Archive for Christchurch

We are moving!

The Christchurch Kids Blog content will be moving to our new Christchurch City Libraries website.  We won’t be using this blog any more but you will still be able to read our posts about children’s books, authors and writing on our new website.  You will also still be able to have your say and let us know what you think.

If there is anything that you would really like to see on our new website for kids please post a comment and let us know.

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The Best and Worst Children’s Books of 2014

Cover of the song of the kauriThe end of the year is approaching and that means it’s time to evaluate the best and worst of 2014’s crop of children’s books. Hosted by Christchurch City Libraries, in conjunction with the Canterbury Literacy Association, the Best and Worst Evening is a Christchurch literary tradition. 2013’s event was so popular the event has been moved to the larger venue of Upper Riccarton Library.

Speakers include Bob Docherty (children’s book guru and renowned promoter of reading and literacy for kids), Kirsten Smith (Kaitakawaenga – Ngā Ratonga Māori at Christchurch City Libraries) and a kids-eye-view from Briana.

Our annual Holiday Reading list will also be officially announced on the night. Holiday Reading is a recommended selection of new titles added to Christchurch City Libraries in 2014 and includes picture books, chapter books, young adult and non-fiction titles.

Come along this Wednesday night (19 November) to Upper Riccarton Library, 7pm. Bring a gold coin for refreshments and early Christmas raffles.

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Meet Derek Landy in Christchurch this October

We’re excited to announce that Derek Landy, the author of the brilliant Skulduggery Pleasant series, is coming to Christchurch on Thursday 2 October.  Derek is coming to promote the release of the final Skulduggery Pleasant book, The Dying of the Light, at the Riccarton Primary School hall at 5:30pm on Thursday 2 October.  Not only will you have the chance to get your books signed, you can also hear him talk about his books and ask him your burning questions.  There will also be the chance to win some awesome prizes for those who come dressed as their favourite Skulduggery character.

In the lead up to Derek’s visit we’ll be featuring some videos of Derek talking about the ending of the series. You’ll also have the chance to win a copy of Armageddon Outta Here, the new Skulduggery Pleasant short story collection.

For details about the event and to get tickets check out the poster below.

 Derek Landy poster

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Meet our September Star Author – Mary McCallum

Our super September Star Author is Mary McCallum.  As well as an author Mary has worked as a creative writing tutor, a bookseller, book reviewer, broadcast journalist and television presenter.  Mary’s first children’s book, Dappled Annie and the Tigrish was published earlier this year.

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

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Join the Festival to celebrate the NZ Post Book Awards for Children and Young Adults

Have you ever wanted to come to the library in your pyjamas?  Next week you’ll get the chance to do just that when Christchurch City Libraries celebrates the New Zealand Post Book Awards for Children and Young Adults Festival.  The Festival, which runs from 17-25 May, gives children, young adults and their families the chance to celebrate the finalist books, authors and illustrators at various events around the country.

Here in Christchurch we are running Books Before Bedtime Pyjama Parties at Papanui, Shirley and South Libraries, where children and their families can come to the library after dark and enjoy stories, craft activities and have fun with iPads.  For teens and adults we also have The Great NZ Children’s Book Quiz, a fun night where you and your friends can test your knowledge of the book awards and this year’s finalists.

One of my favourite events during Festival week is visiting local primary schools to read and promote the finalist books.  As well as encouraging children to read the wonderful finalist books, we also give away heaps of books and other goodies, including holographic bookmarks.  It’s tonnes of fun and the children always enjoy it.

We hope to see you at one of our events next week.  Check out the library events calendar for details of the Pyjama Parties and the Festival events calendar for details of the Book Quiz.

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Hello from Sue

Hello there! What a treat to be invited to have a virtual chat with all you Christchurch booklovers. I hope we’re going to have plenty of fun together over the next month. Fun and … spine tingles. Do you believe in ghosts? Oh yes, and rabbit chat.

By now you’re probably wondering, who is this slightly mad-sounding person who’s invaded our blog? Well, your lovely library is calling me a “star” author. That’s a bit of an exaggeration. I’ve written a few books, but I’m not exactly J.K. Rowling or Margaret Mahy. On the star scale they’d be red giants, whereas I’m more of a white dwarf, visible only through a powerful telescope.

Like most authors (apart from the red giants), I have another job as well as writing. Mine isn’t quite as exciting and cool as last month’s star author, Tania Hutley, who makes computer games. No, mine is, ahem, book editing. You know how your teacher goes through your wonderful stories and covers them with annoying red scribbles, correcting your spelling and telling you when you should have started a new paragraph? Something like that. Sound boring? Well it isn’t really, because think of it this way – my job is READING BOOKS!

But back to the writer bit of me. I’ve written a few educational books (no yawning please), and several (cue spooky music) ghost stories. Do you like ghost stories? I’ve always loved them, though I’m a complete chicken when it comes to things spooky. I’m the one who jumps the most in scary movies, and I need to hug at least two cushions to get me through the creepiest parts (you know, where someone goes into a haunted house and you’re shouting “Don’t go in there!” at the telly.)

My most recent spine chiller is called The Ghosts of Young Nick’s Head. If you know what/where Young Nick’s Head is, award yourself some chocolate for general knowledge smartipantsness. If you don’t … well, you’ll have to visit me again over the next week or two, when all will be revealed. If you fancy a read of the book in the meantime, you can of course request it from your library, or head on over to to be in to win a copy.


My other recent book you may have seen is Our Children Aotearoa. Writing this was a dream project, as I got to travel all over New Zealand interviewing and photographing children from all walks of life. It made me realise what a fantastic place New Zealand is for kids to grow up in – I hope you realise how lucky you are! (Actually, when I say “all over New Zealand”, there was a certain city I didn’t manage to visit. You can guess which one. I’m sorry, Christchurch, all right?! I’ll make it up to you I promise!)

What else can I tell you about myself? I live in Auckland, and have two teenage children. We also have a dwarf lop-eared rabbit called Tog, who likes to sit at my feet while I’m writing. I will tell you more about him in my next blog. Here’s a photo of Tog to be going on with.


I’ve lived in New Zealand for some years now. I came here from England, where my home town is Rugby. Yes folks, that’s where your favourite game began. There’s a big posh school, Rugby School, in the centre of town, and nearly 200 years ago a group of schoolboys were playing football when one of them, William Webb Ellis, caught the ball in his hands and ran towards the goal. Or so legend has it. (I always wonder why the other boys didn’t just yell “Foul!” and send him off!)

In between leaving Rugby and arriving in New Zealand, I worked at London Zoo (yes, it was as much fun as it sounds), travelled the world for a year, and then worked at Dorling Kindersley Children’s Books – you know, they produce those really cool non-fiction books, like Incredible Cross-Sections. Because of my background at the Zoo, and general obsession with animals, Dorling Kindersley gave me natural history books to work on. The first series involved photographing lots of creepy crawlies, and so it was that I found myself encouraging a tarantula out of its hidey-hole, and being asked to hold a giant prickly stick insect while the photographer sorted out his camera. See – “editing” can be exciting!

So there you are, a potted history of me. I will be back soon with more on ghosts, rabbits, books, and anything else that springs to mind in May. Catch you later!


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Enter our Autumn Reading Competition

Win books and Subway vouchers!

At Christchurch City Libraries we’re combining our Autumn Reading Competition with the New Zealand Post Book Awards for Children and Young Adults.  The finalists in this year’s book awards are announced on Tuesday 8 April and this is also when our Autumn Reading Competition opens.

During the Autumn Reading Promotion you’ll have the chance to vote for your favourite finalist book in the New Zealand Post Book Awards for Children and Young Adults, and you’ll have the chance to win a trip to Orana Park for your class or your family.

Here on the Christchurch Kids Blog we have extra chances for you to win.  You could win a set of the Junior Fiction finalist books and Subway vouchers, just for sending us your response to one of the finalist books.  You could write a review, write a poem, create something and send us a photo, or you could write a story based on one of the books.  Email your response to or enter it as a comment on this post.

Competition closes Friday 21 May.  See below for terms and conditions

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Win a Wild Things magazine pack

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOur March Star Author, Johanna Knox, has been blogging about editing the Wild Things magazine for the Kiwi Conservation Club.  The KCC has very kindly sent us some copies of last year’s magazine to give away to some lucky Christchurch Kids Blog readers.  Wild Things is packed full of information about local wildlife, stories and activities.

Thanks to everyone who entered.  The winners of the magazine packs are – Ewen, Tegan, Asta and Logan.

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Marvellous Margaret Mahy

March 21 would have been Margaret Mahy’s 78th birthday and it’s a great excuse to check out some of the fantastic Margaret Mahy stuff on our catalogue and the internet.

If you are itching for some Margaret Mahy screen goodness, you can check out full episodes of her award-winning TV adaptions on NZ On Screen:

The Haunting of Barney PalmerBook Cover

Is Barney being haunted by his dead Uncle? One person in every generation of his family has a special gift; is it Barney? If you like the movie, borrow the book from our Library.

Kaitangata Twitch

What happens to a girl who has dangerous dreams? What if the land itself punishes those who would harm it? Kaitangata Twitch is a supernatural eco-thriller! Watch the first episode on NZ On Screen and then check out the book or DVD from the library.

The Great White Man-Eating SharkBook Cover

Norvin looks a little bit like a shark and is also a little bit sick of other swimmers at the beach. He thinks he’s got the perfect plan to have the beach to himself, but does he? Once you’ve watched the hilarious video, read the full story from our library.

If you’d like some more information about Margaret Mahy, you can check out our interview with her, or our special Margaret Mahy pages.

If you start reading now, you might be able to read all of our Margaret Mahy books before the Margaret Mahy Family Playground opens. It hasn’t been started yet, but when it’s finished it will be ‘the most amazing playground’ the city has ever seen, it will have different activity zones aimed at different ages, comfortable places for adults to supervise, and challenging play equipment, all inspired by the amazing stories of Margaret Mahy.

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Win a signed copy of Canterbury Quake

February has flown by and it’s time for our first Star Author of the year, Desna Wallace, to say goodbye.  Desna has very kindly offered us a signed copy of her new book, Canterbury Quake, to give away.

To get in the draw for the signed book all you have to do is enter your name and email address in the form below.  Competition closes Friday 7 March.

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Join the Great Summer Reading Adventure!

Our annual Summertime Reading programme is about to get underway again for kids between 5 and 12 years old.  Pick up your Summertime Reading Club map from your local library or Paper Plus store from December and be in to win some great prizes!

Read six books of your choice between 20th December 2013 and 24th January 2014, then take your map back into the library to receive your sticker and a $5 Paper Plus voucher. The librarian will also enter you online for the prize draw and the major prize this year is an iPad mini.

For a further challenge, you can complete the Science Alive Reading Adventure by reading four different books and spotting the science feature in each of those books. Take the map back into the library and the librarian will enter you into the draw for some more great prizes.

We’ll also have a weekly Summertime Reading Challenge here on the Kids Blog that you can enter to win PaperPlus vouchers.

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Tell us what you’re reading and WIN

The Summertime Reading Club is on now and throughout the Summer holidays you have lots of chances to win on the Christchurch Kids Blog.  Each week we’ll have a competition that you can enter to win book vouchers from PaperPlus, one of our fantastic sponsors.  Did you know that you get a $5 PaperPlus voucher when you’ve completed your reading log?

Our first competition is super easy to enter.  Just leave a comment on this post telling us about a book that you’re reading for the Summertime Reading Club.  Make sure you put your name and your email address or phone number so that we can contact you if you win.  We’ll draw one lucky kid who will win a $40 PaperPlus voucher.   So get commenting and you’ll be in to win.  Competition closes Thursday 2 January 2014.

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

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Win Pinocchio by Michael Morpurgo

“Now – there’s no point in pretending here – I was, and still am deep down, a puppet. Everyone knows Pinocchio is a puppet. I reckon I must be just about the most famous puppet the world has ever known. But the truth is I’m not just a puppet, I’m more than just bits of wood and string. I’m me. So I thought it was about time that I, Pinocchio, told you my story…”

So begins this stunningly beautiful interpretation of the classic story. Michael Morpurgo channels Pinocchio’s words to tell the famous puppet’s story in his own inimitable, cheeky and always funny way.

To celebrate Michael Morpurgo Month we’re giving away 2 copies of Michael Morpurgo’s latest book, his retelling of the classic story, Pinocchio.  It’s a beautiful little book, with colour illustrations by Emma Chichester Clark.  Even if you’ve read the story of Pinocchio before, you won’t have heard Pinocchio’s story quite like this.  Michael Morpurgo has a great way of bringing classic stories alive and retelling them in a way that is unique and entertaining.

To go in the draw to win a copy of Pinocchio just enter your name and email address in the form below.  Entries close Wednesday 27 November.

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Winner of the Andy Griffiths Writing Challenge

Thanks to everyone who entered our Andy Griffiths Writing Challenge last week.  You all wrote some wonderful stories, poems and lists and we loved reading them.

The winner of the Typo prize pack and a copy of Andy Griffiths’ book, Once Upon a Slime, is Ben Somers.  We loved all the wonderful and creepy things that were behind your Twelve Doors.

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The Twelve Doors by Ella Somers

Check out this awesome story that Ella wrote using Andy Griffiths’ Twelve Doors writing exercise.


Good morning, stranger, and what brings you to my door?
Ah, you need not say anything, I can guess where you are heading.
How, you ask? I have seen many young people pass my door, all with the feverish look in their eyes, all heading the same way.
But I can see in your eyes, stranger, that you are still not sure about your choice, were you pushed into this, stranger, called a coward, because you were not sure? How do I know this, as well, stranger?
Ah, I am what people call a Reader. No, I do not read books, I read people. I can read their desires, their fears, their deepest regrets, yes, I can see right in to you soul, stranger. No, I do not know your name, my gift, does not allow me to see that. Nor do I wish to know it, for it makes me remember the people who walked past my door, to their deaths.
Now, stranger, tell me the real reason, you are walking this path.
Ah, wait. Close your mouth. I am a Reader, remember. Wait, I am looking into your heart, yes… yes… It is a women, isn’t it, stranger? You are deeply in love with her, you would walk the ends of the earth for her, so deep is your love for her. Now, what has she done, to make you walk this path, hmm? Ah, now I see, it is her father, yes? I thought so.
So this is why you are walking this road to your death, you are poor, your job does not supply you much money, you have a little sister who you love dearly, but she is sick, and one day soon, you fear she will die. And this women you are in love with, she is a rich, isn’t she? And even though she loves you, and you love her back, her father, doesn’t agree to the match, yes? He does not want a poor peasant marrying his beautiful rich daughter. He thinks she should marry someone else and he has someone in mind who is very, very rich but is also cruel, yes?
And this father, he is scared that you will runaway with his daughter, makes a bargain with you. If you go to The Twelve Doors, and come back with the prize, he will let his daughter marry you and even make you a knight, so you have a position in his household. So you agreed to come on this quest.
So that is your story, stranger, and a strange one, too. I knew as soon as I saw you stranger, that there was something different about you, and now I know. You tread this path, for the people you love, not for greed, which is all the other poor souls who came this way have fallen too.
And for that stranger, I am going to give you a word of advice for what you face ahead. Now, come closer, so I may whisper in you ear.
Now, are you listening, stranger? Good. What you need to face the horrors ahead is not a weapon, but your wits. Yes, stranger, your wits. For the horrors that hide in the eleven doors, are actually spirits, evil spirits, that are desperate for fresh souls, but they can only kill the souls that are already tainted. That is why the greedy travellers that have gone before you have never came back, for their souls have been tainted with greed. Now, you, stranger, Your soul is pure, I can sense it. As the spirits try to take you soul, fight them with your mind. Think of all the good things you have ever done, and most of all think about the love you share with the women. The spirits can not battle against love for it is to pure and beautiful for them. They will slowly weaken and grow transparent and then disappear.
In each of the eleven doors, their is a spirit, and the more doors you grow through, the more evil they are…
When you reach the twelfth door, and that is if, you survive up to the twelfth door, take your treasure, and begone from that evil place. Go home and marry your lady and forget The Twelve Doors.
Now go, for I have helped you in all the ways I can.
What is it, stranger?
What is the treasure, you ask? Ah, I can not say, for it is supposedly different for everyone. Now go.
Farewell, Stranger. And… good luck.

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Louie by Ella Somers

Check out Ella’s ‘Louie’ that she wrote using Andy Griffiths’ writing prompt, 50-word Pet Story.


Golden gold,
wagging tail
spoilt rotten
steals the mail!
Sniffing this,
sniffing that,
finding the scent
of a dirty rat!
Snoozing by the fire,
where it’s nice and hot
jumps up barking,
when he hears a knock!
Wet pink tongue,
big brown eyes,
and big happy grin,
that doesn’t lie.

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Angus by Tierney Reardon

Check out Tierney’s ‘Angus’ that she wrote using Andy Griffiths’ writing prompt, 50-word Pet Story.


Five foot tall,
emerald green,
my dog Angus is
easily seen.
Neighbours complain
when they lose
their mail;
it blows away because
our Angus
constantly wags his tail.
His puppy fat
is so much that
I carry him in a wagon.
Everyone’s scared,
because they think
Angus is a dragon!

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A Study in Custard by Tierney Reardon

Check out Tierney’s ‘A Study in Custard’ that she wrote using Andy Griffiths’ writing prompt,Make the unbelievable believable.

A Study In Custard

“Scientific studies show that eating custard three times a day with fish fingers will minimize your chance of catching yellow fever; a disease cured by eating liberal amounts of custard,” says Dr. Gloopicus.

“I heard on the news that there are 154 ways of making a custard pie,” 73-year-old Mrs. Splatt explains, “but I know this to be wrong. I tried every method ever heard of, and there are actually 155.”

“Recent research findings prove that custard will withstand large shocks without being destroyed, making it a perfect substance for building houses,” says Prof. Dratsuc, who works at the University of Custard. “We are currently working on the first custard skyscraper.”

“Statistics show that 78 percent of people prefer their custard hot.” These poll results were published in Custard Monthly, a popular magazine. However, some disagree.

“Experts say that cold custard is fantastic on rough skin around areas such as heels and knees,” says supermodel Clarisse Ustard, who launched her nail polish brand this year; C. Ustard Nails. “I use custard on my skin once a week- and look at me!”

“It’s a well-known fact that lying in a bathtub full of cold custard improves your chances of passing exams by 35%,” claims mathematics teacher Ms. Yellow. Ms. Yellow gives out cartons of custard for her students to snack on while studying.

Nine out of ten doctors reccomend keeping a 2-litre carton of custard in your fridge for first aid emergencies. Custard can cure sore throats, paper cuts, headaches and hunger.

Sir C. Cream was unable to give his opinion on the matter, as he was tragically killed when he was sucked into a patch of custardsand while studying foreign custard recipes in Africa. May he rest in custard.

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Lovely to be here

Hello and it’s lovely to be here. Well, not exactly here, as I am writing from my desk in Raglan, a little town half up the West Coast of the North Island, but still it feels as if I am down there in Christchurch with you.

I really am very pleased to be part of this wonderful book-fest blog, and especially pleased to be following hot on the heels of David Hill, who is a wonderful and very funny author, in my opinion. So, a double treat.

Unlike David, I am not an established children’s author, but just a beginning one. That’s exciting in itself, as (other than a brief time between the ages of 6 and 9 when I wanted to be a pony), being an author is the only thing that I have ever really wanted to be. So it is wonderful now to have written a couple of books and to be able to do proper author things, like take part in this blog.

I don’t always find it easy, at the moment, to find time to do author things, as I have four small children who are very, very messy, and very, very noisy. Now I know you’re thinking, “oh yeah, everyone says kids are messy and noisy”, but I’m telling you the truth; my kids are extremely, excessively, rampageous-ly messy and noisy.

I think this might be because they have quite a lot of Scottish blood in them, and they have seen too many of those movies where the highland warriors run around the hillsides, wearing kilts and brandishing swords and yelling “Arrrrrgggghhhh”, for extended periods of time. I think they may now be using these as a model for their own behaviour. But I am having difficulty proving it.

Anyway, this shortens my writing time a bit, as I spend quite a lot of the day running around the house with my hands over my ears, tripping over things and dodging sword thrusts.  But I have managed to do another writerly thing this week, and that is launch my new website.

I am very pleased with the website, as it is very beautiful, with lots of amazing pictures (taken by a friend of mine) of Raglan, the fabulous place I live. So why don’t you take a look: It also has some information about my books. And if you send me an email to let me know you’ve visited, I’ll post you one of the bookmarks I had printed to celebrate the launch.

Talk soon.


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The Red Stilettos by Bailey Reardon

Check out this awesome story that Bailey wrote using Andy Griffiths’ ‘Write a Story Starring You!’ writing exercise.

The Red Stilettos

I looked over my shoulder. Miss Andrew, my new teacher, was looking down at me.
”What are you doing, Bailey?” she said in a sharp voice.
”Um, not much,” I replied, turning the page of my maths book and hiding my doodles. Miss Andrew clip-clopped in her bright red stilettos over to the grubby blackboard.
”Right, for homework you can copy out the twelve times table ten times.”
A muffled groan came from the children. They started to pack their things up. ”I will meet you at music class,” she smiled, showing off her shiny white teeth. But there was something wrong
with her teeth. They were unusually pointy, and had little red specks on them.
She stepped forward to my desk and looked around. She walked behind the desk. I could feel her breathing over my neck, then I remembered her pointy teeth and spun around. She shrieked then her eyes went black. A tall crumpled collar was supporting her head. Her black cloak was smothering the paint-stained ground. She was still wearing her red stilettos. She screamed again, then swished her cloak and was gone in a puff of black smoke. Now I know not to trust my teachers.

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