Kids’ Activities Under Red Settings

To keep our young people and vulnerable communities safe under Red settings, we’re moving most of our programmes for children under the age of 12 and their families online! This is because even though our libraries are open, lots of our kids’ programmes, like CRAFTerschool, Code Club, and Baby Rock and Rhyme, involve lots of people getting very close together, and it’s just too tricky to provide the required social distancing for young people who can’t yet be vaccinated.

Soon, we will be starting up a whole bunch of activities and programmes, some of which you can do online, and some of which you will be able to do in a contactless way in the library, but in the meantime we thought it would be a good idea to remind you about all the awesome online resources and activities you can do with us online. If you love stories, arts and crafts, music, movies, and fun activities to do with your family, we’ve got you covered!

We have so many really cool resources available in our eLibrary! If you want to have a browse yourself you can check our our Kids’ Guide or have a look through what’s available on our Kids’ Home Page, or just read on… Continue reading

Get your tech on with Techweek 2022!

Techweek is back! It runs from 16th to 22nd May 2022 nationwide!
image courtesy of techweek


What is Techweek?

Techweek is a nationwide series of events, showcasing and celebrating New Zealand innovation. Techweek has a mixture of live, virtual and hybrid events, both physical and virtual, that can be attended and enjoyed from anywhere in the world!

The theme for Techweek 2022 is “connect for a better tomorrow.”

For more information about Techweek and what events are on, visit the website.

Some highlights you might like to explore include a talk with Dr Michelle Dickinson, the Founder of Nanogirl Labs, about STEM in Schools, and an introductory Scratch coding virtual project with Code Club Aotearoa.

In the mean time, if you want information on the latest technology and innovations, why not check out the following books in the library collection?!

Enjoy!

image courtesy of syndeticsSTEAM jobs for gamers.

Do you love playing video games? Did you know you can get a job helping to create one? There are more jobs for those who love gaming than you probably ever realized. From animators to script writers, readers will learn about various STEM and STEAM gaming jobs and what it takes to get one– Provided by publisher.

image courtesy of syndeticsThe zoom, fly, bolt, blast steam handbook : build 18 innovative projects with brain power.

Rockport’s creative engineering extraordinaire, Lance Akiyama, returns again with Zoom, Fly Bolt, Blast STEAM Engineer and 18 STEAM approved projects to get kids doing, thinking, and building!– Provided by publisher.

image courtesy of syndeticsSelf-driving cars : the new way forward.

“Author Fallon presents a history of how the technology used in self-driving cars has developed, identifies recent technological gains, and surveys recent controversies surrounding the potential mass adoption of self-driving cars.”–Provided by publisher.

image courtesy of syndeticsSTEAM lab for kids : 52 creative hands-on projects using science, technology, engineering, art, and math.

“The creative projects in STEAM Lab for Kids are designed to demonstrate that there’s math and science to be found in great art! From rubber bands to edible stained glass, young engineers and artists alike will find inspiration in these 52 art-forward labs.” — Back cover. Also available as an eBook.


image courtesy of syndeticsVirtual reality.

“Engaging images accompany information about virtual reality. The combination of high-interest subject matter and light text is intended for students in grades 2 through 7” — Provided by publisher.

image courtesy of syndeticsThe science of medical technology : from humble syringes to life-saving robots.

“This fascinating guide to the ever-growing potential of medical technologies combines fact-packed, easy-to-read text with colourful and quirky illustrations. From an exploration of how new devices are helping to spot early signs of illness to a discussion of how vaccinations have helped to eradicate devastating diseases, it is an eye-opening introduction to the miraculous power of preventative and curative medicine.Each spread has multiple entry points, including an introductory paragraph, illustrations and side panels such as Fascinating Fact, Can You Believe It?, and Try It Yourself, which provide additional information and handy advice.” (Catalogue).

Please search our catalogue for more information about technology here:

Gasav Ne Fäeag Rotuạm Ta: Rotuman Language Week 2022

Noaʻia ʻe mḁuri gagaj ʻatakoa! Welcome to Gasav Ne Fäeag Rotuạm Ta | Rotuman Language Week 2022.

Poster courtesy of the Ministry for Pacific Peoples.

What is Rotuman Language Week?

New Zealand is the only country in the world where the languages and culture of our Pasifika cousins are celebrated. Fäeag Rotuạm, the Rotuman language, is the first of nine Pasifika language weeks this year, and it runs from the 8th May – 14th May 2022. Rotuma Day itself was on the 6th of May.

Where is Rotuma you ask? The main island of Rotuma is about 13km by 4km and is about 580km from Fiji’s capital, Suva. Rotuma is a dependency of Fiji, so Rotumans will usually speak Fijian and English too! There are about 2000 Rotumans living on the island, and 10,000 living in mainland Fiji and globally.

More information about Rotuma Day and the history of Routma can be heard in this article from Radio NZ.

This year’s theme for Gasav Ne Fäeag Rotuạm Ta is:

Vetḁkia ‘os Fäega ma Ag fak hanua – Sustaining our Language and Culture.

In these times, when it sometimes feels like things are just moving too fast, we think this is a wonderful idea to reflect on.

So how do you speak Rotuman?

Well, Rotumans roll their ‘R’s and pronounce ‘G’ with a smooth ‘ing’ sound, similar to how ‘ng’ is pronounced in te reo Māori.

Here are some key phrases in Rotuman [Row-too-man]:
Noa’ia [Noah-e-yah]= Hello, greetings.
Ka ‘äe tapen? [Car eh tar-pen] = How are you?
Gou lelei fḁiåksia [Ngou leh-lay for-yak-see-yah] = I am well thank you.
Figalelei [Fee-nga-leh-lay] = Please
Fḁiåksia [Foyak-see-yah] = Thank you
Hanis ma röt’åk [Hah-niece mah röt-ack] = Sorry
La’ ma ḁlalum [Lah mah aw-lah-loom] = Goodbye (only to those leaving)
Fu’ ma ḁlalum [Foo mah aw-lah-loom] = Goodbye (only to those staying)

Find more words and phrases in this language guide produced by the Ministry for Pacific Peoples.

The Ministry for Pacific Peoples provides great resources and information about our Pasifika languages and cultural events. Visit the official NZ Rotuman Language Week Facebook page, and the official website, for more information about Rotuman Language Week 2022!

Book Endings: The Way You Want Them to Be!

Apples and Oranges - Kids Environment Kids Health - National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences

Which would you choose?

Is the way a book ends important to you? Do you sometimes wish that you could write the ending so that the book finishes just the way you want it to? Or do you sometimes wonder what would happen to the story if the main character chose a different path to the one they did choose?

You sound like a perfect candidate for reading ‘choose your own ending’ books. These books give you alternatives.  They might say something like: “If you think this happens, turn to page XX, but if you want this to happen, turn to page XXX”.

Then everyone’s happy! You get the ending you want, and the hero or heroine gets to fight another day (or not, depending on what you choose!).

Oh the power! So… let’s get started:


If you like adventure non-fiction books with a you-choose ending, try these:

You Choose book series

Here are a couple of examples of action adventure books from this nail-biting series:

Could you escape a deserted island? : an interactive survival adventure / Hoena, B. A
“When an adventure at sea goes awry, the reader’s choices determine if survival is possible for two friends marooned on a desert island with a deflated raft and few supplies.” (Catalogue)

Surviving Mount Everest : an interactive extreme sports adventure / Hoena, B. A
“Since the beginning of time, we have been fascinated with heights. Mount Everest, therefore, is at the tip top of our fascination. In this tale, you call the shots in trying to conquer dizzying heights. Each decision becomes more important than the last as you climb higher and higher. Will you make it? Will you fall? Will you survive at all? YOU CHOOSE how this adventure ends. — back cover.” (Catalogue)


If you like adventure fiction, try these:

Choose Your Own Adventure book series

Here’s a couple of adventures you won’t want to miss the ending/s of:

House of danger / Montgomery, R. A
“You are a successful young detective, and the creepy Marsden residence and its missing owner have haunted you more than any other case. Maybe this is a sign you shouldn’t continue? Do you call in your best friends for support? Or perhaps you should turn to the police for help? Are you ready to take on mutant chimpanzees, time travel, and a counterfeiting ring to solve the case? House of Danger takes YOU on a thrilling adventure investigating criminal activity and a dark history in your town!” (Catalogue)

Journey under the sea / Montgomery, R. A
“Did the lost city of Atlantis really exist? Or is it just a myth? You are a highly experienced deep sea explorer, buut your search for the lost city of Atlantis is the trip of a lifetime. You must make choices necessary to go deeper, hoping one will lead you to your quarry, the mythical lost continent of Atlantis. Choose from forty-two possible endings.” (Catalogue)


Or maybe Sci-fi and fantasy is your jam?

Fighting Fantasy gamebooks

Starship Traveller / Jackson, Steve
“Sucked through the nightmare of the Seltsian Void, the starship Traveller emerges at the other side of the black hole into an unknown universe. You are the captain of the Traveller and her fate depends on you. Will you be able to discover the way back to Earth from the alien peoples and planets you encounter?” (Catalogue)

Spellbreaker / Green, Jonathan
“Rassin Abbey has guarded its arcane treasures for centuries. But when their Black Grimoire spellbook is stolen, the land of Ruddlestone is plunged into a crisis of epic proportions. Should the legendary Casket of Shadows be opened, the Infernal Beast will be unleashed to wreak its terrible carnage across the Old World.” (Catalogue)


Are you into your sports? These extreme sport adventures might be just for you:

You Choose: Surviving Extreme Sports

Surviving the Iditarod : an interactive extreme sports adventure / Jacobsmeyer, Nicki
“Set in the Alaskan wilds, the Iditarod is one of the most extreme races on the planet. As the musher and leader of a high-powered dog sledding team, choosing the right lead dog is just the first of your important decisions. From there, each choice you make will affect whether you come in first, fifth, last, or not at all. You choose how this adventure ends.” (Catalogue)

Surviving the Le Mans auto race : an interactive extreme sports adventure / Hoena, B. A
“The Le Mans auto race in France is a true test of endurance, and as you sit behind the wheel of a high-powered racecar, you’re in control. The decisions you make may take you across the finish line as a champion–or send you careening off course. Will you find a way to win–or even survive? YOU CHOOSE how this adventure story ends.” (Catalogue)

View Finders Beanstack Challenge!

This April School Holidays, take part in our View Finders Photography Challenge! 

We have a holiday challenge for you on our Beanstack platform!

This Beanstack challenge will guide you down the path of learning about photography so that you can get your submissions in before the deadline of the 1st of May — and there are some cool spot prizes for people who complete book reviews and take part in activities. We’re choosing a random book reviewer or challenge completer EVERY DAY to win a spot prize, so don’t miss out!

To jump right into Beanstack, click here! 🎞

Our Beanstack challenge is full of tips and activities to help you take great portraits of people, find flora and fauna in our wonderful city, and get inspired by excellent object photography!

Beanstack challenges

Some of the digital badges you can earn on our Beanstack!


For our photo competition, we’re taking submissions in three categories: Nature, Whānau, and Objects/Books, and in two age groups, 5-12 and 13-18.

The first prize for each category is a reusable Kodak film camera, some black-and-white film roll, and free development with Splendid Photo!

The Beanstack activities lead to a link to enter your own photos.

We look forward to seeing your photos and hearing the story behind them! You may want to display your photo at your local branch library at the end of the competition.

View Finders 1st Place Category Prizes

Our 1st place category prizes! You could win your very own film camera!


Special thanks to our friends at Splendid Photo, who are helping us to judge the competition, and Ben & Jerry’s Wellington, Light House Cinema, and Unity Books, who are kindly providing us with spot prizes to give away. Ka rawe!

Cuddle your Teddy Bear in Troubling Times!

Teddy twins reading in the library. Image: Sue Jane

Why are teddy bears so popular with children and adults alike? Is it because they can be your softest, most huggable companions?! You can hug them for as long as you want, and in return get the best ‘cuddly’ feel ever. Their soft fur and smooth textures make you feel better and immediately cheers you up. Psychologists refer to them as “comfort objects,” and they can help us feel a greater sense of security when moving from one life stage to another, or when things get a little sad and scary.

We love our teddy bears so much that there’s even a Teddy Bears’ Picnic Day to help celebrate your special friend.


Some of our best loved bear stories are based on real events, and, sadly, these events are often about war and conflict. Here are just a few that will make you want to cuddle up with your own teddy and get reading:

Winnie the Pooh

Everyone knows about Winnie the Pooh, but did you know that these stories came about because of a real bear called Winnie? The real Winnie was a black bear who was brought to England from Canada with a vet on his way to World War 1.

Finding Winnie : the story of the real bear who inspired Winnie-the-Pooh / Mattick, Lindsay
“Before there was Winnie-the-Pooh, there was a real bear named Winnie. Here begins the moving true story of the real bear named Winnie adopted by soldiers during World War 1, and the inspiration behind the nation’s best-loved bear, Winnie-the-Pooh. In 1914, Harry Colebourn, a vet on his way to tend horses in World War 1, followed his heart and rescued a baby bear. He named her Winnie, and he took her to war. Harry Colebourn’s real-life great-granddaughter tells the true story of a remarkable friendship and an even more remarkable journey – from the fields of Canada to an army base in England …and finally to London Zoo, where Winnie made another new friend – a boy named Christopher Robin Milne” (Catalogue)

This amazing story has also been published as a chapter book:

Winnie’s Great War / Mattick, Lindsay
“Everyone has heard of Winnie-the-Pooh, but not everyone knows about the real Canadian bear who lent him her name. This is a wonderful tale of courage and friendship, for fans of Michael Morpurgo. Come on a heart-warming adventure, inspired by the journey undertaken by an extraordinary bear called Winnie during World War One.” (Catalogue)

 Anzac Ted

Anzac Ted, tells the story of a teddy bear, that was taken to the front line in World War 1 and then passed through the generations. Although this book is fictional, many ANZAC soldiers did in fact take treasured toys to the front line as a reminder of home and happier times.

Anzac Ted / Landsberry, Belinda
“Anzac Ted is the powerful, poignant story of a little boy’s teddy bear that was passed down to him from his grandfather. Battered, torn, missing an eye and an ear, he might look scary but he’s got a great story to tell. For Anzac Ted went to war, keeping soldiers company and giving them comfort. And while he never won a medal, and now doesn’t even attract a single vote at classroom Toy Shows, if only everyone looked a little deeper: ‘They’d see a hero, plain as day who sits upon my bed. A hero, who saved me and you. His name …is Anzac Ted.’ While several children’s picture books cover the world wars, none has ever made the conflict so accessible to children by telling the story of a bear who went to war. Belinda’s exquisite watercolour illustrations combine with her rhyming text to create a book that, while perfect for parents and teachers to share with children, is also guaranteed to touch the heart of every adult.” (Catalogue)

Josef’s Bear

Josef’s bear is a little wooden bear that was his father’s. This story is set in Germany just after World War 2…

Josef’s bear / Beames, Margaret
“It is Germany in 1948 and the war is over, but 11-year-old Josef still dreams of finding his father. All he has to remember him by is a little wooden bear. When Josef’s home in Berlin was destroyed during the war, he was rescued by Helga, a farmer’s wife, but now Josef is driven from the farm by Helga’s husband. With the bear in his pocket and a pistol in his pack, he heads for Berlin. In the war-ravaged city, now in the throes of the Russian blockade, he is befriended by Elsa and 6-year-old Trudi. Survival is a daily struggle, made possible by the Allied airlift. Josef tries to find work, while continuing to search for his father, and is drawn into an attempt to smuggle a German scientist, wanted by the Russians, out of Berlin. When he meets the Professor and sees a collection of hand-carved animals in his room he realises his search is over – but the house is burning, the Russians are closing in and the only way out is over the roof-tops” (Catalogue)

Pink Rabbit

You couldn’t call Pink Rabbit a teddy Bear, but it is still a cuddly and much-loved soft toy. The book “When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit” is also set in World War 2 and is based on the true story of the book’s author, Judith Kerr. In the book Anna has to choose which toy she wishes to take with her when her family flee their home. She opts to take her new woolly dog, and leave behind her pink rabbit toy, believing she will return to Berlin after a short time. It is from this that the title is derived as she considers that Hitler and the Nazis have “stolen” her much-loved toy.

When Hitler stole pink rabbit / Kerr, Judith
“Suppose your country began to change. Suppose that without your noticing, it became dangerous for some people to live in Germany any longer. Suppose you found, to your complete surprise, that your own father was one of those people. That is what happened to Anna in 1933. She was nine years old when it began, too busy with her schoolwork and toboganning to take much notice of political posters, but out of them glared the face of Adolf Hitler, the man who would soon change the whole of Europe — starting with her own small life. Anna suddenly found things moving too fast for her to understand. One day, her father was unaccountably missing. Then she herself and her brother Max were being rushed by their mother, in alarming secrecy, away from everything they knew — home and schoolmates and well-loved toys — right out of Germany!” (Catalogue)


Leave a poppy

Online Cenotaph of the Auckland War Memorial

image courtesy of rsa.co.nzIf you want to do some searching for family members who fought for New Zealand in World War I or World War II, the Online Cenotaph of the Auckland War Memorial is a great resource. You can even lay a virtual poppy on the wall of a loved one, or the UNKNOWN WARRIOR



And some of our furry friends have overcome scary times to give their humans comfort:

Edward Tulane

The miraculous journey of Edward Tulane / DiCamillo, Kate
“Edward Tulane, a cold-hearted and proud toy rabbit, loves only himself until he is separated from the little girl who adores him and travels across the country, acquiring new owners and listening to their hopes, dreams, and histories.” (Catalogue)

Lockdown Bear

There’s a bear in the window / Pitman-Hayes, June
“There’s a bear in the window of the house across the street. It’s tall and round, with great big feet! I wonder what I would see if I were that bear, and that bear were me? From singer-songwriter June Pitman-Hayes comes a story told in both English and Māori that celebrates the great teddy bear hunt, that entertained thousands of children during lockdown in 2020” (Catalogue)

Paper Planes Go Global

Do you like making and folding paper planes (sometimes called paper darts)? You’re not alone! Every year in March, paper dart enthusiasts from around the world compete in the Red Bull Paper Wings Competition for paper planes folded out of an A4 piece of paper – no engines or fuel allowed. In 2022 nearly 500 people from 62 countries competed in three categories:

  • Distance: 50 metres is the distance to beat in 2022… so far
  • Hangtime: 14.80 seconds is the longest time in the air in the 2022 competition… so far
  • Aerobatics: An online contest of fancy moves and innovative design

In New Zealand our national finals event was held at Motat (Museum of Transport and Technology) in Auckland, on Saturday 26 March where the finalists competed in two categories, distance and hangtime. Dan Kingsley from Auckland won the hangtime category sending his paper plane gliding above for 7.93 seconds; and Bailey Parsons, also from Auckland, won the distance category with his 43m throw. Both Dan and Bailey will be off to the Paper Wings World Final in Salzburg, Austria on 13 and 14 May 2022.

Meet the Kiwis representing NZ in the global paper plane throwing competition

Check out some fun flight facts and detail:

Paper Airplane Folding Designs

Fantastic Fundamentals of Flight

How Planes Fly

Bird Flight Facts


You can hone your paper plane making and flying skills with these great reads from our shelves:

Paper airplanes! / Zoo, Keith
“Show-How Guides are joyful primers for curious minds-collectible, visual, step-by-step handbooks that teach the skills every kid should know! This pocket-sized 101 series introduces kids of all ages to the perennial talents, hobbies, skills, and hands-on activities they’ll treasure for a lifetime. Each book includes a curated collection of essential skills and every step is illustrated, allowing kids to truly and easily master the basics, regardless of how they learn. Finally, fun and friendly tutorials you can understand at a glance! Show-How Guides are an affordable stocking stuffer, birthday gift, or impulse buy. Want to fly? This Show-How Guide gives you the know-how on paper airplanes. Through illustrated, step-by-step tutorials on eleven essential models (plus key tips and tricks), you’ll quickly and easily master folding and flying skills. What are you waiting for? Get off to a flying start!” (Catalogue)

Unlock your imagination
“Provides instruction for games, crafts, performances, puzzles, and other activities from running a lemonade stand to starting a newspaper.” (Catalogue)

Paper planes / Worland, Steve
“One paper plane flies straight and fast and true. Dylan’s. Twelve-year-old Dylan Webber lives in outback Western Australia in a small country town. When he discovers he has a talent for folding and flying paper planes, Dylan begins a journey to reach the World Junior Paper Plane Championships in Japan. Along the way he makes unlikely new friends, clashes with powerful rivals and comes to terms with his family’s past before facing his greatest challenge – to create a paper plane that will compete with the best in the world.” (Catalogue)

The science of flight : the air-mazing truth about planes and helicopters / Graham, Ian
“This fascinating guide to how humans mastered the power of flight combines fact-packed, easy-to-read text with colourful illustrations, From hot air balloons and the Wright brothers to today’s super-fast jets, this is an introduction to the mechanics and marvels of flight. Each spread has multiple entry points, including an introductory paragraph, illustrations and handy advice.” (Catalogue)

Higher, steeper, faster : the daredevils who conquered the skies / Goldstone, Lawrence
“The pioneers of early flight performed death-defying feats and broke new technological ground as they took to the skies to thrill crowds and advance the boundaries of human innovation”–Provided by publisher.” (Catalogue)

How birds fly / Williams, Nick
“This series helps to answer some of the most fascinating questions about the natural world, showing how nature works and all its amazing aspects. Encourages investigative skills and scientific enquiry. Ages 8+.” (Catalogue)

 

View Finders Photo Competition

This April School Holidays, tell us a story by taking a photo!

From the 16th of April to the 1st of May, we’re running View Findersa photo competition for tamariki and rangatahi across Wellington City. There are heaps of cool prizes to be won — and a special exhibition to take part in at the end!

We’re taking submissions in three categories: Nature, Whānau, and Objects/Books, and in two age groups, 5-12 and 13-18.

Don’t forget to check out our special View Finders Beanstack Challenge to earn spot prizes, log your reading, and do some simple activities to get your photography skills into top gear for the competition!

Submissions for View Finders are now closed! We will be announcing the winners on the 13th of May — keep an eye on this blog for updates!

Nature:

Take a picture of something that blows your mind in a local park, down at the beach, or high in the hills! See what flora and fauna you can discover in the great outdoors of Aotearoa.

While you’re out and about, you might want to check out iNaturalist NZ – Mātaki Taiao, which is an app that you can use to record what you see in the natural world! There is also an annual City Nature Challenge for Pōneke/Wellington where us locals can make a big effort to see what we can find!

Whānau:

In a literal sense, whānau means family in Te Reo Māori, and is based on shared whakapapa and descent from a common ancestor.

Whānau is also used by non-Māori to talk about their family. Sometimes, Whānau is used to describe groups of people who come together bound by a common purpose, this could also be called whānau ā kaupapa.

So, for our photo competition, you can take a picture that tells a story about your family, or you can take a broader view of whānau to tell a story about a team or group you are involved in, or even a group of friends.

Objects or Books:

Tell us a story about a physical object that is important to you. It could be a cherished toy, or your comfiest couch! Maybe the object would even be a book (we do love books at the library!) With ComicFest coming up on May 7th, you could find a creative way to photograph your favourite comic book, maybe by putting it in a funny or unexpected location!


View Finders

Get your phone, tablet, or camera at the ready!


You can enter once per category. If anyone else appears in your photo, make sure you have permission to share it with us.

We look forward to seeing your photos and hearing the story behind them! You may want to display your photo at your local branch library at the end of the competition.

Special thanks to our friends at Splendid Photo, who are helping us to judge the competition, and Ben & Jerry’s Wellington, Light House Cinema, and Unity Books, who are kindly providing us with spot prizes to give away. Ka rawe!

Feel the Beat with World Piano Day!

File:Cartoon Piano Keyboard.jpg - Wikimedia Commons

Tuesday 29 March is World Piano Day! Interesting… why today you ask? It’s because 29 March is 88 days into the year, and the humble piano has 88 keys – 52 white keys and 36 black keys.

brown piano interior keys

Hammers inside a piano. Image: Unsplash

A Brief History

The piano was invented by Bartolomeo Cristofori (1655-1731) of Italy. Cristofori was unsatisfied by the lack of control that musicians had over the volume level of the harpsichord. He is credited for switching out the plucking mechanism with a hammer to create the modern piano in around the year 1700. By using hammers to hit the piano strings, he could create a loud or soft sound depending on how hard he hit the keys. This method is still used today and is called “the action” of the piano.

How did the piano get its name?

The instrument was actually first named “clavicembalo col piano e forte” (literally, a harpsichord that can play soft and loud noises). This was shortened to the now common name, “piano.”

What’s the difference between an upright and grand piano?

Upright or Grand: What Type of Piano Is Right For You? - Merriam Music - Toronto's Top Piano Store & Music SchoolGrand piano strings lie horizontal to the ground. Once a hammer has struck the string, gravity does the work of resetting the hammer. The quicker you can reset a hammer, the faster you can play that note again. So yes, on average, grands play faster than uprights.

Upright strings lie, well… upright! So once a hammer strikes a string, it relies on a series of complex mechanisms to reset the hammer.

Fun Piano Facts

  • By the time a piano is put together it can be quite heavy. A Steinway Concert Grand can weigh up to 500 kg – about the same weight as an adult horse!
  • The largest piano is the ‘Alexander Piano’ is  5.7 metres long, and weighs around one tonne. That’s over twice the length of your usual concert grand piano, and weighs almost as much as a small car.
  • Piano playing is sometimes referred to as “tickling the ivories”. That’s because originally the white piano keys were made from ivory. but this has changed since the ivory trade has been banned to save elephants and rhinos from extinction. Black keys were originally made from the black hardwood ebony. These days modern piano keys are coated in a hard plastic.

Becoming a Concert Pianist

Becoming a concert pianist requires loads of dedication and hard work. On average, it takes most concert pianists 15+ years, 3-5 hours a day of  practice, and quite a bit of study to achieve their goals!

Check out this video of New Zealand pianist Richard Farrell performing in 1952. He was widely thought of as one of the most talented pianists in the world when his life was tragically cut short in a car accident in 1958, when he was only 31 years old.

Want to dig deeper into the piano world?

Blog: What are piano keys made of and why?

Johnsonville Library’s Lockdown 2020 Quarantunes (with library staff playing the piano and other instruments)

Piano sheet music for kids

Britannica Kids – the piano

New Zealand Pianists

Kids’ Blog: Reaching for the Stars – What Makes a Champion?


Want to read more piano books?

My first piano book / Helsby, Genevieve
“Following the success of “My First Classical Music Book,” author Genevieve Helsby and illustrator Jason Chapman return with “My First Piano Book.” Bursting with life and humour, this is a uniquely comprehensive introduction to the piano, designed first and foremost to inspire. Text and illustrations are so perfectly in tune with each other that every page is a treat to explore. With a cast of animal characters showing what they know (and what they don’t!), this truly is both informative and great fun. Book and two CDs, with online music, and narration. Part 1: “Why is the Piano So Special?” How the piano works and sounds. 23 music tracks including: Bach – Prelude in C; Mozart – Piano Concerto No. 21; Joplin – The Entertainer; Debussy – Clair de lune; Faure – Berceuse; John Cage – Perilous Night No. 6; Satie – Gymnopedie No. 1 Part 2: “How Do I Play It?” A clear introduction to playing the piano. Play along with 12 specially written pieces with “Guide Me” narration option.” (Catalogue)

The bear and the piano / Litchfield, David
“One day, a young bear stumbles upon something he has never seen before in the forest. As time passes, he teaches himself how to play the strange instrument, and eventually the beautiful sounds are heard by a father and son who are picnicking in the woods. The bear goes with them on an incredible journey to New York, where his piano playing makes him a huge star. He has fame, fortune and all the music in the world, but he misses the friends and family he has left behind. A moving tale of exploration and belonging.” (Catalogue)

Easy piano pieces for children.
“The compositions in Easy Piano Pieces for Children have all been carefully selected for the beginner pianist. Over 100 selections in this songbook are progressively graded, with editorial markings and suggested fingering, allowing beginner children to learn with specially selected songs that they will enjoy playing. This large songbook includes classic favorites by Mozart, Debussy and Grieg, piano miniatures by Schumann, Arensky and Turk, as well as selections from Bartok’s For Children, among many others. Each piece is graded with a star to indicate difficulty, while a glossary of music symbols and a keyboard chart are included to help early students with note and key recognition.” (Catalogue)

The piano and other keyboard instruments / Storey, Rita
“Introduces children to groups of musical instruments and how they make music with them.” (Catalogue)

The piano recital / Miyakoshi, Akiko
“It’s the day of Momo’s very first piano recital, and she is terribly nervous. Today is the day of a little mouseling’s very first performance, too, and she’s just as nervous as Momo. The mouseling invites Mom to watch her performance. Momo follows the mouseling through a small door backstage, where she’s met with an amazing sight: an elaborate miniature theatre, and an audience of finely dressed mice! When the Grand Mouse-ter takes the stage, a hush falls over the crowd and a magical show unfolds – a circus, a magic act, acrobats! Momo is delighted. And when it’s the mouseling’s turn to take the stage, Momo soothes her little friend’s nerves – her own now long forgotten – and accompanies her on piano. As Momo finishes her piece and gives a bow, she’s surprised to see that her audience isn’t furry and miniature, but human! And they’re all clapping – for her! A proud Momo is quite sure she can hear mouse paw-clapping, too…” (Catalogue)

Elton John / Sánchez Vegara, Ma Isabel
“As a child, Elton started playing his grandmothers piano in Harrow, London. He could pick tunes out by ear and was soon attending lessons at the Royal Academy. After answering an advertisement in a newspaper, Elton teamed up with a lyric-writing buddy: Bernie Taupin. The rest was history. Elton’s songwriting talent, musical skill and dazzling outfits have made him one of the all-time greats. This moving book features stylish and quirky illustrations and extra facts at the back, including a biographical timeline with historical photos and a detailed profile of the musician’s life.” (Catalogue)

Children’s songs : a superfast way to learn awesome songs on your piano or keyboard / Kemmeter, Jennifer
“A fun and easy way to learn to play the piano or keyboard, with helpful instruction on classic and favorite songs. Written by the author of the best-selling Build It! series in collaboration with an experienced piano teacher, the Play It! books teach how to play the piano or keyboard in a simple, effective way. Using color-coded notes and character icons, the books include piano sheets of popular and favorite songs as well as a primer on how to read sheet music and some basic techniques. For beginners ages 5 and up, Play It! is the perfect companion on your musical journey.” (Catalogue)

Too Precious to Lose: Celebrating our Forests

Kahikitea Forest, West Coast NZ. Image: Sue Jane

Tuesday 21 March marks International Day of Forests. The 2022 theme is

“Too Precious to Lose”

which I think we can all agree is a very good theme! We often take trees, forests and natural areas for granted, but without them we simply wouldn’t survive. Trees are truly amazing (a word I’ll use often in this post!) 🙂

Here are some fun facts about our amazing trees:

  • Forests influence and slow climate change mainly by affecting the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.
  • An average mature tree can absorb almost 36% of rainfall it comes in contact with.
  • Forests are helpful in improving water quality by extracting pollutants through tree roots.
  • More than ¼ of all medicines we use originate in rainforests.
  • The largest tree-dwelling mammal is the orang-utan.
  • The General Sherman Giant Redwood Tree is the largest in the world at 1,487 cubic metres. A coast redwood from California is the tallest tree in the world with an incredible height of 115.61 metres. It is called Hyperion.
  • Forests are home to 80% of the world’s land-based biodiversity – the variety of living things in any given place – with more than 60,000 tree species alone.
  • Forests cycle water between the soil and the atmosphere and help make rain
  • Trees also produce oxygen for us to breathe.

Weird but true!

Trees actually talk to each other! Not in the way we think about ‘talking’, but scientists believe there’s enough evidence to show that there is communication going on in the forests. Scientists have nicknamed this phenomenon “The Wood-Wide Web“! Here’s an interesting vid that explains all:

How can I help save the trees?

You can help protect our forests. When you visit a forest be sure to keep all of your rubbish with you, keep on the tracks to avoid damaging plants, roots, and spreading diseases and get your hands dirty by volunteering to plant, weed, or control pests.


Wellington City Libraries have lots of resources to help you with your quest to protect our trees. Follow these simple steps on our website to find out more:

1. Click on Kids’ Search from the search drop-down on the Wellington City Libraries landing page

 

2. Scroll down to “Explore New Zealand topics” and find “Nature”. Click on each button to find lots of library resources that have been gathered together by our librarians. Enjoy!


Trees are AMAZING! Why not explore further with these resources from our catalogue:

The wonder of trees / Davies, Nicola
“Did you know that there are over 60,000 tree species? This stunning book explores the extraordinary diversity of trees and forests – the lungs of our earth. A glorious celebration of trees by non-fiction specialist Nicola Davies, illustrated by rising star Lorna Scobie, creators of the beautiful THE VARIETY OF LIFE. There is something to delight on every page with fascinating facts and figures. This exquisite book will encourage children to treasure the world’s biodiversity and help to stop it slipping away.” (Catalogue)
Deep roots : how trees sustain our planet / Tate, Nikki
“Presents facts about trees, explaining how they maintain a vibrant ecosystem and provide food, fuel, and shelter for people across the globe.” (Catalogue)
Trees : kings of the forest / Hirsch, Andy
“In Trees we follow an acorn as it learns about its future as Earth’s largest, longest-living plant. Starting with the seed’s germination, we learn about each stage until the tree’s maturation, different types of trees, and the roles trees take on in our ecosystem.” (Catalogue)
The wisdom of trees : how trees work together to form a natural kingdom / Judge, Lita
“A lyrical and informational nonfiction picture book that tells the story of trees and the hidden ecosystems they create” (Catalogue)
The giving tree / Silverstein, Shel
“A young boy grows to manhood and old age experiencing the love and generosity of a tree which gives to him without thought of return. Suggested level: junior, primary.” (Catalogue)

Earthkids: New Zealand conservation stories, activities and games by Andrew CroweEarthkids : New Zealand conservation stories, activities and games / Crowe, Andrew
“Describes efforts by New Zealanders to protect the environment and wildlife. Includes puzzles, quizzes and projects such as making a bird feeder, paper, a mobile and more. Suggested level: primary, intermediate, junior secondary.” (Catalogue)

Celebrate Nowruz 2022 at the Library!

Nowruz Mobarak!  aidé shomā mobārak!

!عيد نو روز مبارک Bayramiz Mubarah! nowruzetoon peerooz!  !نوروز پيروز

Happy Nowruz! May your new year be victorious!

What is Nowruz?

Nowruz (also known as Nauryz, Navruz, or Nowrouz) is the Persian New Year, but you don’t have to be Persian to celebrate it! This year, Nowruz is taking place in New Zealand on Monday 21 March. More than 300 million people worldwide celebrate Nowruz, and have celebrated it for more than 3,000 years, from the Balkans to the Black Sea Basin, to the Middle East and elsewhere.

Nowruz means “new day” in Farsi (the language predominantly spoken in Iran), and it occurs on the first day of Spring. While it’s a secular holiday for most people, it remains a holy day for Zoroastrians, Baháʼís, and some Muslims. The main countries that celebrate Nowruz are Afghanistan, Albania, Azerbaijan, Georgia, India, Iran, Iraq, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkey, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.

Nowruz “promotes the values of peace and solidarity between generations and within families,” the United Nations says. It’s a time of reconciliation and neighbourliness, “contributing to cultural diversity and friendship among peoples and different communities.” We think this is something that we definitely need more of all over the world. Wellington City Libraries would like to wish you all “Nowruzetoon Peerooz — نوروز پيروز — May your new year be victorious!

From the Catalogue!

To help you and your family find out more about Nowruz, or about the people and cultures who celebrate it, we have put together this list of books to get you started:

Seven special somethings : a Nowruz story / Khorram, Adib
“Kian can’t wait for Persian New Year! His family has already made a haft-seen, and Kian’s baba and maman told him that all the things on it start with S and will bring them joy in the new year. Kian wonders if he could add just one more S, to make his family even happier. […] Can Kian find seven special somethings to make a new haft seen before his family arrives for their Nowruz celebration?” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The big book of festivals / Bullock, Marita
“From tomato-throwing parties to graveside picnics, fire-walking ceremonies, crying baby competitions and the biggest bathing festival on Earth – this book introduces you to some of the world’s most incredible cultural and religious celebrations. Some festivals are outrageously fun and joyful, others are more serious. All of them bring people together to mark big events in life.So join us in this riotous explosion of colour as we feast, sing, cry and celebrate the diversity of festivals and traditions this wonderful world of ours has to offer!” (Catalogue)

Mā dārīm mīrīam shikār-i khirs = We’re going on a bear hunt / Rosen, Michael
Read this classic children’s tale, here told in Persian, the national language of Iran! You can find more children’s books in Persian on our catalogue here!

A treasury of Turkish folktales for children / Walker, Barbara K
“Thirty-four Turkish folk tales about jinns and giants, padishahs and peasants, and beloved heroes such as Keloglan the bald boy.” (Catalogue)

My Grandma and me / Javaherbin, Mina
“In a true tale of a young girl in Iran and her grandmother, this beautiful ode to family celebrates small moments of love that become lifelong memories.” (Catalogue)

Pea boy and other stories from Iran / Laird, Elizabeth
“A wonderful collection of traditional stories from Iran retold by an award-winning author who knows the country intimately.” (Catalogue)