Favourite read-alouds for starting school

Somehow my tiny baby is going to be starting school this coming term! Eek! Is your little one starting school soon too? Here are a few titles I’ve been reading to my daughter to help prepare us both for the big day.

Syndetics book coverCome to school too, Blue Kangaroo! / Emma Chichester Clark.
The Blue Kangaroo books have been around for a while now and the series is a long standing favourite with kids at our libraries. In Come to school too, Blue Kangaroo! Blue Kangaroo is excited about starting school but Lily is not so sure. As the day goes on, she feels more comfortable and actually has fun…so much fun in fact that she leaves Blue Kangaroo behind in the classroom! Not to worry, Blue Kangaroo has a great time re-enacting all the things he watched Lily and her classmates do during the day. The book ends with both Lily & Blue Kangaroo looking forward to the next day at school. What sets this apart from the run of the mill “starting school” titles is that it still manages to tell an engaging story while hitting all the right notes about overcoming first day fears.

Syndetics book coverChu’s first day at school / written by Neil Gaiman & illustrated by Adam Rex.
Both my 5 & 2 year old love the Chu book series about the little panda with a big sneeze. In this outing, Chu is slightly nervous to be starting school but Mum & Dad reassure him that everything will be fine. At school, as the rest of the class introduces themselves and share what they love to do, Chu is silent, until of course the inevitable happens…The illustrations show everyone at first stunned (as you would be) and then amused by Chu’s very individual talent. Back at home in answer to his parent’s questions about his first day, he answers with a nonchalant “I’m not worried anymore”. A very funny story with great detailed illustrations.

Syndetics book coverI am too absolutely small for school : featuring Charlie and Lola / Lauren Child.
Lola is not convinced she needs to go to school, after all she is extremely busy doing important things at home. Luckily her ever patient brother Charlie is around to persuade her otherwise, using some amusing kid logic – for example, if you don’t learn your letters how will you write to Father Christmas (haha). What I particularly liked about this story was that the voices of Charlie & Lola come through loud and clear and it is Charlie that coaxes and reassures his younger sister, not an adult caregiver. I think there’s something lovely in that and my daughter did too as this was her favourite of the bunch.

Syndetics book coverSyndetics book coverThe class / written by Boni Ashburn ; illustrated by Kimberly Gee.
Starting school / Jane Godwin ; Anna Walker.
These titles offer the same take on the first-day-of-school theme in that they both follow a group of kids getting ready for and experiencing their first day. Both titles try to be relatively inclusive in terms of the kids ethnicities, socio-economic backgrounds, personalities, behaviours and feelings about going to school. This means your child will likely find at least one character that they identify with, which will hopefully provide lots of opportunities to talk about their own experiences and feelings. Also, if your child is feeling confident about school, it’s a chance to reflect on how others may be feeling and how they can help to be a good classmate.

Syndetics book coverSchool’s first day of school / story by Adam Rex ; pictures by Christian Robinson.
This book offers a unique perspective on the first day of school – from that of the new school building itself. The school isn’t quite sure if it wants children and teachers inside its walls, but is surprised – and hurt – to find that some kids don’t want to be there either. One reluctant little girl has to be carried in by her mum, making it clear that she doesn’t like the school (well, maybe the school doesn’t like her either!). Despite this inauspicious start, they both slowly begin to enjoy themselves. The girl even draws a glittery portrait of the school, winning over its bricky heart. At the end, the school talks to the caretaker and decides that it is very lucky indeed to be a school 🙂

Syndetics book coverThis is my home, this is my school / Jonathan Bean.
As you might have guessed from the title, this book gives a peek into the homeschooling experience. The illustrations show lively scenes of activity & creativity, where the the main character, a little boy, explains that his home is his school, his mum his teacher, his dad the reliever and sisters his classmates. The boy goes on to explain “we have a lot of classrooms”as the family is shown cooking in the kitchen, visiting the library, painting on a hilltop, fishing in a creek, playing music and looking at the stars. My daughter was intrigued to learn about homeschooling and loved the author’s homeschooling family photos at the end of the book.

We know it can be a challenge to choose books at the library when you have little kids, so let us do the hard work for you. You can reserve books for your kids on their library card for free (there’s a $2 charge for reserving on an adult’s card). This means we’ll find the books and send them to whatever library you choose to pick up from. So you can whizz in and pick up a big stack and whizz out again if you’re short of time, or just add them to the others you choose when you come for a longer visit 🙂 If you want to reserve some or all of the titles above, just click on the underlined link and it will take you to our catalogue and from there you will find the ‘place reserve’ button under the title/author information.

What are your kid’s favourites? We’d love to hear them!


PressReader – the new improved PressDisplay

pressreader-appFrom September, the PressDisplay database will become PressReader. You will still get same day, unlimited access to full-page replicas of thousands of newspaper and magazine titles from NZ and around the world, but the look of PressReader is much more mobile friendly and customisable to view on your computer or mobile device. You can also choose to take advantage of a range of new features such as bookmarking, instant translation, keyword search and greatly improved social sharing.

Fantastic New Magazine Content

As well as the vast array of newspaper content, PressReader provides full access to as many magazines as newspapers with some great NZ titles, including NZ Listener, NZ Woman’s Day, Cuisine, Metro, NZ House & Garden, NZ Gardener, Little Treasures, NZ Rugby World, and Next. Overseas titles include Mojo, Q, BBC History, T3, Elle, Mollie Makes, Playstation Magazine, SFX, GQ Australia,Vogue Australia and Top Gear. And just like Pressdisplay, over 60 languages are represented in the newspaper & magazine content.

Accessing Pressreader

In the browser:

  1. Use your library card details to access the PressReader website
  2. Once on the PressReader site, you’ll need to log in to the site itself again so it can create your PressReader account. Again, this uses your library card details:
    1. Click ‘Sign in’ in the top right-hand corner
    2. Click on the ‘Library and Group’ button
    3. In the ‘Select Library’ box that pops up, search for ‘Wellington City Libraries’ > Click on our Library logo to select this as your library
    4. Enter your Library card number, and your surname as your ‘PIN’, and click the ‘Sign in’ button
    5. When prompted to set up an account, enter your details so that you can save favourite newspapers and magazines. Alternatively you can choose “No Thanks” and not set up an account.

Apps for Android and iOS:

You can download the app for Android and iOS devices below:

You may notice some slight differences between Pressdisplay and Pressreader – once you select a title, you can now ‘turn’ the pages by clicking and dragging the next page into the centre screen. Thumbnails of the pages that used to be on the right of the paper can now be found at the bottom of the screen, with the table of contents.

More information: Pressreader Help Centre, Pressreader videos, iOS user guide and for Android user guide.

If you have any questions about using the new Pressreader, please let us know at enquiries@wcl.govt.nz


New zines!

So little time, so many awesome zines. I’m hoping to have a bit more time over the holidays to do some proper zine reading – but for now here are a few zines that I’ve been excited about lately.

play-a-long songbookThe Play-A-Long Songbook: Number One: Wellington by Isobel Cairns, with transcriptions by Mark Turner

Hello this is a great idea! The Play-A-Long songbook (but we’re calling it a zine just because) is a lovingly produced A4 compendium of radness. It compiles lyrics, chords and melodies for five songs from some of Wellington’s best known artists – Disasteradio – Wet Wings – Secret Knives – The Sing Songs (with our very own 2nd floor librarian Jeremy!) – Seth Frightening. Also features awesome drawings by one of our favourite zine authors Isobel Cairns.

extraExtra Curricular (issue 10) edited by Ellie Smith

Merry Christmas! The newest issue of Extra Curricular has hit the zine shelves. Each issue has a theme and issue 10 encourages you to dip your toes into the whole self sufficiency thing. I had a completely lovely time listening to some tunes and browsing through its pages full of stories of regular* type folk creating and doing such inspiring (and yes, self sufficient) things, like – soap making, beer brewing, bread baking, fashion designing, herbal medicine concocting and beekeeping. Beekeeping looks awesome btw, we should so do that! I could live in Extra Curricular. It is good for the soul.

* regular not in a boring way, but in a hey, you can probably maybe one day do this sorta way

christchurch zineChristchurch Post Earthquake Reaction: Zine Expression by Jennifer Holdaway

I’ve been meaning to share this zine since it came across our desks a few months ago. It thoughtfully brings together photographs of the aftermath of the Christchurch Earthquake with a few carefully chosen poetic words and phrases. To me these collages really expressed both the sadness and emptiness that must be felt by the Christchurch people but also conveyed a real sense of emerging hope. Simple and heartfelt, this zine also includes a beautiful ‘wrap around’ poem by Jennifer.

Need help preparing for IELTS? Introducing: Road to IELTS

  • Need help preparing for IELTS?
  • Know someone else who does?

Wellington City Libraries now provides FREE access to Road to IELTS, an online preparation and practice website.

There are over 100 hours of interactive activities, advice videos from British Council experts, hints and tips on question types as well as downloadable practice tests. It is comprehensive, up to date and aimed at the challenges you face in preparing for either the General or Academic tests.

You’ll need:

  • Your library card
  • An internet-connected computer
  • A web-browser running Flash 10.2 or higher

Get started over on our Languages Databases page.

What is IELTS?

Log in to IELTS

IELTS – the International English Language Testing System, is designed to assess the language ability of candidates who want to study or work where English is the language of communication.

There are two tests – General and Academic:

The General test is for candidates wishing to migrate to an English-speaking country (Australia, Canada, New Zealand, UK), and for those wishing to train or study at below degree level.

The Academic test is for those candidates wishing to study at undergraduate or postgraduate levels, and for those seeking professional registration.

For more information on IELTS generally, visit the IELTS website

Road to IELTS

Some zines lately….

Hello, it’s been a while but here are some zines I’ve been reading lately.

survival guide to being social 1Epitaph for my heart: a survival guide to being social, number four by amandapandajapanese

Reading this zine, I found myself nodding in agreement several times. The author describes many situations that will be common to the non-social among us and gives some useful advice. The accidental blank (not to be confused with ‘the blank’ – a form of social abuse), selective and deliberate Alzheimer’s (where you are constantly confronted by people who don’t remember your name), inane questions (usually about your love life and usually from relatives) and eyeballing (when a stranger looks you up and down with no indication of approval or civility) are all covered in some detail.

TinkerbellTinkerbell is missing (again): one cat’s tale of adventure by The WaterBear Appreciation Society

From the award winning team behind the Neighbour Cats zine, comes a heartbreaking but ultimately uplifting zine following the journey of local cat Tinkerbell. The story is told through filiers delivered to the author’s letterbox and covers multiple disappearances and reunions spanning years.

powered milk 1Powdered Milk, volume 5 by Keiler Roberts

Keiler Roberts parenting comic is a sweet yet realistic look at life as a new mother. From Microcosm Publishing: “In volume five Keiler navigates the strange and parasitic worlds of depression and insomnia. She also tackles the touchy subject of public breastfeeding and deals with calm-baby-envy at a MCA comics art show. Powdered Milk is a refreshingly candid and oft-times hilarious look at juggling life as a working artist and the increasing demands of motherhood (and the resulting mental strain).” See more of Keiler’s work here.

fieldtripThe Field Trip to Nowhere by E.Rodda

This is a lovely little zine of handwritten thoughts and poetry, accompanied by delicate illustrations. What also struck me was the dedication “This book was written for Zora Patrick. I read her zine at lunch time on the library carpet, it took me faraway from the library carpet and reminded me that making things thoughtfully is a good thing.”

Needless to say we library zine people love this sort of story!

Take more time to enjoy eBooks and eAudiobooks

ereader-on-booksYou may have noticed that we’ve made some changes to our issue periods and renewals. Happily for our eLibrary users, eBook and eAudio loan periods have been boosted to match books in print. All titles in our OverDrive and Bolinda collections can now be issued for 3 weeks! All of them are still absolutely free to borrow, with no overdue charges and free reserves.

Keep up to date with our new eBook and eAudio arrivals through the News Blog staff picks archive.

ZINEFEST this Saturday!

Carla, Vita, Jeremy and I are excited to be taking part in another Wellington Zinefest (It’s totally the highlight of the zine librarian’s calendar!) Vita is on the organising committee and tells me that there are more stall holders than ever before – so you are practically guaranteed to find the perfect zine for you! And you know what? If your budget won’t let you buy all the glorious zines you want then you can always borrow zines from the Library stall. It’s almost the same as owning them (except that you have to bring them back to us in 4 weeks time!)  What about it? Will we see you there?   

Wellington Zinefest 2011, Saturday 19th November, 12-5pm, Mighty Mighty, 104 Cuba MallWellington Zinefest poster 2011

Zine Inspiration

Hey, did you know that some of your favourite glossy magazines began their lives as cut and paste zines?

Example 1: Carla discovered that the glamorous, cutting edge fashion and culture magazine  i-D started its life as a cut and paste fanzine dedicated to street style punk in 1980s London. The first issue (August 1980) was put together by hand in the home of i-D founder Terry Jones and the 2000 copies printed were distributed out of the back of a car!  Check out the first issue. It looks pretty much like a zine, was clamped together with three staples and cost only 50p.

ID insidei-d-cover-issue-one6

Example 2: Bust Magazine, now a slick, celebrity filled, women’s lifestyle/feminist magazine, started as a photocopied, stapled, black and white zine in 1993.

Example 3: Bitch Magazine, started in 1996 by three friends frustrated by the lack of smart analysis of feminist pop culture – so they decided to create a zine and write it themselves!

These are just 3 examples that we know of but there must be heaps of others. Zine inspiration, yes?

More info and images from i-D magazine can be found in this great book we spotted while on the Arts reference desk the other day: iD : i-D covers 1980-2010 and we have both Bust and Bitch Magazines at the Central Library.

Brand new zines!

We’ve been getting a whole lot of new zines in over the last couple of weeks. These are a few we’ve enjoyed reading over the Easter break. Available in the zine collection now!

Spoonful: A Happiness Companion, edited by Thea spoonful zine

Spoonful is a lovely little zine from Australia. It is a little bit of a lot of things – crafting, good thoughts, inspiration, short stories, objects of affection and tea! – “happiness in a spoonful” as they say. We have issues 1-4 in the zine collection now, issue 4 just hot off the press. See more of what Spoonful is about on their website. (Steph)

King Cat comics and stories, by John Porcellinoking cat zine

I’ve been hearing good things about King-Cat comics for a while now and after reading issue 70 I can say that it’s all true. Issue 70 is filled with many little moments from John’s life that everyone can relate to – visiting the dentist, drinking, a day in the suburbs, remembering high school hijinks etc. I think he must keep a little journal of all the amusing things that happen to him because a lot of the stories are drawn over a year after they happened. Find out more about King Cat comics and stories here. (Steph)

7,000 year of African Art, by Duncan Vahid McNaughtonafrican art zine

A few weeks ago I found a really beautiful book about African art at the library. I realised how little I know about African art. I find myself mainly exposed to a very Western focused approach to art. There are not that many other options really, except for a few old school Art books that explore tribal art from Africa and other exotic destinations. Duncan Vahid McNaughton’s zine celebrates African art in a very distinctive and innovative way: black and white collages. His zine is beautifully assembled; it is indeed a fine piece of art. These collages make me remember how much more I would like to learn about African art and culture in general, and how I would like to incorporate it to my everyday life. Duncan’s zine is truly inspiring as well as visually pleasing. (Carlita)

Extra Curricular, edited by Ellie Smith (Perhaps more of a magazine than a zine? Fine line I’d say, but we’re calling it a zine because we desperately want it in our collection!)extra curricular zine

There is only one thing to say about this gem – L.O.V.E. Oh something more? Well Extra Curricular is a tri-annually published Auckland zine “for and about people getting creative with their spare time”. Does it sound like you? Perhaps? Well once you read Extra Curricular you will be so full of inspiration that you will quite possibly spend the evening looking up pottery classes on the internet or pulling out that old bag of wool and knitting needles hiding behind your yoga mat in the wardrobe. We got issue 5 in the mail last week and it is a beauty with a featurette on ceramics, a visit to a lovely vintage and handmade goods store, an article about mad keen crafters going the distance for thier craft, an interview with the wet hot beauties (a synchronised swimming group) as well as all the usual recipes, fashion and how to projects. Visit the Extra Curricular blog to find out more . (Steph)

Queen Mother Adventures, nos 1 & 2 with bonus Kate Middleton in her own words comic, by David O’Connellqueen mum adventures zine

This is a very topical little comic right now isn’t it? Well I have a fondness for the royal family so these comics by David O’Connell were right up my street as they say. The Queen Mother is depicted as a gin drinking, horse betting, corgi loving sweetie who manages to get herself into some unusual situations –involving the seedy side of Soho, and royal ghosts! As an added bonus you will learn some interesting royal facts too. Very funny and much recommended. (Steph)

An Audience With…Isobel Rose Cairns

Isobel writes the awesome and lovely zines – Things We Have in Common and I Like the Light in Here. They are both beautifully designed and packed full of interesting goodness that we think you should read right away!

ionlyclosedHow did you first get into zines? Did someone suggest you to make one?

I made my first zine at the first Zinefest event in Wellington. I spent all day at the zine making table and struggling with the photocopier and finally I had my first little zine, which I called Upset. And then I realised that zines were the perfect thing for doing writing AND drawing!

Photocopying zines can be tedious, hard work while making illustrations can be lots of fun… What parts of the zine making process do you like and dislike the most?

Yes, I think I would have to say that I’m not too good with the photocopier. I’m a bit better than when I first started but something always seems to get messed up! With some of my zines I’ve put them together the night before Zinefest so I don’t have time to do illustrations, but I like them! And I like interviewing people, and also getting glue on my fingers. I don’t like spending ages typing everything out on my typewriter though.

What do you like and dislike about zines in general? And what do you think about them as a medium?

I like that they’re so very versatile and that they can be used for so many things. I like that they’re self produced and compact. I like being able to draw and write, and it’s good that they’re cheap to produce, although I would like to start experimenting with nicer papers. It’s sometimes hard to make them interesting to other people; I think that I just have too much fun making them and don’t think about who will read them.

Continue reading “An Audience With…Isobel Rose Cairns”