The Uppish Hen — Poems from a 1934 Christmas Stocking

In 1934, a young boy named Derek Challis discovered a collection of poems in his Christmas stocking written by his mother. Derek and his mum didn’t live together, but she loved him very much. His mother was one of Aotearoa New Zealand’s most talented authors, Robin Hyde who wrote many books for older readers using a penname, Iris Guiver Wilkinson. Hyde was also one of the first women who worked as a war correspondent, reporting on the Second Sino-Japanese War.

Derek adored these poems by his mother. On the front page of the manuscript of these poems, Hyde wrote that she “…hopes to have them printed with FUNNY PICTURES, ONE FINE DAY.” In 2023, that fine day finally arrived, and these poems have now been published as a beautiful book with funny illustrations!

Wairarapa writer and filmmaker Juanita Deely made a film about Robin Hyde and her son Derek, called A Home in This World, and became friends with Derek. Deely went on to edit this book of poems The Uppish Hen & Other Poems! The brilliant illustrations are by a Glenorchy artist, Dine. This wonderful book is published by The Cuba Press and is available to buy directly from The Cuba Press and good bookstores, or to borrow from the library.

Earlier this year, our kids’ blog writer Joseph had the wonderful opportunity to interview Juanita Deely, check it out here!

At Wellington City Libraries, He Matapihi ki te Ao Nui, we hope that everyone has all have a great Christmas and gets to spend plenty of time with their loved ones, and to remember everyone that we hold dear.

The Uppish Hen & Other Poems / Hyde, Robin (ed. Deely, Juanita)

A previously unpublished collection by Robin Hyde, one of NZ’s finest authors/ journalists, written for her son, Derek Challis. Richly illustrated by Glenorchy artist Dïne.

Iris and me / Werry, Philippa

Young adults and older readers should also check out the brilliant Iris and Me by  Philippa Werry, which won the Young Adult Fiction Award at the 2023 New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults.  We are lucky to have also had the opportunity to speak to Philippa about the creation of this book — watch her full interview with our Fiction Specialist Neil here.

The Bad Smell Hotel and Maps of Smell!

Earlier this year, The Cuba Press and Te Māhanga | Karori Library celebrated the book launch of The Bad Smell Hotel by father-daughter duo Rajorshi Chakraborti and Leela (age 11)!

The duo came up with the idea of the book during the 2020 lockdown, and their story is set in the not-too-distant future, where society is contending with mysterious bouts of uncontrollable farting! This book is marvellously illustrated by Dan Mills! Check out this video of the book launch!


Blurb for The Bad Smell Hotel:

It’s 2050, and the world of Jerry, Aina and Dr Winnie Ngata is very different from ours. Most humans have an easy life. There are robots to make you a smoothie, take your avatar on a VR tour of any city you like, or bring you anyone you’re missing as a hologram in front of you. But why are more and more people checking in to bad smell hotels? What is causing them to fart so much that they can’t live with their families anymore? And what on earth is a Fartbit? Bad Smell Hotel is a story to make you laugh and make you think.

The Bad Smell Hotel is available to buy at good bookstores or directly through The Cuba Press. You can also borrow The Bad Smell Hotel from our libraries!

The Summer Reading Adventure Gets Smelly!

For our 2023-2024 Summer Reading Adventure, we’ve got a very special challenge inspired by this book!

Find out how to sign-up on our Summer Reading Adventure kids’ blog post! Here’s a preview of the challenge that you can complete over on Beanstack!

The Smell-Walker’s Map

The bad smell hotel by Chakraborti, Leela

Usually, maps show us where physical places can be found. What if they showed us where smells could be found?

Today your challenge is to walk about, with your parent or caregiver, and make a map of smells! It doesn’t have to be totally accurate, just draw an approximated version of the path that you take and note down the most unique or noticeable smells that you find! Car workshop smell? Draw it in! Florist’s flower shop? Write that down! Pine needles? You got it, make that map entry!

Tell us about some of the smells that you encountered in the Capital City Questline in our Summer Reading Adventure for Kids

 

 

Author Spotlight: Katherine Rundell

“It was a very fine day, until something tried to eat him…”

Katherine Rundell‘s books blend magical delight with tales of adventure and courageous young protagonists. They’re great for reading aloud for different aged family members, or for tamariki to read to themselves (under the duvet with a torch, we won’t tell!)

With the release of Katherine Rundell’s latest book, Impossible Creatures, we have compiled a list of some of her other wonderful reads.

Impossible creatures / Rundell, Katherine
“A boy called Christopher is visiting his reclusive grandfather when he witnesses an avalanche of mythical creatures come tearing down the hill. This is how Christopher learns that his grandfather is the guardian of one of the ways between the non-magical world and a place called the Archipelago, a cluster of magical islands where all the creatures we tell of in myth live and breed and thrive alongside humans. […] Then a girl, Mal, appears in Christopher’s world. She is in possession of a flying coat, is being pursued by a killer and is herself in pursuit of a baby griffin. Mal, Christopher and the griffin embark on an urgent quest across the wild splendour of the Archipelago, where sphinxes hold secrets and centaurs do murder, to find the truth – with unimaginable consequences for both their worlds.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Rooftoppers / Rundell, Katherine
“Everyone thinks that Sophie is an orphan. True, there were no other recorded female survivors from the shipwreck which left baby Sophie floating in the English Channel in a cello case, but Sophie remembers seeing her mother wave for help. […] So when the Welfare Agency writes to her guardian threatening to send Sophie to an orphanage, she takes matters into her own hands and flees to Paris to look for her mother, starting with the only clue she has – the address of the cello maker. Evading the French authorities, she meets Matteo and his network of rooftoppers – urchins who live in the sky. Together they scour the city for Sophie’s mother before she is caught and sent back to London, and most importantly before she loses hope.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The wolf wilder / Rundell, Katherine
“In the days before the Russian Revolution, twelve-year-old Feodora sets out to rescue her mother when the Tsar’s Imperial Army imprisons her for teaching tamed wolves to fend for themselves.” (Catalogue)

The explorer / Rundell, Katherine
“Fred, Con, Lila, and Max are on their way back to England when the plane they’re on crashes in the Amazon jungle and the pilot dies upon landing. For days they survive alone, until Fred finds a map that leads them to a ruined city, and to a secret.” (Catalogue)

The good thieves / Rundell, Katherine
“Vita’s grandfather, Jack, has been cheated out of everything he owns by a conman. Vita is determined to set things right with a lawless, death-defying plan. –Adapted from cover.” (Catalogue)

Cartwheeling in thunderstorms / Rundell, Katherine
“Will must find her way after she’s plucked out of a wonderful life in Zimbabwe and forced to go to boarding school in England”–Provided by publisher.” (Catalogue)

The book of hopes
“In difficult times, what children really need is hope. And in that spirit, Katherine Rundell emailed some of the children’s writers and artists whose work she loved most. ‘I asked them to write something very short, fiction or non-fiction, or draw something that would make the children reading it feel like possibility-ists: something that would make them laugh or wonder or snort or smile… I hope that the imagination can be a place of shelter for children and that this book might be useful in that, even if only a little. This collection, packed with short stories, poems and pictures from the very best children’s authors and illustrators, aims to provide just that.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

For younger readers:

The zebra’s great escape / Rundell, Katherine
“”A girl, a zebra, a dog and a squirrel set forth on a great adventure. Mr. Spit is out to get them – but bravery and brilliant friends are a match for anyone”–Back cover.” (Catalogue)

For the adult in your life:

Why you should read children’s books, even though you are so old and wise / Rundell, Katherine
“Katherine Rundell – Fellow of All Souls College, Oxford, and prize-winning author of five novels for children – explores how children’s books ignite, and can re-ignite, the imagination; how children’s fiction, with its unabashed emotion and playfulness, can awaken old hungers and create new perspectives on the world. This delightful and persuasive essay is for adult readers.” (Catalogue)

Graveyard Shakes: Kids’ Comics for Halloween!

Spooky season is upon us, and we just so happen to have you covered for some great reads from our comic and graphic novel collections.

If you like the idea of a witch who uses her cauldron to make pizza, an avenging-warrior-ghost-hog, or a girl who meets her new best friend by summoning a spirit at a seance tea party, then these are for you!

Junior Comics

Witches of Brooklyn [1] / Escabasse, Sophie
“Effie moves to Brooklyn to live with her strange aunt and soon discovers that she might be a witch.” (Catalogue)

Graveyard shakes / Terry, Laura
“When Katia runs away from her private boarding school her sister Victoria goes looking for her, accidentally stumbling into the underworld of a nearby graveyard inhabited by ghosts and a man named Nikola, who is preparing a sinister spell.” (Catalogue)
Séance tea party / Yee, Reimena
“After watching her circle of friends seemingly fade away, Lora is determined to still have fun on her own, so when a tea party leads Lora to discovering Alexa, the ghost that haunts her house, they soon become best friends.” (Catalogue)

Ghost hog / Weiser, Joey
“Truff is the ghost of a young boar, fueled by fury towards the hunter who shot her down. She has a lot to learn about her new afterlife, and thankfully the forest spirits Claude and Stanley are there to guide her! However, they soon find that her parents, along with their fellow animal villagers, have been kidnapped by the malicious mountain demon Mava! Truff wants to help, but… the hunter is finally within her grasp, and if she lets him go, she may never get her revenge! Is vengeance all that being a ghost is good for? Or is there something stronger keeping this little pig tethered to the living world?” (Catalogue)

Skull Cat. Book 1, Skull Cat and the curious castle / Shurtliff, Norman
“It’s Scully the Cat’s first day as the new garden-keeper at a spooky castle… but when everyone goes missing, is he brave enough to become a hero? Draw your sword and let’s find out! Even though the castle is an eerie place, full of dark secrets, Scully is excited to start his new job and prove himself to be a great gardener. But wait a minute… what happened to all his co-workers? Were they devoured by bloodthirsty vampires? Spooked by a love-struck ghost? Pranked by a comic-reading goblin? Enchanted by a sleepy sorcerer? Will Scully have to become the hero and uncover the truth behind Le Dark Chateau? He never signed up for this!!”– Publisher’s website.” (Catalogue)

Sorceline / Douyé, Sylvia
“For as long as she can remember, Sorceline has had a knack for the study of mythical creatures. Now a student at Professor Archibald Balzar’s prestigious school of cryptozoology, she’s eager to test her skills and earn a spot as one of Balzar’s apprentices. But for all her knowledge of gorgons, vampires, and griffins, Sorceline is mystified by her fellow humans. While she excels in her studies, she quickly clashes with her classmates, revealing her fiery temper. When one of her rivals suddenly disappears, Sorceline must set aside her anger and join the quest to find her. But the mystery only deepens, leading Sorceline on a journey far darker and more personal than she expected.” (Catalogue)

YA Comics

Unfamiliar. 1 / Newsome, Haley
“Young kitchen witch Planchette gets an incredible deal on a new house in a magical town. Turns out, there’s a reason: it’s haunted! After unsuccessfully attempting to get these unwanted ghosts to leave, she realizes the only thing to do is to help them with their problems. Along the way, she befriends a shy siren who hates being popular, a girl battling a curse, and a magically-challenged witch from a powerful coven.” (Catalogue)

Summer spirit / Holleville, Élizabeth
“Summer for Louise means sand, surf, and… the supernatural. Louise spends every summer at her grandma’s house with her older sister, cousins, and Rodin the dog. But, this year, her plans to relax and read comics on the beach are about to be turned upside down by a mischievous ghost, bored with being forced to haunt the same house. While the other girls are wrapped up in romance and teenage problems, Louise takes refuge with her new paranormal BFF, determined to escape the drama and just enjoy her summer break, something that is proving to be a lot harder than she anticipated.” (Catalogue)

The Okay Witch / Steinkellner, Emma
“Thirteen-year-old Moth Hush loves all things witchy. But she’s about to discover that witches aren’t just the stuff of movies, books, and spooky stories. When some eighth-grade bullies try to ruin her Halloween, something really strange happens. It turns out that Founder’s Bluff, Massachusetts, has a centuries-old history of witch drama. And, surprise: Moth’s family is at the center of it all! When Moth’s new powers show up, things get totally out-of-control. She meets a talking cat, falls into an enchanted diary, and unlocks a hidden witch world. Secrets surface from generations past as Moth unravels the complicated legacy at the heart of her town, her family, and herself.” (Catalogue)

Detective Fiction for Kids: Historical Heroines!

As well as classics like Nancy Drew and The Famous Five, we have some wonderful kid detectives bringing mystery and day-saving antics to our shelves! Here are some of our favourites that all happen to be set in times past, from 1700s London to 1930s Hong Kong, and are all the start of their respective series.

We have the unstoppable Deepdean duo, Hazel Wong and Daisy Wells of the Wells and Wong Detective Agency, in the Murder Most Unladylike series. This series truly gets better as it goes on, with highlights being A Spoonful of Murder and Death in the Spotlight – but individual favourites may be particular to each reader.

Drama and Danger provides a gripping read starring another detecting pair – Lizzie Sancho and Dido Belle- and also offers an educational picture of 18th century London through the eyes of Black residents and real historical figures and events. We look forward to the second book in the Lizzie and Belle Mysteries!

Aggie Morton and her new friend Hector provide a charming take on some grisly crime scene investigating in The Body Under the Piano; their characters inspired by queen of crime-writing, Agatha Christie, and her fictional detective, Hercule Poirot.

Explore more from our catalogue in the list below:

Junior Fiction

The body under the piano / Jocelyn, Marthe
“A smart and charming middle-grade mystery series starring young detective Aggie Morton and her friend Hector, inspired by the imagined life of Agatha Christie as a child and her most popular creation, Hercule Poirot. For fans of Lemony Snicket and The Wollstonecraft Detective Agency. Aggie Morton lives in a small town on the coast of England in 1902. Adventurous and imaginative but deeply shy, Aggie hasn’t got much to do since the death of her beloved father . . . until the fateful day when she crosses paths with twelve-year-old Belgian immigrant Hector Perot and discovers a dead body on the floor of the Mermaid Dance Room!” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The detective’s guide to ocean travel / Greenberg, Nicki
“For as long as she can remember, Pepper Stark has wanted one thing: to join her father, the Captain, aboard the magnificent RMS Aquitania on a voyage to New York. She has never been allowed to set foot on her father’s ship, until now. From the decadent food to the star-studded passenger list, travelling First Class on Aquitania is every bit as glamorous as Pepper had imagined. And most dazzling of all is American stage sensation Perdita West, wearing the world-famous Saffron Diamond around her neck. When the priceless jewel disappears mid-voyage, Pepper unexpectedly finds herself entangled in the crime. With the Captain’s reputation at stake, Pepper and her new friends set out to solve the mystery. But finding a missing diamond isn’t so easy on Aquitania, where everyone has something to hide.” (Catalogue)

Murder most unladylike / Stevens, Robin
“Daisy Wells and Hazel Wong set up a secret detective agency at Deepdean School for Girls to solve the murder of their Science Mistress, Miss Bell.” (Catalogue)

If you enjoy the Murder Most Unladylike series, we recommend the spin-off based on Hazel Wong’s younger sister, May:

The ministry of unladylike activity / Stevens, Robin
“1940. Britain is at war, and a secret arm of the British government called the Ministry of Unladylike Activity is training up spies.

Enter May Wong: courageous, stubborn, and desperate to help end the war so that she can go home to Hong Kong (and leave her annoying school, Deepdean, behind forever). May knows that she would make the perfect spy. After all, grown-ups always underestimate children like her.

When May and her friend Eric are turned away by the Ministry, they take matters into their own hands. Masquerading as evacuees, they travel to Elysium Hall, home to the wealthy Verey family – including snobby, dramatic Nuala. They suspect that one of the Vereys is passing information to Germany. If they can prove it, the Ministry will have to take them on.

But there are more secrets at Elysium Hall than May or Eric could ever have imagined.” (Catalogue)

Premeditated Myrtle : a Myrtle Hardcastle mystery / Bunce, Elizabeth C
“When twelve-year-old aspiring detective Myrtle Hardcastle learns her neighor in quiet Swinburne, England, a breeder of rare flowers, has died she is certain it was murder and that she must find the killer.” (Catalogue)

Drama and danger / Williams, J. T.
“Twelve-year-olds Lizzie Sancho and Dido Belle are from different worlds – Lizzie lives in Westminster in her dad’s tea shop, while Belle is an heiress being brought up by her aunt and uncle at grand Kenwood House – but they both share a love of solving mysteries. And when their eyes meet in the audience of the Drury Lane theatre one night, both girls are sure they’ve seen something suspicious on stage. Lizzie and Belle soon find themselves on the trail of a mystery – and becoming best friends. But can they work out what’s going on in time to prevent a murder?”–Publisher’s description.” (Catalogue)

Comics

Goldie Vance. Volume one / Larson, Hope
“Move over Nancy, Harriet, & Veronica. There’s a new sleuth on the block! Sixteen-year-old Marigold “Goldie” Vance lives at a Florida resort with her dad, who manages the place. Her mom, who divorced her dad years ago, works as a live mermaid at a club downtown. Goldie has an insatiable curiosity, which explains her dream to one day become the hotel’s in-house detective. When Charles, the current detective, encounters a case he can’t crack, he agrees to mentor Goldie in exchange for her help solving the mystery.” (Catalogue)

Enola Holmes : the graphic novels, Book one / Blasco, Serena
“Fourteen-year-old Enola Holmes wakes on her birthday to discover that her mother has disappeared from the family’s country manor, leaving only a collection of flowers and a coded message book. With Sherlock and Mycroft determined to ship her off to a boarding school, Enola escapes, displaying a cleverness that even impresses the elder Holmes. But nothing prepares her for what lies ahead.” (Catalogue)

What Comes Next? Warriors

Many parents will be familiar with the challenge of finding their tamariki interesting and exciting books to read after they finish a fantastic series, and the library is here to help. In our series “What Comes Next?” we provide some recommendations for children after they’ve finished a popular series. Last month we looked at the hilariously unlucky Series of Unfortunate Eventsand this month we have focused our attention on the long-running Warrior Cats series by Erin Hunter.

For many tamariki the Warriors books are one of the first big series they really dive in to. And whether they make their way through all the books or are looking for something to read after they’ve gotten their fill, we’ve done our best to find something for everyone. We haven’t included the other Erin Hunter books in this list, but if you haven’t read them yet then check out Seekers, Survivors and Bravelands

Librarian’s tip — If you are reading the Warriors series and aren’t quite sure what order you’re meant to be reading them in, we recommend visiting Fantastic Fiction, who’ve done all the hard work of putting all those books in reading order for you!

Younger Kids:

Young kids have quite a few options when it comes to animal-focused books with lots of adventure. Kathryn Lasky’s Guardians of Ga’Hoole is simply excellent, and Lucky by Chris Hill is sure to delight kids, with a fun squirrel as the main character. Animorphs by Katherine Applegate needs no introduction to many people, who wouldn’t remember a book where kids gain the power to transform into animals? Finally, a newer book with panthers as main characters is The Lost Rainforest by Eliot Schrefer.

The capture / Lasky, Kathryn
“When Soren, a barn owl, arrives at St. Aggie’s, a school for orphaned owls, he suspects trouble and with his new friend, a clever elf owl named Gylfie, embarks on a perilous journey to save all owls from the danger at St. Aggie’s.” (Catalogue)

Mez’s magic / Schrefer, Eliot
“Caldera has forever been divided into those animals who walk by night and those who walk by day. Until the eclipse. Now Mez has discovered that she can cross the Veil and enter the daylight world. Her magical power has unknown depths, but she must rush to discover it after a mysterious stranger arrives at her family’s den, bearing warnings of a reawakened evil. Saving Caldera means Mez must leave her sister behind and unite an unlikely group of animal friends to unravel an ancient mystery and protect their rainforest home.” (Adapted from catalogue)

Lucky / Hill, Chris
“Every day is a fight for survival when you’re a young squirrel lost in the world. And for Lucky, it gets even tougher when he finds out he’s the only red squirrel in a city park fought over by grey ones. Lucky needs fortune on his side to win a place in their hearts. But when he discovers a plot that threatens his new home, is his luck about to run out?”–Back cover” (Catalogue)

Invasion / Applegate, Katherine
“When Jake, Rachel, Tobias, Cassie, and Marco stumble upon a downed alien spaceship and its dying pilot, they’re given an incredible power … a power they must use to outsmart an evil greater than anything the world has ever seen.” (Catalogue)

Older Kids:

If you’re on the older side, and looking for Young Adult reads with similar energy to Warriors then we’ve found a few books you’ll probably enjoy. While Gone by Michael Grant doesn’t have any animals, it does have teenagers with mysterious powers trying to solve a mystery in a Lord of the Flies-esque society. Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater does have animals in the form of werewolves as main characters and Protector of the Small by Tamora Pierce is an excellent fantasy series sure to delight fans of Warriors who enjoyed the political intrigue.

Gone / Grant, Michael
“In a small town on the coast of California, everyone over the age of fourteen suddenly disappears, setting up a battle between the remaining town residents and the students from a local private school, as well as those who have “The Power” and are able to perform supernatural feats and those who do not.” (Catalogue)

Shiver / Stiefvater, Maggie
“In all the years she has watched the wolves in the woods behind her house, Grace has been particularly drawn to an unusual yellow-eyed wolf who, in his turn, has been watching her with increasing intensity.” (Catalogue)

First test / Pierce, Tamora
“Ten-year-old Keladry of Mindalen, daughter of nobles, serves as a page but must prove herself to the males around her if she is ever to fulfill her dream of becoming a knight.” (Catalogue)

Hopefully you’ve found something to dive into after finishing Warriors, and catch us next time for another blog on a popular series, we haven’t quite decided which one yet, so feel free to drop some suggestions down below!

2023 NZCYA Book Awards: Winners Announced!

It’s hard to believe another whole year has rolled around since Gavin Bishop’s luminous Atua: Māori Gods and Heroes took the literary world by storm during the 2022 New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults, but last night at a joyous ceremony at the Pipitea Marae here in Te Whanganui-a-Tara, the 2023 NZCYA Book Award-winners were announced, to much fanfare and celebration.

This year, the Supreme Winner was multi-talented author and illustrator Mat Tait, for his book Te Wehenga: The Separation of Ranginui and Papatūānuku. This beautifully-crafted pukapuka not only won the Margaret Mahy Book of the Year Award, but also the Elsie Locke Award for Non-Fiction, and it is the first reorua/bilingual book ever to take out the Supreme Award. Our most heartfelt congratulations go to Mat, who has created a taonga to be treasured for generations to come.

Find Te Wehenga: The Separation of Ranginui and Papatūānuku, and the books that won the other categories on the night, on our catalogue below. For more literary greatness, be sure to check out our earlier post highlighting all of the finalists as well — congratulations to you all for your marvellous contributions to the world of children’s books in Aotearoa.


Margaret Mahy Book of the Year Award; Elsie Locke Award for Non-Fiction

Te Wehenga : the separation of Ranginui and Papatūānuku / Tait, Mat

Judges’ comments: Te Wehenga: The Separation of Ranginui and Papatūānuku presents the Māori creation pūrākau in a bold design using universal elements recognised across iwi. The bilingual text is poetic, and integrated into the artwork on each page in a way that draws readers into an interactive experience, inviting them to turn the book as they become immersed in the darkness of the space between Papatūānuku and Ranginui. The production values are exceptionally high, and the result is a book that is — like the story — a taonga, to be shared, closely read and enjoyed in both te reo Māori and te reo Pākehā… [Read more on the New Zealand Book Awards Trust website]

Our thoughts: This book feels like something genuinely special to hold. The story is one that will be familiar to many New Zealanders, as it has been told and re-told in multiple guises over the decades, but the way in which the artwork and bilingual text work together to engross the reader here is something truly unique. The initial darkness of the illustrations brings the reader physically closer to the page, challenging them to discern the beautiful details glowing softly in the dimness. As life flows into the world, the artworks too brighten, and the feeling of reaching the final, glorious spread is something similar to taking a deep breath after holding it for a long time. We hope you all enjoy experiencing this story as much as we did.


Picture Book Award

Duck Goes Meow / MacIver, Juliette

Judges’ comments: Bold, munificent colours saturate the page, with animals rotund and lively, their hand-lettered animal sounds seamlessly blending into a flawless rhyming text. Readers are taken on a hilarious jaunt as these animals negotiate and encourage Duck to say the right thing, anticipation and humour building with each page turn. The little duck plucks at the heartstrings by being true to itself, and challenging our assumptions. Duck Goes Meow distills all the elements of a great picture book into a celebration of the unexpected, with a conclusion that surprises the animals and readers alike.

Our thoughts: We are so happy for author-illustrator pair extraordinaire Juliette MacIver (a local Wellingtonian!) and Carla Martell — this win is so thoroughly deserved! The absolute beauty of this book is in its simplicity — the design is clear, the humour perfectly-pitched for very young readers, and the text carries the reader inevitably through to the surprising, sweet ending. Plus it’s the favourite book of this children’s librarian’s 19-month-old niece — how could it not win?!


Wright Family Foundation Esther Glen Award for Junior Fiction

Below / Hill, David

Judges’ comments: From the squeeze of the hourglass on the cover, to the story’s heart-thumping climax, a gripping sense of claustrophobia pervades this novel. The restricted point of view, oppressive setting and accelerating sense of danger conspire to close the reader in, yet the writing feels expansive. Relationships, reactions and conflicting positions are skilfully drawn, as two pre-teens rely on ingenuity and analytical thinking to help them survive in the collapsing heart of a mountain. As the stakes get higher and the chances of survival lower, the reader is left gasping. Below is a white-knuckled, powerful read, from one of Aotearoa’s most exceptional storytellers.

Our thoughts: Below is palpably the work of an experienced author at the absolute top of his game. It seems anything David Hill takes his pen to turns to gold, and this book is no exception — it’s fast-paced and engrossing, while still taking the time to explore the nuances of each of the characters we meet and expand upon their relationships in a way that makes the whole dynamic feel authentic. We found this one to be absolutely un-putdownable, and we suspect you will find the same.


Young Adult Fiction Award

Iris and me / Werry, Philippa

Judges’ comments: Iris and Me is audacious and daring, much like its subject Iris Wilkinson, who wrote poetry, fiction and journalism using the pen name Robin Hyde. This exploration of Iris’ life is astonishingly original. Written in verse with a unique narrative voice, this is heartbreaking yet hopeful historical fiction. The book is impeccably researched and exquisitely written, and its quality is clear from its charming cover to its extensive endnotes. The many hardships that Iris suffers — including mental health issues, disability, and poverty — are sensitively handled and give insight into the life of an important New Zealand author while being relevant to rangatahi today. This is poetry our young people can relate to.

Our thoughts: The judges describe this book as audacious — certainly it’s true that crafting a book in verse is a bold and impressive endeavour, especially one which flows and sings as naturally and compellingly as Iris and Me. What really shone through for us was that in this rich, kaleidoscopic exploration of the life of a significant, and today sadly underappreciated, New Zealander — her perseverance, her bravery in the face of misogyny and adversity, her suffusing love of travel and humanity despite her struggles — there is something in this book for almost every reader to resonate with. We are lucky to have had the opportunity to speak to Philippa about the creation of this book earlier this year — watch her full interview with our Fiction Specialist Neil here.


Russell Clark Award for Illustration

A portrait of Leonardo : the life and times of Leonardo da Vinci : a literary picture book / Bixley, Donovan

Judges’ comments: Donovan Bixley excels in this illustrated biography of Leonardo da Vinci. Relishing the challenge, he plays joyously with puns and puzzles while demonstrating masterful use of tools that were developed by the great artist himself. Composition, perspective, light and colour are used to great effect, with a strong underpinning of drawing and digital skills, creating a vibrant historical read that is also a fluent and delightful feast for the eyes. A Portrait of Leonardo is enticing and accessible to young readers, a great example of words attributed to the master: “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.”

Our thoughts: How exciting to see Donovan recognised for his consummate skill as an illustrator and storyteller with this award! A Portrait of Leonardo is a fresh and energetic take on the biographical form, and one could sit for hours, nose pressed against the page, following the pencil strokes and vibrant flashes of colour as they move from image to image, linking the whole story into one deliciously detailed whole. A fitting tribute to one of history’s greatest ever artists and inventors, and as Donovan said during his acceptance speech, a take on his life that could only have been envisaged in New Zealand. This book is a triumph, and well deserving of its win in an absolutely stacked field.


Wright Family Foundation Te Kura Pounamu Award for Te Reo Māori

Kua whetūrangitia a koro / Te Paa, Brianne

Judges’ comments: Matariki te tohu o maharanui. Matariki te tohu o te pito mata. Matariki te tohu o te ao hou. Kua Whetūrangitia a Koro is a traditional Māori narrative tailored to fit a new world and new audience. The significance of this story, its context, and its poetic use of te reo Māori place it in a stratosphere of its own. Much like Matariki, Kua Whetūrangitia a Koro represents authentic Māori stories being told in te reo Māori that will inspire and educate Māori, Pākehā, and all people of New Zealand and the world. Haramai tētahi āhua!

Our thoughts: Something about this pukapuka ataahua feels incredibly warm and embracing, even while it takes you on the absolute emotional rollercoaster that it does. The poetry of the reo and the simple tangibility of the illustrations infuse this book with a sense of spirituality and wonder while also giving it a quality of ‘groundedness’ that will make this a staple for any whānau who are looking for ways to navigate through tough situations, like the loss of a loved one. This is a book that will take your hand and sit beside you as long as you need, and we are grateful to Brianne Te Paa and Story Hemi-Morehouse for bringing it into the world for all to learn and grow from.


New Zealand Society of Authors Best First Book Award

The Lighthouse Princess / Wardell, Susan

Judges’ comments: The Lighthouse Princess stands out as a picture book that combines poetic writing and whimsical illustration to create a sum that is greater than its parts. This clever alchemy is all the more astounding considering it is both the writer’s and the illustrator’s first foray into publication. With details that draw a child’s eye into the world of the Lighthouse, and language that lures us from page to page, Rose Northey and Susan Wardell take the reader to an escapist hideaway on a rocky coast inhabited by creatures both real and imagined. Like the boy in the story, once invited in, many will choose not to leave.

Our thoughts: Okay, we did say this last year as well, but the category of Best First Book is becoming increasingly hotly contested as, year by year, more and more extremely talented writers and illustrators throw their hats in the ring. As librarians, it’s incredibly exciting for us to see such an assured debut from author Susan Wardell and Wellington-based illustrator Rose Northey — and we simply cannot wait to see what they both choose to create next. This picture book is absolutely charming and engrossing from cover to cover, and we predict it will soon become a firm bedtime or storytime favourite with whānau all over the country. Ka rawe!

Celebrate Hairy Maclary’s 40th Birthday at the Library!

This month marks a very special anniversary for a very special dog — it’s Hairy Maclary’s 40th birthday! First scampering their way onto the pages in July 1983 in Hairy Maclary from Donaldson’s Dairy, Lynley Dodd’s playful canine creations Hairy Maclary, Hercules Morse, Muffin McLay, Bitzer Maloney, Bottomley Potts, and Schnitzel von Krumm have been delighting readers (and running away from frightening felines!) for more than two generations.

To celebrate this very special occasion, we are hosting some very special Hairy Maclary-themed activities next week for the whole whānau to enjoy. Nau mai — everyone is welcome! We would love to see you there.


Hairy Maclary Family Storytimes!

Scatter your paws and clatter your claws as you trot on down to the library to celebrate 40 years of canine capers at our special Hairy Maclary-themed storytimes! Join us for stories, songs, and a special craft. Recommended for tamariki aged 2+ with their caregivers.

Hairy Maclary’s Great CRAFTerschool Caper

Out of the gate and off for a walk… to the library for CRAFTerschool! Join us at the library to celebrate Hairy Maclary’s 40th birthday with a special craft activity for tamariki to enjoy. Recommended for tamariki aged 5+ with their caregivers.

Let’s Go LEGO®: Hairy Maclary and Friends!

Have you ever thought about what Donaldson’s Dairy might look like if you made it out of LEGO®? Help us celebrate Hairy Maclary’s 40th birthday with this specially-themed LEGO® session at the library. Recommended for tamariki aged 5+ with their caregivers.


Can’t make it to one of our special Hairy Maclary events? Don’t worry, we have plenty of books featuring Aotearoa’s favourite pooch in our collection, including copies in te reo Māori and Chinese.

Hairy Maclary from Donaldson’s Dairy / Dodd, Lynley
“A small black dog and his canine friends are terrorized by the local tomcat.” (Catalogue)

Hairy Maclary scattercat / Dodd, Lynley
“Feeling very frisky, a little black dog enjoys chasing all the cats he meets until he comes across Scarface Claw.” (Catalogue)

Hairy Maclary and Zachary Quack / Dodd, Lynley
“Zachary Quack, a small and determined duckling, sets out to play with a rather reluctant Hairy Maclary. A ‘cat and mouse’ chase follows, with the two characters ending up peacefully snuggled together after Zachary Quack has saved a soggy Hairy Maclary from the river.” (Catalogue)

Hairy Maclary’s showbusiness / Dodd, Lynley
“When Hairy Maclary bounces and pounces his way into the cat show, his flustering and blustering bring a very unexpected result…” –Back cover.” (Catalogue)

Hairy Maclary hide and seek : a lift-the-flap book / Dodd, Lynley
“Hairy Maclary is playing hide and seek with the neighbourhood cats. Can you find him?” (Catalogue)

Hairy Maclary and friends : a touch & feel book / Dodd, Lynley
“Introduces Hairy Maclary, his canine friends and Scarface Claw, the toughest Tom in town. On board pages, with materials to touch and feel. Suggested level: preschool.” (Catalogue)

Hairy Maclary no te teri a tanarahana / Dodd, Lynley
“Ki waho i te keti te hikoitanga a Hairy Maclary no te Teri a Tanarahana …Ka haere tahi nga hoa o Hairy Maclary ki a ia mea noa ake, ka oho mai he aue, he ngawi, he ngawe, makere kau ana ta ratou omanga ke. Na te aha ra a matihao ma i marara ai? ‘Eutaki ai te tamaiti ki te ao pukapuka.’ The Times” (Catalogue)

Schnitzel Von Krumm forget-me-not / Dodd, Lynley
“Schnitzel von Krumm’s family is packing to go on holiday. The little dog meddles and snoops and gets underfoot until everyone is driven mad. At last the car is packed; seatbelts are fastened and they all set off. But when they’ve driven far out of town they stop and realise their horrible mistake. Schnitzel has been left behind!”–Publisher information.” (Catalogue)

Zachary Quack minimonster / Dodd, Lynley
“When mischievous duckling Zachary Quack meets a flicketty-quick dragonfly, he hustles it into the air. But who is really hustling who? Zachary Quack stars in his own big adventure as he chases a dragonfly through some very sticky situations.” (Catalogue)

Hairy Maclary, shoo / Dodd, Lynley
“When Hairy Maclary decides to snoop inside a parked delivery van, he’s in for a chaotic adventure. After a rattling, roaring ride, and finding himself far from home, he desperately tries to get back to the Dairy creating havoc and incurring the wrath of shopkeepers, schoolteachers and passers-by along the way.” (Catalogue)

Hairy Maclary’s caterwaul caper / Dodd, Lynley
“With a twitch of his tail and a purposeful paw, down by the river crept Scarface Claw!” (Catalogue)

World Arabic Language Day 2022!


السلام عليكم

The 18th of December marks the United Nations Arabic Language Day. Did you know that there are over 300 million native Arabic speakers worldwide? This makes the Arabic language one of the most widely spoken languages in the word.

Arabic is spoken by a diverse range of people across the African continent and the Middle East, including Sudan, Egypt, Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, Jordan, Libya, Morocco, Palestine, and many more. There are also people who live in New Zealand who come from these countries, or whose parents or grandparents come from these countries.

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International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People

On 29th November 1977 the United Nations created the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People. This day is to remind people that even though the Palestinians didn’t agree to the creation of the state of Israel in 1948 they still have human rights; the right to decide where they live, where they travel and who their government is.  Both Israelis and Palestinians have the right to live in peace. The hope of the United Nations is to build a future of peace.

In 1948 when Israel was created around 750,000 Palestinians were forced to leave their homes and become refugees (Source: United Nations). This number has grown since then and there are now more than 13 million Palestinian people in the world (Source: IMEMC). Palestinian people speak Arabic, Hebrew, English, and other varieties of Arabic. You may know Palestinian people who live in Wellington or greater New Zealand who arrived here as former refugees.

If you want to read more about Palestine, Palestinians and Israel you could look up these interactive resources:

Many famous writers and poets come from Palestine. Some of these writers are; Mahmoud Darwish, Naomi Shihab Nye and Ghassan Kanafani.

Check out the books about Palestine or by Palestinian authors in our collection. (Remember joining the library is free and if there are some books you would like us to buy you can suggest them to us: Suggestions to Buy Library Items (wcl.govt.nz)

The turtle of Oman : a novel / Nye, Naomi Shihab
“When Aref, a third-grader who lives in Muscat, Oman, refuses to pack his suitcase and prepare to move to Michigan, his mother asks for help from his grandfather, his Sidi, who takes Aref around the country, storing up memories he can carry with him to a new home.” (Catalogue)

Three wishes : Palestinian and Israeli children speak / Ellis, Deborah
“Interviews with Palestinian and Israeli children examine how the war in the Middle East has affected their lives.” (Catalogue) This book is for older children 10+

Tasting the sky : a Palestinian childhood / Barakat, Ibtisam
“When a war ends it does not go away, my mother says. It hides inside us . . . Just forget. But I do not want to do what Mother says . . . I want to remember. In this groundbreaking memoir set in Ramallah during the aftermath of the 1967 Six-Day War, Ibtisam Barakat captures what it is like to be a child whose world is shattered by war.” (Adapted from Catalogue) This book is for older children 10+

A little piece of ground / Laird, Elizabeth
“Twelve-year-old Karim Aboudi and his family are trapped in their Ramallah home by a strict curfew. Israeli tanks control the city in response to a Palestinian suicide bombing. Karim longs to play football outside with his friends. But in this city there’s constant danger. Ages 10+” (Catalogue)

Milet mini picture dictionary : English-Arabic / Turhan, Sedat
“Introduces key English and Arabic words for plants, animals, shapes, food, and other common items.” (Catalogue)

My first book of Arabic words / Kudela, Katy R
“Simple text paired with themed photos invite the reader to learn to speak Arabic.” (Catalogue)

Israel and Palestine / Gallagher, Michael
“This series is a fascinating and informative look at the historical background to world trouble spots. Each title is packed with details, photographs and maps. Ages 10-16.” (Catalogue)

Israel and Palestine / Mason, Paul
“An informed, unbiased review of some of the world’s major conflict zones Global Hot Spots aims to fill in the facts behind the headlines, developing students’ understanding of the historical context of the events they see on TV. It provides accounts of real-life experiences and looks at ‘how history was made’ in these conflict zones.” (Catalogue)