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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.

 

A Very Special Message for our Teen Writers

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern recently sent a very kind message of encouragement for our WCL Teen Writers, following their huge success participating in the Camp NaNoWriMo April 2020 Challenge, in which they collectively wrote well over 100,000 words in their bid to write a whole novel over a month of isolation. Here’s what the Prime Minister had to say:

I want to pass on a quick message to everyone involved in the WCL Teen Writers group — and I want to start by saying thanks.

Right now, we’re living through really challenging and uncertain times, and for many people, it’s been tough. I know young people are facing their own unique challenges, from adjusting to distance learning, giving up special occasions like school balls, and not being able to meet up with your friends, but so many of you have put in an amazing effort and played your part to help keep this virus under control. Thanks for this — it’s so important.

I was interested to hear about your online writing group, the work you’re doing, and the support you provide each other. This is a really good example of the positives that have come out of the COVID-19 response. You’ve all come together online to support each other, share your work and ideas, and embark on some pretty impressive projects. I hope you’re enjoying the group and will continue to keep in touch when life returns to something a bit more normal.

All the best with your writing — I’m sure I’ll be seeing your work in bookstores soon! For now, though, stay safe and look out for each other.

— Rt. Hon. Jacinda Ardern

As you can imagine, the Prime Minister’s message generated considerable interest on our WCL Teen Writers Discord server, from the joyous but mostly coherent:

…to the joyous but not so coherent:

…to the reflective and compassionate:

…and right back around to the disbelieving:

Thank you, Prime Minister, for your words of encouragement, motivation, and solidarity. Rest assured, we’re still writing and keeping connected (and of course the banter is still top-quality), and hopefully will be for a while yet! Here’s what one of our talented writers had to say about the group:

If you’re a keen writer, or even just really like reading, we’d love for you to join our vibrant community on Discord! Just email us or message us on Facebook with your name and school year level, and we can send you a link to join!

Camp NaNoWriMo April Challenge 2020 is Done and Dusted!

So, Camp NaNoWriMo April 2020 is officially over. We’re super thrilled that so many of you took part in one way or another, whether you joined our classroom forums, contributed to the conversation, hung out over on our Discord, chatted with Elizabeth Knox, or took part in the Camp NaNo Challenge itself. Around 30 novels were started, and many of them were finished — together, we wrote well over 100,000 words. A lot of us learned something about writing and life along the way. Be proud. However you participated, you reached out in this time of isolation and helped create something really special.

If you don’t want it to end, or worse, weren’t able to take part in the first place, all is not lost. Our NaNoWriMo Young Writers’ Programme classroom will probably be fairly quiet until the next challenge comes along, but the Discord is still just as busy as ever, with author talks, writing games, stuff to learn, people to meet, and of course, the highest quality banter this side of the equator. If you want to join, just get in touch on Facebook or by email. We’d love to have you. Also, keep your eye on the Event Calendar so you don’t miss any upcoming events!

Winter Writers at Karori Library

Looking for a way to stave off those winter blues? Come and get your writerly juices flowing at Winter Writers, a new creative writing programme for teens starting up at Karori Library next week! Learn about everything from short fiction and poetry to scriptwriting and more at these fortnightly meet-ups during the winter months. Check the details below:

Where: Karori Library, 243 Karori Road, Karori
When: Every second Thursday, 4:00-5:00, from the 31st of May to the 26th of July
What: Creative writing workshops for teenagers, focussed on developing your command of language, ability to evaluate and critique your own writing, and — most importantly — create whole new worlds with a stroke of your pen.

Registrations are not required. If you’d like more information, call Karori Library on 476 8413, or talk to your local librarian.

Hark, what worlds from yonder pencil spring?

 

Our Tumblr got a facelift!

Recently the WCL Tumblr got a fresh new look – check it out! It should now be heaps easier for you to see what cool stuff we’ve been posting lately, plus there are some neat new features, like being able to comment on posts using Facebook! Choice. Below is a wee peek of the new look, or head on over to Tumblr to check it out in full!

Tumblr

More Divergent countdown trivia

In anticipation of the Divergent movie coming out, there’s also the Divergent soundtrack to look forward to. It’s available a couple of weeks before the movie, and the tracklisting is:

1 ‘Find you’, Zedd, ft. Matthew Koma and Miriam Bryant
2 ‘Beating Heart’, Ellie Goulding
3 ‘Fight for You’, Pia Mia, ft. Chance the Rapper
4 ‘Hanging On’ (I See MONSTAS remix), Ellie Goulding
5 ‘I Won’t Let You Go’, Snow Patrol
6 ‘Run Boy Run’, Woodkid
7 ‘Backwards’, Tame Impala and Kendrick Lamar
8 ‘I need you’, M83
9 ‘In Distress’, A$AP Rocky, ft. Gesaffelstein
10 ‘Lost and Found’ (ODESZA remix), Pretty Lights
11 ‘Stranger’, Skrillex, ft. KillaGraham From Milo & Otis & Sam Dew
12 ‘Dream machines’, Big Deal
13 ‘Dead in the water’, Ellie Goulding

The big winner is Ellie Goulding!

We will be getting this! We have other movie soundtracks in the Young Adult collection also: The Great Gatsby, Catching Fire, City of Bones, Avengers, Glee (lots of Glee, lots and lots of Glee) and much more.

What’s the deal with Ted Dawe’s Into The River?

 

Into The River (summary below) is a Young Adult Fiction novel written by New Zealand Author Ted Dawe. The book has spent a lot of time in the spotlight over the last year, taking home the supreme prize at the New Zealand Post Children’s Book Awards. The prize was the, recently renamed, New Zealand Post Margaret Mahy Book of the Year award and it is one of the most prestigious New Zealand book honours for authors. Ted Dawe was no stranger to this award ceremony having taken gongs for his previous work Thunder Road. 

Into The River’s proverbial run of golden weather has recently hit a speed bump with discussions being had in relation to the books appropriateness. It has been reviewed by the Office of Film and Literature Classification and classified as R14.

This means that although libraries currently deem it a Young Adult book it is not suitable, nor legal, for distribution or supply to anyone younger than 14. At Wellington City Libraries it will now be kept behind the desk and only available for issue to individuals over the age of 14, even with parental consent it is still illegal for anyone younger than this age to read it.

For the full decision of the Office of Film and Literature Classification visit their recent decisions page

Into The River/ Ted Dawe
“When Te Arepa Santos is dragged into the river by a giant eel, something happens that will change the course of his whole life. The boy who struggles to the bank is not the same one who plunged in, moments earlier. He has brushed against the spirit world, and there is a price to be paid; an utu to be exacted. Years later, far from the protection of whanau and ancestral land he finds new enemies. This time, with no-one to save him, there is a decision to be made.. he can wait on the bank, or leap forward into the river.” (Back cover)

New Zealand Post Book Awards

This week the winners of the New Zealand Post Book Awards were announced, and a YA book took out the main prize. Well done that book!

Winner of the Margaret Mahy Book of the Year Award, and the Best Young Adult Fiction Award:

Into the River, Ted Dawe. “When Te Arepa Santos is dragged into the river by a giant eel, something happens that will change the course of his whole life. The boy who struggles to the bank is not the same one who plunged in, moments earlier. He has brushed against the spirit world, and there is a price to be paid; an utu to be exacted. Years later, far from the protection of whanau and ancestral land he finds new enemies. This time, with on-one to save him, there is a decision to be made.. he can wait on the bank, or leap forward into the river.” (goodreads.com)

So many screen adaptations

YA fiction is very popular with movie makers. In more based-on-the-book movie news:

The Maze Runner (book by James Dashner) is currently being cast, but they’ve not done the big leads (Thomas, really) yet.

Daughter of Smoke and Bone (book by Laini Taylor) is going to be a movie! This could take a while to appear on the screen, because they’ve only just announced who’s writing the script.

The Fault in our Stars (book by John Green) is also going to be a movie!! John Green fans will be very happy to hear this. Casting is in the “rumours” phase, so it could be a while before you can buy tickets, but it’s something to look forward to! (Also, how sad will this movie be?)

Delirium (book by Lauren Oliver) is – a little differently – going to be made for TV. I’m not sure if this means series, mini series, or TV movie, but it’s getting a cast, including Daren Kagasoff (from The Secret Life of the American Teenager).

Divergent (book by Veronica Roth) is also being cast, with Kate Winslett, Zoe Kravitz, and Shailene Woodley as Tris. (Shailene Woodley is also in rumours about The Fault in our Stars, busy.) Still no news on the title of the third book in the series (sorry).

On the Jellicoe Road (book by Melina Marchetta) has a script but no cast (we think). Still, this is progress! The author’s blog has occasional news updates, for interested readers. She announced at the end of last year that Saving Francesca is also getting the film treatment. Too much!

It is hard to keep up!

And the Printz for 2013 goes to

In darkness, Nick Lake. Shorty is a gangster in the slums of Site Soleil in Haiti, and he’s caught in the rubble of a hospital in the 2010 earthquake. As he lies there trapped, he thinks on his life so far, and his story is woven betwixt and between that of Toussaint L’Ouverture, the slave who led Haiti to freedom against the French in the 18th century.

There were also four Printz honours given:

Aristotle and Dante discover the secrets of the universe, Benjamin Alire Sáenz. “Aristotle is an angry teen with a brother in prison. Dante is a know-it-all who has an unusual way of looking at the world. When the two meet at the swimming pool, they seem to have nothing in common. But as the loners start spending time together, they discover that they share a special friendship—the kind that changes lives and lasts a lifetime. And it is through this friendship that Ari and Dante will learn the most important truths about themselves and the kind of people they want to be.” (goodreads.com)

Code name Verity, Elizabeth Wein. We reviewed this book last year (here), and it’s featured on so many Best Of lists we’re hardly surprised the good Printz people also agreed.

Dodger, Terry Pratchett. Dodger is a street urchin living in Victorian London. When he sees a girl jump out of a carriage he helps her escape her captors, thereby earning the interest of Charles Dickens, who reports him as a hero (the Artful Dodger, perhaps?), changing Dodger’s life profoundly. Encounters with the Queen, Benjamin Disraeli, and Sweeney Todd follow.

The white bicycle, Beverley Brenna, which we don’t have (yet). The story is a first-person account of Taylor Jane’s summer trip to the South of France, where she babysits for a family, which is challenging for a girl with Asperger’s Syndrome.

For more information about the Printz Award visit the American Library Association website here.

Meanwhile, the Alex Awards – for general fiction with teen appeal – were also announced, and here are the ten winners:

Caring is Creepy, by David Zimmerman

Girlchild, by Tupelo Hassman

Juvenile in Justice, by Richard Ross

Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore, by Robin Sloan

My Friend Dahmer, by Derf Backderf

One Shot at Forever, by Chris Ballard

Pure, by Julianna Baggott

The Round House, by Louise Erdrich

Tell the Wolves I’m Home, by Carol Rifka Brunt

Where’d You Go, Bernadette?, by Maria Semple

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