Archive for April, 2012

Raven’s Mountain

I was very excited today to see that your next book competition is for Raven’s Mountain! So I thought I’d you’d like to hear a bit more about the story.

Here’s a little excerpt:

There’s nothing and no one here except me.

No Lily and Scott.

No new footprints.

No Top-of-the-World Dance Rock.

No daypack sitting beside the rock waiting for me to put it back on.

And no huge rocky nose on the mountain below me. That side of the cliff is gone.

I can’t believe this is where I did my happy dance and worried about my sister laughing.

I never thought of worrying about the mountain. After all, mountains are made of rock. They’re very old, very strong, and very, very solid. Everyone knows that eleven-year-old girls can’t break mountains.

Except I think I did.

Because what if the rock tipped because I fell, and if it slid because it tipped, and if it broke the mountain’s nose because it slid?

The chill around my heart is turning into a solid block of ice. This is a cold, lonely, dangerous place and I’m getting out of here as fast as I can; slipping, skidding, falling, landing on my cut-to-shreds hands, sucking off the blood and snow.

It’s hard to know where stories start. Maybe the first seeds for Raven’s Mountain were planted the summer I was eight and went to summer camp in the Canadian Rockies. Or when my dad, younger sister and I climbed Pikes Peak, a 3000m mountain in Colorado. Or when I was a teenager, sleeping out in the woods in another part of the Rocky Mountains, and hearing that a grizzly had taken a camper the week before. I’m guessing all these things went into the book, but many more too, until they all got mixed up into something entirely new that wasn’t much to do with me at all.

For instance, when I started writing, I thought Raven would love the mountains, because I always have (and probably most New Zealanders would understand that!).  But the more I wrote, the more I saw that she didn’t love mountains at all. She’s only going there because her mum has remarried – Raven wants to stay in the flat prairie country, because it’s the only home she’s ever known. The mountains, and especially the rockfall, are a symbol of everything that’s changing in her life.

(But, since people always wonder if an author is like her characters, there might be a bit of me in her bossy story telling friend Jess…)

In Canada, Raven’s Mountain is called Facing the Mountain, because that’s what Raven really has to do. Which title and cover do you like best?

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Why isn’t the film exactly like the book?

This is the beginning of the book Nim’s Island: 

In a palm tree, on an island, in the middle of the wide blue sea, was a girl.

Nim’s hair was wild, her eyes were bright, and around her neck she wore three cords. One was for a spyglass, one for a whirly, whistling shell and the other a fat red pocket knife in a sheath. 

Now, imagine what Nim looks like. That’s the only description I give of her in the book, so you’ve got to imagine her however you want. How old is she? She can be whatever age you think she is. And her voice and accent are however you imagine them – maybe a lot like yours. (Of course, if you’ve seen the movie you’re probably imagining her looking and sounding exactly like Abigail Breslin, and being 11, because that’s how old Abbie was when she played Nim in the movie. But try to pretend you haven’t already seen someone being Nim. Remember that if another actor had been chosen, you’d imagine Nim differently!) Image

(Wendy & Abigail, on the set)

WIthout even thinking about it,whenever you read, you make the movie in your head. And it’s more than just seeing and hearing the character: when you’re really involved with what you’re reading, you even feel what the character is feeling. Have you ever closed a book and been surprised to find out that it was sunny outside, because it was dark winter inside the book? (Or the other way around?) That’s because when you read, you help the author create the story. The author tells you enough that you can fill in the blanks, and of course everyone fills in those blanks differently, depending on who they are and what’s going on in their lives.

To make a film, you need lots and lots of people. And each of those people has their own picture in their heads of what the story and the people are like. (What’s amazing is that they all manage to get together and make something that works!) 

So, think about it in the next book you read. How would you make a movie of that book?

Some of the crew around ‘Nim’ on the set



The Nim’s Island crew – all the people doing what the author, Illustrator & editor do in a book. 





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Meet Andy Griffiths at The Children’s Bookshop

One of the funniest authors around, Andy Griffiths is coming to Christchurch for some school visits in May.  If you’re not lucky enough to go to one of the schools he’ll be visiting you can come and meet him in person and get your books signed at The Children’s Bookshop (227 Blenheim Road) on Sunday 6 May, from 1:30-2:30pm.

Andy is the author of the ‘Just’ books, including Just Disgusting, Just Annoying, and his latest book, Just Doomed, as well as the Zombie Bums From Uranus series.

You can reserve Andy’s latest book, Just Doomed, at the library now.

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Lest we forget: Remember the fallen on ANZAC Day

ANZAC Day is celebrated in Australia and New Zealand on 25 April.  It is a time when we remember New Zealanders and Australians who fought in wars around the world. We might attend a dawn service and parade, talk to older relatives about their memories, buy and wear a red poppy, make ANZAC biscuits, and remember our family members who fought in wars.

We have a great kids webpage that you can check out for anything you would like to know about ANZAC Day and Gallipoli.  You’ll find fast facts, links to books and resources that the library has on ANZAC Day, and links to some great websites with extra information.

On Friday I’ll be talking about some of my favourite ANZAC books, including A Rose for the ANZAC Boys, The Ghosts of Iron Bottom Sound, When Empire Calls and The Red Poppy.

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Celebrate the 2012 New Zealand Post Children’s Book Festival

The 2012 New Zealand Post Children’s Book Festival runs from 7-16 May, 2012 and celebrates the books that are finalists in the New Zealand Post Children’s Book Awards.

We have some great events planned in Canterbury to celebrate the finalist books, including a competition that you can enter to win book vouchers.   You can download the Canterbury Programme for the New Zealand Post Children’s Book Festival and the entry form for the Canterbury Festival competition, Who’s Your Remarkable Kiwi right here.

New Zealand Post Children’s Book Festival – Canterbury Programme

Enter the Remarkable Kiwis competition

Tell us about a remarkable Kiwi in your life.   They could be your mum, dad, grandparents, teacher or anyone else you know.

Terms and conditions:

  • Open to Canterbury residents aged 7-18 years.
  • Competition closes Sunday 29 April at 5pm.
  • Winners will be notified by notified by phone and/or email and will be invited to the prize giving in the Festival week (7-16 May).
  • If you are a winner, you consent to your name, photograph, entry and/or interview being used for reasonable publicity purposes.
  • Prizes are not transferable.

You can drop your entry into Shirley Library or send to:  Zac Harding, Shirley Library, 36 Marshland Road, Christchurch 8061.

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From Book to Movie

Another question people often ask is, ‘How did Nim’s Island get turned into a movie? Well, it’s all because an eight year-old boy needed a book to read on the school holidays. His mum went into their local library in Los Angeles, and saw a brand new book, with a lovely green cover, that no one had taken out yet. That mum was Paula Mazur, a film producer.Image

She decided to read him just the first few paragraphs, and then let him go on by himself –  except that she couldn’t stop because she wanted to know what happened too. So she went on reading, and her eleven year-old daughter came in to listen, and her husband, (and the two fat cats, but I don’t know if they were really listening). And then the next day she wrote and asked me if she could make a film out of the book. And I said yes!

We talked about how a film would be, and then she went to see some studios and asked them if they’d like to make it. Four of them said yes, but she chose Walden Media because they specialise in making films for children and families. 

It was the start of an exciting time. I had written lots of books, but I’d never worked on a film script before. I learned a lot through working on the first two drafts of the screenplay with Paula Mazur and Joe Kwong, another screenwriter. (Later I was very surprised when Joe said he’d learned a lot from working with me! I guess every time we work with somebody else, we all learn things, because we often know more than we think we did.) Image

But it took 5 years between saying yes and seeing a film. I’ll tell you more about the filming next time. 

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If you could time travel where would you go?

Books can make you wonder what it would be like to live in a different time and place.  Some stories are set in a particular time in history or are about a historical event.  The My Story books are great because they take you back to a specific time in history and let you know what it was like to live in that time, through the diary of a boy or girl who lived then.  They show you the sights, sounds, and smells of that time period, which is quite different from ours.

If you could time travel, what time would you like to visit or what event would you like witness?


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The very first Nim’s Island

People often ask how I got the idea for Nim’s Island. Well, it started when I was 8 or 9. We were living in a town on the Canadian prairies, in Alberta, but my grandparents lived on Vancouver Island – so when we went to visit them we had to go on a ferry. On the way we passed a tiny little island. It was probably too small to build a house on it, but I thought, I’d love to live on an island, all by myself.’

ImageSo when we went home I started writing a story called Spring Island, about a little girl who runs away from an orphanage and ends up on a little island. Then a little boy runs away from his orphanage and ends up there with her. (I think they were orphans because I’d just read Anne of Green Gables, and Anne is an orphan. Even though you should never copy someone else’s work, we all get ideas from reading other books!)

Years later, when a couple of girls wrote and asked if I could write a book about them, I said No, because I didn’t know them or their stories, and that’s not how I work. But it started me thinking, ‘What if a girl wrote to an author, and the author said, “I can’t write your story because I’m a famous adventure writer, and you’re just a little girl!’ But what if the little girl’s life was much more exciting than the author’s… 

ImageI knew right away that the reason the little girl’s life was more interesting than the author’s was because she lived on an island. And after I wrote the book about 12 times, I finally remembered the story I’d written when I was nine  – and suddenly  came to life. 

Of course there were lots of changes, (the little boy changed into Jack, Nim’s dad), but that was the seed. 

Have you ever wanted to live somewhere really different from where you do now? Maybe you should try writing a story about it…ImageImage



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Hot New Books #1

Hot New Books is a new feature on the Christchurch Kids Blog where we highlight some of the hot new books that we’ve just got in the library.  If any of them take your fancy just click on the book cover, which will take you to the library catalogue, and you can reserve them.

Horton Halfpott, Or, The Fiendish Mystery of Smugwick Manor, Or, The Loosening of M’Lady Luggertuck’s Corset by Tom Angleberger

Tom Angleberger’s latest book begins when M’Lady Luggertuck loosens her corset (it has never been loosened before!), thereby setting off a chain of events in which all the strict rules of Smugwick Manor are abandoned. When, as a result of “the Loosening,” the precious family heirloom, the Luggertuck Lump (quite literally a lump), goes missing, the Luggertucks look for someone to blame. Is it Horton Halfpott, the good-natured but lowly kitchen boy who can’t tell a lie? Or one of the many colorful cast members in this romp of a mystery that combines supreme silliness with a tale of a young hero with heart.

Ghost Club: The New Kid by Deborah Abela

Angeline and Edgar might be kids, but they’re also two of Ghost Club’s youngest ghost-catchers. Got a problem with a ghost, poltergeist or ghoul? Can’t sleep because of all the rattling chains and cackling laughter? Angeline and Edgar are the experts to call.

So it’s entirely logical that when new kid Dylan joins Ghost Club, Angeline and Edgar are the perfect candidates to introduce him to everything he needs to know, from which ghost-catching gadget will do the trick to when to run like crazy to avoid being splattered with ectoplasm.

The trouble is, Dylan’s not quite sure he wants to be a ghost-catcher . . .

Muncle Trogg and the Flying Donkey by Janet Foxley

His home on Mount Grumble is at risk from being destroyed when the mountain shows signs of erupting, but all his fellow giants can think about is celebrating the departure of the smalling humans from down the mountain.

Luckily for Muncle, his friend Emily hasn’t abandoned him – and she has an idea. The giants might not listen to a little giant but they will sit up if a donkey – the wisest, most wondrous animal they know – makes an eeaw-mously important appearance.

To Be a Cat by Matt Haig

Barney Willow thinks life couldn’t get any worse. He’s weedy, with sticky-out ears. Horrible Gavin Needle loves tormenting him Barney has no idea why. And headteacher-from-hell Miss Whipmire seems determined to make every second of Barney’s existence a complete misery! Worst of all, Dad has been missing for almost a year, and there’s no sign of him ever coming home. Barney just wants to escape. To find another life being a cat, for example. A quiet, lazy cat. Things would be so much easier right? Barney’s about to discover just how wrong he is. Because he’s about to wake up as a cat and not just any cat. Gavin Needle’s cat.

Wonder by R.J. Palacio

Wonder is the funny, sweet and incredibly moving story of Auggie Pullman. Born with a terrible facial abnormality, this shy, bright ten-year-old has been home-schooled by his parents for his whole life, in an attempt to protect him from the stares and cruelty of the outside world. Now, for the first time, Auggie is being sent to a real school and he’s dreading it. The thing is, Auggie’s just an ordinary kid, with an extraordinary face. But can he convince his new classmates that he’s just like them, underneath it all? Through the voices of Auggie, his big sister Via, and his new friends Jack and Summer, “Wonder” follows Auggie’s journey through his first year at Beecher Prep.

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Get writing and win awesome prizes!

Writing handDo you love to write?  Would you like to get your story published?  Would you like to win an amazing prize just for writing a story?  If you answered yes to all of those questions, then you’re in luck.   There is a very cool writing competition that you can enter at the moment to win some awesome prizes

  • 2012 Puffin Short Story Awards –  to enter you have to write a story of up to 500 words.  Your story could be about anything you want, just let your imagination run wild!  There are three categories – junior, intermediate and senior.  The winner of each category will receive an Apple iPad for themselves and 50 Puffin books for your school library (that’s such a great prize even I want to enter, but I’m too old).  Check out the Penguin Books website for more information.

What are you waiting for? Get writing and you could win some of these awesome prizes.

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Enter the Library Explorers Challenge to win cool prizes

Throughout April we’re running a Library Explorers Challenge where you can answer a series of questions and go in the draw for some great prizes.  We have Paper Plus vouchers and movie passes to give away.

All you have to do is grab a question sheet from your library (or download it here – April challenge), go to the Kids website to find the answers, enter your answers and your contact details into the form and you’re in the draw for the whole of April.

Week 1 winner – Maifea Fetu, age 12, won a movie pass

Week 2 winners – Lucy Constable, age 12 ($20 Paper Plus voucher) and Anthony Orr, age 11 (child’s movie pass)

Week 3 winners – Tyler Timms, age 11 ($20 Paper Plus voucher) and Grace Boddington, age 12 (child’s movie pass)

Thanks to everyone who entered.  This competition is now closed.

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April Star Author – Wendy Orr

Our amazing April Star Author is Australian author, Wendy Orr.  Wendy wanted to be a writer from the time that she learned to read and write when she was a young girl, and she’s been writing stories ever since.  She has had heaps of stories published and you’ll find quite a few of them in our libraries, including Spook’s Shack, Peeling the Onion, Raven’s Mountain, and her latest book, The Rainbow Street Pets.  Her most famous book is Nim’s Island, which was made into a movie in 2008 (it’s a great movie too!).

Thanks for joining us Wendy!  We look forward to hearing all about your writing, your books and what it’s like to have a movie made of your book.

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Hello, Christchurch Kids!

I’m very excited to be your Star Author for the month. (Well, who wouldn’t be? Doesn’t everyone want to be a star from time to time? And yes, I did get to be a star on a Hollywood Red Carpet once with my friend Nim, though I’ll tell you more about that later . For now, here’s the Red Carpet video of what a true Hollywood star and I think about reading: Wendy Orr and Jodie Foster MS Readathon CSA

Although I’ve never been to New Zealand, I have a dog-walking friend who’s from Christchurch, and every time we walk the dogs together I learn a bit more about it, and especially on how her family and friends are coping after the earthquake. I think that’s why I feel so proud and excited to be on your blog, and it’s making me even more determined to get across there one day!

Books,  reading and writing have always been a huge part of my life.

You know when people ask you where you read, or when you read? Anywhere and all the time, is my answer. At breakfast, when I’m brushing my teeth, when I’m waiting somewhere…  Sometimes upside down is the best way to read.

By the way, what’s the craziest place you’ve ever read a book?

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