Enter our Autumn Reading Competition

At Christchurch City Libraries we’re combining our Autumn Reading Competition with the New Zealand Post Book Awards for Children and Young Adults.  The finalists in this year’s book awards are announced on Tuesday 8 April and this is also when our Autumn Reading Competition opens.

During the Autumn Reading Promotion you’ll have the chance to vote for your favourite finalist book in the New Zealand Post Book Awards for Children and Young Adults, and you’ll have the chance to win a trip to Orana Park for your class or your family.

Here on the Christchurch Kids Blog we have extra chances for you to win.  You could win a set of the Junior Fiction finalist books and Subway vouchers, just for sending us your response to one of the finalist books.  You could write a review, write a poem, create something and send us a photo, or you could write a story based on one of the books.  Email your response to christchurchkidsblog@ccc.govt.nz or enter it as a comment on this post.

Competition closes Friday 21 May.  See below for terms and conditions

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Meet our April Star Author – Tania Hutley

Our awesome April Star Author is New Zealand author, Tania Hutley.  Tania writes for both children and adults.  She has written two books for Young Adults, Tough Enough and 99 Flavours of Suck.  Several of Tania’s short stories have been published in collections for children, including Pick n’ Mix: Assorted Kiwi Stories, Great Mates: 30 New Zealand Stories for Children, and Stories for 7 Year Olds.

Thanks for joining us Tania!  We’re looking forward to hearing all about your books and your writing.

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Write Stories. Win Prizes.

The Fabo Story challenge is back!   What’s Fabo Story you ask?  It’s an ongoing competition where you can enter stories for the chance to win prizes!

fabo-for-blog

Fabo Story is Fabulous!

✭ Here’s the website link: http://fabostory.wordpress.com/

✭ There’ll be a new story contest to enter every couple of weeks. (Or longer if it’s over the school holidays). Each time the judge and the story’s opening paragraph changes, you can enter again for another chance to win.

✭ It’s free and fun!

Meet The Judges

Fabo Story started four years ago when a group of ✭C✭R✭A✭Z✭Y✭ children’s authors got together and asked, “How can we encourage more kids to write stories?”  It’s been a wild four years, but we’re still here!

Here’s a little bit about us:

fifi-colston-smlFifi Colston

Fifi Colston is an artist, author and all round creative person who has a motto: ‘If you can’t draw it, write it- and if all else fails, get out the hot glue gun!’

She often does all three.

You can read about her latest novel ‘Glory’ here: www.florencebright.blogspot.com

maureenMaureen Crisp

Maureen loves being a writer. She says “You can spy on people, write down what they say and make up characters in books that look just like them… but they will never guess. And reading all the time is research so I have to do it. (really!)”

Website for kids: www.bonesbymaureencrisp.blogspot.com

elenaElena De Roo

When she was growing up Elena went to seven different primary schools all around NZ but has lived in Auckland since she was eleven. She likes chips and ice cream (far too much and occasionally together) and writes poems, rhymes and quirky stories.

tania-hutleyTania Hutley

Tania’s favourite snack is avocado and peanut butter on toast. In a perfect world Tania would spend all her time writing, but she’s only able to afford all those expensive avocados by working for a company that makes computer games. Though she gets to play games a lot at work, she thinks making up stories is even more fun.

She’s written a book for kids called Tough Enough, another called 99 Flavours of Suck, and a few short stories too. She doesn’t hold any official world record, but her friends are convinced that she is actually the worst singer who ever lived.

www.taniahutley.com

johannaJohnanna Knox

Johanna Knox writes The Fly Papers – a mystery-adventure series about mutant carnivorous plants (illustrated by the wonderful Sabrina Malcolm).

Johanna is also the editor of Wild Things – Forest & Bird’s science and nature mag for kids. If you haven’t seen it – take a look: http://www.kcc.org.nz/magazine

kyle-posterKyle Mewburn

I’ve always loved writing. Unfortunately my handwriting has always been horrendous. No matter how hard I try it always comes out looking like a cockroach has stepped in some ink and crawled across the page. Luckily some smartypants invented the computer. There was no stopping me after that! I’ve now written more books than I count without taking my socks off. When I’m not writing I’m either in my garden singing to my vegies, in the creek swimming or off exploring the strange land I’ve discovered at the back of my wardrobe. (OK, that last bit may not be completely true…)

I’ve also got a website – www.kylemewburn.com

michelle-paintMichele Powles

Michele Powles has been a dancer and arty type all of her life. Without realising it, she discovered she was much better at writing and decided that was what she wanted to be when she grew up. She’s still working on the growing up part.

Most of her writing is for adults but sometimes a story will come up that is too awesome so she saves it for kids only. She thinks reading is cool.

www.michelepowles.com

melinda-szymanikMelinda Szymanik

Melinda can often be found glued to the television, tapping away on a computer keyboard or with her nose in a book. She has a cat and a dog, some children and a husband, and lives in Auckland. Melinda loves movies and hates driving on motorways and thinks it should be okay to wear pyjamas to work. Writing stories is her favourite thing to do and you can find some of her best stories on the shelves in bookshops and libraries, like Clever Moo, Jack the Viking and The Were-Nana (winner of the 2009 NZ Post Children’s Choice Award). Melinda is currently looking for the answer to the question ‘Who would win? Were-wolves or Gorillas?

www.melindaszymanik.blogspot.com

kathy-white-smlKathy White

If I wasn’t a writer, I’d be a wildlife photographer. My favourite things are animals and words. Pictures come next. In my book called A Hairy Tale my favourite character has a haircut that makes her look like a baby gorilla called Lulu. I had no way of knowing back then that gorillas would turn out to be so significant in my writing. I’ve written 13 books and about 130 stories, articles and plays.

www.kathywhite.co.nz

So why are you still here reading, when you could be writing a story and entering the Fabo Story challenge? Go on, do it now!

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An Interview with NZ Post Children’s Book Awards Finalist Melinda Szymanik

wintersdayThe NZ Post Children’s Book Awards finalists were announced this week, and I was thrilled to see Melinda Szymanik’s wonderful book A Winter’s Day in 1939 was on the list.

“Adam is 13 years old and lives with his family on a small farm in rural Poland. It is 1939 and the war has just broken out. Russians invade Poland and confiscate Adam’s family’s house and farm. They are sent to live with another family nearby, but are then moved on and put on a train for a Russian labour camp as refugees, prisoners of Russia.”

If you haven’t read this book, you should rush to your library or bookstore now! You’ll be gripped by Adam’s story, which is based on what actually happened to Melinda’s own father. So while you’re getting engrossed in what happens to Adam, you’ll be amazed to know that it’s all based on truth and the things described in the story really did occur!

I asked Melinda a few questions about her writing, and this is what she told me:

TANIA: Congratulations on being a finalist in this year’s NZ Post Book Awards! A Winter’s Day in 1939 was also named as a Storylines Notable Book this year. How are you feeling, and did you have any idea your book would be so widely acclaimed?

MELINDA: I am feeling beyond thrilled. And I am so happy that I have had this opportunity to introduce readers to a little known side of World War 2. You always hope people will like what you have written but this kind of response is like a dream come true.

TANIA: How did you research the book and how long did it take?

MELINDA: My father made about 20 pages worth of notes which I referred to continuously – these provided the main underlying structure of the story. Details were added by referring to books, information gathered off the internet or from my parents. I was keen to focus on a single experience and I think this makes ‘Adam’s’ story a more personal one for the reader to connect with. Research was an ongoing process throughout the writing and the book took me roughly 18 months to two years to write.

TANIA: A Winter’s Day in 1939 is based on your father’s real experiences during the war. How do your family feel about the book? Are they pleased his story is being told?

MELINDA: My family are very happy with how the book turned out. My mother was always telling me to write my father’s story. In the end I saw it as an opportunity to honour his experience and his bravery and they feel the same.

TANIA: Have you visited any of the places mentioned in the book?

MELINDA: No, but I would like to.

TANIA: What new books have you got coming out, and what are you working on now?

Melinda Szymanik

Melinda Szymanik

MELINDA: I have a new picture book coming out in July (The Song of Kauri, Scholastic) which is a little like a Maori myth and is about a Kauri tree. The illustrations by Dominique Ford are stunning. There is also a Maori version of this book. And I am currently working on several new stories at the moment – another historical story based on the Polish orphans who came to New Zealand in 1944 (it’s the 70 year anniversary of their arrival this year) for an intermediate aged audience, and a young adult fantasy story.

Thanks a lot, Melinda, for answering my questions, and good luck with the awards.

If you want to know more about Melinda and her wonderful books, check out her blog site by clicking here.

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Getting Dark Earlier = More Time To Read!

Happy end of daylight savings everyone!  Colder weather is coming, which is the perfect excuse to sneak into bed a little earlier and snuggle up with a good book.  There’s nothing I like better!

I’d love to get some book tips from you, so please tell me in the comments what you’re reading and whether you’re enjoying it. Or what your favourite book is.

Here’s what’s on my bedside table right now:

wonder

Wonder

by R.J. Palacio

“I won’t describe what I look like. Whatever you’re thinking, it’s probably worse.”

Because of the way he looks, Auggie Pullman’s never been to school. He just wants to be treated like everyone else, but how can that happen when he looks so different?

This is a story that will both make you laugh and break your heart. It’s unusual in that different chapters are in the point of view of different characters. The reader not only gets to know Auggie, but the people around him as well.

This is one of the best books I’ve ever read and I highly recommend it.

My favourite quote from Wonder:

“Hey, if they want to give me a medal for being me, that’s okay. I’ll take it. I didn’t destroy a Death Star or anything like that, but I did just get through the fifth grade. And that’s not easy, even if you’re not me.”

lookingforalaska

Looking For Alaska

By John Green

John Green is one of my favourite writers.  I can’t wait for The Fault In Our Stars to come out as a movie, and I really hope it’s even half as awesome as the book.

Looking For Alaska is not your typical boy-meets-girl story. Miles “Pudge” Halter’s off to boarding school and in search of the ‘Great Perhaps’. He finds Alaska Young, a human hurricane who swirls him into her world, snatches his heart, then tears him apart. It’s a wild ride of a book that made me giggle uncontrollably and wipe away tears.

This one’s for older readers. If you’re a teenager looking for a book that pulls no punches, give it a try.

My favourite quote from Looking For Alaska:

“So I walked back to my room and collapsed on the bottom bunk, thinking that if people were rain, I was drizzle and she was a hurricane.”

holes

Holes

By Louis Sachar

Sentenced to Camp Green Lake for a crime he didn’t commit, Stanley Yelnats is forced to spend all day digging holes in a dry lake under a punishing sun. Stanley blames the family curse for his bad luck and tries to make the best of things. But he soon discovers that there’s a reason the cruel warden has them digging holes.  

This is a very clever book, and I loved the way all the connections were slowly revealed. How is a centuries-old curse connected to a pair of shoes falling from the sky, connected to Kissing Kate Barlow, an outlaw of the Wild West?  Read Holes to find out!

My favourite quote from Holes:

“It was all because of his no-good-dirty-rotten-pig-stealing great-great-grandfather!”

daughterofsmoke

Daughter of Smoke and Bone

By Laini Taylor

“Once upon a time, an angel and a devil fell in love. It did not end well.”

This is the first book of a series of three. I read and enjoyed the first two, and the third one (Dreams of Gods and Monsters) has just come out and I can’t wait to read it!

If you’re a teenager looking for an exceptional fantasy series and great characters to sigh over, get into this one and you won’t be sorry.  Now I’ve got to run, I’ve got a book to read…

My favourite quotes from Daughter of Smoke and Bone:

“Loneliness is worse when you return to it after a reprieve—like the soul’s version of putting on a wet bathing suit, clammy and miserable.”

“It is a condition of monsters that they do not perceive themselves as such. The dragon, you know, hunkered in the village devouring maidens, heard the townsfolk cry ‘Monster!’ and looked behind him.”

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Hello From Me!

Thank you for having me as guest author this month!  I’m very glad to be here.

By way of introduction, for my first post I thought I’d share a couple of pics and also a story I wrote so you can get to know me a little.

kitties-on-desk-small

The first thing to know about me is that I’m crazy about animals. I have three cats, which doesn’t help at all when it comes to writing. Here are two of them on my desk. Where’s my keyboard? Good question!  It’s days like this I don’t manage to get much writing done.

As well as writing, I work for a company that makes computer games, which means I get to play lots of games… which doesn’t feel like real work, but hey, who’s complaining?  The main game I work on is a virtual world called SmallWorlds.  Here’s a picture of my avatar in the game firing a toilet paper gun at someone. Yes, I am working hard!

smallworlds

So to finish off my introduction, do you want a story? Here’s one I wrote that won a prize but hasn’t been published anywhere… except right here, right now! So you’re probably the only kids anywhere in the world who get to read this story.  I really hope you like it!

Chemistry in a Yellow Dress

(A short story by Tania Hutley)

Being good at sport doesn’t make me dumb. I can write an essay that makes my English teacher rave. But chemistry’s another thing. All those stupid element names!

Jamie’s top in chemistry and I think that’s why Mr Black paired me with him. “There’ll be no final exam,” Mr Black said. “Instead you can present a project on anything you want. But you have to do it in pairs.”

While everyone else was talking about their projects, Mr Black drew me aside. “This is your last chance, Max. Fail this and you fail the whole subject.”

Feeling sick, I slunk back to my seat next to Jamie. “What project are we going to do?” I asked.

He just stared at me with his arms folded. “I’m not going to do anything,” he said. “Why should I help you? I’ve already done enough this year to get Merit.”

I couldn’t believe it. He couldn’t still be mad, could he? “I said I was sorry, okay?”

“You said it, but you’re not.”

He was right. Just remembering the trick I’d played on him made me want to crack up. His expression when he went to get changed after PE and found his uniform stapled to the ceiling was so funny the whole class killed themselves laughing. “It was just a joke,” I said. “You can’t still be mad. If I fail chemistry they might make me repeat the whole year.”

“So?”

“It wasn’t personal or anything, I was just being funny. And I had to do all that detention.”

Jamie thought about it. “I’ll help you on one condition,” he finally said. “You get your sister to go to the social with me.”

My sister? She was a year ahead of us and so tough I swear she ate small children for breakfast. And she hated me. No way was she going to do me a favour.

I asked her anyway. She made me beg for a while, then laid down her conditions. “You gotta go to the social too,” she said.

“No problem.”

“Let me finish.” Her grin was pure evil. She opened her wardrobe and whipped out a yellow polka-dot dress with frills on it. “You gotta go wearing this.”

“No way!”

“And a wig.”

“You’re crazy!”

“High heels.” She rubbed her hands together. “And makeup. I think bright red lipstick would suit you.”

“NO WAY!”

She smirked. “That’s the deal. Take it or leave it.”

Then it struck me. The social was the night after our project was due. I could just pretend I was going to go through with it until our project was presented, then pull out. Sneaky. I got guilt pangs thinking about it. It would be too late for Jamie to ask anyone else, but he already hated me, so he probably expected me to betray him. At least, that’s what I told myself.

I nodded slowly. “Alright, I’ll do it.”

When Jamie heard, he laughed like a maniac. “In a dress?” he kept saying, then laughing some more. “This is going to be great!”

“Why do you want to go out with my sister?” I had to ask.

He shrugged. “I don’t like the girls in our year.”

“Not even Mandy?”

“Mandy’s a friend,” he said. “But she’s not my type.”

I couldn’t believe it! You’d have to be blind, deaf and totally dumb not to like Mandy. “I didn’t know you were friends with her,” I said. “I’d have asked her to the social, but she won’t even talk to me.”

He grinned. “Mandy’s got taste. She doesn’t like bullies.”

“I’m not a bully!”

I thought he was talking rubbish. But later I started to wonder. Was I a bully? I’d never done anything really nasty; I just liked joking around. My mates thought I was hilarious. But I guess some gags might have seemed mean. I decided maybe I should give the tricks a miss for a while. I’d still clown around, but I’d try not to make anyone else the butt of the joke.

Jamie kept his end of the deal. “Our project should be about Ernest Rutherford,” he decided.

“Who?”

“He was from Nelson. Got a Nobel Prize in Chemistry.”

“Boring.”

“Boring? He was the first person to split the atom.”

“So?”

He stared at me like I was dumb. “The first to get a nuclear reaction.”

I imagined a mushroom cloud over Nelson. “That’s kinda interesting,” I admitted.

“And he was the first person to figure out how old the Earth is.”

“How old is it?”

“Find out for yourself. This is your project too. I’m not doing all the work.”

When I googled the guy, I found out heaps more stuff. “Did you know Rutherford invented smoke dectectors?” I said to Jamie.

“Great, we’ll put that in the project too,” he said. “Want to draw diagrams of his experiments?”

“Sure.”

By the time it was due, our project looked awesome. And I was proud of myself because I hadn’t played a single trick on anyone, even though I’d thought of some really funny ones. I hadn’t told anyone about my resolution, so I got no credit for resisting. But I told Jamie that I really was sorry for the joke I’d played on him, and this time I meant it. He didn’t say much in return. I was hoping he might admit I wasn’t a bully, but he just changed the subject.

When we presented our project we blew Mr Black away. He asked me a million questions, trying to catch me out, thinking Jamie had done the whole thing. No way! I answered everything right and pointed out the diagrams I’d done. His grin when we finished told me I’d passed.

So that was that, right? All I had to do was pull out of that stupid deal I’d made with my sister, and everything would be great.

Just one problem. I couldn’t do it.

Jamie was a mate now, even if he was still mad with me. I couldn’t let down a mate, could I? And he’d been looking forward to the social. If you ask me, having a crush on my sister was like fancying a poisonous snake, but he acted all goofy when she was around. So lame, but I felt sorry for him. Of all the girls at our school, he had to fall for my sister!

So on the day of the social, I pulled on that awful yellow dress. My sister had her fun painting colours on my eyes and lips, and putting a blonde wig on my head. She’d even found a pair of high heels in a thrift shop that would fit me. I told you she hated me!

Five million times I almost pulled out. But I didn’t.

Walking into the school hall wearing a dress was the hardest thing I’ve ever done. Word had got out about the deal I’d made, but no-one thought I’d go through with it. The spotlight was on me as I walked in. I almost drowned in the sea of laughter. My so-called mates were on the floor laughing. Then wolf whistles started coming from all directions. I would have turned and run, except for those stupid high heels. I could hardly even walk in them.

Jamie came up to me, grinning. “Joke’s on you,” he said. “Your sister was coming with me anyway. We cooked this up together.”

Sure enough, my sister hooked her arm through his and the two of them sniggered.

I swallowed. Everyone thought of me as a trickster. Getting mad would make me look like I couldn’t handle it when the tables were turned.

“Good one.” I forced a smile onto my face. “You got me, alright.”

I left them looking surprised and hobbled over to the drinks table. I’d have one glass of punch, let everyone have their laugh, then get outta there.

I’d just drained the glass when I felt a tap on my back. It was Mandy, in a white dress, looking so pretty I thought angel wings might suddenly sprout from her back.

“Hi Max.”

“Um. Hi.”

“Nice outfit.”

“Um. Thanks.”

She tilted her head to one side. “You know, I used to think you were a loser,” she said. “But Jamie said you were okay.”

“Did he?” For some reason I’d lost the ability to string more than two words together.

She smiled. “And you look quite pretty in yellow.”

Pretty? My face caught fire.

“Wanna dance?” she asked.

Was she kidding? I glanced around to make sure it wasn’t another joke and saw my mates staring. They weren’t laughing any more; they looked like they wished they were wearing dresses too.
I managed to grin at Mandy and my brain started to reboot after its initial melt-down. “Promise you won’t step on my high heels?” I asked. Not much of a joke, but she laughed anyway.

“It’s a deal,” she said.

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Kids’ Books: picks from our March newsletter

Some fun new book picks from our March Kids’ Books newsletter:

Cover of Children's Book of Mythical Beasts & Magical MonstersCover of The Ghosts of Tupelo LandingCover of Ophelia and the Marvelous BoyCover of The Lego MovieCover of Ice DogsCover of Canterbury QuakeCover of The Monster Fun Joke BookCover of The Sea of MonstersCover of The Pirate's Eye

Subscribe to our newsletters and get our latest titles and best picks straight to your inbox.

For more great reads for kids, check out our Fun to Read page – it links you to reading lists, if you likes, interactive quizzes and lots more.

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