The Nancys: Our Interview with Ngaio Marsh Finalist R.W.R. McDonald

This year’s Ngaio Marsh Awards shortlist is full of outstanding New Zealand novels that cover a wide range of styles and tones in stories entwined with crime, mystery, thrills, and suspense. And it is going to be a really difficult task for the judges to pick a winner.

R.W.R. McDonald’s debut novel The Nancys is one of most unique books among the list. Set in South Otago, the book is about friends, family, a murder  and young girl’s obsession with the Nancy Drew series of books. It’s simultaneously funny, dark, touching and ultimately joyously uplifting.

The charismatic author of The Nancys R.W.R. McDonald took some time out of his busy schedule to do a really special online piece for us and talk to us about The Nancys,  his literary influences, and also give us a very special fireside reading–not to mention introducing us to Harry his cat!

We want to extend our biggest thank you to R.W.R. McDonald for his time and such a great interview. And we wish him and his fellow shortlisted authors good luck in the final awards ceremony.

The finalists will be celebrated, and the winners announced, as part of a special event at this year’s WORD Christchurch Festival, held from 29 October to 1 November. Enjoy!

Below are some of the books that influenced R.W.R. McDonald and were mentioned in his interview. You can also borrow a copy of The Nancys here or buy yourself a copy here!

The hidden staircase / Keene, Carolyn
“After receiving a call from her friend Helen Corning, Nancy agrees to help solve a baffling mystery. Helen’s Aunt Rosemary has been living with her mother at the old family mansion, and they have noticed many strange things. They have heard music, thumps and seen eerie shadows on the walls. Could the house be haunted? Will Nancy be able to find  how these mysteries are related?” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an Audiobook.

Kiss kiss / Dahl, Roald
“Contains stories including The Landlady, William and Mary, The Way up to Heaven, Parson’s Pleasures, Mrs Bixby and the Colonel’s Coat, Royal Jelly, Gregory Progy, Genesis and Catastrophe, Edwards the Conqueror, Pig and The Champion of the World.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Charlie and the chocolate factory / Dahl, Roald
“Mr Willy Wonka is the most extraordinary chocolate maker in the world. And do you know who Charlie is? Charlie Bucket is the hero. The other children in this book are nasty little beasts, called- Augustus Gloop- a great big greedy nincompoop; Veruca Salt- a spoiled brat; Violet Beauregarde – a repulsive little gum-chewer; Mike Teavee – a boy who only watches television. Clutching their Golden Tickets, they arrive at Wonka’s chocolate factory…” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an Audiobook. 

To the lighthouse / Woolf, Virginia
“Set on the beautiful Isle of Skye. To the Lighthouse features the serene and maternal Mrs. Ramsay, the tragic yet absurd Mr. Ramsay, and their children and assorted guests who are on holiday on the Isle of Skye. From the seemingly trivial postponement of a visit to a nearby lighthouse, Virginia Woolf constructs a moving examination of the complex tensions and allegiances of family life and the conflicts within a marriage…. the sea encircles the story in a brilliant ebb and flow” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an Audiobook. 

The whale rider / Ihimaera, Witi
“This timeless story tells how the courage of one Maori girl in standing against the tide of tradition enables her tribe to become reconnected with their ancestral life force. As her beloved grandfather, chief of the Maori tribe of Whangara, New Zealand, struggles to lead in difficult times and to find a male successor, young Kahu is developing a mysterious relationship with whales, particularly the ancient bull whale whose legendary rider was their ancestor.” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.

A Saint from Texas [paperback] / White, Edmund
“Yvette and Yvonne Crawford are twin sisters, born on a humble patch of East Texas prairie but bound for far grander fates. Just as an untold fortune of oil lies beneath their daddy’s land, both girls harbour their own secrets and dreams: ones that will carry them far from Texas and from each other. As the decades unfold, Yvonne will ascend the highest ranks of Parisian society as Yvette gives herself to a lifetime of worship. And yet, even as they remake themselves, the twins find that the bonds of family and the past are unbreakable.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The Margaret Mahy treasury : eleven favourite stories from the marvellous Margaret Mahy. / Mahy, Margaret
“The Margaret Mahy Treasury contains eleven favourite Mahy stories. In this volume you will find such timeless classics as A Lion in the Meadow, The Witch in the Cherry Tree, The Man Whose Mother was a Pirate and many more. These beautifully illustrated stories are childhood essentials. This book contains a CD of Margaret Mahy reading six of her classic stories.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The Nancys / McDonald, R. W. R.
“”Tippy Chan is eleven and lives in a small town in a very quiet part of the world – the place her Uncle Pike escaped from the first chance he got as a teenager. Now Pike is back with his new boyfriend Devon to look after Tippy while her mum’s on a cruise. Tippy is in love with her uncle’s old Nancy Drew books; she wants to be Nancy and solve a real mystery. When her teacher’s body is found beside Riverstone’s only traffic light, Tippy’s moment has arrived.” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.

Find out more about the Ngaio Marsh Awards here. For R.W.R. McDonald’s official site.

Ask Ben Aaronovitch a Question!

We are very excited to announce that in October we will be doing a pre-recorded Question and Answer online event with the international bestselling author Ben Aaronovitch–and we need your help with the questions!

Ben Aaronovitch is one of the most popular science fiction and fantasy writers in the world today. His Rivers of London series has been translated into 14 languages worldwide, with every one of the novels becoming a Sunday Times Top Ten bestseller. Ben has been a screenwriter for Doctor Who, Casualty and has written spin-off novels for Doctor Who and Blake 7. His work has even been adapted into a fantastic graphic novel series.

So if you’ve ever wanted to ask Ben Aaronovitch a question, now’s your chance!

Simply send us your questions via Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or email and we’ll do our best to ask them during the event. And in the meantime, check out the selection of Ben’s work we have available to borrow throughout our libraries. Enjoy!

False value / Aaronovitch, Ben
“Peter Grant is facing fatherhood, and an uncertain future, with equal amounts of panic and enthusiasm. Rather than sit around, he takes a job with émigré Silicon Valley tech genius Terrence Skinner’s brand new London start up – the Serious Cybernetics Company. Drawn into the orbit of Old Street’s famous “silicon roundabout”, Peter must learn how to blend in with people who are both civilians and geekier than he is. But magic is not finished with Mama Grant’s favourite son.” (Adapted from  Catalogue)

The October man / Aaronovitch, Ben
“When a man is found dead with his body impossibly covered in a fungal rot, the local authorities know they are out of their depth. But fortunately this is Germany, where there are procedures for everything.Enter Tobias Winter, an investigator for the Abteilung KDA, the branch of the German Federal Criminal Police which handles the supernatural. His aim is to get in, deal with the problem, and get out with the minimum of fuss, personal danger, and paperwork.” (Catalogue)

Foxglove summer / Aaronovitch, Ben
“Ben Aaronovitch takes Peter Grant out of whatever comfort zone he might have found and takes him out of London – to a small village in Herefordshire where the local police are reluctant to admit that there might be a supernatural element to the disappearance of some local children. But while you can take the London copper out of London you can’t take the London out of the copper. Peter soon finds himself caught up in a deep mystery and having to tackle local cops and local gods.” (Catalogue). Also available as an Audiobook. 

The furthest station / Aaronovitch, Ben
” Traumatised travellers have been reporting strange encounters on their morning commute, with strangely dressed people trying to deliver an urgent message. Stranger still, despite calling the police themselves, within a few minutes the commuters have already forgotten the encounter – making the follow up interviews rather difficult. So with a little help from Abigail and Toby the ghost hunting dog, Peter and Jaget are heading out on a ghost hunting expedition…” (Catalogue)

Lies sleeping / Aaronovitch, Ben
“The Faceless Man, wanted for multiple counts of murder, fraud, and crimes against humanity, is on the run. Peter Grant, Detective Constable and apprentice wizard, now plays a key role in an unprecedented joint operation to bring him to justice. But even as the unwieldy might of the Metropolitan Police bears down on its foe, Peter uncovers clues that the Faceless Man, far from being finished, is executing the final stages of a long term plan.” (Catalogue)

The hanging tree / Aaronovitch, Ben
“Suspicious deaths are not usually the concern of Police Constable Peter Grant or the Folly–London’s police department for supernatural cases–even when they happen at an exclusive party in one of the flats of the most expensive apartment blocks in London. But the daughter of Lady Ty, influential goddess of the Tyburn river, was there, and Peter owes Lady Ty a favor. Plunged into the alien world of the super-rich, a sensible young copper would keep his head down. But this is Peter Grant we’re talking about.” (Catalogue)

Rivers of London [1] : body work / Aaronovitch, Ben
“Peter Grant, having become the first English apprentice wizard in fifty years, must immediately deal with two different but ultimately inter-related cases. In one he must find what is possessing ordinary people and turning them into vicious killers, and in the second he must broker a peace between the two warring gods of the River Thames.  The graphic novel is based on the bestselling novel “Rivers of London.” (Catalogue)

Rivers of London [2] : night witch / Aaronovitch, Ben
“Press-ganged into helping a Russian oligarch hunt his missing daughter, PC Peter Grant and his boss, Thomas Nightingale, London’s only wizarding cops, find themselves caught up in a battle between Russian gunmen, a monstrous forest creature – and their nemesis: The Faceless Man. But as Grant and Nightingale close in on the missing girl, they discover that nothing about this case is what it seems!” (Catalogue)

“Taunaha Whenua: Naming the Land”, a Matariki Kōrero from Honiana Love

Tēnā koutou katoa e te whānau! Nau mai, haere mai ki te whakarongo ki tēnei kōrero. This matariki, we are proud to present a kōrero from Honiana Love about the significance of place names around Pōneke.

Honiana Love, Kaiāwhina Tumu Whakarae, Ngā Taonga Sound. Photo credit: Stephen A’Court.

Matariki is a powerful time of reflection, and there’s no better time than now to learn more about the history of Aotearoa.

Ngā Taonga, The National Library and Wellington City Libraries are proud to present Honiana Love’s kōrero “Taunaha Whēnua: Naming the Land”, at the National Library, on 16 July at 1230pm.

Honiana is Tumu Whakarae / Chief Executive of Ngā Taonga, and she will be discussing how names like Owhiro, Pipitea and Kaitoa have much to tell us about the gardens, swamps and food-gathering areas which have stood where we stand today.

This event is a free presentation of Ngā Taonga, The National Library of New Zealand and Wellington City Libraries. All are welcome, and the event will be recorded and shared at a later date.

“Taunaha Whēnua: Naming the Land” is part of Wellington City Libraries’ #purapurawhetu Matariki festival. You can learn more here about our other events, for tamariki and their whānau, these school holidays.

Grab a book, pull up a seat and relax in the Outdoor Reading Room

Te Ngākau Civic Square will be transformed into a giant Outdoor Reading Room stocked with decommissioned library books that readers are free to take home.

Mayor of Wellington Andy Foster in the Civic Square with the Pop Up Library

The five-week-long celebration of books will be open from 10am to 3pm Wednesday to Saturday. The first scheduled day is Wednesday 12 February, the last day will be Saturday 14 March. All days are weather dependent.

The Civic Square’s artificial turf will be reconstructed into the Outdoor Reading Room using 24 bean bags, shelves of books, outdoor umbrellas, café style tables and chairs, stools and a large kids activity table. The furniture will be a mix or red, orange, yellow, green and blue, taking inspiration from the City Gallery’s Yayoi Kusama installation in 2009.

We have provided a stock of decommissioned library books which will be regularly replenished as readers find gems to take home.

Some book-related events will also be held at the Outdoor Reading Room. These include readings from local authors involved with the New Zealand Festival, and children’s reading sessions with Wellington City Libraries.

Free daily copies of The Dominion Post, back copies of Capital magazine, Salient student magazine, as well as crayons and colouring cards will also be available.

WellingtonNZ General Manager Anna Calver says the Outdoor Reading Room will help bring vibrancy back to Civic Square.

“We expect it to be popular with a wide range of people from parents taking their children and lunchtime workers, through to those missing the Central Library and visitors to Wellington.

“The Outdoor Reading Room is the perfect place to grab a book and relax in the heart of Wellington. It also provides the opportunity for booklovers to check out the nearby galleries, cafes and shops.”

Mayor of Wellington Andy Foster in the Civic Square with the Pop Up Library

Wellington Mayor Andy Foster says the Outdoor Reading Room is a very welcome event.

“Te Ngākau literally means the ‘heart’ and events like this keep the heartbeat of Civic Square alive.  The Outdoor Reading Room will bring people back to the area to enjoy a novel pop-up library.

“Civic Square is an important location for people to mix and mingle and I know people are pining for the Central Library. We’ve worked hard on the three other city libraries and expect some decisions on the Central Library in coming months.

“But right now, all we have to do is hope Wellington’s weather is kind and then it’s time to slap on the sunscreen and get down to Te Ngākau Civic Square.”

The Te Ngākau Civic Square Outdoor Reading Room is a joint initiative between WellingtonNZ, Wellington City Council and Wellington City Libraries.

The event will be staffed by WellingtonNZ.

Johnsonville Library is opening at Waitohi Hub!

This Saturday, come and join us at the official opening of Johnsonville Library at Waitohi, the new Johnsonville community hub. There will be a morning of celebrations including the ribbon cutting-ceremony and cultural performances. 

7am-8am Public opening ceremony

  • Master of ceremonies : Jennifer Parker (Wellington City Council)
  • Welcome – Kura Moeahu and Taku Parai (Iwi leaders)
  • Introduction – Laurinda Thomas, Libraries Manager (Wellington City Council)
  • Speech from Hon Tracey Martin – Minister of Internal Affairs
  • Speech from His Worship the Mayor of Wellington
  • Ribbon cutting ceremony
  • Unveiling of commemorative plaque
  • Performance by Wellington Chinese Language School children’s group
  • Wellington Interfaith Council presentation “We Are One”
  • Bharatanatyam performance by Natraj school of Indian dance
  • Lion dance by Wellington China Cultural Centre

The new café, Common Ground Waitohi. will open at 8am and we will have exclusive tours of the building starting at the same time. The new library will open for everyone to visit at 9am. We hope to see you there!

Festive storytimes are here!

Ho! Ho! Ho! Deck the halls with books of jolly…! These festive storytimes are a family favourite every year, and we are excited to announce the 2019 line up.

Suitable for families with children of all ages, come along in your favourite Christmas costume or pajamas, and listen to stories and songs about the Christmas Season. No need to book, just turn up!

Thursday 12th December

Karori Library, 6 – 7pm
Mervyn Kemp (Tawa) Library, 6.30 – 7.30pm

Friday 13th December

He Matapihi (Molesworth St) Library, 10 – 10.45am, Bilingual Storytime

Saturday 14th December

Arapaki (Manners St) Library, 10.30 – 11.15am

Monday 16th December

Cummings Park (Ngaio) Library, 6 – 7pm
Miramar Library, 6 – 6.45pm
Brooklyn Library, 6.30 – 7.15pm

Thursday 19th December

Island Bay Community Centre, 4.30 – 5.30pm, Christmas Crafts
Island Bay Library, 6 – 6.45pm
Ruth Gotlieb (Kilbirnie) Library, 6 – 6.45pm
Khandallah Library, 6 – 7pm
Wadestown Library, 6.30 – 7.15pm

Friday 20th December

Newtown Library, 6 – 6.45pm Multicultural Storytime

Saturday 21st December

Johnsonville Library at Waitohi Hub, 2 – 3pm

festive-storytimes

 

Khandallah Heritage Night this week

Come along to the Khandallah Library this Thursday evening (7th November) from 6pm where we will be celebrating the heritage of the greater Onslow area with the rededication  of a memorial scroll in honour of F.L (‘Fanny Louise’) Irvine-Smith.

Born in 1878, Irvine-Smith was a pioneering educationalist who lectured at the Wellington Teachers College and had a notable role in first introducing Māoritanga and NZ History to the primary school curriculum. She is best known for her work as a historian and her book The Streets of my CityFirst published in 1948, her book presented Wellington’s past through a tour of its streets and how they had been named. It was a radical departure from the dry, pedestrian works of local history which had been published to that time and it went on to be re-printed multiple times. However, we remember her for her extraordinary efforts over many years to establish the Khandallah Library. A strong believer in the importance of libraries to the social health of a community, she lobbied the council and walked the streets of the suburb to gather nearly 1300 signatures on a petition supporting the library’s establishment.

As well as unveiling the memorial scroll we are going to take the opportunity to launch a digitised collection of a historic local magazine, The Ngaio and Khandallah Review and its follow-up publication, The Social Review which were published in the early-mid 1930s. Drawn from the collection of the Onslow Historical Society, we worked collaboratively with the society to allow these  extremely rare copies to be made available to the general public for the first time on our digital heritage platform, Wellington City Recollect. They offer a fascinating insight into the local community 85 years ago and will become an invaluable source of local history and genealogical information. Once launched, the digitised magazines will be fully key-word searchable.

Come along to the Khandallah Library on Thursday evening from 6pm to share your memories of the library and the greater area. Light refreshments will be served. There is no need to R.S.V.P but space will be limited. 

Get creative at your library these October holidays!

Are you looking for something fun and creative to do with your tamariki during the school holidays? Your local libraries and community centres have you covered from 28 September — 13 October with a wide range of free activities and events to engage, delight and inspire children and their families. From beeswax wraps to creative writing workshops, robotics and technology playgrounds to board games, arts and crafts to cultivating a mysterious alien garden, Wellington City Libraries is open for creativity and exploration these holidays.

For a full schedule, click here or visit your local library to pick up a calendar. We’ve picked out some of our favourite events below to whet your appetite. What new thing will you create, try out, or learn at the library these holidays?

Building BLOOM is like cultivating an alien garden on another planet – what shapes will you create?

BLOOM
Is it a dinosaur, a spaceship, a chandelier, a cloud? Bloom consists of thousands of identical pink pieces that let children and big kids connect, construct and deconstruct 3D installations with no boundaries or rules. Your whānau is welcome to drop in at any time during these sessions, and BLOOM is appropriate for all ages. BLOOM is proudly supported by Capital E.

Monday 7 October, 11am – 4pm at Cummings Park (Ngaio) Library
Tuesday 8 October, 11am – 4pm at Newtown Library

These cute robots will have a crucial role to play as you guide them safely through the Minotaur’s labyrinth.

Minotaurs vs. Mini-Robots
Ancient myths + Robots = awesome time! Come along and decode one of the most fascinating myths of Greek Mythology, the myth of Theseus and the Minotaur. Code Ozobots and navigate them in a dark labyrinth. Can you escape the Minotaur? Let’s find out. Suitable for ages 6+ with their caregivers.

Monday 30 September, 11am – 12pm at Cummings Park (Ngaio) Library
Friday 11 October, 11am – 12pm at Khandallah Library
Saturday 12 October, 11am – 12pm at Karori Library

Have something to say, but not quite sure how to say it? Our creative writing workshops are for you!

Creative writing workshops
Our creative writing workshops come in two flavours these holidays: Spring Scribblers and Storm the Castle! In Spring Scribblers, you’ll immerse yourself in the joy of language as you discover how to bring out your unique voice in writing. Storm the Castle! will guide you through the Hero’s Journey as you go through all the main beats that make up nearly every great book and movie. Suitable for ages 11+ with their caregivers.

Tuesday 1 October, 2 – 3pm at Karori Library (Storm the Castle!)
Thursday 3 October, 12 – 1.30pm at Churton Park Community Centre (Spring Scribblers)
Friday 4 October, 2 – 3.30pm at Johnsonville Library (Spring Scribblers)
Tuesday 8 October, 2 – 3pm at Cummings Park (Ngaio) Library (Storm the Castle!)
Wednesday 9 October, 2 – 3.30pm at Mervyn Kemp (Tawa) Library (Spring Scribblers)

Author Talk: In Conversation with Liz Nugent and Kirsten McDougall

Join us for a special evening with two acclaimed storytellers who craft suspenseful tales centred on unforgettable protagonists.

Liz Nugent, who was named Irish Woman of the Year in Literature in 2017, chats to Wellington writer Kirsten McDougall about turning to psychological thrillers after a career in Irish radio and television, and the art of getting inside the heads of monstrous characters. Please note: this is a free event.

When: Thursday, 3 October
Where: Karori Library
What time: 6.30pm – 7.45pm

Liz Nugent has published three novels–Unravelling Oliver, Lying in Wait and Skin Deep–which have all been #1 bestsellers and have collectively won four Irish Book Awards. Lying in Wait was voted Readers’ Choice for the famed Richard and Judy Book Club.

In 2018, Kirsten’s second book Tess was a finalist for the Ngaio Marsh Award for Best Novel and longlisted for the Acorn Prize for Fiction at the Ockham New Zealand Book Awards.

Beyond the Page: a literary festival for tamariki and their whānau

Mark the date: from 6-21 July, public libraries from around the Wellington region are excited to be bringing Beyond the Page – New Zealand’s largest children’s literary festival – to the young people of Wellington and their families. 2019 marks the third year that this multi-disciplinary arts festival will delight, engage and inspire audiences and participants in public libraries and community venues from Ōtaki to Island Bay, and everywhere in between.

Beyond the Page is a collaboration between Wellington City Libraries, Hutt City Libraries, Upper Hutt City Libraries, Kāpiti Coast District Libraries, and Porirua City Libraries. This year’s festival will comprise over 140 events, from author talks, workshops, and live interactive theatre to Lego, puppets, stories, music, dance, robots and more. It aims to reflect the ‘other’ side of libraries – the side that fizzes, that is creative, energetic, entrepreneurial, tech-driven, and adventurous – and it’s all totally free!

You can find the full programme of Beyond the Page events on the festival website or follow us on Facebook, but check out some of the highlights below for a taster of what’s on around the city!

On the 10th of July, experience the wonder of Matariki storytelling as you never have before – while riding on the historic Wellington Cable Car! Take a return trip on the cable car (departure times are 10.00, 10.20, 10.40, or 11.00am) and enjoy beautiful stories and waiata from our wonderful Beyond the Page librarians. Be sure to book your free tickets by getting in touch with the Beyond the Page team. Suitable for children aged 3+ with their caregivers.

Bea Lee-Smith from the Royal New Zealand Ballet will be taking you on a magical journey into the world of Hansel and Gretel. Through music and mime, children will learn simple ballet steps and positions. This interactive telling of an old favourite tale will be a great appetizer for you and your family in advance of the RNZB’s exciting new production of Hansel and Gretel later in the year. Suitable for pre-schoolers and primary school aged children.

Next up we have the amazing New Zealand author Donovan Bixley, who has had over 100 books published around the world. His show will have you laughing with amazement as you dive into a world of letters, words, and fuzzy doodles. Suitable for children aged 5+ with their caregivers.

Next up is the fabulously spellbinding storyteller Tanya Batt. Tanya describes herself as a “green-fingered witch, a word warbler and a story stitcher.” You can join Tanya in one of her imagined worlds as part of this year’s festival, with amazing costumes, live music, and tantalising tales to boot. Suitable for children aged 4+ with their caregivers.

You definitely shouldn’t miss Toro Pikopiko, New Zealand’s most established puppetry theatre company, in their performances of the world’s first Māori rock-art musical for puppets! This incredible show featuring over 80 hand-crafted puppets is bound to inspire and amaze, and is suitable for children of all ages with their caregivers.

There’s something on for everyone during Beyond the Page this July. We can’t wait to see you there!