Posts tagged LibraryZac

Michael Morpurgo Month – Shadow by Michael Morpurgo

November 2013 sees a month-long celebration of Michael Morpurgo’s wonderful stories, marking his 70th birthday this year.  We’re celebrating by highlighting some of our favourite Michael Morpurgo stories, including Shadow.

Life in Afghanistan is terrifying for Aman and his family and they want nothing more than to escape.  When a Springer Spaniel appears in the mouth of their cave, Aman nurses the dog back to health.  The dog is like a “friendly shadow” that stays with Aman and his family and so he decides to call her Shadow.  When life becomes more dangerous, Aman and his mother leave their home and escape, with Shadow leading the way.

One of the things I like about Michael Morpurgo’s books is that you often get two stories in one.  In Shadow you get the story of Aman and Shadow, but also the story of Matt and his grandfather who fight to free Aman from the refugee detention centre in England.  There are sad things that happen in the story but there are also plenty of good things that happen, like Aman finding Shadow.

This is the perfect book for anyone who likes animal stories, survival stories, and stories about people from other cultures.    Recommended for 9+         10 out of 10

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My Christmas traditions – Zac’s Kiwi Christmas

Christmas in New Zealand is the complete opposite of traditional images of Christmas.  Movies, books and Christmas cards nearly always show Christmas as cold and snowy, with people wrapped up in their warm clothes and gathered around a crackling fire.  In New Zealand though, it’s warm and (if we’re lucky) sunny, with people in shorts, t-shirts and jandals.

One of my traditions that I start Christmas day with is getting up early to watch cartoons and What Now.  If there’s nothing much on TV I bring out my old favourite videos, Red Boots for Christmas and The Santa Bears.  When I was younger my family would go and have a picnic in Hagley Park for lunch where everyone would bring something different to share.  These days my family brings lunch to my parents’ house.

Christmas can be a really expensive time of the year, so we decided a few years ago to just have a present exchange.  You have to buy 1 present for 1 person and there is a limit to how much you can spend.  You might get a serious present or something silly, and there’s not so much mess to clean up afterwards.

At night after we’re all full of turkey, ham, new potatoes, ambrosia and Christmas Pudding, we sit down and watch the Royal Variety Concert on TV.

What are your Christmas traditions?

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My favourite seriously spooky authors

Some of my favourite stories are ones that creep me out and send a chill down my spine.  When I was a kid there weren’t many authors who wrote horror stories or ghost stories.  R.L. Stine’s books were about the creepiest I could find and he’s still writing them today.  If you look up R.L. Stine in the library catalogue, you’ll find we have 97 of his books in the library!

If you like horror stories, ghost stories or stories about the supernatural there are now lots of authors who write these stories. Some of my favourite seriously spooky authors are:

Who are your favourite seriously spooky authors?

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The Queen and the Nobody Boy by Barbara Else

Last year, Barbara Else took us on a magical journey through the land of Fontania, with Sibilla and The Traveling Restaurant.  Now she takes us back to Fontania and introduces us to some wonderful new characters in The Queen and the Nobody Boy.

Hodie is the unpaid odd-job boy at the Grand Palace in the Kingdom of Fontania.  Fed-up, he decides to leave and better himself.

The young Queen, 12 -year-old Sibilla, is fed-up too.  Sick of gossip about her lack of magical ability, she decides to run away with Hodie, whether he likes it or not.

 

 

The Queen and the Nobody Boy is a magical story, full of adventure, danger, royalty, spies, flying trains, stinky trolls and poisonous toads. Trouble is brewing from the very beginning of the story.  The Emperor of Um’Binnia threatens war with Fontania and he hopes to destroy what magic there may be in the world.  The Fontanians have been looking for ‘The Ties’ for many years, but nobody really seems to know what they are, and for the Emperor to carry out his plans he must get his hands on them too.  Little do they know how important an odd-job boy might be.

Your favourite characters from The Travelling Restaurant return, including Sibilla and the pirate chef, Murgott.  Hodie is the main character of this tale of Fontania.  Even though he’s not treated very well in the Palace, he’s smart and brave, and determined to make something of himself.   My favourite quote from the book sums up Hodie, ‘Whether a boy was somebody or nobody, if he was normal he was expected to be curious.’  Hodie and Sibilla meet lots of other interesting characters on their journey, including a rather strange Um’Binnian spy called Ogg’ward, and a very persistent squirrel.  The Um’Binnians themselves are quite interesting.  They have a different way of speaking and their names look and sound strange.

If you loved The Traveling Restaurant you have to get your hands on The Queen and the Nobody Boy, but if you haven’t read it this book will make you fall in love with the land of Fontania.

4 out of 5 stars

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The Brain Sucker by Glenn Wood

How would you act if part of your personality was stolen with a brain-sucking machine?

Lester Smythe has a black heart. He s invented a dangerous brain-sucking machine that removes the goodness from its victims, and he intends to use it to rid the world of all human kindness. But Lester didn t count on thirteen-year-old Callum McCullock and his two best friends, Sophie and Jinx. The trio vow to destroy the brain sucker. And nothing will stop them.

The Brain Sucker is one of the coolest books I’ve read in ages!  The idea is original, the story is action-packed, the heroes are unlike any you’ve met before and the villain is sinister.  From the very first page, when the villain slinks onto the page, I knew I was going to love the story, and I greedily turned the pages wanting to know how it would end.

Lester Smythe is a sinister villain, but there’s also something awkward about him.  He reminded me of a cross between Gru (from Despicable Me) and Professor Doofenshmirtz (from Phineas and Ferb) and I almost expected him to announce that his brain sucking machine was the ‘Brain-suckinator.’  Lester’s plan is to rid the world of goodness because anyone acting good makes him physically sick, due to a horrible experience when he was younger.  The machine that will help him with his task is the Brain Sucker, which sucks the goodness right out of people’s heads.  It’s up to the heroes of the story to save the day (and the world from becoming a miserable place).

The heroes of the story, Callum, Sophie and Jinx are unlike any heroes I’ve met before.  They all have flaws but they manage to overcome these to help save the day.  Callum is paralysed from the waist down so he’s wheelchair bound, but he’s really determined and doesn’t let his disability get in his way.  He’s also got one of the coolest wheelchairs around!  Sophie is Callum’s best friend and she’s incredibly talented and intelligent.  She has a mechanical mind, so she can make improvements to her toys or invent new gadgets to help her friend.  Her only problem is that she gets claustrophobic.  Jinx is the funniest character in the book, because he has really bad luck.  He’s always in the wrong place at the wrong time, whether it’s a gas main exploding under his school desk or bird dive-bombing him.  You always know something bad is going to happen when he’s around, especially when his thumb starts to dance.

If you’re after a fun story, full of adventure, mystery, magic, exciting gadgets, and great characters, The Brain Sucker is the book for you.  I’d recommend it for 9+ and it would be a great read-aloud for Year 5-8.

4 out of 5 stars

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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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The Spook’s Blood Book Trailer

If you’re a fan of The Spook’s Apprentice series by Joseph Delaney, you’ll be excited to hear the latest book in the series, The Spook’s Blood is released this month.  To make sure you’re one of the first to get your hands on The Spook’s Blood, reserve your copy at the library now.

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Artemis Fowl and the Last Guardian Book Trailer

The final Artemis Fowl adventure from Eoin Colfer, Artemis Fowl and The Last Guardian, comes out this month.  If you want to find out how the series ends and what happens to Artemis, reserve your copy at the library now.

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Dinosaur Rescue: Dako-snappysaurus by Kyle Mewburn and Donovan Bixley

Arg and his brainless family are back for another adventure.  Arg’s dad and the rest of the men are going out hunting and Arg is desparate to join them.  Even though he’s the brainiest cave man around, his mum says he’s not old enough to join the men.  Out of nowhere Arg’s dad invites him to come along on the hunt, so Arg gathers packs everything he needs into his empty mamtress and they set off on the hunt.  Being smarter than everyone else, Arg doesn’t eat everything that he sees, so when all the other men become violently ill Arg has to stand guard throughout the night.  When a huge Dakosaurus attacks, it’s up to Arg to save his Dad and Krrk-Krrk before they become fish food.

Dako-snappysaurus is the sixth disgusting and hilarious book in Kyle Mewburn and Donovan Bixley’s Dinosaur Rescue series.  In this adventure you can learn about the history of time, some Stone Age weapons that didn’t catch on, some delicious Neanderthal foods, and learn about the huge crocodile that was a Dakosaurus.  This book contains Donovan Bixley’s most disgusting illustrations so far in the series (beware of pages 65-67!) so they may make you feel very ill.  The thing that I really love about the Dinosaur Rescue series is that you’re never really sure whether Kyle and Donovan are telling you the truth or whether their crazy imaginations have made up the information in the stories.

Get your hands on Dak0-snappysaurus and the rest of the Dinosaur Rescue series at your local library these school holidays.

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Red Rocks by Rachael King

While holidaying at his father’s house, Jake explores Wellington’s wild south coast, with its high cliffs, biting winds, and its fierce seals. When he stumbles upon a perfectly preserved sealskin, hidden in a crevice at Red Rocks, he’s compelled to take it home and hide it under his bed, setting off a chain of events that threatens to destroy his family. Can he put things right before it’s too late?

Red Rocks is a magical adventure story, set in New Zealand.  Rachael King has taken the Celtic myth of the selkies and transplanted it into a New Zealand setting that kiwi kids will relate to.  Jake is an average kid who gets sent to live with his dad for a few weeks, and like any kid, soon gets bored and sets off to explore the coast.  I really liked Rachael’s interesting cast of characters, from old Ted who lives in a run-down shack along the coast, to the mischievous Jessie and mysterious Cara.

One thing that I really love about Red Rocks is Rachael King’s beautiful writing.  She’s very descriptive so she paints a vivid picture of the wild, windy coast.  It’s the sort of book that you want to read snuggled up in bed because you almost feel the biting wind and the freezing ocean.

Reserve your copy of Red Rocks at the library.  You can also win a copy this week on Free Book Friday.

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June Star Author Competition

Our fantastic June Star Author, Susan Brocker has been writing some great posts about her stories and giving us some cool writing tips.  One of her books that Susan has been talking about is her latest book, The Drover’s Quest, a historical story set in 1860s New Zealand.  It’s a fantastic book and you can read my review of it here on the blog.

We’re starting our monthly Star Author Competition again this week with your chance to win a copy of The Drover’s Quest by Susan Brocker.  Thanks to HarperCollins NZ we have 3 copies to give away.  All you have to do is leave a comment, with your name and email address, telling us:

What is your favourite animal story?

This competition has now closed.  The winner is Tierney.

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Meet Christopher Paolini in Christchurch

If you’re a huge fan of the Eragon series you’ll probably be jumping up and down with excitement right now. Christopher Paolini, author of the Eragon series, is touring New Zealand in June.  Christopher will be in Christchurch on Saturday 30 June and you can meet him in person at the Armageddon Expo at Addington Raceway. 

If you’ve never been to the Armageddon Expo before it’s two days of  movie screenings, animation screenings, eating challenges, Dragonball Z contests, autograph signings and much more.  For more information check out the Armageddon Expo website – http://www.armageddonexpo.com/nz/

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The 13th Horseman by Barry Hutchison

Drake is surprised to find three Horsemen of the Apocalypse playing snakes and ladders in his garden shed.  Even more surprisingly, they’re missing a Horseman and think that Drake is the boy for the job.  Drake is reluctant to join them, but does being in charge of Armageddon have to spell the end of the world?

From the wastelands of oblivion to the desolate plains of Limbo – join the Horsemen of the Apocalypse on a wild and hilarious ride…

The 13th Horseman is one of the funniest books I’ve ever read.  The laughs don’t come from toilet humour, but from the actions (or inaction) of the three long serving Horsemen of the Apocalypse.  There’s Pestilence who’s dressed like a doctor with a white coat and rubber gloves (to protect the humans, not himself), the red-haired giant, War, with a temper to match his stature, and my favourite, Famine, who is absolutely huge, with massive rolls of fat all over his body (which provide great places to store food for later).  When Drake first meets them, they’ve been playing board games for thousands of years and are completely bored.  They all seem to be totally incompetent and can’t even organise themselves to do the job they’re there for – usher in the Apocalypse.  They all have a horse to ride across the sky, apart from Famine who has a mobility scooter (so that he doesn’t squash a horse).  Each of the Horsemen has their own quirks but my favourite is definitely Famine, because no matter when you look at him, he’s always eating something.

Thankfully, The 13th Horseman is only the first book in the Afterworlds series and the sequel, The Lost Book of Everything is due out in 2013.  If you haven’t read any of Barry Hutchison’s books yet, The 13th Horseman is a good place to start.

Recommended for 10+       5 out of 5 stars

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2012 NZ Post Children’s Book Awards Winners

The 2012 New Zealand Post Children’s Book Awards were announced last week.  Congratulations to all the winners!

Picture Book WinnerRāhui (Te reo Māori edition)  by Chris Szekely; nā Malcolm Ross ngā pikitia; nā Brian Morris i whakamāori and Rāhui (English edition) Chris Szekely; illustrated by Malcolm Ross

Non-fiction WinnerNice day for a war: adventures of a Kiwi soldier in World War I by Matt Elliott; illustrated by Chris Slane

Junior FictionSuper Finn by Leonie Agnew

Young AdultCalling the gods  by Jack Lasenby

Book of the Year – Nice day for a war Matt Elliot; illustrated by Chris Sloane (Non Fiction category winner)

Children’s Choice – The cat’s pyjamas by Catherine Foreman

Best First Book – Super Finn by Leonie Agnew

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Who will win the 2012 NZ Post Children’s Book Awards?

The winners of the 2012 NZ Post Children’s Book Awards will be announced next Wednesday night at the awards ceremony in Wellington.  There were lots of great books in the awards this year and I’ve really enjoyed reading them.  Here are my favourites in each category:

Which finalists are your favourites?

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The Kane Chronicles: The Serpent’s Shadow Book Trailer

The Serpent’s Shadow, the final book in Rick Riordan’s Kane Chronicles is out now.  You can reserve your copy at the library.  If you haven’t read this amazing series, featuring Egyptian gods and monsters, get the first book The Red Pyramid.

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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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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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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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