Archive for October, 2011

Dinosaur Rescue: Velocitchy-raptor

Velocitchy-raptor, book 3 in the hilarious Dinosaur Rescue series by Kyle Mewburn and Donovan Bixley, sees Arg trying to escape the clutches of a hungry Quetzalcoatlus (pronounced Kwet-zal-ca-AT-lus).  Arg is trying to keep himself dry in a storm using his dried devil frog when a Quetzalcoatlus swoops down and snatches the frog, with Arg still attached.  He’s taken to the dinosaur’s nest where he meets a baby velociraptor.  They escape from the nest and Arg takes the baby home to hide it safely in his cave.  Unfortunately Arg seems to be allergic to velociraptors and breaks out in itchy sores.  If that wasn’t bad enough, his sister would have the velociraptor for dinner if she found it.  Can Arg get the baby to safety?

Velocitchy-raptor is another hilarious and disgusting addition to the Dinosaur Rescue series.  Kyle and Donovan once again introduce us to snippets of prehistoric life, from the bizarre leisure time activities of Arg’s family and how to talk to stone age people, to the not-very-useful guide to dinosaur names and the many uses of Old Drik’s toenail goo.  Velocitchy-raptor will leave you with a sore stomach from laughing or a very sick stomach from this snot and pus-filled adventure.   Recommended for 7+   9 out of 10

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I Am Grimalkin book trailer

I Am Grimalkin is the latest book in the Spook’s Apprentice series by Joseph Delaney.  Watch this seriously spooky book trailer and reserve your copy at the library now.

We hope you’ve enjoyed Seriously Spooky Month here on the Christchurch Kids Blog.  Thanks to our seriously spooky authors, Joseph Delaney and Barry Hutchison for joining us on the blog.

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Eight Keys by Suzanne LaFleur

Elise never really knew her parents.  Her mum died after her birth and her dad got sick and died of cancer a few years later.  Her Uncle Hugh and Aunt Bessie promised to look after her and she has lived with them ever since.  She’s been best friends with Franklin for years and they’ve always loved playing games like Knights together.  When they start middle school Elise starts to get embarrassed by Franklin and doesn’t want to hang around with him anymore.  Then there’s her locker buddy, Amanda who nicknames her Scabula and squashes her lunch every morning.  Elise starts to hate school and is afraid to go because of Amanda’s bullying.  Just when she needs it a special surprise comes along.  Her father leaves her a mystery to unlock and with each discovery a new key arrives.

Eight Keys is about a girl discovering who she is and learning about the parents she didn’t know.  When Elise is feeling lost and worried, the mystery that her father left for her comes along and helps her choose who she wants to be.  It helps her see who her mum and dad were and how much they loved her, even before she was born.  You see a real change in Elise, from the worried, confused girl at the start to the confident, happy girl at the end.  I really liked the character of Franklin because he’s funny, loyal and will do anything to help his friend.  Eight Keys is the perfect book for girls who like Jacqueline Wilson and Cathy Cassidy.  It will make you laugh and cry, but leave a smile on your face.   Recommended for 9+    8 out of 10

 

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Grammar is a Buzz

When writing fiction it’s often better to ‘show’ the reader what is happening, than ‘tell’ the reader everything. For example, you can tell the reader, ‘Ziggy was sweaty’, but I’d rather show the reader with ‘Sweat trickled down Ziggy’s neck.’ Adding sensory detail helps to show what is happening – it helps the reader to picture what a character is experiencing.
One way to make sure you’re not ‘telling’ too much is to use verbs (eg. trickled) rather than adjectives (eg. sweaty). For example I might write, ‘Florian was angry’ (adjective) but ‘Florian smashed (verb) his fist into the wall’ is stronger.  And  Sting is a better title than ‘Sharp thing’. If you have to use adjectives then one adjective per noun is enough; and you don’t need many adverbs either (eg. not needed in: Florian angrily smashed his fist’)

This is my last post. Thank you Zac and the Christchurch libraries, it’s been fun.

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Far Rockaway by Charlie Fletcher

If you were to meet the characters from your favourite books who would they be?  Would you want to meet Harry Potter, Matilda, or Percy Jackson? You certainly wouldn’t want to bump into Count Olaf, Captain Hook, or Voldemort.  In Far Rockaway by Charlie Fletcher, Cat finds herself face to face with some of the heroes and villains of classic adventure stories.

Cat and her grandfather, Victor made a pact that one day, just for fun of it, they’d take the subway and stay on it until the very end of the line, at a place called Far Rockaway.  They never get to make this trip together because, while crossing the street in Manhattan, Cat and Victor are knocked down by a speeding fire truck.  Cat wakes up in a world made from all the books her grandfather used to read to her, and filled with the most memorable characters from classic adventure stories, including The Last of the Mohicans and Treasure Island.  Cat needs their help to find the mythic castle of Far Rockaway, and get herself and her grandfather home alive.

Far Rockaway is part fantasy, part adventure and full of pirates, indians, and zombies.  I really like the way that Charlie Fletcher has weaved Cat’s story in with three completely different stories.  If you know the characters from the classic adventure stories you’ll see what a fantastic job Charlie has done of transferring them to another story.  There were a couple of characters I didn’t know but this has made me want to go and read those stories and discover who they were.  Cat is a great character, who’s brave, loyal and kicks butt when she needs to.  I like what she says about girls in stories,

“Why do the guys get to do all the rescuing? I mean I loved all the stories you gave me and read me, but one thing: where were the real girls? Half the books, they weren’t there at all, and the other half they’re wimped-out girly-girls getting all weepy and falling in love with the mysterious complicated dude or waiting for the right guy to save them.”

If you want a swash-buckling adventure story about the magic of stories then join Cat on the journey of a lifetime in Far RockawayRecommended for 10+     9 out of 10

You can read our review with Charlie Fletcher here on the blog too.

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Organ Music by Margaret Mahy

Reading Organ Music by Margaret Mahy is like being stuck in a really weird, creepy dream.  I had chills running down my spine and the whole time I was trying to figure out what was going on.  All these things combine to make a thrilling story.

As Harley and David make their way home one night, through a dodgy part of town, they come across a battered old car parked on the side of the road with the keys in the ignition but nobody else about.  They get in the car and drive off, but when they try to stop they realize the car is actually driving itself.  The car eventually stops in the middle of a forest at a place called the Willesden Experimental Station, but what sinister secret does this place hide?

One thing I really liked about this book is its brilliant cover that is illustrated by Gavin Bishop.  It really tells you a lot about the story.

If you like creepy, scary stories about ghosts and secret experiments then you should read Organ Music by Margaret Mahy.

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Win Skulduggery Pleasant: Death Bringer

This week on the blog we’re going to have an interview with the seriously spooky author of the Skulduggery Pleasant series, Derek Landy.  You’ll find out how Derek comes up with his character’s names, whether Derek would like to see a Skulduggery Pleasant movie, why he wanted to be a writer and what books and movies inspire him.

We have a copy of the latest Skulduggery Pleasant book, Death Bringer to give away this week.  To get in the draw, all you have to do is tell us: Who is your favourite character in the Skulduggery Pleasant series and why?  Leave a comment on this post with your answer, your name and email address (so that we can contact you if you win).  Competition closes Friday 28 October.

See below for terms and conditions        Read the rest of this entry »

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Ruby Redfort: Look Into My Eyes by Lauren Child

If you’ve read the Clarice Bean books by Lauren Child, you’ll know that Ruby Redfort is Clarice Bean’s favourite book character.  She’s a super brainy genius with terrible eyesight and loves to wear t-shirts with slogans like ‘What a total yawn’ and ‘Bored beyond belief.’  In Look Into My Eyes, we find out how Ruby got started as a secret agent.

Ruby Redfort lives her life by a set of rules, like Rule 1: You can never be completely sure what might happen next, or Rule 7: Never forget the little things – it’s the little things that will lead people to notice the big things.  When a mysterious stranger calls Ruby and sets her a challenge, her rules help her to solve the puzzle.  It’s not long before she finds her way into the HQ of the most secret of secret agencies – SPECTRUM.  After sitting SPECTRUM’s Agency Test, Ruby is put to work solving a code that one their agents failed to solve before she died in an avalanche.  The closer she gets to the truth, the more danger she finds herself in.  Ruby has grabbed the attention of some of the world’s most evil villains and crooks, but will SPECTRUM be able to save her before it’s too late.

Ruby Redfort: Look Into My Eyes has got me hooked on Ruby Redfort and her adventures.  Ruby Redfort is a very cool character and the sort of girl that everyone would like.  She’s smart, fearless, funny and isn’t afraid to stand out from the crowd.  She has quite an old-fashioned way of talking (she calls people buster and bozo), but that’s something I really like about her character and it makes her stand out.  The way that Ruby answers the phone made me crack up every time.  Ruby’s butler (or household manager as he like to be called), Hitch is one of the coolest butlers ever!  He’s very mysterious when you first meet him, but he’s always there when the Redforts need him.  Apart from Hitch, alot of the adults in the book are boring, stupid and just interested in themselves and their parties.  I was wondering how a girl as smart and full of personality as Ruby had such dull parents.

If you love books full of mystery, with kids who are secret agents, and evil villains who want to commit the crime of the century, then Ruby Redfort: Look Into My Eyes is the book for you.  As Clarice Bean says, ‘you will literally be on the edge of your wits.’   Recommended for 9+    10 out of 10

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John Flanagan’s new series, Brotherband

John Flanagan’s Ranger’s Apprentice series is coming to an end but you can look forward to his new series, Brotherband.   The first book is called The Outcasts and is due out on November 1.  Here’s the blurb:

“In Skandia, there is only one way to become a warrior. Boys are chosen for teams called brotherbands and must endure three months of gruelling training in seamanship, weapons and battle tactics. It’s brotherband against brotherband, fighting it out in a series of challenges. There can be only one winner.

When Hal Mikkelson finds himself the unwilling leader of a brotherband made up of outcasts, he must step up to the challenge. The Heron brotherband might not have the strength and numbers of the other two teams, but with inventiveness, ingenuity and courage on their side, they might just surprise everyone.”

You can reserve your copy of The Outcasts at the library now.

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What Library Would You Most Likely Go To????

What library(s) Would You Most Likely Go To??????

  • Upper Riccarton
  • Shirley
  • Hornby
  •  Christchurch South Library
  • Central Library (Currently In South City Mall)
  • Parklands
  • Papanui
  • Bishopdale
  • Redwood
  • New Brighton
  • Fendalton
  • Linwood
  • Lyttelton

Cheers Erin=!

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What Do You Think?????????

Diary of a Wimpy Kid

Note: not just the first ones!!

What Do You Think Is the Best Book????

  • Diary Of a Wimpy Kid (a)
  • Dork Diaries (b)
  • Nanny Piggins (c)

Please write back What you think You can just use the numbers or you can write it out!!

Cheers Erin =>

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Forces of Writing

There are four forces involved in writing fiction: imagining, writing, editing, and hoping.
1. Imagination is the basis of all writing. This force is centred in your brain which is incredibly powerful at wielding it. The force of imagination has infinite range and you’ll find there’s no shortage of story ideas in the world. Science is a wonderfully bizarre source (I even used it to frame this blog). Photo: story characters are everywhere.

2. Writing is work. It seems to be such a weak force: putting one word after another; sentence by sentence. But if you keep going, the force evolves the words into something remarkable– story.
3. Editing is the refining force in fiction. It’s a strong force that can be applied by cutting needless words and shaking the story up.
4. Hope is vital for a writer. When you feel your story is worthless and you think you can’t write, hope keeps you going. Like gravity, it keeps writers grounded, and like imagination, it has infinite range.

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The Art of the Adventures of Tintin

If you’re as excited about The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn as I am you’ll be watching all the different movie trailers, looking at images from the movie, and maybe even wishing you were Tintin.  I loved the cartoon series of Tintin as well as the books and the movie looks amazing.  While you wait for the movie, there is an amazing book that you should check out called The Art of The Adventures of Tintin.

I find it really interesting finding out how movies are made, how they choose the actors to play the characters, what costumes they choose, and how they decide where to shoot the movie.  The Art of the Adventures of Tintin is overflowing with all this information about The Secret of the Unicorn.  There are introductions by the brilliant Steven Spielberg and Peter Jackson who are directing and producing the movie.  They talk about why they decided to make this movie and how important it was to get the details correct.  The author of the book (and Lead Conceptual Designer for the movie), Chris Guise takes you on a kind of tour of the movie, showing you some of the amazing art work and design from the team at Weta Workshop that has gone into the movie.

The book is split into four sections: The Film Makers, The Beginning, The Characters, and The Environments.  The Beginning gives some background on Tintin’s creator, Herge, and shows you how the designers came up with the look of the movie.  My favourite section of the book is The Characters.  You get to see what Tintin could have looked like in the movie, and I really think they picked the right image for the movie, because some the early images look pretty strange.  You see how they created all the main characters and find out how they made them look so realistic.  The Environments shows you how the designers made the sets, props and vehicles look exactly like Herge imagined them.

If you’re a Tintin fan or even just like seeing how movies are made, The Art of the Adventures of Tintin is the perfect book for you.  There is so much detail and so many images in this book that it will keep you entertained for hours.  I can’t wait to see how all these aspects of the film have come together when The Secret of the Unicorn is released in New Zealand on 26th December.

10 out of 10

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Haunted – ghost stories to chill your blood

Haunted is a brand new collection of ghost stories written by some of the best seriously spooky authors.  I discovered it on the library shelves the other day and picked it up to see who the stories were written by.  I was excited to see that Haunted includes short stories from Derek Landy (Skulduggery Pleasant), Joseph Delaney (The Spook’s Apprentice), Philip Reeve (Mortal Engines) and Susan Cooper (The Dark is Rising).

There are stories about a lost ghost child trapped in a mirror and wanting to pull you in; an evil Soul Eater waiting for its next victim; a ghost walk with a haunting twist; and the spirit of a drowned boy who needs to be put to rest.  I can’t wait to read these stories and I’ll tell you about my favourite stories soon.

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Scare your socks off this Halloween

Halloween is nearly here.  It’s celebrated on 31st October and it’s a time when we enjoy being scared by witches, ghosts and other creepy creatures! We might dress up, have a party, read scary stories or make some yummy treats.  We’ve been highlighting some of our favourite spooky authors throughout our Seriously Spooky month, including Joseph Delaney and Barry Hutchison.

The Halloween page on our Kids website has lots of great ideas for celebrating Halloween.

 

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Seriously Spooky Guest Post: Barry Hutchison

I have a confession to make. I always hated horror.

That might seem like a strange thing for a horror author to say, but stick with me here. I don’t hate horror now. But I did for a long time, and for two very different reasons.

As a kid, between the ages of about 5 and 11, I lived in a near perpetual state of terror. I was scared of dogs, cats, birds… goldfish. You name it, it scared me senseless. I was afraid of being in high places, wide open spaces, narrow spaces. I was terrified of being on my own, but equally alarmed by large groups. When my friends came to the door to ask if I wanted to go out, I’d refuse, suspecting that I’d probably drop dead the moment I stepped outside. Then be mauled by a tiger. And picked clean by vultures.

That was why I didn’t read horror when I was young. I was constantly terrified as it was. The last thing I wanted was to add fuel to the fire by picking up a Clive Barker or Stephen King or whoever. It took me all my courage just to open the fridge, fearing as I did that some sort of cheese creature might be waiting to leap out at me.

The second reason I used to hate horror is a bit more complicated.

When I was 11, there came a moment when I knew I had to overcome the fears that threatened to cripple my life. That moment came when I returned home from school one day to find my house empty. Usually my mum was at home after school, but on this particular day there was no sign of her. Immediately I was on the defensive. I could feel my heart speeding up. Something was out of the ordinary. Something was wrong.

But I had a more pressing worry. I was too scared to use the toilets in school, and so I would always arrive home desperate for a pee. This day was no exception, and my bladder was fit for bursting when I arrived at the house. The problem was the bathroom was upstairs in my house, and as far as I was concerned, there were monsters upstairs just waiting for the opportunity to eat me alive.

So I had a dilemma. Be eaten by monsters, or wet myself?

And then a third option presented itself, when I spotted the kitchen sink.

“This is it!” I thought. I could pee in the sink, run the tap for a minute, and no-one need ever know. Unfortunately I wasn’t quite as tall then as I am now, and I couldn’t quite manage to reach the sink. So I came up with a plan where I would jump up, prop myself up on my arms, quickly pee in the sink, then jump back down. Everything was going to be OK.

So, I got myself primed and ready. I took up my position by the sink. I bent my knees, straightened my arms, and I jumped.

What I had failed to take into account was that above the kitchen sink in my house was a row of kitchen cabinets. As I leaped, I cracked my skull on the bottom of the cabinets, and I woke up on the kitchen floor five minutes later. In a puddle of pee. With blood pouring from my head, and I thought, “This can’t go on.”

So I set about training myself not to be scared of things. I analyzed things that worried or frightened me, figuring out why I was scared and finding ways to overcome each fear in turn. Eventually, I trained myself out of almost all of my irrational fears and after that life started to feel a bit boring. I missed the constant adrenaline rush that came with always being afraid, and so I began reading horror books to try to claw that feeling back. It never worked. No matter what I read, none of it was able to scare me to the extent my own imagination had for years. The thoughts in my head were scarier than those in Stephen King’s or Clive Barker’s, and that was when I decided that I should really try writing a horror book some day…

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Win a set of Invisible Fiends books by Barry Hutchison

This week we’ll be joined by seriously spooky author, Barry Hutchison, author of the creepy Invisible Fiends series.  The series is about a boy called Kyle whose invisible friend he had when he was younger comes back to try and kill him.  They’re some of my favourite seriously spooky books and are great for anyone who likes the Skulduggery Pleasant series by Derek Landy.  On Wednesday Barry Hutchison will be joining us on the blog to talk about what he was scared of when he was a kid.

We have a set of the first 3 Invisible Fiends books (Mr Mumbles, Raggy Maggie and The Crowmaster) to give away this week.  To get in the draw to win all 3 books, all you have to do is tell us: If you had an invisible friend what would its name be?  Leave a comment on this post with your answer, your name and email address (so that we can contact you if you win).  Competition closes Friday 21 October.

See below for terms and conditions     Read the rest of this entry »

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Time Freeze

Science fiction grabbed me as a teenager. I was an impatient reader and loved short sci-fi stories packed with ideas. They had cool surprise endings too, like Arthur C Clarke’s All the Time in the World about a man who freezes time; and Ray Bradbury’s A Sound of Thunder where an insect changes history. I still treasure my copy of Bradbury’s Golden Apples of the Sun – cost me 65c new in 1970; about an hour’s raspberry picking then.
A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle was also great with it’s spiritual physics and the ending when the disembodied alien brain is defeated. It’s the inspiration for a sci-fi novel I’m working on. I like what L’Engle said about writing too:

You have to write the book that wants to be written. And if the book will be too difficult for grown-ups, then you write it for children.

I loved sci-fi movies too, like Planet of the Apes (1968, final shot pictured), and movies where scientists battled giant insects – the stop-motion animation so endearing. The monsters often attacked Tokyo so I made this the setting for my latest novel Wings, about bees battling giant hornets.

That’s all for now about the stories that made me. Tune in next blog for some writing tips.

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The Un-forgotten Coat by Frank Cottrell Boyce

Do you have kids from different countries in your class or at your school?  When you speak a different language from everyone else or come from a different culture it can be hard to fit in and make new friends.  In his new book, The Un-forgotten Coat, Frank Cottrell Boyce tells us the story of two brothers from Mongolia who just want to fit in.

The Un-forgotten Coat is told from the point of view of Julie, who is chosen by Chingis and his brother Nergui to be their ‘Good Guide.’  As their ‘Good Guide’ Julie looks after them and helps them to fit into their school and life in England.  Julie and her classmates learn all about Mongolia and that Chingis and Nergui had to leave their home because they were being chased by a demon.  Julie wants to be invited around to their house like her other friends but she can’t even figure out where they live.  When she discovers where they live Julie and her mother are not welcomed and Julie doesn’t understand why.  One day Chingis and Nergui disappear and Julie’s teacher tells her class that they weren’t supposed to be in England and were sent back to their own country.  Julie never sees or hears from them again until she makes a discovery on the internet many years later.

The Un-forgotten Coat is a story about friendship that leaves you with a smile on your face.  It shows you how hard it can be for people of other cultures to fit in, but how they just need friends to help them along the way.  There are some really funny parts in the book, especially when Chingis and Nergui are learning how to play football.  I really liked how Frank Cottrell Boyce has used Polaroid photos to help tell the story and I think it would be interesting to write your own story just using the photos.   Frank Cottrell Boyce is a great storyteller, and if you like his other stories including Millions, Framed and Cosmic, you’ll love The Un-forgotten Coat.

Recommended for 9+     9 out of 10

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Rick Riordan talks about The Son of Neptune

The Son of Neptune is the latest book in the Heroes of Olympus series by Rick Riordan.  If you loved the Percy Jackson series you’ll love this new series with new demigods and mythical creatures.  Percy Jackson even makes an appearance in The Son of Neptune.  Reserve your copy now at the library or at home on the library catalogue.

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