonly-held perceptions in witty ways that made me laugh, cry and feel so emotionally connected to the characters. Amazing novels! Ewen, 15

I love to read fantasy books I also love to read romance stories. My favourite author would have to be Marissa Meyer because of the books she has written. Talei, 15

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More reading ideas

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Enter the Winter Read Challenge and win prizes!

Out on the Shelves: Connecting rainbow young people with the stories that represent them

I love reading books about characters like me. And I know I’m not the only one like that. Books, stories, movies – we all want to see ourselves in these. Because we’re all different, we’re all awesome, and we all have interesting tales to share.

When you’re reading about people, whether they’re fiction or non-fiction stories, books will fall into two categories: windows, or mirrors. And although one reader might see themself reflected in a particular story, their friend might not. That book is a mirror for the reader, and a window for their friend.

Books act like windows when they let us into different worlds. We do not see ourself in the character, because we are not like them. We read about a way of life that’s different from our own, and find out about other people’s beliefs, worries, hopes, and daily life. These stories help us learn more about this way of life, and might make things seem a bit less scary, if there are beliefs and customs we don’t know much about. ‘Window books’ help us develop empathy towards others.

“Mirror books’ let you see yourself represented in literature. You read about someone that lives the same way as you, that has the same interests, background, goals, and difficulties. It is like looking in a mirror. You see yourself reflected in the book, and feel pretty good that someone’s taken the time to write a book about a character like you … especially if that book has a positive outcome, and shows you that can have a fun life and overcome those those things that are a bit tricky for you! When you see someone like you in a book, you feel like you can do what that character can do.

But what happens when you don’t see yourself represented in the books you read?

If you are a member of a minority group (for example, you’re somewhere along the  LGBTQ* spectrum, or a person of colour, or you have a disability), you’re less likely to read books about people like you. It’s basic maths – people generally write what they know, and because there aren’t as many minority authors, there aren’t as many minority books.  Sure, there are lots of great stories and books out there, but sometimes you just want to read about someone like you. For lack of a better word, you want to be ‘normal’, rather than always being ‘other’.

Which brings us to ‘Out on the Shelves’ – an online reading resource connecting rainbow young people with the stories that represent them. This is the brainchild of the fantastic folks at InsideOUT, a group who work to make the country a safer and more welcoming place for young people of all different gender identities and sexualities.

Their goal with Out on the Shelves is to create a place where rainbow youth can find books by rainbow authors, and/or showing rainbow characters. The resource is just getting started, and so they are hoping to get people to review and suggest other titles in the future, but there are already a couple of really cool booklists to look at, and downloadable resources with even more specific characteristics (eg children’s books with rainbow characters, books with non-binary characters, and books with asexual characters).  I am really looking forward to seeing this resource grow into the future, and seeing what other great books there are that people recommend.

So if you, or someone you know, is looking to read a book about a rainbow character, check this resource out, then pop along to your local library and see which of the titles they’ve got on offer.

In the meantime, why not check out some of these other rainbow titles held at Christchurch City Libraries. And don’t forget, we love getting suggestions for new titles, so if there’s a great rainbow title you’d like us to add to our collection, let us know.

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  • The Pants Project by Cat Clarke: a  young transgender boy fights for his right to wear the right school uniform.
  • Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli: the book that inspired the movie ‘Love, Simon’, this is the story about the highs and lows of being gay at high school.
  • If I was your Girl by Meredith Russo: a book about a transgirl settling in to a new school, written by a transgender author, and with a trans model on the cover.
  • If you Could be Mine by Sara Farizan: Two girls in love in Iran, where homosexuality is forbidden.
  • They Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera: how would you spend your last day, if you knew it was your last?
  • Georgia Peaches and Other Forbidden Fruit by Jaye Robin Browne: Joanna’s been an out lesbian for ages, but when her family moves to a church-going town, she also has to move back into the closet.
  • They, She, He, Me: Free to be! by Maya Christina Gonzalez: a book for little people and their big people, about why pronouns matter.

Booklists

Literary Prizes

InsideOut

 

Podcast – Youth suicide

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

The latest episode deals with youth suicide. New Zealand has high rates of youth suicide, especially among Māori and Pasifika populations.

  • Part I: Sir Peter Gluckman (Prime Minister’s Chief Science Advisor)
    Youth suicide statistics in NZ and elsewhere; possible reasons; the importance of providing supportive contexts for young people.
  • Parts II and III: Jackie Burrows and Tanith Petersen (He Waka Tapu) and Wesley Mauafu (PYLAT – Pacific Youth Leadership and Transformation). Possible reasons; situation among different ethnic groups; situation in post-earthquake Christchurch and Elements for youth suicide prevention initiatives – sport, music, support, etc.

Transcript of the audio

Find out more

Cover of Suicide awareness and preventioncover of Spin by Dylan Horrocks Cover of Y do u h8 me Cover of Breaking the silence Cover of Sorrows of a century Cover The Roaring Silence A Compendium of Interviews, Essays, Poetry, Art and Prose About Suicide Cover of Twelve Thousand hours Cover of After the Suicide of Someone You Know Information and Support for Young People Cover A Practical Guide to Working With Suicidal Youth Cover of Alcohol information for teens

More about Speak up – Kōrerotia

The show is also available on the following platforms:

Tutor available 24/7 – Lynda.com

Have you started studying this year and are feeling a little out of your depth? or do you want something to help you be at the top of your game. We have just the thing for you – a tutor available 24/7. Lynda.com has tutors for heaps of courses – to either help you with your studies, or try a course before you buy. Check out these great study starters to set you off on the right foot. All you need to get started is a library card and password/PIN.

 Learning Speed Reading

Learn how to read faster. Improve your reading speed and comprehension with these proven speed-reading techniques. Speed-reading is a skill everyone can benefit from, and this course provides proven techniques to improve how much information you absorb and how fast you absorb it.

 Learning Study Skills

Get tips for improving your reading speed and memory, creating detailed notes and preparing for tests. The information in this course is appropriate for all levels of learners, from school  to university students and full-time members of the workforce. Start watching now—you’ll never approach studying the same way again.

 Information Literacy

Information literacy is the ability to discover and use various types of information. It’s an essential skill for navigating the information age. Learn about strategies for finding information – from a library, archive, database or the internet – and the ethics of using what you find. This one is definitely one to trust – the tutor is a Librarian!

 Improving your Memory

Improve your memory with these memorization techniques. It explains the best methods for different situations, like remembering names, important dates, passwords, to-do lists, quotes, and more. These techniques will prove invaluable, whether you’re memorizing facts for a test at school, points for a work presentation, or trivia to impress your friends.

 Learning Algebra: Pre Algebra

Pre-algebra is the first step in high school math, forming the building blocks that lead to geometry, trigonometry, and calculus. This course will help you master the basics: from addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division to new types of numbers (integers and negative numbers) and concepts such as the order of operations and distribution.

New year, new reads: Sci-fi, fantasy and mystery for teens

I’ve read so many YA books recently it’s difficult to choose which ones to blog about! I’ve made a list of my favourite teen reads in 2017 (all but one published last year and all highly recommended), so that frees me up to talk about some YA books from the new year.

If you like… science fiction

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Martians Abroad by Carrie Vaughn

Polly is happy living in a colony on Mars, hoping one day to pilot a spaceship across the galaxy — but then her mother sends her and her twin brother to Earth to attend the prestigious Galileo Academy. Struggling to adapt (both socially and to the increase in gravity), Polly has to deal with more than just agoraphobia on her school field trips — something (or someone) seems to be targeting her and her group of friends. And each time, they’re raising the stakes…

If you like… fantasy set in Hungary

Cover of Blood Rose RebellionBlood Rose Rebellion by Rosalyn Eves

Anna Arden is unusual in being born into a prestigious magical family but having no magical ability herself — instead of casting spells, she breaks them. When she breaks her sister’s debutante spell she finds herself pretty unpopular with both her family and with noble magic society in general, so Anna finds herself packed off to Hungary with her grandmother. But Hungary might not be the best place to lie low, with resentment towards the Austro-Hungarian Empire rising. Soon Anna finds herself embroiled in a plot to overthrow the magic elite — and her magic-breaking ability might just be the key.

The second book in the trilogy (Lost Crow Conspiracy) is due to be published next month, so now’s a good time to start reading.

If you like… Sweeney Todd and demon librarians

Cover of Evil LibrarianEvil Librarian by Michelle Knudsen

A silly romp of a book reminiscent of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Cynthia is amused when her best friend Annie falls in love with the new school librarian Mr. Gabriel, but amusement turns to horror when she realises Mr. Gabriel is actually a demon hell-bent on sucking the life force out of all the students and making Annie his demon bride. Luckily he also loves musicals, so Cynthia has until the opening night of the school production of Sweeney Todd to try and save her best friend and banish her demon(s).

If this sounds like your cup of tea be sure to grab new sequel Revenge of the Evil Librarian as well!

If you like… twisty turny books that turn your head inside out

Cover of Jane, UnlimitedJane, Unlimited by Kristin Cashore

This starts innocuously enough, with Jane being invited to stay at an old friend’s island mansion (as you do). Once there, however, it’s soon clear that there’s a lot more to the island that meets the eye — a cornucopia of mysteries await Jane’s investigative eye! And she investigates them all, the book gradually revealing more and more until she finally figures out the answer to the question she’s been asking all along — what really happened to her Aunt Magnolia?

If you like Jane, Unlimited then I’d also recommend Iris and the Tiger by Leanne Hall, which also involves aunts, mysteries and a bizarre house full of secrets, but set in Spain.

Get in the driver’s seat with Youthtown – Sign up for Learners Licence workshops starting 12 February

Christchurch City Libraries is hosting Youthtown’s six week after-school Learners Licence Workshops from 12 February. It costs $130 for six sessions. The workshop for teens aged 16 to 18 involve four group theory sessions going through the road code and practice tests, with snacks provided. On session 5, your tutors will take you to book in your test, and on session 6 they will take you to sit the test. The workshop also has a Facebook closed group you can join and be tested daily on questions from the road code.

Learner Licence Workshop schedule

Bishopdale

Monday 12 February to Monday 26 March at Ōrauwhata: Bishopdale Library and Commmunity Centre, 3.30pm to 5pm

Upper Riccarton

Thursday 15 February to Thursday 29 March at Upper Riccarton Community and School Library, 3.30pm to 5pm

New Brighton

Friday 16 February to Friday 30 March at New Brighton Library, 3.30pm to 5pm

There is also a programme downstairs in Eastgate Mall:

Linwood

Tuesday 13 February to Tuesday 26 March in the mall opposite Bed, Bath, Beyond.

Bookings

The course is delivered by professional Youthtown tutors who are highly experienced in delivering the programme and making sure all young people get the best chance possible to qualify for their learner licence.

More about learning to drive

More about Youthtown

Youthtown is a nationally operated, not for profit organisation. In their own words:

Since first opening our doors as Boystown in 1932, we have evolved into one of New Zealand’s leading youth organisations within key communities. We are highly regarded for the developmental programmes we offer young people and we’re committed to providing a safe environment where young New Zealanders can dream it, then do it the Youthtown way. We empower young New Zealanders, aged 5-18, to be the best they can be! Their journey with Youthtown alongside their schooling, supplements the learning and development they receive there, in a physical, creative and social way.

A confusion of princes

CoverSometimes it seems like everything written in  YA speculative fiction is part of a trilogy – or an even longer series of wrist-achingly heavy books –  so it’s quite refreshing to read a well-crafted stand-alone every now and then. A Confusion of Princes is a thrilling adventure set in a futuristic intergalactic Empire, and the world-building is so vast and vividly imagined that I couldn’t help but wonder how on Earth (or in the Empire) the author was going to tie up the story in just one book. The bestselling author of The Old Kingdom series, Garth Nix utilizes a first-person narrative that allows for quick but detailed exposition and the conversational style, along with an action-packed plot and breathless pacing, kept me immersed from the first page to the last. My main feeling while reading? This book is fun!

Prince Khemri grows up convinced that he is the one and only heir to a massive intergalactic Empire – only to belatedly realise that in fact he is one of some ten million Princes (both male and female) all competing for the ultimate position of Emperor. Highly trained in psychic warfare and conditioned from early childhood to believe in his ultimate superiority, not just over ordinary humans but also among the genetically enhanced Princes, Khemri’s innate conscience and code of ethics give him a rare potential to rediscover his own humanity. Throughout the narrative Khemri looks back on his early naïve thought processes and unfortunate choices with a charmingly frank dismay, so it is easy to empathize with him despite his planet-sized ego. This is a good thing, because even in the first few pages he faces death enough times that it was necessary for me to be fully on his side!

The book’s style is fascinatingly reminiscent of a fantasy roleplaying game. Starting out at what could be seen as Level 1 with only a personal Master of Assassins and a couple of priests to their names, Princes are able to win or otherwise acquire more priests, apprentice assassins, and other human assets through their actions. The more priests a Prince has, the greater his or her ability to attack and defend against psychic attacks, in turn creating more opportunities to rise in status and power. The tendency for Princes to regard their human priests and assassins mere commodities reinforces the game-like atmosphere. Humans are cards in a Prince’s hand – useful, but disposable. Khemri, though, goes through several unusual experiences that begin to teach him otherwise. The plot twists expertly at the climax, and despite my disbelief that the story could not possibly be resolved in so few pages, I was proven wrong. Satisfied by the conclusion, yet hungry for more, I was delighted to turn over the last page and find that Nix had anticipated my desire and prepared dessert – a quirky short story set in the same universe!

Similar books on my favourites list…

The Homeward Bounders by Diana Wynne Jones
Maddigan’s Fantasia by Margaret Mahy
Deep Secret by Diana Wynne Jones
Uglies by Scott Westerfeld
The Angel Experiment by James Patterson
For the Win by Cory Doctorow

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Emily
New Brighton

Papanui PlayStation Playoff!

Papanui Library is now hosting a monthly PlayStation 4 competition.

What?!?!? Sign me up, you say? Well, let me give you the lowdown:
The resident Gamemasters (Michael and Damien) select a game of the month and devise a wicked competition for all budding gamers to test their abilities. The challenge runs for a month and a leader board in the library shows the top 5 competitors!

The top player at the end of the month wins an AMAZING PRIZE (think movies and free!) and bragging rights for the whole month.

Any library member can rock up and join in – just ask a librarian to book the PlayStation and the Gamemasters will set you up (there are a few rules to adhere to). Make sure you show us your score too, no sneaky cheats in the library please…

This month’s game is Wipeout, a futuristic racer game but with guns – who said driving would ever be easy?

So what do you reckon? Are you a master of computer manipulation? Can you drive, drift and shoot at the same time? Can you top the table and topple the reigning champ? Come down and give it a go – we double dare you!

Here’s the current champion Steven Fletcher; he’s the Rocket League master and scored 37 to 2 in last month’s challenge. Woah! Way to go Steve!

Find out more about games and gaming at your library.

Damien
Papanui Library