Archive for February, 2011

Stay safe Christchurch

I hope everyone out there in Christchurch is staying safe after the huge earthquake.  If you are reading this and would like to share your experiences please leave a comment and let us know.

You can follow Civil Defence for information on what to do.

Further information is available from and

Akaroa,  Bishopdale and South libraries are now open, but please don’t return any items to any of our libraries yet.

Your issued items are not due until 1 May 2011.

Thanks everyone and stay safe.

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The original Mr Cook?

I was having a discussion the other day about surnames and how most of them originated years or even centuries ago when times were vastly different to what they are now.

A quick search on GOOGLE revealed that old English surnames can be divided into several groups. For instance Small, Long, Large, Young, Fairchild and Armstrong would have been descriptive of the person’s physical appearance. Peterson and Stevenson literally mean ‘son of Peter’ and ‘son of Steven’. This also applies to Johnson and Jacobson.

There are some names that are descriptive of where the person was from eg Hill, Hampshire, Forrester and Woods. (I found out that my own surname Thorpe means ‘small hamlet or village’

And then there are names that referred to a person’s occupation. These include Taylor, Hunter, Smith, Fletcher, Cook, Baker, Fisher, Butler, Knight and Skinner.

Then I got to thinking that there are no newly-created surnames that reflect the jobs and modern occupations of the twenty-first century.

Why do you think that is?

It’s a shame, because we’ll probably never get to shake the hands of such people as Levi Postie, Sophie Hairdresser, Joshua Struggling-Actor, Amy Cleaner, Tyrone Geek or Tyler Astronaut.

What other awesome ‘modern’ surnames can you think up?

PS: Does anyone know what a ‘Fletcher’ is?

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Artichoke Hearts by Sita Brahmachari

Artichoke hearts is a book to make you cry.  With laughter as well as sadness.  It is Sita’s first book and it is brilliant.  Mira is entering her teens and is dealing with the usual growing up problems, boys, best mates and periods.  There is also a bit of bullying chucked in.  She is dealing with so many changes but on top of that her beloved nana Josie is dying.

Nana Josie is a great character.  She is strong, wise, funny and fiesty. Mira and her are really close although sometimes she is a little outspoken for the quiet Mira. She’s an artist with a wide group of friends who used to go on political demonstrations.  Josie has a love of nature which she has passed on to her granddaughter.

Mira’s family life is chaotic.  Mum and dad are always busy, little brother Krish is a pain and there is baby Laila to add to the mix.  There are bullies at school but she does have her best friend Millie.  So why has she started to keep secrets from her?  She’s discovering boys and is somehow drawn to Jide, a boy who has secrets of his own.

This is a beautiful story.  It feels very true to life and except for the fact that it is set in London it could be a family we know.  The pace and mood of the characters change so much through the book as they come to terms with more than the fact that Nana Josie is dying.  It is an emotional roller coaster ride but a pleasurable one as we get to know Mira better.

The book has just won Waterstones Books childrens fiction award which I think it highly deserves.  It’s going on my list of best of 2011. Find a comfortable spot and curl up with this wonderful book and get to know the Levenson family, especially Mira.

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The witch’s dog at the school of spells by Frank Rodgers

This is a story about a witch’s dog called Wilf. His owner, Weenie, loves to help other people. She gets a letter saying that she is the best witch in town and could she come and teach in the School of Spells! Weenie is very excited and Wilf is very proud because now they can help more people.

Wilf decides to go to the school to learn some magic spells too. But two of his class mates, Sly Cat and Tricky Toad, have a plan. Their plan is to change Wilf’s spells in his jotter … and disaster happens …! My favourite character was actually Sly Cat as he was a funny ‘evil’ cat and in the end realised what he did was wrong after he got into trouble. The rest of the characters are unfailingly positive and nice so Sly Cat made it a better story.

I would recommend this book to anyone 6+ and it is very easy and quick to read. I give this book 8 out of 10 because it was funny.

Eibhlin, aged 8

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Scare yourself silly with the Invisible Fiends

Did you have an invisible friend when you were younger?  If you did you probably can’t remember what they looked like now.  Kyle had an invisible friend when he was younger whose name was Mr Mumbles.  Mr Mumbles lived in the loft and would come and tap on Kyle’s bedroom window when he wanted to play.  Kyle had completely forgotten about him until, one night, Kyle hears the tapping on his window.  This time though, Mr Mumbles doesn’t want to play, he wants to kill Kyle and he’ll stop at nothing to do so.  With the help of a mysterious girl called Ameena, Kyle races to escape his invisible fiend.  Kyle realizes that the only way to defeat Mr Mumbles is to use the thing that created him – his imagination.

Mr Mumbles is the first in the series of Invisible Fiends books by Barry Hutchison.  The second book, Raggy Maggie is also out, with the third book due soon.  These books are great for anyone who likes creepy horror stories, especially fans of Skulduggery Pleasant.  They’re creepy, gruesome, suspenseful and action-packed.  Invisible Fiends is definitely my new favourite series!   Recommended for 9+ DON’T READ AFTER DARK! 10 out of 10

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Finnigan & the pirates by Sherryl Jordan

My mum, (who is the best librarian in the world – sorry Zac!) chose this book as a read aloud. I’m really glad she did.

This book is about Captain Wildbloode the Wicked and her nephew Finnigan. Captain Wildbloode is said to be “the most ferocious pirate in all the seven seas.” So much so that she wants Finnigan to carry on all the glory, fame and fortune that she has created.

But Finnigan has his heart set on a slightly different desire. He LOVES to dance and his dream is to attend ballet school, on land. But in order to get there he must work out a fiendishly clever plan to get his aunt on land, never to return to sea again. But that has its own problems when plans include sea monsters, storms, fire and cannibals!

My favourite character was Finnigan because his obvious joy when he dances and Captain Wildbloode’s obvious joy at mayhem, murder, pillaging and plundering is entertaining when side by side. I liked the cunning nature of Finnigan’s plans and the funny side of the ending.

I would recommend this for 8+ years because Eibhlin, (my sister and another blogger) thought it was exquisite and she is 8 years old. Definitely a great book … READ THIS BOOK!

Saoirse, 10

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The Guardians of Ga’Hoole: The Capture by Kathryn Lasky.

Soren is an owlet, growing up in the Forest of Tyto, listening to stories about the Guardians of Ga’Hoole: a band of legendary owls, knights who rid the land of evil.  Then one day Soren is kidnapped, and taken to St. Aegolius Acadamy of Orphaned Owls.  There he meet Gylfie, an Elf Owl, who was also swept from the nest. It doesn’t take the friends long to realise that things aren’t right at St. Aegolius… evil is the air. Soon after witnessing a murder at the school, they decide to escape the prison-like place and attempt to fly for the very first time.  But will they make it?  Will they ever escape the villanous clutches of the owls at St. Aegolius?  You would have to read the book to find out.

My favourite character is Twilight, who, even though he is very boastful, is clever and strong.  I liked the idea of owls being warriors.  I think that this book is best for both boys and girls, and I give it a 8 out of 10.

By Tierney.

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Seeing the Blue Between compiled by Paul B. Janeczko

Seeing the Blue Between is a book so packed full of inspiration that each individual page equals a new idea. Each part of the book has a letter from a famous poet to the reader, and one or two poems that the poet has written. I found each letter inspiring but in different ways. For instance, some encourage the use of crazy ideas, while others explain how to keep going and write more poetry. As for the poems themselves, I enjoyed them immensely, but I thought that some of the ones that rhymed were a little corny. Even so, I give this book a 9 out of 10. If you think that poetry books are boring, think again! Try reading this book and you may find that poetry is the thing for you. I think that both boys and girls of all ages would like this book.

By Tierney.

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Time to register for winter sport

All around Canterbury, hundreds of children are signing up with sports clubs ready for the winter.  If you belong to a club it is time to get organised. If your game of choice is soccer, you’ll need to get your skates on.  My daughter’s club Nomads has its last registration day this weekend.

Here is the information for Hockey.

Rugby and Rugby League are no doubt getting ready for the new season.

Netball will be full swing ahead as well.  If you haven’t played before contact a club near you. All sports clubs are looking for new players.

I hope these links will be helpful in getting you out playing sport.  If I haven’t covered the sport you would like to play you can look up our community database to get club details.  Get out there, keep fit and most importantly have fun!

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How NOT to build a bomb shelter

The dreaded mushroom cloud.

I’m not sure whether nuclear weapons were on the curriculum of every New Zealand primary school in 1979, but they were at Lyttelton Main. Someone wanted to blow up the world with an H bomb, and our little township wouldn’t be spared. We all knew the mushroom cloud was the last thing we would see before our eyeballs burst and the remainder of us was minced by a poisonous inferno. All the buildings would be flattened leaving only dust and cockroaches.

My friend Jodie and I thought we’d better dig a bomb shelter. It would be a safe haven for our families; a place to hang out while the rest of Lyttelton fried. We planned a network of interconnecting rooms, accessed by a manhole. Kind of like a hobbit hole but with square walls.

We found the perfect site just behind her dad’s garden shed and met there one day after school.

Dragging the spades out of the shed we set to work.

Jodie and I dug for ages, but the clay soil was harder than we had anticipated. At the end of the afternoon we had not a bomb shelter but a small depression in the ground similar in size and depth to a wok.

We took a short break, planning to come back the next day and work on it some more, but we never did.

These days I walk past Jodie’s old house quite regularly and I like to think that hollow in the clay is still there underneath the weeds. Perhaps home to a family of cockroaches; a remnant of the “cold war” in Lyttelton.

Has anyone had a better (or worse) experience at building a hut?

Leonie Thorpe

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Keeper v Keeper

It was something you don’t see very often. A goalkeeper scoring a goal.  That’s what happened on Sunday night when the Wellington Phoenix (or Nixs as they are commonly known ) scored their third goal. Chris Greenacre and Dylan Macallister put the Nix 2 up in the first half with the North Queensland Fury (Fury) getting one back through Brett Studman mid way through the second half.

Mirjan Pavlonc was fouled in the box and then a moment I haven’t seen in over 30 years of watching football.  Goalkeeper Danny Vukovic stepped up to the penalty spot and slotted the ball in the back of the net.  He then proceeded to jump around like a demented energizer bunny.  It was a great moment. We now meet Adelaide in the playoffs.  The good news is skipper Andrew Durante will be back from suspension.  The game is being played this Friday. Here is the match report in Stuff

It’s also time to register for your club again.  Check your clubs website to see what dates registration is being held.  While you’re waiting  for the season to start, why not check out these cool books about football.

  • Alan Gibbons Total Football, a series of eight novels about the Rough Diamonds –  a close team with a captain Kev McGovern who makes sure they work and play hard.  They live in a rough area of Liverpool but always try to keep an eye on their mates.
  • Helena Pielichatys Girls FC has 12 titles in the series each book focusing on an individual member of the Parrs under 11s, commonly known as the Parsnips.  As well as lots of football the stories have the usual friendship and family themes common in sports books.

Happy reading!

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What is your favourite graphic novel?

Vote for your favourite graphic novel now.

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Touch Footie

It’s that time of year again when thousands of kids get out and get fit playing touch rugby. Your school probably has a team or two, so see a teacher if you are interested in playing.  You could also get a group of friends together and make up a team.  To see if there is a touch module near you, have a look at CINCH – Community Information Christchurch

I think there is nothing better than going past a sports ground and seeing it full of Kiwi kids keeping fit and having lots of fun.  Do you play touch or do you play a different summer sport?  Let me know.

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Farewell to Brian Jacques and Redwall

I was sad to learn today that the author of the Redwall series, Brian Jacques, died on 5 February 2011. Brian has written many books in the Redwall series, including Rakkety Tam, The Legend of Luke, Marlfox, and The Pearls of Lutra, as well as the fantastic Flying Dutchman series.  Here are some interesting facts about Brian Jacques:

  • He was caned by a teacher, who could not believe a 10-year-old could write so well, when he wrote a short story about a bird who cleaned a crocodile’s teeth.
  • He left school at 15 and traveled the world as a merchant seaman.
  • He wrote his first story, Redwall, for children at Royal Wavertree School for the Blind in Liverpool.  Because the children were blind, he made his writing as descriptive as possible, painting pictures with words so that they could see them in their imaginations.
  • He has worked as a railway fireman, a longshoreman, a long-distance truck driver, a bus driver, a boxer, a bobby (Police Constable), a postmaster, and a stand-up comic.
  • He has sold over 20 million books worldwide and they have been translated into 29 languages.

We have lots of Brian’s books in the library for you to enjoy so come and borrow some to see why they are so popular.

What’s your favourite Brian Jacques book?

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Oldies but goodies and word of the day

Hope you’ve all recovered from that stupendously hot Waitangi Day we just had. How did you manage to keep cool? At our place we mooched around inside the house eating ice-blocks.

Well done BookGiirl, that quote was indeed from Green Eggs and Ham. I’ve got a four year old daughter who is loving that book at the moment. It’s kind of weird that my mum used to read it to me when I was young. Maybe some of you guys will even read it to your own children some day.

Did you know that it was published in 1960, over fifty years ago? There aren’t many children’s books that remain popular for so long. Are any of your favourite books ones that have been around for years? Enduring titles I’ve got on my bookshelf are

‘A Lion in the Meadow’ (Margaret Mahy, 1969),

‘The Lord of the Rings’ (J.R.R. Tolkien 1954)

‘Five Go Down to the Sea’ (Enid Blyton, 1953)

‘Peter Pan and Wendy’ (J.M. Barrie, 1915).

Oldies but Goodies

And now it’s time for WORD OF THE DAY which is; Stupathetic ; as in something that is both stupid and pathetic. This is the word my 14 year old daughter Vivienne used to describe some boring high school homework at the weekend.

Maybe you can think of some new words made from joining two words together?

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Earthquake! The Diary of Katie Bourke, Napier, 1930-31 by Janine McVeagh

Earthquake by Janine McVeagh is one of the fascinating books in the My New Zealand Story series by Scholastic.  Each of the books in the series is written in diary form and looks at a particular event or period of time in the history of New Zealand.  Earthquake tells the story of 11-year-old Katie Bourke who is growing up in Napier during the Great Depression, when money and basic necessities are hard to find.

Katie writes about how she wants to escape the boredom of school and try to do something to help her struggling family.  You find out what life was like in New Zealand during the depression and how ordinary New Zealanders were coping.  Then the Napier earthquake strikes and turns everything upside down.

Janine McVeagh kindly told us a little about how she came to write Earthquake:

I grew up in Napier and went to the same school that Katie in the book does. We all knew about the earthquake because our parents had been children when it happened. When I wanted to write an historical story for Scholastic, the Napier earthquake seemed a natural one to do.

I did most of the research in Napier, which has a whole section of its library and its museum devoted to the earthquake and people’s accounts of what it was like. One book contained an account by the nun who was teaching at St Joseph’s; she described the way the windows exploded and the desks slid across the room and jammed against the door. There were also some recorded interviews in the Turnbull Library and many great photos.

Getting a feel for what it was like in Napier before the earthquake happened was important too. I  interviewed my father and his older brother who were little boys at the time, but remembered it very vividly. Their father (my grandfather) used to deliver milk to the town and my uncle sometimes went with him and scooped it out for the women who were waiting at their gates.

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Napier Earthquake – 3 February 1931

Today is the 80th anniversary of the Napier earthquake.  On 3 February 1931, New Zealand’s deadliest earthquake devastated the cities of Napier and Hastings, Hawke’s Bay. At least 256 people died in the magnitude 7.8 earthquake 161 in Napier, 93 in Hastings, and two in Wairoa. Many thousands more required medical treatment.

If you thought the damage we had in the 7.1 magnitude quake on September 4 was bad you should take a look at some of the photos taken after the Napier earthquake (like the one on the right).

You can find out more about the Napier earthquake on Kids website.  You can read about what happened and when, the lives and buildings lost, and the clean-up afterwards.  You can also have a look at the photos, and even find out the names of those who died by visiting the memorial.

If you want to read some books about the Napier earthquake, here are some you could try:

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Just Jack by Adele Broadbent

Just Jack is the story of Jack Baines, a boy who is trying to prove himself to his family and achieve his dream of becoming a jockey.  Jack has always lived in the shadow of his older brother, who is good at everything he does, but when Jack’s uncle notices how great he is with horses, he gets the opportunity he’s been waiting for.

Jack’s uncle gets him an apprenticeship with Mr Mac, where he’ll learn how to be a jockey.  His dream job isn’t as great as he thought it would be though – another boy working on the farm keeps making trouble for Jack and Mr Mac is a mean old man who doesn’t give him the opportunities he wants.   With his dreams in tatters, his uncle comes up with a solution that will change his life.  However, one hot,  sunny morning disaster strikes and Jack’s world comes crashing down around him.

Just Jack is set in Hastings in 1930 but the last part of the book takes place in Napier in 1931, when the Napier earthquake happened.  You really feel like you are there with Jack, with the earth shaking and buildings falling around you.  Everyone here in Christchurch can especially relate to the story because of all our earthquakes.  Jack is a great character and you really want him to achieve his dream of being a jockey, but I also liked the character of Mr Mac.

I recommend it for anyone who likes stories about horses (not just girls!), history, or disasters.     9 out of 10

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The puzzle I finished today!

The puzzle I finished today!

Woo Hoo! Back to school! Did the holidays seem to last ages for you or did they fly past by like supersonic missiles?

Back-to-school in our house means it’s quiet and peaceful during the day so now I can get down to some serious writing. And I’d really love to do that … but I’ve found a new hobby that’s getting in the way.


Yes. Jigsaws.

It started back in November when I picked up a battered box with a faded Italian seaside scene on the front at a garage sale. A bargain at only a dollar! I took it home (along with an armload of second-hand books) and emptied its five hundred tiny pieces onto the dining table.

It was over two hours before I managed to finally drag myself away from it. Each little piece you slot into its rightful place gives you such a sense of satisfaction. Think about it; that’s five hundred pieces of satisfaction in one small box! (Actually, if you do think about it, it’s only four hundred and ninety-nine, since the very first connection has to involve two pieces …)

I have finished ten five-hundred piece puzzles since then. I reckon each one takes about four or five hours; that’s a fair chunk of time when you add it up. But I don’t feel too guilty because it’s so relaxing and challenging. In fact, starting and completing a jigsaw is more rewarding than any other mindless hobby I can think of.

So give one a try. You could get mum or dad or a friend to join in as well.

And if you reckon jigsaws aren’t your thing I’ve got this to say:

“You do not like them. So you say. Try them! Try them! And you may. Try them and you may, I say.”

Thanks for tuning in. Next time I’ll be blogging with you about lollies and bomb shelters.

PS: Can anyone tell me which book I got that last quote from?

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February Star Author – Leonie Thorpe

CoverOur February Star Author is New Zealand author, Leonie Thorpe.  Leonie is a local author, living in Christchurch who has written several books for younger readers, including Archie’s Adventures and Archie Saves the Day.  Her latest book, The Sheep on the Fourth Floor, is aimed at older readers and deals with the use of animals for medical experiments.

We hope you enjoy Leonie’s posts and if you’d like to know more about her you could read our interview with her on the Kids page of the library website or read about her visit to Central Library on the blog.

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