Archive for August, 2012

The War of Jenkins’ Ear by Michael Morpurgo

This story about a boy called Ashley Anderson. Ashley Anderson the son of the missionary in Ping Tong Chow. His father was very strict. That’s when the problem comes, but I’ll tell you that later.

The very begining is when Ashley’s mother meets his father. She was a nurse to help the injured soldiers of China; to help the hospital. She was also with her helper (as I called him) Zong Sung. But they just called him Uncle Sung. So that’s when they soon got married and gave birth to a child they called Ashley, Ashley Anderson. But just 6 months after she sadly died. So his father
would paint, in black letters, every year her name. Well then, Ashley wouldn’t really imagine up his mum’s face so that was sad. He then made friends with Lin, who was a really good swimmer and told him how to.

But that is not important, the yetis’ story is…to him…

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Hi everyone, sorry for the silence at my end. I’ve been flat out preparing for the Auckland Storylines Family Day which I attended last weeked, and for the Christchurch Writers’ Festival which is on this week (August 30 – September 2).

I had a lovely time in Auckland, talking to kids and adults about Red Rocks, reading parts of it and talking about how I got the inspiration for it, including from my childhood holidays by the sea where I learned to row a dinghy and catch fish. Is there any other quintessentially kiwi childhood activity? (Actually there are probably loads!)

I do hope you are one of the lucky kids who gets to come to the Read Aloud Schools day on Thursday in the big white dome. I’ll be talking alongside Kate de Goldi and Gavin Bishop so it should be a fun and interesting hour.

I met some great authors for the first time in Auckland, including Melinda Szymanik (Were-Nana) and Leonie Agnew (Super Finn), who were both very nice. Melinda wore two brooches I wanted to eat – one looked like an eskimo lolly, the other just like a jetplane lolly. She told me they wouldn’t taste very nice if I did try. Leonie bought a huge plate of wedges and forced me to share them with her. Once I started I couldn’t stop. Thanks Leonie!

I also had a panel discussion with four other authors about the future of YA and we all agreed that it doesn’t matter what is fashionable, that we all just need to write the books we want to write and write them well. When you have an idea, it can be three years before that idea comes out as a published book, and if you try and write something you think is the next ‘hot’ thing (wizards, vampires, dystopia), it will have come and gone again by the time you finish it.

Well, I’d better get back to my work! Who knew that August would turn out to be so busy?

I hope to see you at the Dome on Thursday. Come and say hi!

Rachael King

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Four Children and It Book Trailer

Four Children and It is Jacqueline Wilson’s brand new book.  It’s due out this month and you can reserve your copy at the library now.

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The Terrible Thing That Happened to Barnaby Brocket

There’s nothing unusual about the Brockets. Boring, respectable and fiercely proud to be as normal as normal can be, Alistair and Eleanor Brocket turn up their noses at anyone strange or different. But from the moment Barnaby Brocket comes into the world, it’s clear he’s anything but normal. To the horror and shame of his parents, Barnaby appears to defy the laws of gravity – and floats. Little Barnaby is a lonely child – after all, it’s hard to make friends when you’re pressed against the ceiling all day. Desperate to please his parents, he does his best to stop floating, but he simply can’t do it. It’s just not who he is. Then, one fateful day, Barnaby’s mother decides enough is enough. She never asked for a weird, abnormal, floating child. She’s sick and tired of the newspapers prying and the neighbours gossiping. Barnaby has to go. Betrayed, frightened and alone, Barnaby floats into the path of a very special hot air balloon. And so begins a magical journey around the world; from South America to New York, Canada to Ireland, and even a trip into space, Barnaby meets a cast of truly extraordinary new friends and realises that nothing can make you happier than just being yourself.

The Terrible Thing That Happened to Barnaby Brocket is one of my favourite books of 2012.  John Boyne has crafted a magical, imaginative tale that celebrates difference and takes us around the world, introducing us to an interesting cast of characters along the way.  If you like Roald Dahl’s books then this is the perfect book for you.  The characters in Barnaby Brocket are similar to Roald Dahl’s characters, especially Barnaby’s horrible, selfish parents.  As soon as he is born, Barnaby is the bane of his parent’s life.  They are normal people who want a normal life, but Barnaby is anything but.  A son who floats and gets a lot of attention threatens their normal lives, so his mother does the unthinkable.  The worst thing is that they don’t even regret what they did! 

I love all the interesting characters that Barnaby meets on his travels.  There’s Liam (the boy with hooks for hands), Joshua Pruitt (the window cleaner with a hidden talent) and the imprisoned members of Freakitude.  They’re all different in their own ways and they not only help Barnaby get back home, but also help him to realise that nothing can make you happier than just being yourself.

Reserve The Terrible Thing That Happened to Barnaby Brocket at your library now.

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The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate

The One and Only Ivan is a really great book.  

It’s about a gorilla called Ivan who lives in a shopping mall with an elephant called Stella, a stray dog called Bob and a man called Mack.  They are a circus.

Ivan used to be a famous attraction, but after a few years he was forgotten and only the new people in town are interested in him.

Ivan doesn’t think very much about his old life in the jungle and he has accepted he will spend the rest of his life in his cage.  But then a new elephant comes to live with the animals and helps Ivan realise that there is a better life out there.  It is up to Ivan to find a way out for all of them.

I don’t want to give too much away, the book does have some sad bits in it, but ends happily.  I’m sure you will love it just like I did!

By Amy, 10.

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If you like The 39 Clues you’ll love The Infinity Ring

The Infinity Ring is a new interactive series like The 39 Clues.  It’s one of those books that comes with extra bits and pieces so that you can find out more about the story and the characters.  The Infinity Ring series is all about time travel so you follow the characters through different time periods.  Each book comes with a Hystorian’s Guide, which is your key to unlocking the next adventure in the online game.

Book 1 is called A Mutiny in Time by James Dashner and it’s out at the end of the month. 

History is broken, and three kids must travel back in time to set it right!

When best friends Dak Smyth and Sera Froste stumble upon the secret of time travel — a hand-held device known as the Infinity Ring — they’re swept up in a centuries-long secret war for the fate of mankind. Recruited by the Hystorians, a secret society that dates back to Aristotle, the kids learn that history has gone disastrously off course.

Now it’s up to Dak, Sera, and teenage Hystorian-in-training Riq to travel back in time to fix the Great Breaks . . . and to save Dak’s missing parents while they’re at it. First stop: Spain, 1492, where a sailor named Christopher Columbus is about to be thrown overboard in a deadly mutiny!

Reserve your copy of The Infinity Ring: A Mutiny in Time at the library now.

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Romy’s interview with Derek Landy

My golly, it was amazing!

Thank you so much for organising the interview with Derek for me. Also big thanks to Harper Collins and The Children’s Bookshop.

It was the best day of my life meeting him in the bookshop. I am ever thankful!

So, my interview was very long but very interesting.  I had to transcribe the whole thing but here it is!

Warning! (Spoilers included)


Me: What was your inspiration to write?

Derek: Wow, what a first question. Ho, I don’t know because I was always a writer, because when I was a kid, always writing. It kind of just bled into my teenage years, always writing, and my twenties. I taught myself to read by reading comics. Anything that told a story I loved and basically, if you are a writer, you reckon you might be a writer then you are a writer. It’s not something that occurs to you when you’re 27. It’s a burning passion.


Me:How did you come up with ideas?

Derek: The titles are a cross between being really simple and really, really difficult. Like Skulduggery Pleasant, the first book, just nice and easy. The Faceless Ones I knew starting out that it would be called that because that’s what the story’s about. Dark Days was kind of tricky, that took me a while. Mortal Coil, well I knew instantly and Death Bringer, again it’s about the Deathbringer. Kingdom of the Wicked, this occurred to me about a few weeks into writing it and the only title that, I’m not happy with is Play with Fire, which was originally called Praising Cain and that’s what I wanted it to be called but the American publishers were worried that it was too much of a biblical reference. They didn’t want to annoy any religious people, so they said can we not call it Praising Cain and I said but that’s what it’s called.
I didn’t like their title; they didn’t like mine so I just said Playing with Fire. And Oh! We love that! And I mean yeah, it was ok. So if I could go back I would change only one title and that was Playing with Fire.


Me: What are the joys of writing?

Derek: The fact that, I don’t have a boss. Because that’s a big thing. So no one could tell me what to do. But writing it’s also the only thing I can do. I was incapable of doing anything seriously, I’m not a serious person and I’m not a highly responsible person either. So, I’m just living for myself because just like all writers are self-centered because we have to be, we have to ignore people and just live in our heads which suits me fine because I hat people, they’re weird and they talk funny! And I’ve got my cats and dogs and I can understand them, I can understand animals and the fans who are a certain type of animal themselves.


Me:What character is most like yourself?

Derek: Well, Skulduggery is like me. He’s charming, witty smart, suave, debonair, dangerous, unpredictable, cool and yes narcissi. A lot of people ask am I like Gordon. And no, I’m not like Gordon, I mean Gordon’s like an uncle, a doddery old uncle, and especially because when I started the first one I had no intention of having a char like Gordon but it’s not that when I started writing I became more like him, he has become more like me as he’s gotten older.


Me: Any tips for young writers?

Derek: This is one piece of advice I give to everyone who asks me this. If you knock me off the bestseller charts I will hunt you down and kill you with a spoon. That’s my one tip and other pieces of advice include ignore everyone, literally ignore everyone else. You write what you want to write. When I wrote Skulduggery Pleasant I didn’t have a contract I wasn’t paid I didn’t have anything and because of that I just put in anything really, monsters, murder mystery, and there’s fights, there’s comedy there’s this, this and this. If I had looked around at books that are all pretty out there I wouldn’t go oh no I can’t do this because nobody’s done it before so I can’t do it. I just wrote what I wanted to write. And what I wanted was to put everything into one. So that’s what I did. Basically, you write what you want to write and forget about everyone else.


Me: At Age 12, where did you see yourself?

Derek: In the mirror.
Oh! I see, I see, what I saw myself doing in the future.
Writing. Either that or an artist because I wanted to work with comics but I wasn’t that good of an artist, I got kicked out of art college, but writing was the one thing that stayed with me.


Me: Was there any other purpose of Skulduggery Pleasant other than entertain and amaze?

Derek: No, I didn’t write it as any type of career move, I didn’t write it to educate or teach valuable lessons. I’m not concerned about things like that but there is no message. The only possible message that could be derived from it is how to be a good person. Because Valkyrie is based on a real person and I think she is a decent person and so Valkyrie and Skulduggery behave how I reckon people should behave. So it’s just to be a good person, to be strong and honourable, stick up for a little guy no matter what.
That’s my message. I’m just trying to make the world a better place!


Me: What’s the best thing about writing?

Derek: That fact that, you get to do as a career what you would be doing as a hobby. That put simply.


Me: Why Tanith?!

Derek: Because I the first book, I was going to kill her off, but my agent told me I couldn’t do that so we made a deal, I said Ok we’ll keep her, but so long as I can torture her in every book since. So, she’s been shot, stabbed, thrown off a building, she’s been nailed to a chair. And really, being possessed is just an extension of that, it’s the logical conclusion. And I have the right to kill her in the last book if I want to.


Me: Would you consider making Skulduggery Pleasant into a movie?

Derek: I would consider it, it was with Warner Brothers then the writers wrote back and we’re working on the script with some great people, but I cannot guarantee that a movie will be made and that, if it is made that’ll be any good. And as for who would play Valkyrie and Skulduggery, just an open audition for Valkyrie, around the world. And personally, I think I should play Skulduggery. Just motion capture me, CG, personally, I think I should play all the part. Skulduggery, Valkyrie, I could play the furniture, the trees. Just, they can do amazing things with computers.


Me: Are you going to write another series?

Derek: Yes, now, I don’t know what it’ll be. The Skulduggery books: There’ll be nine books in all, and then many people’s lives will be over and end in sorrow but after that I don’t know. I will obviously continue to write but whatever my next series will be it is going to have to tick all the boxes that Skulduggery Pleasant did so it’s going to have the horror, the action, the fantasy, the fun. Characters that speak really fast and annoy people. So I don’t know what it is yet but when I write it, it’ll be bloody brilliant.

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The wonderful tattooed lady.

Hello everyone, here I am at the Tuam St library again, in my quiet corner (I say ‘quiet’, but there’s someone skyping on one side of me, and four people reading or working on laptops to the other side. Such is a rainy Sunday afternoon). Today I thought I would write about someone we have all been thinking about a lot lately: Margaret Mahy. I took my youngest son, who is nearly three, to one of the Margaret Mahy readings at the libraries yesterday. We went to the Peterborough library, where the librarians did a great job of reading A Summery Saturday Morning and Down the Back of the Chair, but I’m sorry to say my son was more excited by watching the diggers working on the site of the demolished Convention Centre across the road. However, I enjoyed the readings very much, as did lots of other parents and children.

My earliest memory of reading a Margaret Mahy book was The Boy With Two Shadows, about a boy who is plagued by the shadow of a witch and has to become increasingly canny to try and get rid of it. Oh, how I felt the frustration of that boy! I was just a few years too old for her young adult books when she started writing them, but I read and very much enjoyed The Tricksters a few years ago.

There is something so unusual in the way she constructs her stories. She tells a rollicking tale, but there is always something bumpy, something skew-whiff going on, whether it’s a character who is cliché-free or a plot that takes off in impossible, unexpected directions – a direction that you almost don’t want and are reluctant to follow because it confounds your expectations so much, but if everything happened the way we expected it to, reading would get a bit boring.

I came back to MM’s young adult books again last year, after I had finished the first draft of Red Rocks. I read The Haunting, Kaitangata Twitch and The Changeover (which I adored and is now on my list of favourite books of all time). After reading these books, I realised we had some things in common: in all of these books, family is very strong. So many kids’ and young adults’ novels feature kids having adventures while the parents or other adults are just shadowy figures in the background. MM portrayed these families in all their messy, fractured, loving glory. In Red Rocks, Jake’s father is almost as important to the story as Jake himself, in fact, a good deal of the conflict arises due to a hiccup in their relationship, and the family dynamics are quite complicated, as they are in real life.

So I love the dad in Kaitangata Twitch having a rant about the developers threatening the beauty of nearby landscape, love the complex feelings Barney’s stepmother has in The Haunting, and the protectiveness Laura Chant feels for her little brother and suspicions she has of her mum’s new boyfriend in The Changeover.

After Margeret died, there was a lot of talk about how disciplined and determined she was as a writer. In the early days, she used to work full time in the day, and come home and write at night, often until the wee hours. All while raising her daughters on her own.

I am always complaining about not having enough time to write, but I am the first to admit that in the evenings I shut down, and the TV (good quality TV of course!) seems to call me when I finally get a chance to sit down and put my feet up. My brain is a little doughy at night, it has to be said. I try to go to bed early so I can get some reading in before I fall asleep at 10.30.

I don’t know if MM’s brain ever got doughy, but if she could write after work like that, when she must have been so tired, then so can I, right? So, inspired by MM, I vow to write another children’s novel in the evenings, while I work on my adult novels three days a week.

I only met her a couple of times, once at an event I was doing for the Christchurch launch of my second novel, Magpie Hall, and again a few months later at a book launch at the University Bookshop. That first time, she sat in the front row while I read from my book and answered questions, and she gave me her full attention, and every now and then she interjected and struck up a conversation with me as if we were the only two people in the room. When I finished reading a scene where a man skins a tiger, she declared, “I can’t believe you haven’t skinned a tiger yourself. You write about it as though you have.” This was a huge compliment, coming from her, and I will always remember the feeling of pride it gave me. And when I read a scene about a young woman getting a tattoo, she piped up from her seat; “My mother told me never to get a tattoo, that I’d regret it when I was 60. So I waited until I was 62, and I got a tattoo.” And she proceeded to roll up her sleeve and show it to me.

Thank you Margaret.

Rachael King

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Wonder by R.J. Palacio

Wonder is an amazing book.  It’s about this kid called August Pullman with a deformed face, his eyes are where our cheeks are and his ears are like rolled up pizza dough.  He has a sister called Via (olivia) his mum is called Isabel and his dad is called Nate,he also has a dog called Daisy. 

This book is all about Auggie’s life when he moves from being home schooled by his mum, to going to intermediate school and meeting new friends.  His life at his new school doesn’t go as smoothly as he hopes.

The story is told by Auggie, Via and his friends.

The book made me feel like I was Auggie and how he would feel.

The moral of the story is: that everyone no matter what they look like or who they are, we have to treat them the same way as we would like to be treated!

It’s the best book I’ve ever read –  5 stars – a must read.

Check out Choose Kind, an anti bullying campaign based on the book, and choose to be kind!

by Amy

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Derek Landy heads Down Under this week

Derek Landy hits New Zealand this week!  If you’re a huge Skulduggery Pleasant fan like me you’ll be itching to meet Derek when he comes to Christchurch on Friday.  You can meet him at The Children’s Bookshop this Friday (10 August) at 4:30pm.

In 2010 I got the chance to interview Derek Landy, author of the Skulduggery Pleasant books.  He is a really cool guy and very funny.  I asked him lots of questions about his characters, his inspirations and writing.  Read the interview to find out the answers to these questions and more:

  • How do you come up with your names?
  • Was Skulduggery’s sidekick always going to be a girl?
  • What specific books, movies and music inspire you?
  • Would you consider making a Skulduggery Pleasant movie?

The latest Skulduggery Pleasant book, Kingdom of the Wicked is out now.  You can reserve your copy at the library.

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My office away from home.

I am chuffed (now there’s a word that should be used more often) to have been asked to be the August Star Author on the Christchurch Libraries’ Kids Blog. As you probably know, I have recently become a children’s author with my novel Red Rocks, which can be found in the Older Fiction section of the library. What you might not know is that I wrote most of the book in Christchurch libraries.

I started it at the Christchurch Central library before the awful events of last February, and spent a bit of time writing (well, staring out to sea) in New Brighton, and a bit at the Shirley library. But I probably wrote the biggest chunk in the South Library. I came to think of that library as my office away from home. I loved the leafy outlook and the café, and I loved being able to sit and write with a coffee or a cup of tea beside me, when every other library in the whole world will not let you eat and drink (understandably). I didn’t even mind how noisy it could get. I find it easy to tune out noise when nobody expects me to interact with them.

So you can imagine how dismayed I was to hear that the South Library had been closed down. Foiled by those earthquakes again!

Now I am working on a new book (for adults), and the first weekend after South was closed saw me creeping suspiciously into the new Tuam Street library. Did it have a leafy outlook? No. Did it have a café? No. Hmph.

Then something happened. One of the librarians, who is also my neighbour, pointed me in the direction of the Aotearoa New Zealand Centre, and I went into the furthest corner and hid. I felt as though nobody knew I was there and that I was the only person in the whole library. It was so quiet and peaceful. Oh, there was noise, but it seemed to be happening so far away that I barely noticed it. And pretty soon, the hours were flying by as I thought and wrote and browsed the New Zealand section for my research. I had successfully entered the world in my head, and I had that lovely place to thank for it.

In fact, I’m sitting in that very spot a week later, writing this blog post. My secret corner didn’t stay secret for long – there are two other people working beside me – but that doesn’t matter. I can hear children talking and laughing, and the sound of the people checking out their own books at the fancy new check-out stations. There is something so lovely about libraries. They bring people together. Being surrounded by books allows me to write, as if all the magic that went into making those books has seeped out and into my blood, making my fingers fly over the keyboard. These books on these shelves, they are so welcoming, to me and my books.

So if you haven’t been to the Tuam Street library, come and check it out. Maybe I’ll see you there sometime? Come and say hi.

Rachael King

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Young writers and artists! Feeling creative? Enter our Monster Prize Competition

Monster Prize Competition Takeshita Demons

Win one of ten $50 prize packs!!

cristy burne and headsHi everyone! It’s Cristy Burne here…I was a Star Author for this blog last year and I’m sneaking back this year to let you know about an awesome competition we’re running.

Many of you entered our Make-a-Monster competition last year and invented some incredibly cool monsters. Now is your chance to DRAW them.

The monster can be your own creation (sketch it, paint it, sculpt it out of belly button fluff and earwax, whatever you like) or it can be your fave monster from a book or a movie. You simply grab an image of your monster (take a photo of your monster drawing, monster cartoon, monster sketch, monster life-size diagram, monster sister) and email it to:

You pic will be posted in the MBFAB blog gallery (coming soon) for everyone to see!

VOTE by posting a comment on the MBFAB blog.

So get to it! Ask your friends to vote, ask your parents to vote, ask your teacher to vote, ask your penguin to vote!
And if you don’t have a penguin, get thinking! You need more votes!


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Love the Olympics? Try these sporty reads

If you’re a sporty person you’re probably in heaven right now with all the Olympic Games coverage on TV.  There are heaps of different types of sport to watch, from swimming and rowing, to gymnastics and athletics. 

We have heaps of sporty books in the library for you to enjoy.  Why not try these:

We also have a great page all about the Olympics, where you can find out about Canterbury Olympic Athletes and visit some interesting websites with information about the Olympic Games.

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Meet our August Star Author – Rachael King

Our awesome August Star Author is New Zealand author, Rachael King.  Rachael lives right here in Christchurch and is a great fan of our libraries.  She has written books for adults and recently had her first book for children published, called Red Rocks.  Grab a copy of Red Rocks from the library because it’s a fantastic book.

Rachael will be joining Gavin Bishop and Kate de Goldi at the Read Aloud sessions for the Christchurch Writer’s Festival.  If you’re lucky enough to be going you’ll hear Rachael read from Red Rocks.

Thanks for joining us Rachael!  We look forward to hearing all about your books and writing.

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