Snowy the Sandman wishes he could read books for the Summer Reading Challenge, but he only has sunglasses where his eyes should be!
Switch on your reading eyes, grab the nearest cat (the purr-fect reading companion!), and prepare your parents for many bookish bedtimes and beach barbecues — the Summer Reading Challenge is nearly here!
It starts tomorrow, the 1st of December 2020, and runs through to the 31st of January 2021. Your mission: to read as many books as you can from the official Summer Reading Challenge list, which you can download online or pick up from your local library, and complete the 9 brain-bustingly brilliant Book Bingo challenges you’ll find on the back of the booklet. There are lots of instant and major prizes to be won, so get reading quick-smart!
Another year begins, and our Summer Reading Challenge continues! If all the book reviews you’ve been writing are anything to go by, you guys have been reading like absolute machines all throughout this beautiful Wellington summer. It has been wonderful reading all of your reviews and hearing about what you’ve enjoyed (or not so much!) about the books you’ve been reading.
It’s not too late to get involved! The Summer Reading Challenge is still running, and will keep running until the 31st of January 2021! There are heaps of prizes to be won just by reading books from our Summer Reading Challenge booklist — just see the photo below for a teensy tiny glimpse into our instant prize stash! Massive thanks to our friends at Unity Books, Marsden Books, and the Children’s Bookshop in Kilbirnie for their generous support.
This is just a small sample of the awesome book prizes that you can earn — just by reading and reviewing books from our collection!
But, reviewing books isn’t the only way to earn prizes. If you turn over your Summer Reading Challenge booklet, you’ll find a plethora of fun challenges to complete as part of our special Book Bingo challenge. Once you’ve finished off all 9 of the challenges, take your booklet in to your local library to earn a special prize.
This beautiful drawing of Dora the Explorer by Aarvi from Johnsonville Library was completed as part of the Book Bingo Challenge! Ka rawe, Aarvi!
So what are you waiting for? It’s time to get reading!
Let’s face it, 2020 was…umm…different! BUT our topsy-turvy year, that will surely go down in history, hasn’t stopped us from getting some great kids’ fiction onto the Wellington Library shelves!
But how do you pick the best from such a great selection? Trust me, it’s hard! Here are just TEN stand-outs from an awesome year, book-wise. But if you think we’ve missed out a real sizzler, let us know in the comments section below, or jump onto the Kids’ Club review form, and write a review of your own.
So, here goes, and in no particular order…
Across the risen sea / Bren MacDibble. / MacDibble, Bren Across the Risen Sea is an action-packed, compelling and heartfelt middle-fiction adventure, set in a post-climate change landscape, from the multi-award winning author of How to Bee. Across the Risen Sea is an action-packed, compelling and heartfelt middle-fiction adventure, set in a post-climate change landscape, from the multi-award winning author of How to Bee. (Catalogue)
The summer holidays are here – sunshine, barbeques, swimming, staying up late… and mosquitoes biting, flies buzzing around the cooked food, moths beating against your torch as you try to read at night, and crickets and cicadas making a racquet when you’re trying to sleep in you tent! Anyone would think bugs were put here to ruin your summer fun!
But did you know that we humans wouldn’t survive on this big, beautiful planet without our friendly creepy-crawlies to help us along? At last count it is estimated that there are ten quintillion insects alive on Earth right now, which means that for each one of us, there are two hundred million of them! But don’t panic! They all have a job to do, and if you dig deeper (and many of them do live underground), what the insects do for us and the health of the planet is pretty amazing.
Take New Zealand’s GIANT WĒTĀ (wētāpunga) for example. This big daddy of an insect features in the Guinness Book of Records as being one of the world’s largest insects, and some of them weigh in around 70 grams – about the same weight as a saddleback or sparrow! Department of Conservation staff refer to them as the ‘mouse of the forest’ because their equally giant poos help fertilise the forest floor and help with regeneration of native bush. What a hero! And the Auckland Zoo think so too and have joined forces with DoC and local iwi to reintroduce wētāpunga to islands in the Hauraki Gulf so that they can do their fertilising work and bring back the bush.
And just when you thought things couldn’t get any weirder, did you know that the wētā’s ears are located in their knees?! Yes, really!
You really know Summer has arrived when the CICADAS start their noise! But why do they do it? And how?
The high-pitched ‘song’ is actually a mating call belted out by males. Each species has its own distinctive song that only attracts females of its own kind. This allows several different species to live together in one area.
Cicadas are the only insects capable of producing such a unique and loud sound, and they do it by contracting special muscles called tymbals in their abdomen. Some larger species can produce a call in excess of 120 decibels at close range (120 decibels is the equivalent of a thunderclap or a chainsaw)! Smaller species sing in such a high pitch that it cannot be heard by humans, but may cause dogs and other animals to howl in pain.
We’ve all experienced the FLIES massing as soon as the barbeque is cooking and the salads are out on the picnic table. But why do they do this? The common house fly has a pretty powerful sense of smell and is attracted to strong smells – especially meat, and especially rotting meat! They like to lay their eggs in rotting material so that when their babies – maggots – hatch they have something to eat, yum! But just like the rest of us, adult flies have to eat too so that they’ve got the energy to fly. To eat their food, flies regurgitate (bring up) saliva from their stomachs, which dissolves the food until it is digestible. The house fly then uses its proboscis – like an attached straw where your nose should be – to suck up the liquefied food. Though they eat with their mouths, house flies taste with their feet. This is why they are always crawling on your food.
CRITTER OF THE WEEK:To tweak you interest further, check out “Critter of the Week” on Radio New Zealand every Thursday in Afternoons with Jessie Mulligan. Nicola Toki is the Threatened Species Ambassador for the Department of Conservation and a self-confessed “nature nerd”. Each week she talks about a lovable member of New Zealand’s wildlife community, many of them our creepy-crawly friends. There was even a competition earlier in the year for you to make the most interesting critter out of Lego and send in a photo. Check out some of the entries here.
“An understanding of the natural world is a source of not only great curiosity, but great fulfilment.”
Wellington City Libraries have loads of fantastic books about insects, creepy-crawlies and the people that study insects (entomologists). Take a dive into the fascinating world of bugs… go on! There’s nothing to be afraid of!
The genius of bugs / Pollard, Simon
This book contains a cast of amazing and unexpected bugs, from the killer brain-surgeon jewel wasp to the master-of-disguise orchid mantis, to the New Zealand favourite, the wētā.
New Zealand’s backyard beasts / Barraud, Ned
In the garden, creeping along branches, hiding under stones or flitting from flower to flower, a whole universe of creatures is waiting to be discovered. Butterflies, moths, beetles, wasps, spiders. Did you know that cicadas live underground for most of their life? That bumblebees have smelly feet? That some species of stick insect are all female? Or that earwigs don’t actually crawl into ears? In this book you can learn to identify some of the creatures most commonly found in the backyard.
The bug girl : (a true story) / Spencer, Sophia
Real-life 7-year-old Sophia Spencer was bullied for loving bugs until hundreds of women scientists rallied around her. Sophia tells her inspiring story in this picture book that celebrates women in science, bugs of all kinds, and the importance of staying true to yourself. Sophia Spencer has always loved bugs but when she was bullied at school she stopped talking about bugs altogether. When Sophia’s mother wrote to an entomological society looking for a bug scientist to be a pen pal for her daughter, she and Sophie were overwhelmed by the enthusiastic response–letters, photos, and videos came flooding in. Using the hashtag BugsR4Girls, scientists tweeted hundreds of times to tell Sophia to keep up her interest in bugs.
World’s biggest baddest bugs
To find the good, the bad and ugly of the insect world, Ruud Kleinpaste – New Zealand’s very own BugMan – embarks on an entomological journey in search of the biggest and the baddest of them all in this two part DVD. From killer bees and army ants, to cockroaches and tarantula, Ruud explains exactly what makes the “stars” of the show so incredible. Through a series of deadly stunts Ruud reveals what makes these crawlies the kings of the bugs and how they are capable of so much more than just scaring us silly.
World’s strangest creepy-crawlies / Derrick, Stuart
This book includes 40 of the planet’s most bizarre species and ranks them in order of their oddness! With jaw-dropping facts and amazing photos, the pages reveal each creature’s seriously strange characteristics and the unusual ways they hunt, eat or defend themselves. Inside World’s Strangest Creepy-Crawlies, you’ll discover the tiny terror that blows itself up to save its friends, a creature so well disguised even its own species can’t see it, and a giant spider the size of a dinner plate. And with the ‘strange-o-meter’, you can compare each animal based on its creepiness, fight factor and superpowers!
I’m trying to love spiders : (it isn’t easy) / Barton, Bethany
What do you do when you see a spider? a. Lay on a BIG spidey smoocheroo. b. Smile, but back away slowly. c. Grab the closest object, wind up, and let it fly. d. Run away screaming.
If you chose b, c, or d, then this book is for you. I’m Trying to Love Spiders will help you see these amazing arachnids in a whole new light, from their awesomely excessive eight eyes, to the seventy-five pounds of bugs a spider can eat in a single year And you’re sure to feel better knowing you have a better chance of being struck by lightning than being fatally bit by a spider. Comforting, right? No? Either way, there’s heaps more information in here to help you forget your fears . . . or at least laugh a lot!
חנוכה שמח! Happy Hanukkah! חג אורים שמח! Happy Festival of Lights!
Today marks the final day of Hanukkah in New Zealand. Hanukkah, or the Festival of Lights, is a festival celebrated by Jewish people around the world for eight days and eight nights. It offically starts on the 25th day of the month of Kislev in the Hebrew calendar, which can occur anywhere from late November to mid-December. One important part of the festival involves the lighting of candles on a special nine-branched candelabrum called a Hanukkah menorah (מנורת חנוכה). During Hanukkah, Jewish people make music together, share food (especially yummy fried foods like latkes and sufganiyot jam-filled doughnuts), exchange gelt, or gift money, and spend time with family and loved ones.
At the library, we have a bunch of books you can read to learn more about Hanukkah and other Jewish festivals and traditions. We’ve pulled out a selection for you below, but you can always find more by searching for ‘Judaism‘ on the catalogue, or looking on the shelf in the non-fiction section under J 296.
Celebrate! : a book of Jewish holidays / Gross, Judith
“This wonderful charmingly illustrated book celebrates Jewish holidays all year long. From Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, to Sukkot, the celebration of the harvest, to Hanukkah, the festival of lights, this is the perfect book for families to enjoy together.” (Catalogue)
A Jewish life / Senker, Cath
“The faith you follow is with you from the moment you are born, until the moment you die and beyond. Following a Faith: A Jewish Life explores some of the cornerstones of what it means to be Jewish today, through Passover and Hanukkah celebrations, wedding ceremonies, what happens in a synagogue and why many Jewish people go on pilgrimages to Israel. ” (Catalogue)
A faith like mine : a celebration of the world’s religions– seen through the eyes of children / Buller, Laura
“Using revealing photography and detailed personal accounts to give unique insight into the diversity of religious faith as experienced by children across the world, this is an ideal book for families to read together. A perfect book for children and parents to read together, A Faith Like Mine uses revealing photography and detailed personal accounts to give unique insight into the diversity of religious faith as experienced through the lives of children across the world.” (Catalogue)
Judaism / Howell, Izzi
“Explore the religion of Judaism, from what people believe, to a Jewish life, special days and festivals. The Info Buzz series, for age 5+, helps children develop their knowledge and understanding of the world by covering a wide range of topics in a fun, colourful and interactive way. The books have a lively design, engaging text and photos, questions to get children thinking and talking and teaching notes. Each title is written in conjunction with a literacy consultant and features book band guidance and downloadable activity sheets online.” (Catalogue)
Judaism / Marsico, Katie
This book is part of a series that focusses on the six most popular world religions through their history, geography, civic impact, and economics. It is packed with reliable and up-to-date information about Judaism, its central philosophies, customs and traditions, and how it relates to society today. (Adapted from Catalogue)
Hanukkah is coming! / Newman, Tracy
“Readers join a cute family and their dog as they light the menorah, eat latkes, unwrap gifts, sing songs, play dreidel, eat chocolate Hanukkah gelt, and march like Maccabees during the eight nights of Hanukkah in this cute 12-page board book. Includes “3D-feeling”art by Viviana Garofoli.” (Catalogue)
Nonna’s Hanukkah surprise / Fisman, Karen
“Rachel loves visiting her grandmother, even though Nonna celebrates Christmas and Rachel and her parents celebrate Hanukkah. When Rachel’s special hanukkiah goes missing, Nonna steps in to save the day.” (Catalogue)
Is it Hanukkah yet? / Barash, Chris
“A family gathers and prepares to celebrate Hanukkah. From snow on the ground to making applesauce and latkes to lighting the menorah, this sweet, lyrical story shows the seasonal and traditional ways we know Hanukkah is on its way.” (Catalogue)
The latke who couldn’t stop screaming : a Christmas story / Snicket, Lemony
“Latkes are potato pancakes served at Hanukkah, and Lemony Snicket is an alleged children’s author. For the first time in literary history, these two elements are combined in one book. A particularly irate latke is the star of The Latke Who Couldn’t Stop Screaming, but many other holiday icons appear and even speak: flashing colored lights, cane-shaped candy, a pine tree. Santa Claus is briefly discussed as well. The ending is happy, at least for some. People who are interested in any or all of these things will find this book so enjoyable it will feel as though Hanukkah were being celebrated for several years, rather than eight nights.” (Catalogue)
Kia ora! Many thanks and a massive congratulations to all of you who submitted poems to Tūhono, our new poetry journal for children and teens in Wellington. Altogether we had about 200 poems, all of which are going into the final book, which is currently being put together by our talented editorial team! We’ll let you know when it’s all ready to read.
While you’re waiting for the book to arrive on the shelves (or on your screens, if you use the eLibrary), we thought we’d share with you three of our favourite poems written by kids that are going into the book. As you’ll see, they all explored the theme of “tūhono — connection” very differently indeed!
The first poem, View from Matiu Somes, is by Isla, age 11. We were super excited by Isla’s exploration of the connection between place and history, and the powerfully evocative images she uses to paint a picture of how our perception of Matiu/Somes Island is changed by the forces of nature, the events of history, and our emotional reactions to those things. Here’s Isla’s poem:
View From Matiu Somes
White horses tip the waves
But inevitably will collapse
Under the weight of the tide.
I know they are destined
to wreck themselves
on the shoreline.
The only light blazing
from a crocheted throw of
stars placed precisely on a
pitch-black midnight sky.
Thick metal bars cut
across my line of sight.
The thick stench of grime
and urine fills my nostrils.
Brusque voices ring down
Are they coming for me?
My hands, covered in blue, purple bruises
and raw cuts from
Moving heavy rocks from one
side of the island to the other.
We are building roads
I will never use.
I hate this place.
— Isla, age 11
Our next poem is by Ronan, age 5, and is called My Butterfly Journey. Ronan’s delightful poem imagines what life would be like as a caterpillar, then a cocoon, then a butterfly, and teaches us a lot about the connections we experience at different stages of our lives:
My Butterfly Journey
I can’t move
I’m in a chrysalis
I will have butterfly powers when I come out
I will go where the butterflies go
I will lay eggs
Then I will die
The caterpillar will do the journey back home
— Ronan, age 5
The third poem we wanted to highlight is simply entitled connection, and is written by Jericho, age 11. Jericho’s powerful tūhono with music is so inspiring to read about, and his use of language is always fresh, exciting, and evocative:
I have a connection to music,
as if it’s a part my life,
as it follows the beat of my heart,
over and over again.
It lives deep inside me,
it burns inside my heart,
as an eternal flame,
raging on inside of me.
It shocks my soul
It runs thru my body,
It harmonises my life,
As if when I listen to it
all fear and pain go away.
Music electrifies my very existence.
— Jericho, age 11
The fourth poem is by Elena, age 7, and is called Two Birds. We loved this quirky poem that contrasts two very different characters — and in doing so, draws connections between them:
My early bird has wings that shine like butter
My early bird has wings that flutter
My early bird has a body pictured like the pale morning sky
My early bird can fly so high
It can touch the moon
My late bird is cocooned up in its warm cosy nest
My late bird likes to sleep in and rest
My late bird sleeps until spring
Wow my late bird really needs an alarm clock – BING!
— Elena, age 7
The last poem we are highlighting today is called The Verselet Treeby Amelia, age 9. We thought this poem did a really fantastic job of writing about writing itself — not the easiest thing to do — and really excelled at finding a connection between a physical place and the mental and emotional state of feeling creative and inspired enough to write a poem. It really speaks to the whole point of Tūhono in the first place! Ka rawe, Amelia.
The Verselet Tree
Wise, knowing and smart,
When I sit beneath you I feel safe,
warm and comforted this feeling makes me want to drift off in a slow and steady sleep,
but before I do, a thought comes to my mind,
the thought grows as I sleep,
When I wake the thought has formed into a poem.
As I wander home,
I think of the poem and decide to write it down,
And then I will go back and get another poem from you.
Everyone knows the story of Christmas, but actually celebrations of this time of year go back thousands of years into the past. Two cultures, the Celts and the Norse each contribute to some of the world’s original festive celebrations at the Christmas time of year.
The Celts celebrated the Midwinter Solstice (and so do the Zuñi and Hopi peoples of America), whereas uniquely the Celts feature the Green King which was even used in the later Medieval Period, despite the greater popularity of Christianity.
It centred around the dawning of the new solstice, when the sun would return from the darkness during Winter and the use of two figures namely the Holly King and the Oak King. These two deities would battle one another, triumphing for six months of the year to rule over the seasons until the next fight (in which the victorious king would then reign). This would be celebrated at Midwinter (and Midsummer) when the respective king for the season was at the peak of their powers and thus claim victory over the other.
The Druids of Britain would use holly as a sacred symbol of life during the dark Winters, and offered it as a blessing (BBC, 2006).
The God Odin and Sleipnir during the Wild Hunt.
The Norse would celebrate the Wild Hunt, where the God Odin (or the All-Father) would hunt down trolls and other creatures as he gave gifts to children across settlements during Mid-Winter.
The winters in Northern Europe were dark and foreboding, and so it lent itself to the idea that Odin and his gang would ride across the winds, amid much howling and shrieking of the trolls and other creatures as they were hunted down by the party. Along the way, Odin – similar to and pre-dating Santa Claus – would send little gifts to the children he passed through the villages and towns during the Viking Age.
Odin could be seen riding on the winds, with his horse Sleipnir, the eight-legged child of the God Loki. He was the fastest and strongest horse in the world. Every year when the Midwinter sun came over the lands, it was said to be Odin and his party hunting down trolls and other nasty creatures. On this night in particular, Odin would leave gifts out for the children, and they in turn would leave a small parcel of food for Odin and of course a carrot or bits of hay for the horse Sleipnir.
If you’re browsing the shelves at your library for books on the Celts and the Norse, you can use the Dewey Decimal system to help you find the right book. Dewey Decimal numbers are magical numbers that help us organise which books go where. Here are some useful numbers for this topic:
And here are some of our favourite books in the collection about the Celts and the Norse:
Celts / Newland, Sonya
“Who were the Celts and who were their leaders? Why did they come to the British Isles and how did they live? Explore this ancient civilisation to understand how prehistoric people have influenced the way we live today. Discover the artefacts that give evidence of their way of life, and how historians have pieced together the evidence of their lives. Learn about the homes and communities that they lived in, the food that they ate, how they travelled and worshipped, and the influence of the Romans on their society.” (Adapted from Catalogue)
Myths and civilization of the Celts / Martell, Hazel
“Myths and Civilization of the Celts focuses on life during the Iron Age period when the Celts dominated much of Europe before the rise of the Roman Empire. The book looks at their way of life, their arts and crafts, trade and transport, religion, food and entertainment. It also includes a map of the Celtic tribes of Europe. Using double-page spreads, Celtic myths are retold & followed by historical & cultural background material.” (Catalogue)
Norse myths and legends / Ganeri, Anita
“The world’s myths are filled with characters, creatures, and stories that have fascinated people for thousands of years. This series mixes dramatic retellings and non-fiction information to give a full picture of a culture’s myths.” (Catalogue)
Illustrated Norse myths / Frith, Alex
“A brand-new collection of Viking myths that tell the story of the Norse gods from creation to the story of how the world will end, including Odin’s quest for wisdom, the battles of Thor the thunder god, and the tale of Sigurd the Dragonslayer and the curs A collection of Viking myths that tell the story of the Norse gods from creation to the story of how the world will end, including Odin’s quest for wisdom, and the battles of Thor the thunder god.” (Catalogue)
Kia ora koutou! The summer holidays are a great time for you to relax, spend some time with whānau, and bask in the sunshine with a good book. Our librarians sometimes like to do this as well, so there will be some changes to our regularly-scheduled events and programmes during Christmas, New Year’s, and January. You can find out where and when everything is happening at the Event Calendar, or the children’s What’s On webpage, but here are the basics for you:
Enjoy the Summer Reading Challenge these school holidays!
During December, we have special Christmas Storytimes for the whole family to enjoy at all 14 of our libraries, and don’t forget that the Summer Reading Challenge is running from now until the end of January! Get stuck in now to earn sweet prizes.
Keep an eye out for our famous BookBike at beaches and parks around the city during those hot January days, and you can also come see us at a wide variety of festivals and events during the summer, including Gardens Magic(12 January – 31 January 2021) and the Wellington Pasifika Festival on 23 January 2021. We’d love to see you there!
Baby Rock and Rhyme will be taking a break at all sites from the 11th of December, and making a glorious return on the 1st of February. If you’re itching for that musical fix in your life, our newest library in the CBD, Te Awe on Brandon Street, will keep running Baby Rock and Rhyme until the 16th of December, and return on the 11th of January.
Preschool Storytime and Kōhunga Kōrero will run until the 20th of December at all sites for all your storytelling needs. At our CBD sites, as well as Johnsonville, Tawa, Brooklyn and Wadestown, storytime will resume from the 4th of January. At all other locations, our storytellers will be returning from the 1st of February.
Our LEGO® programmes including Let’s Go LEGO® and LEGO® Time will be on hiatus between the 20th of December and the 1st of February. At Johnsonville, Tawa, and Te Awe Libraries, these programmes will keep running throughout January — yahoo!
Our term-time programmes including Code Club, Tech Time, and CRAFTerschool will start up again in Week 2 of Term 1 2021, to give you time to adjust to being back at school before diving back into library events!
Kia ora! Hands up if you love superheroes! We have lots and lots of books about superheroes in the library collection, all your favourites like Spiderman, Captain America, Batman, Wonder Woman, Thor, Captain Marvel, Ironman, and many more. But do you know that there are superheroes all around us? Everywhere, in the community, doing good deeds. Ok maybe they can’t fly, or shoot web from their wrists, or have a seriously cool suit full of gadgets but there are plenty of people who do amazing things every day that make our world a better place.
The thing is, even you can be a superhero. From recycling, picking up litter at the park or beach or planting a garden to help save the environment to giving a helping hand around your neighbourhood, there are lots of ways you can make the world a better place. All it takes is thinking about others.
We even have books about everyday superheroes and how to be one yourself. Here are a few that Sue at Brooklyn Library selected that you might like to check out:
Read about people all over the world who have found ways that they can help save the planet from climate change. From Swedish teenager Greta Thunberg to the amazing Sir David Attenborough, nature and science documentary film-maker, people are all over the world are taking steps to fight for the future of our planet.
You were born to BE so many things. No matter where your journey leads, remember to… Be curious… Be adventurous… Be patient… Be brave… And most of all… BE YOU! A joyful celebration of individuality, persistence and staying true to YOU!