Wellington City Libraries

Te Matapihi Ki Te Ao Nui

Teen Blog

Reading, Wellington, and whatever else – teenblog@wcl.govt.nz

Month: January 2021

Tūhono: It Lives!

Poets, readers, fellow champions of the written and spoken word — hark, and listen well. The day has finally come — Tūhono, our poetry journal for young Wellingtonians, has officially been released into the world as of the 11th of January 2021. And what a world it has arrived into — civil and political unrest overseas, the spectre of a global pandemic still haunting our every step; and yet, sunshine over the hitherto stormy seas of our fair town. Tūhono, I think, captures all of that and more. Read it now on OverDrive and Libby.

We are having physical copies printed as well, so soon you’ll be able to find Tūhono 2020 on the shelf at your local public or school library. We will also be giving two copies to the National Library of New Zealand, where they will be preserved for the rest of time (the legal term is ‘in perpetuity‘) as part of the cultural heritage of this country. It’s big deal, yo.

A two-page spread from Tūhono, featuring work by Jasmine (16) and Lily (11).

As we say in the business, this is The Good Stuff.

There are some very important and cool people whom I would like to thank for their input — Stephanie Poulopoulos (my partner-in-crime, and the amazing librarian who buys all of the kids’ and teens’ books for our collection), Ligia Horta (who designed the book — what an amazing talent she is!), Monty Masseurs (who helped get everything set up online), Bridget Jennings (who wrote the catalogue record for the book, making sure you can actually find it online), and Celeste Mackintosh (who helped organise the online submissions throughout the month of November 2020). They are all very awesome librarians and we should all pay homage to their greatness and humility.

Friends, in this life, no one is 'just' a librarian.

Go forth and read! You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, and maybe — just maybe — you’ll feel connected with everyone else who put something of themselves into this incredible book.

These Violent Delights and I

Have you ever known something was going to be big before it happens?

That was the feeling I had when reserving These Violent Delights by Chloe Gong months before it came out. While talk about the book online was a consistent hum, for the longest time I was one of only three reserves, and I could not help but wonder who else was in on this not-so-secret secret.

Then late November came along, and These Violent Delights was released – and appeared on the New York Times Young Adult Bestseller list. All the local papers wanted to tell everyone who this local success story was. In a matter of days the reserve list doubled, then tripled. One thing quickly became apparent to everyone who had not seen this coming. We needed more than the three copies we originally had!

So what’s the big deal?

Let’s first start with the book. These Violent Delights is a young adult historical fantasy novel that is also a reimagining of one of Shakespeare’s most famous plays. To break it down, it’s Romeo and Juliet + gangs in 1920s Shanghai + monsters = These Violent Delights. Juliet is now Juliette Cai, heir to the Scarlet Gang, while Romeo has become Roma Montagov, heir to rivals the White Flowers.

Who could say no to a book cover like that?

Gong wrote These Violent Delights in May 2018. That’s not a typo: she started and finished her first draft in the same month, while back in Auckland for the summer break of the University of Pennsylvania. Thanks to a year’s worth of notes and the eight novels she had previously written throughout her teens Gong was able to do what most NaNoWriMo participants can only dream of doing.

With a completed manuscript in hand, Gong went in search of an agent. She found one. Together they worked on making Gong’s manuscript the best it could be before submitting to publishers. After four months of submissions, the offer came through. And then another. There were enough editors and publishers interested that the book went to auction, where they all competed to be the one that got to publish the book. A sort of Publishing Games, if you will, only much much much less violent.

Long story short, the deal was announced in February 2019 and just over a year and a half later the book hit shelves and number three on the NYT bestseller list. Right between The Hate U Give and Once Of Us Is Lying. At twenty-one, with a book she had written when she was nineteen, Chloe Gong was now one of 2020s youngest bestsellers. Plus it’s the rare example of a book for teens that was written by a teen; a funny thing as when submitting Gong was often told that These Violent Delights was more adult than young adult. It goes to show that if you have a great idea and are willing to put in the hard work as well as take the leap you too can achieve great things.

The author stares enigmatically at the camera, leaning against an ornate wall in a forest setting.

Yes, she is the coolest. Photograph © JON STUDIO

If you’re interested in reading These Violent Delights, make sure you reserve a copy today as the queue is still quite impressive. Don’t forget to mark your calendars as its sequel, Our Violent Ends, is due for release November 16, 2021.

And if you think you think you have got it in you to be the next teen bestseller from New Zealand, check out Chloe Gong’s blog post about being a youth in publishing. Her website is also full of links to articles about and interviews with Gong, while her twitter feed is full of very excellent memes.


These violent delights / Gong, Chloe

Perfect for fans of The Last Magician and Descendant of the Crane, this heart-stopping debut is an imaginative Romeo and Juliet retelling set in 1920s Shanghai, with rival gangs and a monster in the depths of the Huangpu River.

The year is 1926, and Shanghai hums to the tune of debauchery.

A blood feud between two gangs runs the streets red, leaving the city helpless in the grip of chaos. At the heart of it all is eighteen-year-old Juliette Cai, a former flapper who has returned to assume her role as the proud heir of the Scarlet Gang—a network of criminals far above the law. Their only rivals in power are the White Flowers, who have fought the Scarlets for generations. And behind every move is their heir, Roma Montagov, Juliette’s first love…and first betrayal.

But when gangsters on both sides show signs of instability culminating in clawing their own throats out, the people start to whisper. Of a contagion, a madness. Of a monster in the shadows. As the deaths stack up, Juliette and Roma must set their guns—and grudges—aside and work together, for if they can’t stop this mayhem, then there will be no city left for either to rule.

Making Sense of the World Around Us

Well, we’re a fortnight into 2021 and hoo mama what a time it has been.  It’s full on for anybody right now looking around at what is going on in the world, particularly in America, and trying to just understand what on earth it all means.  In times like these, I turn books to get answers, but I know there are so many dry and dull books out there that just make the whole topic all that more confusing!  So I thought I’d put together a bit of a list of some that are interesting and topical to help you get some answers and perspective on the events of the world around us.

Eyes wide open : going behind the environmental headlines / Fleischman, Paul

This book is an excellent explainer for the position we find our world in environmentally.  It takes a deep dive into capitalism, world politics, consumerism and our everyday lives to look at just how we got here, and how we can think about moving forward.

Hope was here / Bauer, Joan

A powerful story about a young woman finding her place in a new society and how her everyday choices draw her further into local politics.

 

 

Legacy / Hereaka, Whiti

“Seventeen-year-old Riki is worried about school and the future, but mostly about his girlfriend, Gemma, who has suddenly stopped seeing or texting him. But on his way to see her, hes hit by a bus and his life radically changes. Riki wakes up one hundred years earlier in Egypt, in 1915, and finds hes living through his great-great-grandfathers experiences in the Maori Contingent. At the same time that Riki tries to make sense of whats happening and find a way home, we go back in time and read transcripts of interviews Rikis great-great-grandfather gave in 1975 about his experiences in this war and its impact on their family. Gradually we realise the fates of Riki and his great-great-grandfather are intertwined.” (Catalogue)

Saints and misfits : a novel / Ali, S. K

Janna divides the world around her into three categories – saints, misfits and monsters, to try to make sense of the events happening in her life.  She is trying to fit into her community and deal with a recent traumatic event that she has been through.

 

The tyrant’s daughter / Carleson, J. C.

“When her father is killed in a coup, Laila and her mother and brother leave their war-torn homeland for a fresh start in the suburbs of Washington, D.C. At her new high school, Laila makes mistakes, makes friends, and even meets a boy who catches her eye. But this new life brings unsettling facts to light. The American newspapers call her father a brutal dictator and suggest that her family’s privilege came at the expense of innocent lives. Meanwhile, her mother would like nothing more than to avenge his death, and she’ll go to great lengths to regain their position of power. As an international crisis takes shape around her, Laila is pulled in one direction, then another, but there’s no time to sort out her feelings. She has to pick a side now, and her decision will affect not just her own life, but countless others. . . . Inspired by the author’s experience as a CIA officer in Iraq and Syria, this book is as timely as it is relevant.” (Catalogue)

The dharma punks / Sang, Anthony

“Auckland, New Zealand, 1994. A group of anarchist punks have hatched a plan to sabotage the opening of a multi-national fast-food restaurant by blowing it sky-high come opening day. Chopstick has been given the unenviable task of setting the bomb in the restaurant the night before the opening, but when he is separated from his accomplice, Tracy, the night takes the first of many unexpected turns. Chance encounters and events from his past conspire against him, forcing Chopstick to deal with more than just the mission at hand. Still reeling after the death of a close friend, and struggling to reconcile his spiritual path with his political actions, Chopstick’s journey is a meditation on life, love, friendship and blowing things up!” (Catalogue)

Bernie Sanders guide to political revolution / Sanders, Bernard

“Adapted for young readers from Our Revolution: A Future to Believe In, from political revolutionary and cultural icon Bernie Sanders comes an inspiring teen guide to engaging with and shaping the world–a perfect gift and an important read. Adapted for young readers from “Our Revolution: A Future to Believe In, ” this inspiring teen guide to engaging with and shaping the world is from political revolutionary and cultural icon Senator Sanders.” (Catalogue)

She takes a stand : 16 fearless activists who have changed the world / Ross, Michael Elsohn

“She Takes a Stand offers a realistic look at the game-changing decisions, high stakes, and bold actions of women and girls around the world working to improve their personal situations and the lives of others.

This inspiring collection of short biographies features the stories of extraordinary figures past and present who have dedicated their lives to fighting for human rights, civil rights, workers’ rights, reproductive rights, and world peace. Budding activists will be inspired by antilynching crusader and writerIda B. Wells, birth control educator and activist Margaret Sanger, girls-education activist Malala Yousafzai, Gulabi Gang founder Sampat Pal Devi, who fights violence against Indian women, Dana Edell, who works against the sexualization of women and girls in the media, and many others.” (Catalogue)

Dawn Raid / Smith, Pauline

“Like many 13-year-old girls, Sofia’s main worries are how to get some groovy go-go boots, and how not to die of embarrassment giving a speech at school! But when her older brother Lenny starts talking about marches and protests and overstayers, and how Pacific Islanders are being bullied by the police for their passports and papers, a shadow is cast over Sofia’s sunny teenage days. Through her heartfelt diary entries, we witness the terror of being dawn-raided and gain an insight into the courageous and tireless work of the Polynesian Panthers in the 1970s as they encourage immigrant families across New Zealand to stand up for their rights.” (Catalogue)

The rise of the Nazis / Tonge, Neil

Learn about the Nazi occupation through visually stimulating primary sources taken from the War era; readers will be engaged as they discover authentic newspapers, broadcasts, propaganda, letters, and diary entries.

 

Persepolis / Satrapi, Marjane

“The intelligent and outspoken child of radical Marxists, and the great-grandaughter of Iran’s last emperor, Satrapi bears witness to a childhood uniquely entwined with the history of her country. Persepolis paints an unforgettable portrait of daily life in Iran and of the bewildering contradictions between home life and public life. Amidst the tragedy, Marjane’s child’s eye view adds immediacy and humour, and her story of a childhood at once outrageous and ordinary, beset by the unthinkable and yet buffered by an extraordinary and loving family, is immensely moving. It is also very beautiful; Satrapi’s drawings have the power of the very best woodcuts.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Hindsight : pivotal moments in New Zealand history / Hager, Mandy

Hindsight is a good look at four key moments in New Zealand history and how they affected our society as a nation.

 

Free Photography Workshops Coming to a Library Near You

Welp, 2020 is finally over. New year, new me, fresh slate, blank page, all that. We thought we’d celebrate the beginning of a brand new year by inviting you along to Click Happy Live, a series of free photography workshops in our libraries, run by master photographer Mandi Lynn, winner of NZ Creative Photographer of the Year 2017. Here’re all the deets you need to know:

Where and when?

Te Awe Library, Tuesday 19 January 2021, 6 – 8pm
Ruth Gotlieb (Kilbirnie) Library, Saturday 30 January 2021, 10am – 3pm
Johnsonville Library, Sunday 11 April 2021, 10am – 3pm

What even is it?

Free photography workshops for young creatives aged 10-22 with an award-winning photographer! These workshops are especially for those who believe that photography and the creative arts can be used as a tool to make themselves — and the world — better. You’ll learn practical photography skills while taking part in creative challenges that will help you to build your personal style as a photographer or as a creative activist. You’ll also get a chance to win a scholarship to participate in a one-term masterclass and one term of professional mentorship with master photographer Mandi Lynn.

So how do I do the thing?

What are you waiting for? To find out more, and to register to take part, just click right on here. We can’t wait to see you there!

Photo of a smiling young man holding a DSLR camera

You could be as cool and chill as — if not cooler and chiller than — this guy! Photo courtesy of clickhappy.org.