Archive for November, 2010

Amaze your friends, family and teachers with your awesome presentation skills.

Are you sick of doing homework on Word and PowerPoint? Do your posters look boring? Do you want to blow your teachers away? Well, let me introduce you to Prezi.

Prezi is a great website to make your posters on and it is oh so fun, you write what you want to write and then make a path through your thoughts and you will be amazed at the outcome. Spinning information and learning while having fun. This is so easy that my little 8 year old sister can do it.

Here is the link to a Prezi Amy did for her homework. Amy’s Prezi

If you like the look of it then try it for yourself and be astounded.

This is the link to the website.  Prezi

Please comment if you like this website. ( you probably will, I loved it.)

Rhys

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The Dead by Charlie Higson

This is the second of the ‘The Enemy’ series, The Dead.

Jack and Ed are best friends in this time of crisis.  Their friendship will be tested to the limits when they are battling these zombies, (Sickos they call ’em).  They must escape from the school and fight their way out, all the while watching a girl being trapped in a school-house.

Once they  have saved her they cross the road to the local church, only to find Matt, one of the most strong-willed, quick thinking boys from the community has gone crazy and is thinking a boy, called ‘The Lamb’ is going to save them all.           

Their friendship and their trust are about to be pushed to the limit, while Jack and Ed fight fire (and ‘Sickos’) with fire.  Matt is still rattling on about The Lamb

I give it 10 out of 10 and almost everyone will love it.

Rhys age 11

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Bartimaeus returns in The Ring of Solomon

If you’ve read The Amulet of Samarkand, The Golem’s Eye, and Ptolemy’s Gate, you’ll love The Ring of Solomon.  This is a great series if you love Harry Potter and Charlie Bone.  Get your copy from the library today.

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Frog Whistle Mine by Des Hunt

Frog Whistle Mine is Des Hunt’s fourth novel and the first book about Tony’s adventures. Tony and his mum move to Charleston, where there are abandoned mines to explore and friends to make. It seems Charleston might just be the place for them. Below the quiet, deserted surface of the town, however, is a shadowy mystery, lurking as deep as the mine. The few residents of Charleston hide many secrets, as Tony discovers. Tony and his new friend Rose are intrigued, and bit by bit, begin to piece it all together.

I really enjoyed reading this book. The characters were really well described and believable. The plot was exciting and I was pulled in like a nail to a magnet. I recommend Frog Whistle Mine to 9-12 year olds and rate it a 9/10

I am now reading the sequel,  Shadows in the Ice, which is proving to be as great a read as this book.

By Tierney

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Des Hunt – Last post

It’s now time to start writing. Beginning a story requires a lot of thought. In the first few chapters there is so much information that the reader needs in order to make sense of what is happening. The difficulty is giving that information without making it boring. Here are the first four paragraphs of Steel Pelicans.

“As always, the view was fantastic. Looking north Pete could see across Port Kembla to the centre of Wollongong and a little further up the coast until the haze merged sea and hills into one. Somewhere up there, less than 50 kays away, were the southern suburbs of Sydney.

The view to the south was equally spectacular with a long curving golden beach backed by the near vertical hills of the Illawarra escarpment. In the foreground, a group of surfers floated, waiting for the swells that could be seen arcing across the bay. Pete wished he was down there with them instead of up on the hill acting as lookout.

It hadn’t been his idea to come here. He’d wanted to do it in the culvert down by the shore which was where they normally went. But Kyle had said that his new and better bomb needed somewhere different, and as usual Kyle had got his way. So Pete had been sent up onto the lookout to warn if anyone was coming, while Kyle and the others broke into the building below. So far, the only spies he’d seen were the pelicans riding the updraft in the afternoon sea breeze.

Hill 60 was its military name. During World War Two it had been the home of the guns that had protected Port Kembla against attack from the Japanese or the Germans. Neither came and the guns had long been removed leaving a few concrete buildings and a honeycomb of tunnels. Kyle reckoned it was the perfect place to test his latest pipe bomb. This was made from more than just matches. He’d added a chemical from school that would, in his words, make it nuclear.”

The explosion will, of course, go wrong, giving an exciting start to the story. It also gives the opportunity for Pete and Kyle to show their strengths and weaknesses. I like some excitement at the start as I believe it helps the reader connect with the story. Once I have their attention, I can then take things a little slower for a couple of chapters or so, and get all the essential information out of the way.

That brings me to the end of this month of blogging. I’ve enjoyed it, and have been surprised by the way that writing about the story has helped me develop my ideas. Will Steel Pelicans ever get published? I don’t know. All I can say is that it is seven years since I had a book rejected by a publisher. That doesn’t mean that it couldn’t happen again: I’m always wary that if I let my standards drop I could once again get one of those dreaded rejection letters. If it is accepted, it will be 2012 at the earliest before it appears in bookshops. And it might not even be called Steel Pelicans. As a writer I can never be sure of anything until a contract is signed.

Many thanks to Zac and the team at Christchurch City Libraries for their help and encouragement. Ka kite.

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Behemoth

This is the second book in the Leviathan trilogy.

Alek and Deryn are still running and hiding secrets. They are with the Leviathan when the captain plans to bring Istanbul into the abnormal war.  The two of them are all caught up in this devious plotting and must do something like blow up a few war machines and save the Behemoth, a brand new monster kracken. They are going to destroy the Germans gift.

Will they be able to do it in time or will they fail!?

Read Behemoth and find out.

Rating 10 out of 10

Rhys

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A New Jacqueline Wilson

Hot off the press and ready for the Christmas gift giving comes The Longest Whale Song.  Ellas life isn’t going so great.  She doesn’t like her grumpy step-dad, baby Sam cries all the time and her best friend wants to be friends with Dory.  The worst, worst, worst thing of all is that her mum is in hospital in a coma.

Ellas school project on Whales helps Ella discover that Whales sing to each other underwater and lots of other amazing things about them.  Could a whale song help them get through to her mum?

This is yet another very readable book by Jacqueline.  Ella does alot of growing up in this book and a number of her relationships with people change.  She even makes a new friend.  The medical stuff about Ellas mum can be quite difficult to read so I’m recommending this for intermediate aged kids 11 to 13.

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Questions for Des Hunt

I’m a huge fan of Des Hunt’s and I was very excited to have him as one of our Star Authors.  I’ve loved reading his posts about creating a setting, characters and plot and we hope that you all have too.  I’ve read most of Des Hunt’s books so I had a few questions that I wanted to ask him.  You can read his answers here and if you have your own questions for Des you could add a comment.

Why did you want to be a writer?

Since I was very young I’ve been fascinated by science. I ended up becoming a teacher because I wanted to help others develop a similar interest. I wrote text books, invented electronic machines, created scientific games, anything that would help others understand the world around them. Eventually I turned to fiction. My specific aim was to feature New Zealand wildlife, it’s special nature and why we should take care with the environment.

What do you like most about writing for this age group?

Their open minds, their sense of wonder at discovering new things, and their willingness to be adventurous, at least within their minds. They’re also wonderful to meet when I visit schools and discuss writing. Even those who are not so keen on reading enjoy the chemistry and biology that are part of my presentations. It’s all part of the adventure both for them and for me.

Your stories are set in different parts of New Zealand. What is your favourite part of the country?

Any place that has a small population set in a wild place. If there are caves, geothermal activity, and native bush then all the better. In no set order my favourite regions would be: Coromandel Peninsula (that’s why I live here), West Coast of the South Island, Taupo-Rotorua, Kaikoura Coast.

You’ve just released The Naughty Kids Book of Nature, a non-fiction book about New Zealand wildlife, and your books feature some of that wildlife. What is your favourite native animal and why?

This one is easy to answer: the tuatara. It is a truly unique animal as it has no close relation left anywhere in the world. It lives to be ancient and as a child, I wondered if it’s third eye helped it to see things that maybe other animals couldn’t. My second choice is the grey warbler. It is such a small bird, and yet it’s song is one of the most commonly heard around New Zealand. One of my best memories as a naturalist is watching a tiny grey warbler feed a huge shining cuckoo chick. It looked after a different species as if it was one of its own. I think there’s a message there for us humans.

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Ron Mueck Exhibition

As soon as I saw the posters around town, I knew that I wanted to see the Ron Mueck exhibition at the Christchurch Art Gallery.
I was pretty excited when my family decided to go, even so I didn’t realize just how breathtaking the visit would be.

We stepped into the exhibition. There were 12 or so stupendous sculptures inside, some so large they filled half a room each and some doll sized, a real mix of scale.

The first one we saw, which was also my favourite, was called Mask II…a giant replica of Ron Mueck’s face.
It was incredibly life-like, and the fact he was ‘sleeping’ with his eyes closed made you feel comfortable looking up close at his immaculate face and delicate details.
Mask II makes you want to touch it, so luckily a sample of the materials it is made from is on the nearby wall.

Half way through the exhibition is a film, showing the painstaking process of creating these masterpieces. It’s hard to imagine the patience needed to make something this detailed.
Each hair was punched in one at a time…each vein painted by hand.

Some of the exhibits were about people familiar to the artist, his best friend, his father and one of his baby girls.
It is as if the exhibition was arranged to represent a life cycle.

Photos are allowed without flash, but they don’t capture the way the sculptures seem alive, breathing…like something from a dream.
This was probably the best exhibition I’ve ever been to, and I would love to go again.

It is a must see for over summer!

By Tierney, age 11.

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The Pickle King

INGREDIENTS

-A small town called Elbow
-Rain
– Five misfit kids
-One bouncy dog
-A jar of Herman’s Devil tounge Chili

Bring ingredients together, and one real-life dead body and you have yourself one crazy, red-hot adventure.

Thats exactly what happens to Bea and her friends the rain town convicts.

The town Elbow is well known for its summer weather, rain.

When Bea and her best friend Sam take a photo of a dead body their worlds and the rest of the towns, turn upside down.

When the discover that they are not the only ones in on the secret of the dead body, then they begin a fight for their lives,

trying to discover the clues before they do…..

The rain in Elbow can be very annoying, it can drive you insane by the constant sound of ‘tik tik tik tik’ you would run out into the street with your pj’s on and yell ‘stop! Make it stop!’

I think this book is suitable for 11 and over and I would give the book a rating a 10 out of 10.

By Kezia Knight

Age: 11

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The Tomorrow Code

Rebecca yearns to know things that once were. Tane dreams of the things that might be.

They must learn from the past to change the future. But they are running out of time…..

Tane and Rebecca aren’t sure what to make of it; a message, a sequence of ones and zeros look like nothing more than a random collection of alternating digits. Working to decode it, however, Tane and

Rebecca discover that the message contains lottery numbers….. lottery numbers that win the next random draw!

Suddenly, Tane and Rebecca are rich beyond their wildest dreams, but who sent the numbers? And why?

More messages follow, and slowly it becomes clear- the messages are being sent back in time from Tane and Rebecca’s future.

Something has gone horribly wrong and its up to them to prevent it from happening.

As they follow the messages cryptic instructions, Tane and Rebecca start to fear the worst- that the very survival of the human race is at stake…..

I think this book should be for 11 and over, and I would give the book a 10 out of 10 because the book is full of all the things I like about books –  fantasy, adventure and creatures…..

By Kezia

Age: 11

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Winners of the 2010 Funny Prize

Funniest book for 7-14 year olds

Funniest book for 0-6 year olds

 

What are the funniest books that you’ve read this year?  Mine is The Very Bad Book by Andy Griffiths.

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Des Hunt 5th Blog: The Storyline

By the time I’ve got the characters sorted, it’s time to give serious thought to the storyline.

I start at the end. Now this might sound a little crazy, but I like to know how my stories will finish before I start. To me writing is like a journey: you start from where you presently are, and end up in a different, new exciting place. And just like a journey, I think it is best to know where you are going before you start. That means I have to know what the climax is before I begin writing.

By doing it this way, I find that I don’t have to do as much editing. After completing any story there is always material that gets removed and some that gets added. It’s always hard to take out pages that you’ve spent hours writing; probably those words will never be used anywhere else.

I try to avoid this by good planning. But it is possible to do too much, and become a slave to the plan. A good story will flow in directions that were not anticipated. Characters often get a mind of their own and insist of doing things that you never thought they would. As a writer, you have to let that happen or the story will end up lacking something. It’s called verisimilitude. This word is pronounced ve-ris-i-mil-i-tood. It is a hard word to define, but here goes.

Writers of fiction are professional liars – everything we write is made up. If we do our job well then all this made-up stuff will seem real. However there is lots of fiction that can never be real: fantasy fiction is an example. And yet while we are reading it, good fantasy can seem very real – that’s if it has verisimilitude.

Take a Harry Potter story: if Harry were to pull out a mobile phone and begin texting, it would destroy the whole feeling of that reality. Likewise if one of my characters pulled out a magic wand and zapped the baddies, you would probably stop reading. Verisimilitude is an easy thing to destroy, but hard to create. If a critic says that some part of one of my stories seems contrived, then I know that I haven’t achieved the V-word, and it’s probably because I have too carefully followed my planning.

I can already see some things in my planning for Steel Pelicans that might affect the verisimilitude. One is the age of my characters: they could be a little young for the things I have in mind for them. But I don’t want to make them too much older as they could become too old for my readers to relate with. So I’ll have to watch what I ask them to do as I write the story, which could mean that the climax will be quite different to what I have in mind. We’ll just have to wait and see.

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Diary of a Wimpy Kid – The Ugly Truth by Jeff Kinney

Greg Heffley is back!

In The Ugly Truth, Greg Heffley has to deal with growing up.  He’s always been in a hurry to grow up and become one of the cool kids, but growing up isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.  He has to deal with the pressures of boy-girl parties, extra responsibilities, a maid who won’t do his washing and naps in his bed, his annoying brothers,  and all of the awkward changes in his body.  Greg thinks he can do all this without his best friend Rowley, but maybe it would be easier to deal with if he had his friend by his side.  Greg does his best to stop growing up but also tries to act grown up around the cool kids so he can fit in.

If you enjoyed all the Diary of a Wimpy Kid books, you’ll love the hilarious The Ugly Truth.  If you haven’t tried them yet, what are you waiting for? Reserve your copy now.

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Prepare for Megamind

If you like Despicable Me and Monsters vs. Aliens you’ll love Megamind.  In cinemas December 11, 2010.

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Darren Shan series

Be amazed by all the things you can find in the night.

Darren Shan is a normal boy until he wins a ticket to the Cirque-Du-Freak. From then on everything goes pear-shaped.  He goes along to the Cirque with his best friend Steve Leonard.  At the Cirque they see amazing things all the time, until they have to leave.

Steve then reveals that he recognized one of the performers, Mr.’Creepy’ Crepsly, this then starts off a wild adventure. Suddenly Darren and Steve are thrown into the world of the night.

In order to save Steve from a poisonous spider bite, Darren must become a half-vampire!  Steve takes this wrong and thinks that he has the rightful place as a vampire.  Steve turns to the dark side of the night and vows to kill Darren.  Who will win and who will perish?  Read these books to find out.

This ends up being one of the best literary roller-coasters ever.

I give this a ten out of ten and recommend it for ages nine up.

Great work.

Rhys

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Des Hunt’s fourth blog – Characters (Pt. 2)

I use a grid to work out my characters. Here it is for the main character:

Name Pete Kelly
Other names Pelly
Age 13
Defining Detail/Event Moving from Oz to NZ
Has to endure Taunts. Use the Pelly Can line. Ginga is used in NZ before Pelly becomes a derogatory name.
Appearance/Clothing Red headed, which can lead to some Rusty Pelican comments.
Mannerisms Scratches his head a lot.
Personality At first he is more of a follower than a leader, especially with Kyle. But in NZ he has to stand up for himself to survive.
Backstory Born in NZ but family shifted to Oz when he was two. Can’t remember anything about when he was young in NZ. Has been visiting with family to grandparents, but considers himself an Australian.
Blind spot
or
flaw
Failure to see that Kyle is not a particularly good friend. Kyle uses him to promote his own self-importance.
Conflicts Major ones with his family in the beginning. These get resolved through his strong actions at the climax
Resolution Required He becomes more confident to the stage where he stands up to Kyle. This saves Kyle’s life. He then realizes that in Afi he has a better friend than Kyle. Realizes that Kyle needs him more than he needs Kyle. This leads to an understanding that life in NZ might even be better than his life in Oz.

You may be surprised at how little I have about appearance. I have ideas of what they might look like, but unless it is important to the story I won’t give details in the book. I like the readers to put in their own images. My first novel A Friend in Paradise had no description of the main character, so the publishers thought they should show him on the cover. The boy they showed was nothing like what I’d had in mind. Fortunately, they no longer do this.

Next blog, I’ll talk about plotlines and problems.

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HUNGER by Michael Grant

106 hours 29 minutes

A strange sense of calmness has settled over the FAYZ, even though there is nothing at all to be calm about. The huge barrier enclosing them is now the least of anybody’s problems, especially Sam’s. Looking after a few hundred children is hard for him, and everyone’s parents,siblings, and relatives disappearing doesn’t help a lot.

Ever since Caine lost his head, Diana has been the only one caring for him. But now he plans to make a comeback that threatens to plunge all of the FAYZ into darkness. Which leaves everybody at Coates one question. Who is Caine really working for?

Even though people think of Sam as the leader, Drake still lurks around violently disciplining anybody found breaking Caine’s rules.

Hunger is now seeping silently through the small town and sick jokes about cannibalism become more and more common. Each person is now being given three cans of “food” a day. But it’s never a can of baked beans or spagetti. They’re down to eating whole tins of gravy or lima beans and corn. And with no fresh food around, Sam, Edilio and E.Z. go to the fields. But when E.Z. is eaten by bloodthirsty mutant worms, they realise there is no hope. But not only people are hungry. In the mine, lays the monster and it too needs to be fed…

Whats more, a kid called Zill becomes sick of the freaks getting treated better than the normal people. He had never seen a mutant become so hungry they ate bugs. So he gets some friends together and start the “Human Crew”. They begin vandalising Perdido Peach and almost hang some people.

What will Sam do? What will Caine do? What will anyone do? Will they survive the terrors of the FAYZ?

This is a really good book and it is the second book in the GONE series the Michael Grant. There is lots of action and suspense but probably better for people aged 12+. I rate it 9/10.

By Henry

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The Enemy by Charlie Higson

The Enemy is an amazing book and it is the first of a series.

A disease is spreading to all the children aged 14 and over and it isn’t looking good. They are all turning into ZOMBIES! A group of younger children are trying to get to safety without being killed.  They hear about a safe place in London called… Buckingham Palace.

Maxie, Blue and the Holloway crew are aiming for the palace, but on the way friends are killed or taken by the disease and others go their own way. Who will make it and who will die?  Read The Enemy to find out.

I would recommend this to young adult readers and people who like the Hunger Games series.  I give it 10 out of 10.

Hope you all like it.

Rhys

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November Star Author competition

Our Star Author for November is Des Hunt who has written some great adventure stories set in New Zealand.  Frog Whistle Mine and Shadows in the Ice are set on the West Coast of the South Island, Cry of the Taniwha is set in Rotorua.

For the Star Author Competition this month, we want you to tell us why Des Hunt should set his next book in  Canterbury.  There are already some books by New Zealand authors that are set in Canterbury, including Elsie Locke’s The Runaway Settlers, Margaret Mahy’s Summery Saturday Morning, and James Norcliffe’s Under the Rotunda

To enter the competition, post a comment telling us where in Canterbury Des should set his next book,and why you think it should be here.  Remember to tell us your first name, and enter your email address so that we can contact you if you win.

The five kids who come up with the best answers will each win a copy of Des Hunt’s Cry of the Taniwha and his new book, The Naughty Kids Book of Nature.

Competition closes Tuesday 30th November.  See below for Terms and Conditions. Read the rest of this entry »

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