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Weird Art (and How to Make It)!

In a world of incredible mainstream artists like Frida Kahlo and Vincent van Gogh, some of the stranger, funnier, and more relatable creatives can be left flying under the radar. It can also make it more difficult for us – the artistic hoi polloi –  to find our own style and way of creating.

Perhaps you could be inspired by Tomislav Jagnjić, a Serbian concept artist and illustrator whose oeuvre includes titles such as “hey psst, wanna buy some cubes” and “can’t believe u forgot the scrolls, how am i supposed to resurrect the dragon now?”

Or maybe you could innovate like Thirza Schaap, a Dutch artist who’s been revamping beach trash to create a grim yet aesthetically pleasing commentary on sea pollution.

Or perhaps you’d rather focus on just one subject, and paint it with such determination that you’re eventually interrogated by police. Look no further than Alex Schaefer‘s fascination with painting the Chase Bank. On fire. Repeatedly.

via GIPHY

And if you’re ever feeling insecure about your work, just remember that  Massachusetts has it’s own museum dedicated entirely to celebrating “art too bad to be ignored” – pop on over here for a browse!

Whatever it is you want to say, and however it is you want to say it, get inspired by our collection on weird art (and how to make it)!


Find your artistic voice : the essential guide to working your creative magic / Congdon, Lisa
“This book is a guide to the process of artistic self-discovery”– Provided by publisher.” (Catalogue)
The best art you’ve never seen : 101 hidden treasures from around the world / Spalding, Julian
“Across the globe there are scores of beautiful and unusual works of art that are largely unseen or fail to receive the critical acclaim they deserve. The Best Art You’ve Never Seen is your essential companion to this hidden world of artistic treasures.” (Catalogue)
You are an artist : assignments to spark creation / Green, Sarah Urist
“More than 50 assignments, ideas, and prompts to expand your world and help you make outstanding new things to put into it […] Full of insights, techniques, and inspiration from art history, this book opens up the processes and practices of artists and proves that you, too, have what it takes to call yourself one.”– Provided by publisher.” (Adapted from Catalogue)


Guerrilla Girls : the art of behaving badly / Guerrilla Girls (Group of artists)
“A compendium of artwork by the feminist activist group, the Guerrilla Girls.”– Provided by publisher.” (Catalogue)
Art in minutes / Hodge, Susie
“The perfect compact reference guide for all would-be art buffs. Art historian Susie Hodge takes you on a whistle-stop international tour of all the major artistic cultures, movements, phases, developments, artists and themes, from Prehistoric art to Hyperrealism. Contents also include Greek classicism, Gothic art, the Renaissance, Baroque, Romanticism, Realism, Impressionism, Cubism, surrealism, Pop art and Minimalism.” (Catalogue)


Unexpected art : serendipitous installations, site-specific works, and surprising interventions / Spring, Jenny Moussa
“Graffiti made from cake icing, man-made clouds floating indoors, a luminous moon resting on water. Collected here are dozens of jaw-dropping artworks – site-specific installations, extraordinary sculptures, and groundbreaking interventions in public spaces – that reveal the exciting things that happen when contemporary artists play with the idea of place. ” (Adapted from Catalogue)


Wall and piece / Banksy
“_______________Banksy. His work. Photographed. With comments by Banksy. In a book. This is that book._______________” (Catalogue)
Modern vintage Illustration / Dawber, Martin
“Past is prologue in this stunning survey of vintage-inspired illustrations that employ classic styles of artistic expression for up-to-date effects.” (Catalogue)
Muse : Uncovering the Hidden Figures Behind Art History’s Masterpieces / Millington, Ruth
“The fascinating true stories of thirty incredible muses–and their role in some of art history’s most well-known masterpieces. We instantly recognize many of their faces from the world’s most iconic artworks–but just who was Picasso’s ‘Weeping Woman’? Or the burglar in Francis Bacon’s oeuvre? Why was Grace Jones covered in graffiti? ” (Adapted from Catalogue)

A Guide to Competitive PowerPointing

There’s a new fad of educational entertainment sweeping throughout the country: The PowerPoint Night. Brought to you by the kind of people who enjoy using slideshows to rank the hotness of the Greek Pantheon, or to methodically explain who they would most enjoy slapping with a wet sock, the PowerPoint Night is a vessel for unadulterated chaos. With great transitions.

So today I’m here to help you on your path to PowerPoint glory with some handy resources and suggestions to get you started. Such as this absolutely vital guide:
PowerPoint 2010 / Wood, William
“Provides step-by-step screen shots that show you how to tackle more than 130 PowerPoint 2010 tasks. Each task-based spread covers a single technique, sure to help you get up and running on PowerPoint 2010 in no time.” (Catalogue)

Because I’m sure none of you have ever used Microsoft Office, Google Slideshow, or Canva in your entire lives. Once you’ve got your hands on this sweet little guide and kicked your dial-up internet into life, here are a few ideas for your very own PowerPoints:

via GIPHY

How to Assemble a Hatred Bouquet

Strange new times call for strange new methods of communication! I propose we revive the practice of communicating through flowers, and – although you can use your linguistic floral skills to say anything – I would vote for focusing your PowerPoint on how to make your bouquet a declaration of eternal animosity. Who wouldn’t want to make their menacing more aesthetic?

A Victorian flower dictionary : the language of flowers companion / Kirkby, Mandy
“Early Victorians used flowers as a way to express their feelings– love or grief, jealousy or devotion. Now modern-day romantics are enjoying a resurgence of this bygone custom. Kirkby shares the historical literary, and cultural significance of flowers.” (Catalogue)

Kate Greenaway’s Language of flowers. / Greenaway, Kate
“Contains alphabetical lists of flowers and the meanings associated with them.” (Catalogue)

DIY Conspiracy Theory

In case the Victoria University Flat Earth Society Facebook page isn’t quite scratching that conspiratorial itch, why not make up your own? PowerPoint night can be the perfect opportunity to make your case for the huge, telepathic platypus that may or may not be living at the centre of the earth.

100 things they don’t want you to know / Smith, Daniel
“Unsolved mysteries, strange disappearances, suspicious cover-ups, and consiracy theories. Discover the secrets they don’t want you to know. – Who was Jack the Ripper? – Why was Lee Harvey Oswald shot? – Where did the Nazis stash their gold? – Who are the real Men-in-Black? – Did the lost cosonauts ever exist? – Who really discovered America? – Why was Stonehenge built? – Did aliens send the “Wow” signal? – Who stole the Irish crown jewels? – How will the world end?” — from back cover” (Catalogue)

Conspiracy theories & secret societies for dummies / Hodapp, Christopher
“Entering the world of conspiracy theories and secret societies is like stepping into a distant, parallel universe where the laws of physics have completely changed: black means white, up is down, and if you want to understand what is really going on, you need a good reference book.” (Catalogue)

Plan Your Own Funeral

What better way to celebrate life than by having a party at the end? Or by having a picnic? A flash mob? Hiring the Wiggles to perform before your open casket? The choice is yours, so get choosing and announce your plans via PowerPoint!

The party of your life : get the funeral you want by planning it yourself / Dillman, Erika
“The Party of Your Life is a lively, irreverent guide to putting the F-U-N back in funeral […] With the help of The Party of Your Life, the newly dead will rest in peace knowing the tips in the book have helped reduce the drama and strain on their survivors, who are likely experiencing the most painful time of their lives.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

They both die at the end / Silvera, Adam
“In a near-future New York City where a service alerts people on the day they will die, teenagers Mateo Torrez and Rufus Emeterio meet using the Last Friend app and are faced with the challenge of living a lifetime on their End Day.” (Catalogue)

Zodiac Signs As….

An oldie but a goodie – why not embrace PowerPoint night to explore some astrological niches? You could pontificate over zodiac signs as panic-buying items (Taurus as toilet-paper & Pisces as flour for sure), tag them as Barbie characters, or discuss what famous landmarks you would most like to eat (Stonehenge looks nice and crunchy). For a little more background info from which to build your case, check out some of our astrology collection:


Nasty astrology : what your astrologer won’t tell you! / MacDonald, Richard
“Exploring exactly what hidden demons lurk within other people’s psyches, this book reveals all the unspoken truths about people’s star signs. Aren’t you bored with all the astrology books that tell you what a nice person everyone is? Don’t you know, deep down, that there are some very unpleasant aspects to all our characters? Wouldn’t you like to know the truth about the other signs? What makes them tick? What their dark little secrets are?” (Catalogue)

Cinemastrology : the movie lover’s guide to the sun, the moon, and the stars / Wonderly, Stella
“Let the celestial signposts of the zodiac guide you to your next cinematic adventure. With Cinemastrology, you’ll find new flicks, view forgotten favorites from a new perspective, make film-watching plans with a friend or date, and even learn a few things about yourself along the way. Cinemastrology will illuminate the sun-sign secrets of some of cinema’s biggest stars, movies, and moviemakers. But the main star is you! Book jacket.” (Catalogue)

So whether you need some free internet with which to get crafting, or are looking to utilise our magnificent and eclectic collection, come on down to your local library for Peak PowerPointing Perfection.

Literary Cookbooks for Edible Inspiration

You know what two things are great? Books and food. I know what you’re thinking, “Oh, if only there was a way to bring these two great things together!”

Well be despondent no longer! Because I am about to introduce you to some of the literary cookbooks we have in our collection.

These are cookbooks full of recipes inspired by the food in fiction, the deftly described deliciousness, the succulent snacks that your favourite characters munch on at feasts or as they head off on an adventure. Did you find your mouth watering as you read about the fellowship snacking on Lembas Bread in the Lord of the Rings? Or maybe you got a hankering for some forbidden Turkish delight such as that given to Edmund by the White Witch in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe? Or perhaps your stomach started grumbling at the mention of Deeper’n’Ever Turnip’n’Tater’n’Beetroot Pie in Mossflower? Whatever your literary cravings, there’ll be a cookbook out there with something that will entice you.

So let’s have a look at these cookbooks, paired with the books that inspired them. After all, what better summer activity can there be than to lie in the sun with a book while snacking on the same thing as the character you’re reading about!

The Anne of Green Gables cookbook : charming recipes from Anne and her friends in Avonlea / Macdonald, Kate
This book contains recipes inspired by the food written about in Anne of Green Gables, but it also has some of L.M. Montgomery’s own recipes because the book was written by one of her granddaughters!

There are quotes from the book paired with each recipe so you can see how the food fits in with which book and which character.

Anne of Green Gables series / Montgomery, L. M.
Admittedly, I found Anne a bit annoying. But more people love her!


Jolly good food : recipes / McEvedy, Allegra
Relive some childhood nostalgia (if you were a child who read Enid Blyton, that is) and eat some tasty food. Enid Blyton’s books are full of wonderful descriptions of picnics and midnight feasts and “lashings of ginger beer” and this cookbook has recipes from or inspired by many of her books!

Enid Blyton has written many, many books, so here are a couple of suggestions to get you started:

Famous Five Series / Blyton, Enid
The classic adventure series featuring Julian, Dick, Anne, George, and of course Timmy!

The Faraway Tree Series / Blyton, Enid
Some fantastical ridiculousness. Also, in newer editions of these books, Fanny has been renamed Frannie. Just putting it out there.


A literary tea party : blends and treats for Alice, Bilbo, Dorothy, Jo, and book lovers everywhere / Walsh, Alison
This book features a plethora of recipes inspired by many, many books. There are recipes from Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Brian Jacques’ Redwall Series, Sherlock Holmes, The Hobbit, Agatha Christie, The Borrowers


The little library cookbook : 100 recipes from your favourite stories / Young, Kate
This one’s another collection of treats from a wide variety of books. If you like the sound of  Choclatl from His Dark Materials, Marshmallows from Tomorrow When the War Began, or Pear and Lemon Cake from Comet in Moominland then check it out!


The Pooh cook book: inspired by “Winnie-the-Pooh” and The house at Pooh Corner by A. A. Milne; / Stewart, Katie

I’m mainly featuring this book because some part of me sniggered at the title. My childish proclivities aside, it does contain a lot of tasty recipes! From Poohanpiglet Pancakes and Biscuit Cake, to Honey Tart and Toad in the Hole, there’ll be something for everyone!

Winnie-the-Pooh / Milne, A. A.
Because who doesn’t wish they were a Bear of Very Little Brain living in the woods with a pot of honey and all your friends nearby?


Roald Dahl’s revolting recipes / Dahl, Roald
“Recipes for savouries, puddings, cakes, sweets and drinks, all of which have appeared in Roald Dahl’s books.” (Catalogue)

We’ve also got Roald Dahl’s Even More Revolting recipes!

Like Enid Blyton, Roald Dahl has written a LOT. Here are a couple of highlights:

Matilda / Dahl, Roald
Ah, Matilda. She’s super-smart, she loves books, and she’s great at pranks that serve some good comeuppance. Why not make yourself one of Trunchbull’s cakes and enjoy it while you read?

Skin and other stories / Dahl, Roald
You’ve surely read his fantastic children’s books, but have you read any of his much creepier works for older readers?

If you haven’t, well… They’re quite different!


The unofficial Narnia cookbook : from Turkish delight to gooseberry fool–over 150 recipes inspired by the Chronicles of Narnia / Bucholz, Dinah
Now the tasty food you make will distract you from the fact that somehow Christmas is still a holiday over in a whole other fantasy world Father Christmas has to sneak in to deliver presents.

The chronicles of Narnia / Lewis, C. S.
Definite classics. But Susan deserved better.


The Unofficial Recipes of The Hunger Games
This cookbook takes you on a culinary journey through all three of The Hunger Games books. It starts you off with the more basic food Katniss and her family were eating in District 12, then there’s the decadent food of the Capitol, the meal on the train on the way to the Quarter Quell, and the food offered in District 13.

If you’re feeling adventurous there are some more questionable sounding recipes you can try as well, such as “Charred Tree-Rat” and “Mom Everdeen’s Breakfast of Mush”.

The Hunger Games / Collins, Suzanne
Some good teen dystopia. And it’s confirmed that Panem is a future version of North America.

Everything Orange!

All of us will surely know by now that we are in Orange, as we have been at this traffic light level for pretty much all of December so far. I’m sure that as avid library users you will already know all about visiting the library under Orange – wear your mask and scan your vaccine pass or exemption if you’re over twelve – but I feel there is more to be explored around the orangeness of Orange than mere alert levels.

In controversial Orange news, I have learned through this recent Spinoff article that while the Covid Traffic Light system uses the colours Red, Orange, and Green, the official colours of the literal physical traffic lights that are liberally spotted around our country are Red, Green, and Yellow.

Three traffic lights in a row. The left has a green light chosing, the centre has an orange light showing, and the right has a red light showing.

Image: Traffic Signals by Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency, licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International licence

Look at these traffic lights! This is an instructional picture from the Waka Kotahi website accompanied by the instructional caption “A yellow signal means the lights will soon turn red”. This is very interesting since it is extremely clear that the coloured circle in the centre traffic light is so obviously orange. Like, they made the picture, if they’re calling it yellow why not make the picture yellow as well?

Anyway, while the certainty that orange is orange and yellow is yellow may be falling out from under our feet, let me return to my original subject of Orange in general.

I think Orange is an excellent colour. It’s such a happy colour, it’s the colour of the sun’s rays shining on the iconic Chelsea Golden Syrup Tin, and it’s great for hi-vis vests if you’re a cyclist, contractor, or builder.

Speaking of Golden Syrup, let me bring your attention to a rather orange book:

Edmonds cookery book.
The Edmonds cookbook is a classic, it fits right in here with that orange cover, and it contains a recipe for a Golden Syrup Steamed Pudding. What’s not to like?!

Golden Syrup Steamed Pudding is also a perfect Christmas pudding. Just saying.

In search of other Orange activities to keep you occupied over the summer, I’ve trawled through our vast selection of elibrary resources, but unfortunately not many of them really scream Orange.

We do have a fantastic language-learning service called Mango Languages, a name that just promises orangeness but in actual fact doesn’t deliver much Orange, even in the logo. Still, if you don’t let lack of actual orangeness get in the way of perceived orangeness you could give it a go!

We do have some other actually-orange things in the library that could get you excited…

…while you’re sitting back in the sun, enjoying your Golden Syrup pudding, what better thing to do than get into a good book?

Here’s a selection of books that I’ve grouped together simply based on the orange-ivity of their covers. There’s a wide range of genres here, from New Zealand fiction to romance to classic literature to adventure, but they’re all Orange! Which one are you most interested in?

Is underground / Aiken, Joan
“Bound to keep a promise to her dead uncle, Is travels to the mysterious north country to find two missing boys, one of them a prince, and to discover why so many children in London are disappearing.” (Catalogue)

Felix ever after / Callender, Kacen
“Felix Love has never been in love, painful irony that it is. He desperately wants to know why it seems so easy for everyone but him to find someone. He is proud of his identity, but fears that he’s one marginalization too many– Black, queer, and transgender. When an anonymous student begins sending him transphobic messages, Felix comes up with a plan for revenge. He didn’t count on his catfish scenario landing him in a quasi-love triangle.” ( Adapted from Catalogue)

Also available as an eBook

Perfect on paper / Gonzales, S.
“Seventeen-year-old Darcy Phillips, a bisexual girl who gives anonymous love advice to her classmates, is hired by the “hot” guy at school to help him get his ex back. When Darcy is caught in the act of collecting letters from locker 89– out of which she has been running her advice service– she is blackmailed into becoming his personal dating coach. If word gets out that Darcy is behind the locker, some things she’s not proud of will come to light. What could go wrong?” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Juggling with mandarins / Jones, V. M.
“Thirteen-year-old Pip finds a talent he never dreamed he had, and is determined it will remain one area of his life his domineering dad can’t touch. Somehow, Pip must find the courage to confront his father and claim the right to live his life on his own terms.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

And mandarins are basically smaller superior oranges anyway.

To kill a mockingbird / Lee, Harper
“A young girl growing up in an Alabama town in the 1930s learns of injustice and violence when her father, a widowed lawyer, defends a black man falsely accused of rape.” (Catalogue)

Trash / Mulligan, Andy
“Three friends. Raphael, Gardo and Rat. Living on a heap of trash, a lifetime of sifting rubbish. One day they find something extraordinary – a deadly secret. From that moment they are hunted without mercy. With danger snatching at their heels, the boys are chased from the city’s dirty gutters to its wealthy avenues. But they can’t run for ever. They need a miracle.” (Catalogue)

Nice try, Jane Sinner / Oelke, Lianne
“Jane Sinner, a 17-year-old dropout, sets out to redefine herself through a series of schemes and stunts, including participating in a low-budget reality TV show at her local community college”– Provided by publisher.” (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)

A tyranny of petticoats : 15 stories of belles, bank robbers & other badass girls
“From pirate ships off the coast of the Carolinas to the peace, love, and protests of 1960s Chicago, take a thrill ride through history with American girls charting their own course. They are monsters and mediums, bodyguards and barkeeps, screenwriters and schoolteachers, heiresses and hobos.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Bridge of Clay / Zusak, Markus
“Upon their father’s return, the five Dunbar boys, who have raised themselves since their mother’s death, begin to learn family secrets, including that of fourth brother Clay, who will build a bridge for complex reasons, including his own redemption.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

And if you’ve made it this far, I hope that by now I’ve managed to remove or weaken the exclusive association of Orange with Covid. I’m sure that you’ll be simmering with rage over the officially-yellow traffic lights, off to bake a tasty snack, diving deep into an Orange read, or some other Orange-related activity!

Jólabókaflóð: ‘Tis the Season for Reading

Of all the weird, wonderful, and wintery traditions surrounding the Christmas season, I am here today to introduce you to the gift-giving practice of young librarians’ dreams: Jólabókaflóð.

Jólabókaflóð, which loosely translates to “Christmas Book Flood”, is the Icelandic practice of gifting and exchanging books on Christmas Eve. Dating all the way back to WWII (when paper was one of the few commodities not subject to severe rationing), jólabókaflóð is now harkened by the distribution of an annual catalogue of new publications. Although this catalogue (the snappily entitled ‘Bókatíðindi’) is sadly beyond our reach, it is my pleasure to bring you some of the latest and greatest YA additions to the library catalogue. I would suggest you read these, buy them, and then merrily sling them at all your bookish friends.

Now, I will be the first to admit that – when browsing for books – I automatically drift towards the fantasy section. However not everyone out there has the same excellent taste as me, so I’ve branched out in order to offer you a slightly more accommodating collection of potential gifts for your upcoming jólabókaflóð festivities:


The Raven Boys / Stiefvater, Maggie
“Though she is from a family of clairvoyants, Blue Sargent’s only gift seems to be that she makes other people’s talents stronger, and when she meets Gansey, one of the Raven Boys from the expensive Aglionby Academy, she discovers that he has talents of his own–and that together their talents are a dangerous mix.” (Catalogue)

The inexplicable logic of my life : a novel / Sáenz, Benjamin Alire
“Sal used to know his place with his adoptive gay father, their loving Mexican American family, and his best friend, Samantha. But it’s senior year, and suddenly Sal is throwing punches, questioning everything, and realizing he no longer knows himself. If Sal’s not who he thought he was, who is he?” (Catalogue)

Children of blood and bone / Adeyemi, Tomi
“Seventeen-year-old Zélie, her older brother Tzain, and rogue princess Amari fight to restore magic to the land and activate a new generation of magi, but they are ruthlessly pursued by the crown prince, who believes the return of magic will mean the end of the monarchy.” (Catalogue)

The apple tart of hope / Fitzgerald, Sarah Moore
“Oscar Dunleavy, who used to make the world’s most perfect apple tarts, is missing, presumed dead. No-one seems too surprised, except for Meg, his best friend, and his little brother Stevie. Surrounded by grief and confusion, Meg and Stevie are determined to find out what happened to Oscar, and together they learn about loyalty and friendship and the power of never giving up hope.” (Catalogue)

The amazing Maurice and his educated rodents / Pratchett, Terry
” Every town on Discworld knows the stories about rats and pipers, and Maurice – a streetwise tomcat – leads a band of educated ratty friends (and a stupid kid) on a nice little earner. Piper plus rats equals lots and lots of money. Until they run across someone playing a different tune. Now he and his rats must learn a new concept: evil . . .” (Catalogue)

Illuminae / Kaufman, Amie
“The planet Kerenza is attacked, and Kady and Ezra find themselves on a space fleet fleeing the enemy, while their ship’s artificial intelligence system and a deadly plague may be the end of them all”– Provided by publisher.” (Catalogue)

In order to ascertain quality YA recommendations, I must confess that I turned to younger family members for aid. Yes that’s right, I have informants amongst the youth of today. And my research has led me to believe that the youth of today like frogs (that’s understandable, y’all need the serotonin). So here’s one more recommendation:

Frog and Toad : the complete collection / Lobel, Arnold
“Once upon a time there were two good friends, a frog and a toad. From writing letters to going swimming, telling stories to finding lost buttons, Frog and Toad are always there for each other – just as best friends should be.” (Catalogue)



So there you have it! ‘Tis the season for friends, family, food, and a colossal number of books. From all of us here at Wellington City Libraries, Merry Christmas and Happy Jólabókaflóð!

And remember that Santa Claus is also… technically… a cryptid.

Extremely Cool Christmas Advent Calendar

It’s December, which means that the holiday season is upon us! To celebrate, here is a (slightly late) Christmas Advent Calendar! Explore our list of challenges using the interactive slide below, or check out the challenge list below!


Calendar graphics from Unsplash.


Christmas Advent Calendar Challenge List:

  1. Watch the classic film A Muppet Christmas Carol.
  2. Try baking an aesthetic festive treat, maybe from the Vegan Christmas Cookbook!
  3. Do a silly festive photoshoot with your friends/family. Extra points if you can find some classic ugly Xmas jumpers.
  4. Write a Christmas Story of your own! If you have younger siblings, make a picture book for them and have them do some truly wild little kid illustrations for it.  Alternative idea: Write a holiday fanfiction for your favourite book series.
  5. Watch the classic film The Grinch.
  6. Try baking some cookies for your friends and family, check out Christmas with Kim-Joy : a festive collection of edible cuteness for inspiration!
  7. Try making some tree ornaments! You can make these with whatever materials you like! Try salt dough ornaments, polymer clay or even just paper! Here’s a book if you would like some ideas.
  8. Check out a twist on an old Christmas classic with Scrooge #worstgiftever.
  9. Try making a snow globe out of a mason jar!
  10. Your film watching experience, should you choose to accept it, is the classic festive film Home Alone!
  11. Make some handmade Christmas cards for all your friends and family!
  12. Organise a Secret Santa with your friends. Extra points if you make each other handmade presents!
  13. Your festive book suggestion for today is Dash & Lily’s book of dares.
  14. Today’s challenge is for our musicians out there. Learn to play/sing a Christmas song, or write your own!
  15. Today’s movie suggestion is The Nightmare Before Christmas!
  16. Discover a magical Christmas wonderland, right here in Wellington! Windows filled with Christmas cheer, art installations and even an enchanting Lego display! More info at Wellington City Council’s Website.
  17. Your holiday reading suggestion for today is Top Ten Clues You’re Clueless!
  18. Have you wrapped your presents yet? Try designing your very own wrapping paper! For example, go find some plain paper and draw your own designs on them.
  19. Today’s reading suggestion is Reindeer boy!
  20. Most likely, your favourite musician has recorded at least one Christmas song. So, go find some festive tunes and make the perfect holiday playlist!
  21. You movie suggestion for today is It’s A Wonderful Life.
  22. Today’s challenge is to learn a bit more about learn more about the history behind Christmas traditions. As usual, we have plenty of books you could check out…
  23. Your reading suggestion today is The Afterlife of Holly Chase.
  24. Make something yum for Christmas tomorrow! Maybe some mince pies? Or trifle? As always, feel free to look through our collection for ideas…
  25. Your challenge today is to make a cute festive video with your friends/whānau!
  26. MERRY CHRISTMAS and SEE YOU IN THE NEW YEAR!

 

Summer Reads + Things To Do With Your Friend/Crush

It’s Summer! School’s out and the world is your proverbial oyster. But maybe you’re not sure what to read over the break? Perhaps you’re feeling bored and have forgotten what to do with that mythical concept called free time? Look no further, we’ve got you covered! I’ve put together a list of some excellent books, and not only that, each book has an accompanying activity to invite your friend/crush to! Now go get some books, and have an excellent Summer break.

The way you make me feel / Goo, Maurene
“Clara Shin lives for pranks and disruption. When she takes one joke too far, her dad sentences her to a summer working on his food truck, the KoBra, alongside her uptight classmate Rose Carver. Not the carefree summer Clara had imagined. But maybe Rose isn’t so bad. Maybe the boy named Hamlet (yes, Hamlet) crushing on her is pretty cute.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

IDEA #1 : Take a Sunday walk down the waterfront to the Habourside Market for some food truck and dog-spotting galore!

Love & gelato / Welch, Jenna Evans
“Lina is spending the summer in Tuscany, and she’s only there because it was her mother’s dying wish that she get to know her father. But what kind of father isn’t around for sixteen years?” ( Adapted from Catalogue)

IDEA #2 : Go get some refreshing gelato/ice-cream.

Happily ever afters / Bryant, Elise
“Sixteen-year-old Tessa Johnson has never felt like the protagonist in her own life. The only place she’s a true leading lady is in her own writing. When Tessa is accepted into the creative writing program of a prestigious art school, she’s excited to finally let her stories shine. But when she goes to her first workshop, the words are just…gone. Tessa needs to find some inspiration in a real-life love story of her own.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

IDEA #3 : Go for a wander around Te Whanganui-a-Tara’s many second-hand bookstores and try to find the perfect/weirdest book. 

Leah on the offbeat / Albertalli, Becky
“Leah Burke is an anomaly in her friend group: the only child of a young, single mom; her life is decidedly less privileged. Even though her mom knows she’s bisexual, she hasn’t mustered the courage to tell her friends– not even her openly gay BFF, Simon. When her rock-solid friend group starts to fracture in unexpected ways, it’s hard for Leah to strike the right note.  If only real life was as rhythmic as her drumming…” (Adapted from Catalogue)

IDEA #4 : Take inspo from our music loving protagonist Leah and go see a band at Gardens Magic. Make sure to get there early to secure a good picnic spot, and don’t miss the light installations around the gardens.

Summer of salt / Leno, Katrina
“No one on the island of By-the-Sea would call the Fernweh women what they are, but if you need the odd bit of help, such as a sleeping aid concocted by moonlight, they are the ones to ask. Georgina Fernweh waits for the tingle of magic in her fingers– magic that has already touched her twin sister, Mary. But with her eighteenth birthday looming at the end of her last summer on the island, Georgina fears her gift will never come.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

IDEA #5 :  Go to the beach! The beach is great! Just remember to be safe; use plenty of sunblock and NEVER LOOK A SEAGULL DIRECTLY IN THE EYES.

Keep my heart in San Francisco / Coombs, Amelia Diane
“Caroline “Chuck” Wilson has big plans for spring break—but her dad wrecks those plans when he asks her to spend vacation working the counter at Bigmouth’s Bowl, her family’s failing bowling alley. Making things astronomically worse, Chuck finds out her dad is way behind on back rent—meaning they might be losing Bigmouth’s, the only thing keeping Chuck’s family in San Francisco.things” (Adapted from Catalogue)

IDEA #6 : Go bowling! It’s a fun activity to do in your spare time. It might seem uncool, but personally that’s just how I roll. I wonder how many of these puns I can sneak into this blog post before Stephen asks me to spare you all from my jokes. I might be told to put a pin in it, but I will keep making puns forever until I am banned and if that happens…I will go on strike. Anyways, go bowling.

Editor’s note: Your pun quota is getting awfully close to being full, Alayne. I’m watching you. — SC

I think I love you / Desombre, Auriane
“A YA contemporary rom com about two girls who start as rivals but after a twist of events, end up falling for one another—at least they think so. A pitch perfect queer romance. Arch-nemeses Emma, a die-hard romantic, and more-practical minded Sophia find themselves competing against one another for a coveted first-prize trip to a film festival in Los Angeles . . . what happens if their rivalry turns into a romance?” ( Adapted from Catalogue)

IDEA #7 : The easy offer here is that you simply go to a movie, but everyone goes to the movies. Why not have a go at making a movie? Lots of films are shot on phones these days and you can even checkout the filmmaking courses on LinkedIn Learning, free with your library card.

This time will be different / Sugiura, Misa
“Katsuyamas never quit — but seventeen-year-old CJ doesn’t even know where to start. She’s never lived up to her mom’s type A ambition, and she’s perfectly happy just helping her aunt, Hannah, at their family’s flower shop. She doesn’t buy into Hannah’s romantic ideas about flowers and their hidden meanings, but when it comes to arranging the perfect bouquet, CJ discovers a knack she never knew she had. A skill she might even be proud of. Then her mom decides to sell the shop — to the family who swindled CJ’s grandparents when thousands of Japanese Americans were sent to internment camps during WWII. Soon a rift threatens to splinter CJ’s family, friends, and their entire Northern California community; and for the first time, CJ has found something she wants to fight for.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

IDEA #8 : Do you know about Wellington’s Hidden Gardens? Until December 15th, you can discover seven hidden gardens across Pōneke. There will be secret events happening at every garden, and each is designed to a specific theme. For more information, check out the Wellington City Council website here.

Activism to Keep the Summer Ennui at Bay!

It is impossible to fully extol the many wonders of the summer holidays. Water fights, ice cream, camping, being unable to beat Wellington on a good day, exploring the bush looking for cryptids (yes I will ram cryptids down the throats of you readers at every given opportunity), using strategically applied sunblock and patience to graffiti your friend’s back, more ice cream — I could go on for days.

However, if you are anything like me, it won’t take long to remember that you are unable to function without a schedule and will eventually succumb to a state of sunburnt ennui. And what better way to fight this gradual decline, than by fighting THE gradual decline (of society)?! That’s right, this blog post does have a point!

Hopefully, all you smart young whippersnappers were out marching in the School Strike 4 Climate Change (#doitfordavid #actionforattenborough) way back in the shining days pre-COVID, so you’ve already had a taste of how good it feels to stand up for what you believe in. Or you just wanted a day off school, but same premise – we’re battling summer ennui here folks! While organising a nation-wide series of protests over the holidays may be a little ambitious, that doesn’t mean there aren’t other ways you can make your voice heard:

  1. Social Media. Your social media is an incredible platform to speak up for your beliefs, so make the most of it! Even if it’s just sharing someone else’s post, you have the tools to make your voice heard. USE THEM.


  2. Get involved. There’s a smorgasbord of charities, non-profits, and activist organisations out there. Pick one that you vibe with and go make the world a better place. A few of my favourites include ActionStation, SAFE, Greenpeace, and NOPE Sisters, or – if you’re feeling especially inspired – get involved with a local political party you agree with, or even the Youth Parliament.
  3. Speaking of parliament, get ready to VOTE! Your time is nigh! I don’t care who you’re voting for, so long as you are getting out there and using your unique opportunity to shape this country. If you’re not old enough to vote, then I give you permission to bully your older siblings, friends, and parents to get out there and make Orange Man proud.
  4. YOU ARE THE CHOSEN ONE. All those unique ideas that no-one else would ever think of? Find one that you care about, that can help people, and act on it. All you have to do it start.


  5. Educate yourself! I wanted to put this one first, but then there wouldn’t have been such a flawless transition into some local library inspiration. So, without further ado, here are a few suggestions for you budding activists out there:


How I resist : activism and hope for a new generation
“Now, more than ever, young people are motivated to make a difference in a world they’re bound to inherit. But with much to stand up and shout about, where do they begin? How I Resist is the way to start the conversation. An all-star collection of essays, songs, illustrations, and interviews about activism and hope […] This guide will remind you that you are not helpless, and that you can be the change you wish to see in the world, in the news, and for your future.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Resist : 35 profiles of ordinary people who rose up against tyranny and injustice / Chambers, Veronica
“Before they were activists, they were just like you and me. From Frederick Douglass to Malala Yousafzai, Joan of Arc to John Lewis, Susan B. Anthony to Janet Mock—these thirty-five profiles of remarkable figures show us what it means to take a stand and say no to injustice […]” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Art of Protest: What a Revolution Looks Like / Nichols, De
“From Keith Haring to Extinction Rebellion, the Civil Rights Movement to Black Lives Matter, what does a revolution look like? What does it take to make a collective visual impact? Discover the power of words, images and much more in this analytical and thought-provoking look at protest art, by highly acclaimed activist De Nichols.” (Catalogue)

Girls resist! : a guide to activism, leadership, and starting a revolution / Rich, KaeLyn
“An activism handbook for teen girls ready to fight for change, social justice, and equality. Take on the world and make some serious change with this handbook to everything activism, social justice, and resistance. With in-depth guides to everything from picking a cause, planning a protest, and raising money to running dispute-free meetings, promoting awareness on social media, and being an effective ally. Get this handbook to crush inequality, start a revolution, and resist!” (Catalogue)

Generation brave : the Gen Z kids who are changing the world / Alexander, Kate
“An illustrated celebration of Gen Z activists fighting to make our world a better place. Gen Z is populated–and defined–by activists. They are bold and original thinkers and not afraid to stand up to authority and conventional wisdom. From the March for Our Lives to the fight for human rights and climate change awareness, this generation is leading the way toward truth and hope like no generation before […]” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Hood feminism : notes from the women that white feminists forgot / Kendall, Mikki
“All too often the focus of mainstream feminism is not on basic survival for the many, but on increasing privilege for the few. Meeting basic needs is a feminist issue. Food insecurity, the living wage and access to education are feminist issues. The fight against racism, ableism and transmisogyny are all feminist issues. White feminists often fail to see how race, class, sexual orientation and disability intersect with gender. How can feminists stand in solidarity as a movement when there is a distinct likelihood that some women are oppressing others? […]” (Catalogue)

Craftivism : the craft of craft and activism
“A provocative anthology of essays, interviews and photographs on the art-making phenomenon known as craftivism, the intersection where craft and activism meet. This book profiles craftivists from around the world (including Australia), and how they use their craft to create a greater good […]” (Adapted from Catalogue)

You are mighty : a guide to changing the world / Paul, Caroline
“Being a good citizen means standing up for what’s right-and here’s just the way to start. […] This guide features change-maker tips, tons of DIY activities, and stories about the kids who have paved the way before, from famous activists like Malala Yousafzai and Claudette Colvin to the everyday young people whose habit changes triggered huge ripple effects. So make a sign, write a letter, volunteer, sit-in, or march! There are lots of tactics to choose from, and you’re never too young to change the world.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

We are power : how nonviolent activism changes the world / Hasak-Lowy, Todd
“A stirring look at nonviolent activism, from American suffragists to Civil Rights to the Climate Change Movement We Are Power brings to light the incredible individuals who have used nonviolent activism to change the world. The book explores questions such as what is nonviolent resistance and how does it work? […] It answers the question “Why nonviolence?” by showing how nonviolent movements have succeeded again and again in a variety of ways, in all sorts of places, and always in the face of overwhelming odds […]” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Amazons, abolitionists, and activists : a graphic history of women’s fight for their rights / Kendall, Mikki
“[…] Amazons, Abolitionists, and Activists is a fun and fascinating graphic novel-style primer that covers the key figures and events that have advanced women’s rights from antiquity to the modern era. In addition, this compelling book illuminates the stories of notable women throughout history–from queens and freedom fighters to warriors and spies–and the progressive movements led by women that have shaped history, including abolition, suffrage, labor, civil rights, LGBTQ liberation, reproductive rights, and more. […]” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Watch us rise / Watson, Renée
“[…] Jasmine and Chelsea are best friends on a mission. Sick of the way that young women are treated even at their ‘progressive’ New York City high school, they decide to start a Women’s Rights Club. One problem – no one shows up. That hardly stops them. They start posting everything from videos of Chelsea performing her poetry to Jasmine’s response to being reduced to a racist and sexist stereotype in the school’s theatre department. And soon, they’ve gone viral, creating a platform they never could’ve predicted […] ” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Cool things to make during a study break

However much you want to, there is no denying the fact that somehow we are already in November and NCEA exams are approaching. Now, I’m sure that as regular and devoted Teen Blog readers you have already read through our excellent blog post of study hacks to get you prepared for the exam season. The tip from this post I want to bring your attention to is #4: Take breaks, where we’ve suggested that you use your breaks from study to get a rest away from screens or do an activity that you enjoy.

But what activity will be enjoyable enough to fill in that fifteen minute study break, give you a sense of satisfaction, and get your eyes away from those ever-dreaded screens?

Luckily for you, I am here to plug a favourite screen-free activity of my own, to give you some inspiration, and to encourage your creativity!

So let’s get into the wonderful world of yarn-based crafts!

There are many crafty options out there for you. From knitting, to crochet, to embroidery or cross-stitch, the possibilities abound! But those four crafts I named are the ones I’m going to be talking about. And I’ve even found you some fantastic examples of fun things to make, all made by librarians!

For more excellent examples and ideas, go have a re-read of our Sit ‘n’ Knit post, have a look at the wonderful creations featured there, and let yourself daydream about all the fun you can have once Sit ‘n’ Knit starts up…


Knitting

A hand puppet snake, mostly knitted with green wool but with some variegated orange and red stripes. A red forked tongue pokes out of the side of its mouth. It has big plastic green eyes.

Some snakes are scary. Some snakes are knitted and teach children maths.

Knitting is a classic. You get your needles, you get your yarn, and you can just sit there knitting and purling away to your heart’s content! If you’ve never knitted before the usual beginner project is a scarf – just go back and forth until it’s as long as you want it. Use some chunky yarn and big needles and just watch it grow!

Or if you’re a bit more confident, pull out a circular needle, have a go with double-pointed needles, try some cabling (not as tricky as it looks – trust me!), or venture into the world of colourwork. Hats are also cool. Though if they’re knitted, they’re probably warm.

If you are a beginner, don’t stress about dropping stitches or getting in a tangle. It’s practice and repetition that gets you there. And this is meant to be a stress reliever!

We’ve got plenty of books full of advice and patterns. You could attempt a Literary Knit, get ready with some Tiny Christmas Toys, create some even smaller Teeny-tiny Mochimochi, or go in another direction with some Vampire Knits! If you’re stuck at home and can’t get in to the library we also have many books of knitting patterns available through our eLibrary, and also several knitting-focused eMagazines!


Crochet

A green, grey, and yellow crocheted caterpillar sits next to a yellow crocheted octopus. The octopus has one tentacle through the handle of a white and blue crocheted teapot.

Just some crocheted friends sharing a pot of tea. Lovely.

Crocheting is done with one hook rather than two needles, so there’s not as many things to keep track of with your hands. And it’s usually faster than knitting too! Particularly with a big hook and chunky yarn…

But there are so many things you can crochet! Crochet a curious critter (as seen on the right), make a garden of flowers, or even the Twelve Birds of Christmas!

Hats are usually a good beginner project, and they can be embellished in very fun ways if you feel like it, or there’s the good old-fashioned granny square – great for blankets, using up yarn leftovers, and cushion covers!

Some of the books we have available for you to borrow include more Literary Yarns, amigurumi style foods or animals, you’ll  be sure to find something fun! We’ve got books of crochet patterns available through our eLibrary, and there’s also a few crochet eMagazines, and our eMagazines are always available.


Embroidery

A chaotic piece of embroidery. Black letters on a red background across the centre read "No Candimir, you can't have any wheat". There are mountains in the upper left corner, and yellow flowers on a dark green background in the lower left. Some beads and buttons are sewn in on the right side, and the whole photo area is covered in colourful stitches.

There’s a …lot going on here.

Personally, I like to go a bit wild with my embroidery, as seen in this accompanying image (bonus points if you know who Candimir is, and why you shouldn’t give him any wheat). If you’re into carefully cultivated chaos then it’s easier than you’d think to teach yourself a few different stitches, find something to sew with (it doesn’t have to be embroidery floss – yarn scraps are pretty good!), and just play! If you’d prefer a more precise project though, you can buy embroidery kits that come with all the bits and bobs you need, and even have a design printed onto the fabric you’ll be using.

You do need a few more things before you can start embroidering than the previous two crafts. Namely embroidery hoop, non-stretchy fabric, threads of some kind, and needles (Controversial take: Embroidery needles from Daiso are perfectly adequate. Fight me.).

In terms of library inspiration, we can provide you with some Edgy Embroidery, some Animal Embroidery, and some cool ways to Customise Your Clothes!

Check out these embroidery eMagazines too, for some inspiring ideas!


Cross Stitch

I mean, you’ve got to make sure all your books are in order.

This is where I confess that of all the crafts in this list, cross stitch is the one I haven’t tried. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t! Again, you’ll need an embroidery hoop, needles, something to sew with, and some of that cloth that has all the little holes in it to show you where to stitch (the internet reliably informs me that this is called “aida cloth”).

Like embroidery, you can buy kits that have a design for you to make and all the materials you need. Or if you snorted when seeing the picture to the right and would like to create something a little more exciting…

We have books! We’ve got Subversive Cross Stitch and Improper Cross Stitch and Really Cross Stitch. We have Literary Cross Stitch, Creepy Cross Stitch, and Cross Stitch with Attitude. There’s also a whole LOT of cross stitch eMagazines for your perusal!


The great thing (or so I think) about all these crafts is that they are activities that you can pick up for fifteen minutes or so and stitch away, then put down to come back to later. And that sense of accomplishment and “Oh, I made This” when you’re done is just so good!

So what are you waiting for? Get into it!

Whānau Mārama: New Zealand International Film Festival

Whānau Mārama: New Zealand International Film Festival is running from the 4th–21st of November, so now is the perfect time to explore the world of cinema!

Your library membership gives you access to our DVD collection (rental fees apply). Here are some past NZIFF gems that we have on offer:

The Red Turtle / Dudok de Wit (Netherlands/Japan)

A poignant, wordless fable of luminous imagery and swirling animation. In a majestic world of intricate hand-drawn textures, a shipwrecked man is found marooned on a desert island. With his attempted escapes thwarted by the strange and larger-than-life red turtle, the man’s existence is forever altered when something extraordinary occurs. (Catalogue)

The Farewell / Lulu Wang (USA, Chinese-American)

Chinese-born, U.S.-raised Billi reluctantly returns to Changchun to find that, although the whole family knows their beloved matriarch, Nai-Nai, has been given mere weeks to live, everyone has decided not to tell Nai Nai herself. To assure her happiness, they gather under the joyful guise of an expedited wedding, uniting family members scattered among new homes abroad. As Billi navigates a minefield of family expectations and proprieties, she finds there’s a lot to celebrate. (Catalogue)

A Date for Mad Mary / Darren Thornton (Ireland)

Mad Mary McArdle has returned home after a short spell in prison – for something she’d rather forget. Her best friend, Charlene (Charleigh Bailey), is about to get married and Mary is the maid of honour. When Charlene refuses Mary a ‘plus one’ on the grounds that she probably couldn’t find a date, Mary becomes determined to prove her wrong. Her attempts at dating are a disaster and she winds up feeling more alone…until she meets Jess (Tara Lee) and everything changes. (Adapted from Catalogue)

Kedi / Ceyda Torun (Turkey)

Hundreds of thousands of cats roam the metropolis of Istanbul freely. For thousands of years they’ve wandered in and out of people’s lives, becoming an essential part of the communities that make the city so rich. Claiming no owners, these animals live between two worlds, neither wild nor tame, and they bring joy and purpose to those people they choose to adopt. In Istanbul, cats are the mirrors to the people, allowing them to reflect on their lives in ways nothing else could. (CATalogue)

I Used to Be Normal : A Boyband Fangirl Story / Jessica Leski (Australia)

Filmed over four years, and spanning three generations, this intimate coming of age story follows a diverse group of women who have had their lives dramatically changed by their boyband obsessions. These four women must navigate the challenges of relationships, family, sexuality, and faith, while constantly grappling with all the problems and contradictions that are part of being in love with a boyband. (Adapted from Catalogue)

The Miseducation of Cameron Post / Desiree Akhavan (USA)

Cameron is sent to a gay conversion therapy center after getting caught with another girl in the back seat of a car. Run by the strict and severe Dr. Lydia Marsh and her brother, Reverend Rick, the center is built upon repenting for same sex attraction. In the face of intolerance and denial, Cameron meets a group of fellow sinners, including the amputee stoner Jane and her friend, the Lakota Two-Spirit Adam. Together, this group of teenagers forms an unlikely family as they fight to survive. (Catalogue)

Adult cards also have access to online streaming services to Kanopy and Beamafilm, so perhaps you could utilise a guardian’s library card for a family movie night!

After that, why not head over to LinkedIn Learning (free with your library card) and take one of their online filmmaking courses? Topics include making a short film from start to finish, cinematography, screenwriting, video editing and more!

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