The Big Kids eBook Read

New Zealand has a fine tradition of children’s literature, with many wonderful authors to sample and enjoy. Did you know many are also available to borrow through our eLibrary?

In December (from the 3rd to the 9th), we’ve joined with Penguin Random House New Zealand and celebrated Wellington author Kate De Goldi to provide unlimited eBook loans of her children’s fiction title, From the cutting room of Barney Kettle!

To start reading during this period:

On a smart phone or tablet — download the Libby app to your smart phone or mobile device, add Wellington City Libraries as your library, and log in with your library card number and surname to set up your account. Search for ‘From the cutting room of Barney Kettle’ to borrow your copy and start reading.

Users of computers and eReaders, including the Kobo range of  eReaders — you’re not left out! Find out more about borrowing our eBooks on our Getting Started with our eLibrary page.

From the cutting room of Barney Kettle won the Esther Glenn Award for Junior Fiction in 2016.  Here’s what the judges for the New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults, had to say that year:

Surprising, gripping, heart-breaking and ultimately incredibly moving, this novel stood out right from the start. This book is packed with warmth, wonderful language, rich and witty observations, compelling characters and layers of message and meaning.

And here’s an intriguing, mysterious summary, from the Penguin New Zealand website to peak curiosity:

Meet filmmaker Barney Kettle, who liked to invent stories but found a real one under his nose.

Barney Kettle knew he would be a very famous film director one day, he just didn’t know when that day would arrive. He was already an actual director – he’d made four fifteen-minute films – but so far only his schoolmates and the residents of the High Street had viewed them. Global fame was a little way off. It would come, though. Barney was certain about that …

So begins the manuscript written from the hospital bed of an unnamed man.

[…] He has written so he can remember the inimitable Barney Kettle, filmmaker, part-time dictator, questing brain, theatrical friend; a boy who loved to invent stories but found a real one under his nose; a boy who explored his neighbourhood with camera in hand and stumbled on a mystery that changed everything …

— Penguin New Zealand

For a taste of this award-winning title’s brilliant start, click on the eBook sample below:

Join us as we read this brilliant eBook title together across Wellington in December — at school, at home or in the library, we’ll all be reading together!

Huge thanks to Penguin Random House New Zealand and Kate De Goldi, for your support of this exciting opportunity for Wellingtonians!

Death of a literary great: Gabriel Garcia Marquez

400px-Gabriel_Garcia_Marquez
Gabriel Garcia Marquez
This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 License.

As a great fan of Colombian author, and recipient of the Nobel Prize in Literature, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, I was very sad to hear of his death earlier this month, aged 87. Garcia Marquez died of pneumonia on April 17 2014 in Mexico City, where he had lived for over thirty years.

Garcia Marquez was best known for his novels One Hundred Years of Solitude (1967) and Love in the Time of Cholera (1985), although he wrote a total of six novels, four novellas, five collections of short stories and seven non-fiction works. He was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature on 8 December 1982, “for his novels and short stories, in which the fantastic and the realistic are combined in a richly composed world of imagination, reflecting a continent’s life and conflicts”. Garcia Marquez was the first Colombian and only the fourth Latin American to win the award.

Garcia Marquez is recognised by many as being one of the literary greats. When first hearing of his hospitalisation, Colombian president Juan Manuel Santos said his country was thinking of the author and said in a tweet “All of Colombia wishes a speedy recovery to the greatest of all time: Gabriel García Márquez”. Carlos Fuentes recognises him as “the most popular and perhaps the best writer in Spanish since Cervantes”.

Gabriel Garcia Marquez has long been one of my favourite authors and here I’ve listed some of my personal favourites, if you would like to discover his writing for yourself:

Syndetics book coverMemories of my melancholy whores / Gabriel García Márquez ; translated from the Spanish by Edith Grossman.Memories of My Melancholy Whores
“Memories of My Melancholy Whores is a powerful novel about a man who, so far, has never felt love.
‘The year I turned ninety, I wanted to give myself the gift of a night of wild love with an adolescent virgin’.
On the eve of his ninetieth birthday a newspaper columnist in Colombia decides to give himself ‘a night of mad love with a virgin adolescent’. But on seeing this beautiful girl he falls deeply under her spell. His love for his ‘Delgadina’ causes him to recall all the women he has paid to perform acts of love. And so the columnist realises he must chronicle the life of his heart, to offer it freely to the world.” (abridged from amazon.com)

Syndetics book coverChronicle of a death foretold / Gabriel Garca Marquez ; translated from the Spanish by Gregory Rabassa.Chronicle of a Death Foretold
“Chronicle of a Death Foretold
is a compelling, moving story exploring injustice and mob hysteria by the Nobel Laureate Gabriel Garcia Marquez, author of One Hundred Years of Solitude and Love in the Time of Cholera.” (amazon.com)
 
Clandestine in Chile : the adventures of Miguel Littin / Gabriel Garcia Marquez ; translated by Asa Zatz.
“Miguel Littin, one of Chile’s most prominent film makers, was exiled 12 years ago by Pinochet and in 1985 he returned illegally in order to make a film. On completing the film he told the story to Marquez who writes it in the first person, putting himself in Littin’s shoes.” (amazon.com)

Syndetics book coverOf love and other demons / Gabriel Garcia Marquez ; translated from the Spanish by Edith Grossman.Of Love and Other Demons
“Compelling and unforgettable, this remarkable, bittersweet story of a doomed love affair set in the colonial era “demonstrates that one of the masters of the form is still working at the height of his powers” (The New York Times). Amid the lush, coastal tropics of a South American seaport, an unruly, co pper-haired girl and a bookish priest are caught in a chaste, ill-fated love affair.” (Syndetics summary)

I also highly recommend the movie based on Garcia Marquez’s famous work, Love in the Time of Cholera:

Love in the time of cholera [videorecording] / a Stone Village Pictures production in association with Grosvenor Park Media ; a film by Mike Newell.
“Florentino is a poetry-writing telegraph operator who lives in a Central American city. He spots the graceful Fermina while making his rounds, and finds himself in love. While Florentino’s mother encourages the courtship, Fermina’s father absolutely forbids it. Years pass, and the well-born Dr. Urbino treats Fermina for a case of cholera. When Urbino proposes, Fermina accepts. A distraught Florentino decides to wait. With the help of his uncle, he amasses wealth of his own. All the while, he drifts from woman to woman, never really finding what he is looking for in a woman. After five decades of waiting, he gets a second chance to win Fermina’s heart.” (Library catalogue)

Ulf Stark: Writers Week Q & A

Ulf Stark, author of around 30 books for children and young adults, is in town for the New Zealand Festival’s Writers Week. This Swedish author has  also written film, TV and theatre scripts and been nominated twice for the Hans Christian Andersen Award.
See Ulf live
at the Hannah Playhouse (Downstage Theatre) on Sunday March 9th at 12:15pm

We have three of Ulf’s books, including a signed copy, to give away to one lucky individual thanks to Gecko Press. To win please tell us Ulf’s home country by email to wclblog@gmail.com, Tweet @WCL_LIbrary or comment on the post on our Facebook page. (We will announce a winner on the morning of Thursday March 13th).

Justin from the library Online Services Team meet with Ulf on Saturday morning. Here is their Q & A:

(J) How did you get into making books?

(U)So, I was not very talented in anything. And actually I disliked writing when I was very young because I was left-handed and we were forced to do right-handed in school. So that was the worst thing to have to write things. Then during my teen ages a lot of things changed. When you are a teenager you are looking in the mirror and you don’t recognise your face, you don’t recognise your feelings either. And then I read a lot of books. Not the younger books I had read before, but the real books. I think there is something, when you are in your teenage years you don’t feel confident to talk to your parents, or you don’t want to talk to them about the subjects that are near you – not about sexuality, not about a lot of things. So I had those conversations with the books and that was fine I think. Then we got a teacher in school who I liked very much and she liked my writing as well. I don’t think that teachers are aware of the power they have. So I started writing and then I came in contact with young authors and I was beginning to write. I wrote my first book when I was 18. It was a collection of poems. It was not that good – it was awful I would say.

(J)Did it get published?

(U)Yes it was. I got 500 Swedish Crowns and then I wrote another collection of poems, a little bit better and then a novel for the adults. Then I was 25 and I understood that I hadn’t anything else to write about. So I worked a little bit, for ten years or something. Then I started writing again in 1984 I think with this one [Fruitloops & Dipsticks] and it was a little success in Sweden and the Nordic countries. Suddenly I got money for writing. I had been working in the bureaucracy beforehand for a lot of years, training in education so it was quite good.

(J)Do you think the break helped?

(U)I think what helped with the job was that I was teaching about the differences about the male and the female. I was very interested in this difference, what is it to be a man and what is it to be a female? Why are we so different? So this is [Fruitloops & Dipsticks] sort of an investigation of the differences. An investigation of me being a male writer taking place in a girl.

(J)That would have been quite difficult?

(U)Yeah. It was quite difficult so I decided to let her be a boy after a while. It was much easier that way. It was published in a lot of countries. It is still published in a lot of new countries – in Russia for example. And they do a new edition now because of [Vladimir] Putin’s laws.

(J)Has it been censored?

(U)You cannot write anything about sexuality for young people under 16 years.

(J)Is that frustrating for you, knowing that they’re censoring your work?

(U)A little bit frustrating but on the other hand this edition [uncensored Fruitloops & Dipsticks] still exists in Russia. So I think the interest for the first edition has increased because it is forbidden.

(J)I think that’s a good way to make people interested in something, isn’t it. Tell them they can’t have it.

(U)Yeah. What could there be in this book? I’m not so disturbed by it. I am disturbed by Putin.

(J)Your books are originally written in Swedish aren’t they? Do you feel like they lose something when translated? Is there is a stark difference in the mood or the feel?

(U)There could be. I don’t think it’s because of the translation, it’s more because of the cultural differences.

(J)Yeah, I know that in German for instance there are words for things that would take a sentence to say in English.

(U)Yes – different associations and all this. But when it’s translated into so many countries I think it’s more universal.

(J)Have you ever had any unexpected reactions to your work?

(U)Yeah. Perhaps, take this one for example [Fruitloops & Dipsticks]. I was in Belarus, which is almost a dictatorship.

(J)Ex-Soviet isn’t it?

(U)Yes. I wrote a book called The Dictator and I was there and we had readings. It was translated so a local was reading it. They had to read in Russian [Fruitloops & Dipsticks] and I was astonished by the interest in sexuality. I mean there is not much in that book, I just felt like a sexual therapist or something when I came there. In Sweden now I can be astonished because of how they react. In this one [Can You Whistle, Johanna?] there is a Grandfather smoking a cigar. It could be a problem and that was why it was very hard to get the book into the USA. Just because he was smoking. I told her [literary agent] that he was dyeing at the end.

(J)So there is a health message there?

(U)Yes. If you smoke a cigar you will die. So there are moralistic reactions to the books. Often it is the parents who complain about the books.

(J)What we can we expect to hear or learn in your Writers Week programme?

(U)I just don’t know because I don’t know the questions. Perhaps you could get a clue about Swedish books. I mean, I am not representative of all the authors in Sweden, but I think what is common for us is a view from the child’s perspective. To be loyal with the child’s side, not being a story teller from up high. I think that is important. Some of these books are biographical in some way. In this one [My Friend Percy’s Magical Gym Shoes] the character Ulf is almost burning up society because he wants his friend Percy to see the fireworks coming. Then he sprays water on the fire and I got applause for that. But they didn’t like that in Spain. They thought the parents would have hit him at least a little bit.

(J)At least you don’t have to live there!

(U)But I think it’s better to hear of us making a lot of crazy things. He has to think about himself, his feeling, and think it was wrong, “I did wrong.” It’s an inner process. He has to think, I have done something stupid and see the consequences already, not that the act itself is punishable.

(J)Do you feel like there is a big difference between Swedish writing when compared to English?

(U)Yes, I think I was in England and they have very few books for the smaller kids that have discussions on things like death. That was a taboo.

(J)Do you find they are for entertainment?

(U)We have a lot of animals dying in Swedish literature. Even here [Can You Whistle, Johanna?] the grandfather is dying at the end. Often when you are writing about death, even in Sweden I would say it is just the rituals that you are writing about. Whether it’s something like putting flowers on or saying something because you are afraid of the reaction of sadness. I think it’s good. I think children have to be confronted with real feelings, so they should be a little bit sorry. They are not dying and hopefully they have their parents to discuss things and say something to. I have no fear of writing about something.

(J)What would be your advice to a young author?

(U)Not taking any advice I think. You have to find your own way but I think reading is a very good way of learning how to write because you could say I don’t like that way of writing. You could find your own way by reading other books, not imitating them but see what you want to do and see how it is made in other books. Start with poems, I think that’s a good short way to see what happens. And then perhaps short stories, I think starting a big novel project when you are thirteen is not good.

(J)It’s one way to pop your self-esteem isn’t it? Do you have any personal author recommendations?

(U)I don’t know if we read the same books here in New Zealand and in Sweden. My mother used to read a lot of Astrid Lindgren and so did I. I think for my own kids I read a lot of Roald Dahl books to my son and more tragic stores for my daughter who just loved tragedy. You could also read a lot of the old books, not just the new ones. These days everything is so up-to-date I think it is good to have a historical perspective as a child. I am writing books now about the 60s and 50s, there are no mobile telephones in this and they don’t want to read it. But it’s just like you could read a book from Sweden, I think it is important to take part of and experience different cultures.

(J)Do you think kids have changed?

(U)Yeah. I think the technique is changing a lot in the daily life of children. When I was coming here on my flight for 40 hours I saw what people were doing. People choose a lot of films and the whole time they were looking at blue screens and they got a blue face. It was reflecting and I was doing the same. I had a lot of good books I thought I would read but it is an easy way just to put my finger on the screen. You have to have dull time I think. Dull time is where you awaken creativeness. I am trying to have a dull life.

(J)Do you have much of a relationship with the internet? Do you use social media or blogs?

(U)No very little actually. My wife does but I really think that I have a need for moral contemplation and not so much being on the net. Perhaps I prefer meeting personally, I’m a bit afraid of being addicted the screen.

(J)We’ve already kind of touched on it – what is your process of writing, how do you turn an idea into a book?

(U)I see it more like an organic process. I have a lot of writing friends who are doing very exact shadows of what they should do in each chapter and also the schools are teaching children how to write and the disposition is so mechanical. I’ve tried that model too. Now I just start a story and see what happens. The more interesting persons are more interesting than the story.

(J)So you focus on the character than the character?

(U)Yes, for instance there are lots of books for the very, very young people but then I was thinking that there are no books for the unborn. So I did a book about a boy having a chat with a mother’s stomach to the child inside giving answers to the child in there about what happens when you come out. That was the theme.

(J)That’s a strange sort of thing to think up, where did an idea like that come from?

(U)I think I saw a stomach somewhere and thought what would I teach a small child or say this the life coming to you.

(J)Do you think you’re quite a curious person by nature?

(U)Yeah. I think so. I’m curious about all the things that haven’t got answers. I think the daily life of children, coming to school and learning things, there are answers. Often education is built on a question and an answer and then they could have the idea that there are answers for everything. But for the very, most important things there are no answers. You have to make up the answers yourself. What is the meaning of life? Okay, this is the meaning of life. Okay there it was. Why are you falling in love with a person and not with another person? Why are we dying? What’s in the universe? There are a lot of things that children from the beginning are very interested in.

(J)But they stop asking?

(U)Yeah.

(J)If you could have a coffee with any human being, either been or alive, who would it be and what would you ask them?

(U)Umm. I think it would be nice to meet god.

(J)Yeah?

(U)Yeah. I have a lot of questions. I wrote a book about god, it was my last book. God created the earth but he was a little bit tired of inventing everything. So he first invented the Darwinist evolution theory so that he only had to do the small things like the fishes and now the creation could go on. But then when he woke up there are human beings, the animals – but he didn’t plan to make the shadows. They are dark so he decided to put them to the other side of earth, the side he couldn’t see. They call this the night. And what happens is you get a sort of Prozac world, no shadows, no darkness, no sadness.

(J)Fake smiles on everybody?

(U)Yes, everyone is going about smiling. So there are no stories, no fairytales, no dreams. It’s a drugged world. I find it quite funny to write about the fear of happiness and that you have a need for the shadows. Then there is a boy and a girl just going to find their shadows again and they found it the god is there to clean it up again. They say no, no don’t do that we need our shadows, even the sorrowness. God is thinking okay, okay you are write and he puts them back again. I think that applies to books also. You need to have the shadow sides and the night sides. I think we will have a lot to discuss over coffee.

Wellington City Libraries has many of Ulf’s books available for loan, check them out here.

Crime writer Reginald Hill dies

The prolific crime writer Reginald Hill has died of a brain tumour at the age of 75.

He is best known for his crime novels featuring the detective duo of Dalziel and Pascoe (starting with their first appearance in A Clubbable Woman, in 1970). Some of these 20 novels were adapted for television by the BBC.

Reginald Hill began his working career as a teacher, becoming a full time writer in 1980. He published over 48 novels, some under the pseudonyms of Patrick Ruell, Dick Morland and Charles Underhill. His most recent novel was The Woodcutter, published in 2010. The last Dalziel and Pascoe novel was Midnight Fugue, published in 2009. He was awarded The Crime Writers’ Association Gold Dagger Award for his 1990 book ‘Bones and Silence’, and the Crime Writers’ Association Cartier Diamond Dagger Award for Lifetime Achievement in 1995.

You can read The Guardian’s obituary for him on the paper’s website.

The Woodcutter, by Reginald Hill Midnight Fugue, by Reginald Hill A Clubbable Woman, by Reginald Hill

So Brilliantly Clever – free author talk with Peter Graham

image courtesy of SyndeticsHear lawyer and true crime writer Peter Graham talk about New Zealand’s most notorious murder, with his newly published book ‘So Brilliantly Clever – Parker, Hulme and the Murder that Shocked the World’, on Thursday 26 January, 6pm at Wellington Central Library.

Peter will talk about the case and his research into the secrets and lies that permeated the girls’ families, the bizarre lead-up to the murder, the girls’ conviction and imprisonment, and their lives following their release – right up to the present day. He also examines Parker’s and Hulme’s actions in the light of modern psychology and considers what would be their fate if it had happened today?

Don’t miss this free talk and the opportunity to ask the author questions of your own. Everyone is welcome and there is no need to book – just come along for 6pm on the ground floor at Central Library, 65 Victoria Street.

author talk

Author talk: Influences

Join three of New Zealand’s finest writers, Fiona Farrell, Kate De Goldi and Emily Perkins, and hear them talk about the writers and books that have inspired and influenced them, while discussing their own work. It should be a fascinating session.

When: 6.00 pm, Wednesday, 28th July 2010

Where: City Gallery Wellington – Civic Square

Tickets are now available from Wellington Central Library.  Ticket price is $15  ($12 for Book Council Members).

For more information, please call (04) 801 4068.  Ticket purchases must be made  in person, no reserves.  Payments accepted are cash, cheque or eft-pos.

fiona farrellkate de goldiemily perkins

Voyagers: Science Fiction Poetry from New Zealand book launch

Wellington City Libraries along with IP (Interactive Publications) invite you to the launch of Voyagers: Science Fiction Poetry from New Zealand, on Monday 19th October at 5.30 pm ground floor Central Library, Victoria Street. This amazing anthology is edited by poet, fiction writer, critic and publisher Mark Pirie and Tim Jones, poet and fiction writer, both Wellingtonians. There is an impressive number of New Zealand writers represented in this anthology. The readers for the evening include poets Janis Freegard, Nic Hill, Jack Perkins, Rachel McAlpine, Helen Rickerby, Robin Fry and the editors Mark Pirie and Tim Jones.

The seating will be available on a first come first served based.

So come along and join us for a wonderful evening of poetry.

Hilary Mantel wins the 2009 Mann Booker Prize

Hilary Mantel has been awarded the 2009 Mann Booker Prize for her novel Wolf Hall. A historical novel recounted through the eyes of Thomas Cromwell, who started out as a Blacksmith’s boy and eventually became one of the most powerful men in England beside Henry VIII. Wolf Hall has been the most popular novel ever to win the Mann Booker Prize. Hilary Mantel has written nine other novels, two have been historical, with A Greater Place of Safety published in 1992 and set in France at the time of the French revolution, winning the Sunday Express Book of the year. Beyond Black published in 2005 was shortlisted for the 2006 Commonwealth Writers Prize and the Orange Prize for Fiction the same year.

New Zealand poet Alistair Campbell dies at 84

It’s love isn’t it?‘ was released in 2008 a year after the death of  his wife and poet Meg Campbell, and now, a year later, Alistair Te Ariki Campbell has passed away.

The reading of this anthology in 2008 was a bittersweet pleasure in that Alistair had assembled the poems himself, placing the similarly themed poems of Meg’s on every facing page beside one of his.

The order of these poems would change so that where previously one of Alistair’s led now it was Meg’s. At some point in the list of contents at the front of the book the author is no longer stated and it is up to the reader to decide which poem belongs to which author, which narrative to which person. That sometimes this seems impossible is tribute to the strong, undeniable thread that ran between them.

John O’Connor wrote that, ‘Campbell’s oeuvre is vital, and varied in subject, voice and structure…’ and even the assembly of an anthology by Campbell becomes personal, structurally creative and heartbreakingly revealing.

The dark lord of Savaiki : collected poems,’ is a good place to start for insight into all the periods of this great writer’s work. It contains poems about love, Kapiti, Gallipoli, his Polynesian ancestors, madness and Meg…

Science Fantasy writer David Eddings dies

Science Fantasy writer David Eddings has died aged 77. Born in Spokane, Washington State in 1931 he studied Middle English at University. After a short time in the army he spent a period working on missile development. His first novel, a contemporary adventure titled High hunt, was published in 1973. He changed to science fantasy after seeing the continual reprintings of Lord of the Rings, then in its 73rd reprint. He became one of the most popular writers of his chosen genre, with each new book reaching the top ten best seller lists. Nearly all his work was in series form, which allowed a deeper character and story line development. These series began with the Belgariad series, with the first book, Pawn of Phrophecy published in 1982. This series was followed by the Malloreon, the Elenium, the Tamuli and the Dreamers series. The Younger Gods was his last novel in the Dreamers series published in 2006. The only stand alone science fantasy novel by David Eddings was The Redemption of Athalus published in 2000.