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National Talk Like Shakespeare Day

Well met by blog-light dear reader! This morn thou shalt transpose thy common tongue from the likes of rude mechanicals to the lofty and joyous discourse of the sage Bard himself!

In other words, Happy National Talk Like Shakespeare Day!

Following the tradition started in 2009 by the Chicago Shakespeare Theatre, NTLS Day celebrates Shakespeare’s birthday on the 23rd April (1564) by encouraging people to break out into their best Bard-ish slang. They even include a few pointers on their website, including:

  • Adding “eth” to the ends of verbs (e.g. she liveth, she laugheth, she loveth)
  • Bulk up your word count by adding “methinks”, “mayhaps”, or “forsooth”
  • Upgrade your insult repertoire with the occasional “fiendish codpiece”, “beef-witted lout”, or – if you’re really wanting to knock them down a peg – “the rankest compound of villainous smell that ever offended nostril” (The Merry Wives of Windsor, 3:5)
  • Alternatively, you might aim to woo a prospective suitor with a flowery sonnet or blazon (a poem that lists the admirable features of its subject), but BE FOREWARNED – Shakespeare’s own characters have found this to be something of a challenge.

“I can find no rhyme to ‘lady’ but ‘baby’, an innocent rhyme; for ‘scorn’ ‘horn’, a hard rhyme; for ‘school’ ‘fool’, a babbling rhyme: very ominous endings. No, I was not born under a rhyming planet, nor I cannot woo in festive terms.”                 
                         – Benedict (Much Ado About Nothing, 5:2:26-30)

Shakespeare’s Elizabethan audience might have equally struggled, since the majority of people actually spoke very differently to the characters in his plays! Despite the prevailing myth that Shakespeare’s dialogue reflected the everyday style of conversation, the Bard actually used a sort of ‘stage voice’ in order to give the play a more romantic and grandiose impact.

via GIPHY


Take a look here for more information on National Talk Like Shakespeare Day, or browse our impressive collection of Shakespearean or Bard-inspired works!

These violent delights / Gong, Chloe
“In 1926 Shanghai, eighteen-year-old Juliette Cai, heir of the Scarlet Gang, and her first love-turned-rival Roma Montagov, leader of the White Flowers, must work together when mysterious deaths threaten their city.– Provided by Publisher.” (Catalogue)


William Shakespeare’s Much ado about mean girls / Doescher, Ian
“On Wednesdays we array ourselves in pink! Mean Girls gets an Elizabethan makeover in this totally fetch comedy of manners about North Shore High’s queen bees, wannabes, misfits, and nerds. Written in the style of the Bard of Avon, William Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Mean Girls tells the story of Cady Heron’s rise from home-schooled jungle freak to one of the most popular girls in school. ” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Hamlet : a novel / Marsden, John
“This wonderful book, by one of Australia’s most loved and most read writers, takes Shakespeare’s famous play and makes it into a moving and full-blooded novel. John Marsden follows the contours of the original but powerfully re-imagines its characters and story lines, rather as Shakespeare treated his sources.” (Catalogue)

Much ado about nothing. / Shakespeare, William
“This exciting new series, produced in partnership with the RSC, is designed to introduce students to Shakespeare’s plays. Using trusted and established RSC approaches and vibrant RSC performance photographs, the series brings Shakespeare’s plays to life in the classroom and establishes a deeper understanding and lasting appreciation of his work.” (Catalogue)

The diary of William Shakespeare, gentleman / French, Jackie
“Part comedy, part love story, this book threads together Shakespeare’s life drawn from his plays. Could the world’s greatest writer truly put down his pen forever to become a gentleman? He was a boy who escaped small town life to be the most acclaimed playwright of the land. A lover whose sonnets still sing 400 years later; a glover’s apprentice who became a gentleman. But was he happy with his new riches? Who was the woman he truly loved? The world knows the name of William Shakespeare. This book reveals the man – lover, son and poet.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Ophelia thinks harder / Betts, Jean
“These 19 characters can be played with a minimum of 9 actors doubling, if preferred. A riotous reworking of Shakespeare’s Hamlet. Featuring Ophelia, her maid, St Joan and a couple of locals — Rosencrantz and Guildenstern. (7 male, 12 female).” (Catalogue)

Third witch / French, Jackie
“A searing story of passion, betrayal, battles and love, this is Shakespeare’s ‘Macbeth’ stripped of superstition, and its power and beauty refined into fewer words where good balances the evil and there is a happy ending – for some. Annie is not a witch, but when her mistress Lady Macbeth calls for a potion to ‘stiffen Macbeth’s sinews’, Annie is caught up in plots that lead to murder, kingship and betrayal. ” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Shakespeare : the world as stage / Bryson, Bill
“William Shakespeare, the most celebrated poet in the English language, left behind nearly a million words of text, but his biography has long been a thicket of wild supposition arranged around scant facts. With a steady hand and his trademark wit, Bill Bryson sorts through this colorful muddle to reveal the man himself. ” (Adapted from Catalogue)

YOLO Juliet / Wright, Brett
“Two families at war. A boy and a girl in love. A secret marriage gone oh-so-wrong. What if those star-crossed lovers Romeo and Juliet had smartphones? The classic Shakespeare play told through its characters texting with emojis, checking in at certain locations, and updating their relationship statuses” (Catalogue)

The book of Shakespearean useless information / Montague, Bruce
“This amusing but instructive book assembles many of the legends, lies, the imputations, and a host of uncommon facts from the late Tudor and early Jacobean period, loosely arranged in chronological order to establish William Shakespeare in his literary and historical setting. In doing so, it shows us the man and his time, thereby illuminating the greatest playwright who ever lived.” (Catalogue)

William Shakespeare’s Get thee back to the future! / Doescher, Ian
“Teenaged Marty McFly travels back in time from the 1980s to the 1950s, changing the path of his parents’ destiny…as well as his own. Now fans of the movie can journey back even further—to the 16th century, when the Bard of Avon unveils his latest masterpiece: William Shakespeare’s Get Thee Back to the Future!” (Adapted from Catalogue)

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)

From the Vaults VII: The Archives of Sexuality and Gender

As internet troglodytes naturalised denizens of the internet, it can sometimes be tempting to fall into the belief that everything there is to know can be found for free online. While it’s true that there is an awful lot of information out there, there are two really important things to be aware of:

  • Not everything you can read for free online is true (shocking thought, I know)
  • A lot of the really reliable, peer-reviewed stuff? Yeah. You gotta pay for that (and they wonder why disinformation is rife)

One of the most important, and coolest, things about the public library is that we can get our readers past those paywalls without you having to pay a cent — so you can get access to the most up-to-date, accurate, and reliable info at the low, low cost of typing in your library card number and trying to remember your PIN.

So today, we thought we would spotlight one of our favourite online resources — the Gale Archives of Sexuality and Gender. Whether you’re doing research for school, want to learn more about our queer elders, or are just curious about how societies all over the world have understood and approached questions of sexuality and gender across time — read on, fellow troglodyte, read on!

via GIPHY

Introducing the Archives of Sexuality and Gender

The Gale Archives of Sexuality and Gender is the largest digital collection in the world of primary sources to do with the history and study of sex, sexuality and gender. It’s split up into four different sections, all of which contain everything from magazines, photographs, cartoons, pamphlets, articles, historic books, government briefings, pieces of legislation, pieces of propaganda, and much more — all to do with how sexual norms have changed over time, the development of health education, social movements and activism, changing gender roles… the list goes on.

What’s in the Archives?

The four sections of the Archives are:

  1. International Perspectives on LGBTQ Activism and Culture
    What’s it about?
    This archive collects information about sexual and gender diversity in underrepresented areas of the world, including Oceania and Africa, with a special focus on activism and the global struggle for LGBTQIA+ rights and freedoms.
    What can I find here?
    Newspapers, magazines, cartoons, photographs, personal letters, and other files from prominent activists in Africa and Australia.
  2. LGBTQ History and Culture since 1940, Part I
    What’s it about?
    This archive focusses on grassroots movements that sprung up around the world in support of LGBTQIA+ rights during the mid-20th century, especially around the AIDS crisis in the 1980s.
    What can I find here?
    Newsletters, community meeting documents, newspapers, research reports, government briefings, legislation, photographs, medical research, surveys, private letters.
  3. LGBTQ History and Culture since 1940, Part II
    What’s it about?
    This archive provides coverage of groups who, even within the LGBTQIA+ community, have not been as well represented as other activist groups, including religious queer communities as well as Two-Spirit, bisexual, transgender, and intersex communities. The focus in this archive is more on personal stories than on organisations.
    What can I find here?
    Oral histories, posters, interview transcripts, research papers, psychological surveys, personal letters, manuscripts.
  4. Sex and Sexuality, Sixteenth to Twentieth Century
    What’s it about?
    This archive focusses on understanding how various societies’ understanding of sexual and gender norms have changed from the 1500s through to today.
    What can I find here?
    Extremely rare books and manuscripts including poetry, fiction, historic guides to etiquette and behaviour, medical and scientific texts, law, religious literature, and the personal library of Dr. Alfred Kinsey (yes, that Kinsey)

How do I use the Archives?

Well, in some ways an archive is sort of like a microcosm of the general internet. Just like you can with Google, you can do a general search in the archive’s search engine, and it will bring up an array of results that may or may not include what you’re actually looking for.

But an archive like this one is a little bit cleverer than just any old search engine — so for us to get the most out of it, we have to be a little bit cleverer too!

For example, if you’re interested in learning about LGBTQIA+ history in New Zealand, you can use a special Publication Search to limit your results to only items that were ‘born’ in New Zealand. If what you’re looking for is really specific (e.g. “political posters produced in the 1980s in New Zealand relating to the AIDs crisis”), using a combination of Advanced Search tools will be your way to go.

But we can get even cleverer still! Here are two of our favourite ways to use the Archives:

Topic Finder

The Topic Finder helps you visualise connections between what you’ve searched, and other topics that you might not have even considered! This can be really helpful if you’re doing research for a project, for example, because using the Topic Finder, you can quickly see related topics you might like to look into further, that you wouldn’t have found if you were just doing a general search.

Plus, it looks super pretty — here’s a cute example of a quick search I did for “New Zealand” — as you can see, it has quickly broken down that huge topic into a whole bunch of more specific topics that it will be way easier for me to explore further:

The colours! So fetching!

Term Frequency

If you’re a language nerd like me, you’re super interested in how the language we use changes over time. And the language used to describe the LGBTQIA+ community changes frequently as social norms are challenged and eventually changed. The Term Frequency tool lets you see exactly how this works by showing letting you compare how often particular terms are referenced in written works throughout history.

This is a really interesting example — in the below graph, the black line traces usage of the word “transgender,” whereas the blue line traces the usage of the word “transsexual.” Note that “transsexual” was the more common word, until 1993, when transgender activist Leslie Feinberg popularised the use of the word “transgender” in her impactful novel Stone Butch Blues.

Look, a graph might not seem cool to you, but it seems really cool to us!

So what?

Armed with your new array of tools and techniques, go forth and explore! There is so much interesting, exciting, challenging, inspiring, and thought-provoking stuff in this archive just waiting to be found. Go on! Find it!

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!

 

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)

“The most misunderstood of English villains”: Guy Fawkes and the Gunpowder Plot

image courtesy of wikipedia.org

This black-and-white drawing of Guy Fawkes was actually created over 200 years after his death by illustrator George Cruikshank! Image: Public Domain

Prepare to blow up… your mind with a veritable treasure trove of information about a gunpowder plot gone wrong. Guy Fawkes Day or Bonfire Night is on this horizon this very evening, November 5th, as an annual celebration with bonfires and fireworks in remembrance of the failed plot to kill the British Government and King James VI and I.

Why do we celebrate Guy Fawkes? Guy Fawkes and a group of men were part of a plot to blow up British Parliament to kill the King of England on the 5th of November. However, the government found out about the plot before the attack could take place. The government arrested Guy Fawkes and his conspirators, who were then convicted of treason. To celebrate the survival of the Parliament, they announced a national day, now known as Guy Fawkes Day. The first celebration was held on November 5, 1606. Today, Guy Fawkes Day is celebrated with feasts, bonfires, and fireworks.

For more information, check out:

If you’d like to read more about the history and alternative stories about Guy Fawkes,  here’s a selection of books at the library:

image courtesy of syndeticsThe Gunpowder Plot : terror in Shakespeare’s England.

“The Gunpowder Plot is perhaps the most famous and well-documented event in British Early Modern History. This means the story can be told through original dialogue recorded at the time to a greater extent than any other of the period. This expert retelling of the Gunpowder Plot brings seventeenth-century voices fresh to the page. It shows the complex motivations of the principal figures involved, including the plotters themselves, and tells the story of the plot without the benefit of hindsight.  Today, ‘Guido Fawkes’ has become the face of political disaffection, thanks to his popularity as a mask for protestors. And in a modern world of religious terrorism, this books lets us understand what drove the participants in British history’s biggest home-grown plot.”(Catalogue).

image courtesy of syndeticsPity for the Guy : a biography of Guy Fawkes.

“The first fully-rounded portrait of the man behind the Gunpowder Plot for hundreds of years Guy Fawkes has been portrayed as perhaps too extreme a figure — a rabid, bloodthirsty Catholic who not only tried to bomb British Parliament but threatened the English way of life. This biography reveals that he was much more than an evil, shadowy conspirator with an axe to grind. John Paul Davis delves into the evidence and makes a convincing case for new thinking on one of English history’s greatest enigmas. Not only is the Gunpowder Plot of 1605 thrillingly retold, but Guy Fawkes can now be seen as a multi-faceted figure — husband, soldier, lover, adventurer, spy, and possibly the most misunderstood of English villains.” (Catalogue)

image courtesy of syndeticsThe Gunpowder Plot : terror & faith in 1605.

“A bestselling historian’s account of the Gunpowder Plot – ‘History as it should be written’ – Roy Strong.” (Catalogue)

image courtesy of syndeticsRemember, remember the fifth of November : Guy Fawkes and the gunpowder plot.

“Guy Fawkes is one of the most celebrated figures in English history – but how did a failed Catholic plot to blow up the Houses of Parliament in 1605 inspire a religious festival, anti-Catholic riots, political protests, novels and pantomimes, and a 60 million annual spend on fireworks?” (Catalogue)

image courtesy of syndeticsFawkes.

“Thomas Fawkes is turning to stone, and the only cure to the Stone Plague is to join his father’s plot to assassinate the king of England.” (Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.

Study Hacks to Avoid NCEA Panic Attacks

It’s almost time for summer holidays, but first the dreaded NCEA season is approaching. Have you barricaded yourself in your room with an ungodly amount of snacks yet? Have you spent the required 2.5 hours debating aesthetic highlighter choices for your study notes? Do you know when your exams are? These, and the list below, are all equally important things to consider when preparing for your exams.

Image of a collection of NCEA study books at He Matapihi Library

Controversial librarian take: I wish we could shelve these study guides by colour instead of by call number. [Editor’s note: HOW VERY DARE YOU! (also, yes). -SC]


1: Use the official study guides.

No shade to the NCEA system, but when I was a teen you would literally see questions in the study books that would then turn up, ALMOST VERBATIM, in the exam. This is because, though it can be hard to believe, the people that write your tests want you to succeed.  Making your way through these guides is therefore something you do not want to miss out on. If you don’t have a copy of the study guides, no worries, we have copies at most of our libraries. Click here to find ’em all.


2: Practice with past exams.

Following the previous tip, you can go to the official NCEA website and take past exams. You can them come print them off at the library if you like!

Extra for experts: Practice completing your exams within the time limit that you will have on the day, with no looking things up! The closer you can get to practicing in actual test conditions, the less stressed you’ll hopefully get on the day.


3: Don’t leave it to the last minute.

Trying to revise a whole year of work in a day is impossible. Saying “today I will study for 4 hours” is vague. Try setting specific and manageable goals. Make a plan that breaks down exactly what you intend to revise, and what day you will do it on. This means that, when you sit down to study, you won’t have to waste brain energy figuring out where you should start. You could pair this with a cute to-do list or calendar to track your progress. You could even incorporate cute stamps or stickers. You are never too old or cool for stickers. I guess what I am trying to say is that if you can find an excuse to go get some cute stationery, you should do it. I am not sponsored by Big Stationery, but gosh I wish I was. Anyway, back to studying, this leads me to my next tip…


4: Take breaks!

The fact is that, although it sounds very impressive to say “I’m going to study for 5 hours today”, most people need to take breaks. Exactly how long/how many will depend on your brain! I have looked briefly around at various resources and a common suggestion is 45 mins of work, then 15 mins of downtime to recharge, so maybe try that and then change it up to find what works best for you.

On this note, although it may be tempting to use that break time to zone out with your phone, I challenge you to give yourself a proper rest from your screen. Try going for a walk outside, making yourself a hot drink, eating a snack or lying in the sun listening to music. Find an activity that you enjoy that lets your mind wander, but that isn’t a procrastination trap.


5: Have a study group/buddy.

This could take many different forms! Are you more likely to study if you sit with a group of friends who are hard at work? Do you prefer learning facts if there’s a chance to get competitive about it? Do you find it easier to understand concepts if you talk them out with someone? There’s heaps of reasons to add a social aspect to your studying! Sidenote: you could also incorporate some mild hijinks into your study day. For example, me and my friends once all met for a library study session in Where’s Wally outfits. We then took breaks to play real life Where’s Wally in the library. Yes, we were studying for a theatre class. Yes, we were fully grown adults at university. Yes, I am still extremely cool.


6: Make it a e s t h e t i c .

Here’s where you get to use those fancy new highlighters. After revising a concept, condense what you have learned into a mind map/flow chart/summary page. This will then be a helpful tool for when you want to briefly look over a topic. It’s also a nice safety blanket for exam day.


7: GET RID OF DISTRACTIONS.

Put your phone on silent, in a shoe box, and throw it into the ocean. Maybe not in the ocean, but keep that thing as far out of your study zone as possible.

Headphones can be really helpful if your study space isn’t very peaceful, os if you have annoying siblings you need help ignoring. I suggest playing ambient music or lo-fi hiphop beats, whatever helps you separate yourself from any distracting sounds. Related to this, the teen blog team here at WCL might be cooking up something very interesting for you. 

Extra for expert: Turn your Wi-Fi off. Don’t be online at all until you are finished studying. As an ancient person who sat my NCEA exams before it was common to have wi-fi at home, I can assure you it’s possible to study without constantly being online.


8: …it’s like a reward.

End your study session with a treat. Have some Tiktok or video game time to reward yourself for a hard day of studying. You could also plan a fun hang-out with your friends later in the day, that way you have a set time where you have to be done studying by. Deadlines can be very helpful!

~Extra hard mode~: You can only text your crush back once you finish studying. Honestly, I would not be surprised if this helps a person learn a concept faster.


Helpful books!

Learning how to learn : how to succeed in school without spending all your time studying / Oakley, Barbara A.
“A surprisingly simple way for students to master any subject… “Learning How to Learn” have empowered more than two million learners of all ages from around the world to master subjects that they once struggled with. Now in this new book for kids and teens, the authors reveal how to make the most of time spent studying. — Provided by publisher.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

How to be a knowledge ninja : study smarter, focus better, achieve more / Allcott, Graham
“Paralysed by procrastination? Harness some Ninja Focus to get things started. Overwhelmed by exam nerves? You need some Zen-like Calm to turn those butterflies into steely focus. Surrounded by too many scrappy notes and unfinished to-do lists? Get Weapon-savvy with the latest organizational technology.” (Catalogue)

The study skills handbook / Cottrell, Stella
“Your essential companion for succeeding with your studies. Bestselling author Stella Cottrell equips you with the skills you need to improve your grades, build your confidence and plan for the future you want. Recognising that we each have a unique formula for success, her tried and trusted approach helps you find the key to unlock your potential.” (Catalogue)

How to study / Fry, Ronald W
“Best-selling HOW TO STUDY, SEVENTH EDITION reveals the study skills that all students need to know in order to be successful, whether the goal is landing a top scholarship or excelling in school. This edition includes information on how to create an effective work environment, stand out in class, use the library, conduct research online, and much more. Plus, author Ron Fry covers all the traditional elements of a winning study strategy, such as reading, writing, time-management, memory, and test-taking skills. HOW TO STUDY, SEVENTH EDITION introduces a revolutionary study system, along with examples, that gives students the edge in any learning environment.” (Catalogue)

Let’s ace Ace Week!

We’re now in the middle of Ace Week! Ace Week is an annual week to celebrate and highlight asexuality and all asexual-spectrum identities. So let’s celebrate all you Aces out there!

If you’re wondering what asexuality is, aces & aros has a pretty good introduction to asexuality and aromanticism. Awareness is important, and knowledge is a powerful thing!

Or if you’re after something more local… As part of their More Than Four campaign, InsideOUT created a series of videos that feature and explore the wide range of identities within our rainbow community. Check out their Asexual/Aromantic video below!

And since we’re a library, I couldn’t end this post without giving you some reading recommendations from our collection! Here are some books that feature asexual characters, or asexual authors!

Ace : what asexuality reveals about desire, society, and the meaning of sex / Chen, Angela
“Ace” delves into the lives of those who identify using the little-known sexual orientation of asexuality and shows what all of us can learn–about desire, identity, culture, and relationships–when we use an asexual lens to see the world”– Provided by publisher.” (Catalogue)

Also available as an eBook

Rick / Gino, Alex
“Eleven-year-old Rick Ramsey has generally gone along with everybody, just not making waves, even though he is increasingly uncomfortable with his father’s jokes about girls, and his best friend’s explicit talk about sex; but now in middle school he discovers the Rainbow Spectrum club, where kids of many genders and identities can express themselves–and maybe among them he can find new friends and discover his own identity, which may just be to opt out of sex altogether.” (Catalogue)

Also available as an eAudiobook and eBook

Overdrive cover Asexual Fairy Tales / Hopkinson, Elizabeth (ebook)
“A refreshing collection of enchanting fairy tales that reflect the spectrum of human sexuality.” (Overdrive description)

Gender queer : a memoir / Kobabe, Maia
“In 2014, Maia Kobabe, who uses e/em/eir pronouns, thought that a comic of reading statistics would be the last autobiographical comic e would ever write. At the time, it was the only thing e felt comfortable with strangers knowing about em. Now, Gender Queer is here. Maia’s intensely cathartic autobiography charts eir journey of self-identity, which includes the mortification and confusion of adolescent crushes, grappling with how to come out to family and society, bonding with friends over erotic gay fanfiction, and facing the trauma and fundamental violation of pap smears. Started as a way to explain to eir family what it means to be nonbinary and asexual, Gender Queer is more than a personal story: it is a useful and touching guide on gender identity – what it means and how to think about it – for advocates, friends, and humans everywhere.”–Amazon.” (Catalogue)

Also available as an eBook

 Elatsoe / Little Badger, Darcie
“Imagine an America very similar to our own. It’s got homework, best friends, and pistachio ice cream. There are some differences. This America has been shaped dramatically by the magic, monsters, knowledge, and legends of its peoples, those Indigenous and those not. Some of these forces are charmingly everyday, like the ability to make an orb of light appear or travel across the world through rings of fungi. But other forces are less charming and should never see the light of day. Seventeen-year-old Elatsoe (“Ellie” for short) lives in this slightly stranger America. She can raise the ghosts of dead animals, a skill passed down through generations of her Lipan Apache family. Her beloved cousin has just been murdered, in a town that wants no prying eyes. But she is going to do more than pry. The picture-perfect façade of Willowbee masks gruesome secrets, and she will rely on her wits, skills, and friends to tear off the mask and protect her family” — Publisher’s description.” (Catalogue)

Also available as an eBook

Every heart a doorway / McGuire, Seanan
“Children have always disappeared from Eleanor West’s Home for Wayward Children under the right conditions; slipping through the shadows under a bed or at the back of a wardrobe, tumbling down rabbit holes and into old wells, and emerging somewhere … else. But magical lands have little need for used-up miracle children. Nancy tumbled once, but now she’s back. The things she’s experienced … they change a person. The children under Miss West’s care understand all too well. And each of them is seeking a way back to their own fantasy world. But Nancy’s arrival marks a change at the Home. There’s a darkness just around each corner, and when tragedy strikes, it’s up to Nancy and her new-found schoolmates to get to the heart of the matter. No matter the cost.” (Catalogue)

Also available as an eAudiobook and eBook

Chicken Soup for the Adventurous Soul

Exams are on the horizon, and some of you may be fighting the urge to run into the woods and never return. But fear not – Spring is in the air, and the world is full of wonderful things to distract you from study! Now is the perfect time to be daydreaming about those Summer roadies and camping trips, and what better way to prepare for the great outdoors than by popping down to your local library for a quick peruse of Bear Grylls’ collected works?

Whether you’re planning a quick day-trip through the bush, a few days camping with friends, or are fully committed to vanishing amongst the undergrowth and resurfacing only often enough that you become a haunting fixture of local folklore, our collection has something for you.

You can find more information about local hiking trails on the Wellington City Council website.

The young adventurer’s guide to (almost) everything : build a fort, camp like a champ, poop in the woods–45 action-packed outdoor activities / Hewitt, Ben
“[…] The Young Adventurer’s Guide will teach kids everything from how to walk like a fox and see like an owl to use the stars as their own personal GPS and even how to build the world’s coolest fort out of foraged sticks. This handbook for curious kids will empower them to explore the natural world and even the comfort of their own backyard through a whole new set of skills. Featuring 65 different skills in sections that include: Secrets of the Woods, The Best Camping Trip, Make Cool Stuff That’s Actually Useful and Turn the Ordinary into the Extraordinary”– Provided by publisher.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Hiking & tramping in New Zealand / Bennett, Sarah
“Lonely Planet Hiking and Tramping in New Zealand is your passport to all the most relevant and up-to-date advice on what to see, what to skip, and what hidden discoveries await you. Admire the dramatic peaks and valleys of Fiordland National Park, stroll past bays and beaches of the Abel Tasman Coast, or scale an active volcano on the North Island.” (Catalogue)

Survival handbook : an essential companion to the great outdoors / Sumerak, Marc
“This book includes crucial tips on exactly what you need to know to survive even the most unexpected circumstances. This illustrated guide shows you how to make a shelter, build a fire, locate clean water, forage for food, avoid deadly animals, protect yourself from bad weather, and find your way back home safely afterward. Whether you’re lost, hungry, burned, or buried, knowing essential emergency survival skills could literally mean the difference between life and death.” (Catalogue)

Day walks of Greater Wellington / Gavalas, Marios
“[…] With overviews of popular walking areas, each walk is given a track grade, approximate travel time, easy access details, notes on the track itself and points of interest to highlight the most memorable features. Illustrated with maps and plenty of photographs, this handy guide is the essential companion for anyone venturing into the region’s outdoors.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Camping / Grylls, Bear
“Ever wanted to be an adventurer like Bear Grylls? If you do, you will need to know all the skills required to survive camping in the wilderness! In this practical field guide readers will learn how to choose the best site, how to build shelters and how to make a solar shower – and much more. With full-colour illustrations throughout, this book will appeal to scout groups, as the topic coincides with scout badges.” (Catalogue)

A forager’s treasury / Knox, Johanna
“Features profiles of many edible plants commonly found in New Zealand, including advice on where to find them, how to harvest them and how best to use them”–Back cover.” (Catalogue)


The beginner’s guide to hunting + fishing in New Zealand / Adamson, Paul
“Includes information on the right equipment for the right species, hunting with dogs, and mountain safety and bushcraft essentials. With diagrams, fun facts, a glossary of hunting terms, helpful tips and even some recipes to try out at home … has an emphasis on safety and provides all budding hunters with the basic skills and knowledge for a lifetime of adventure in the great outdoors”–Back cover.” (Catalogue)

Survival for beginners : a step-by-step guide to camping and outdoor skills / Towell, Colin
“This essential survival guide for intrepid young explorers shows the skills and techniques you need for outdoor adventure, from maps and navigation to camping. Learn the basics – from picking the best campground to knowing how to build a shelter – with clear step-by-step illustrations […] So start packing your rucksack for an outdoor adventure and don’t forget to read Survival for Beginners.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Bushcraft : outdoor skills for the New Zealand bush
“Bushcraft is an excellent resource for outdoor activities. It helps both novices and those with some experience to enjoy the NZ bush in greater safety. Provides up-to-date information on new techniques, new equipment, and new ideas. Chapters include trip planning, managing risk, food, equipment, shelter, tramping skills, weather, navigation, river safety, hazards, emergency procedures, and much more!” (Catalogue)

Curiosities and splendour
“Journey back in time with this collection of classic travel writing from great authors and adventurers. These extraordinary odysseys over land and sea captivated audiences and gave them a glimpse into countries, cities and cultures like never before. Tales include Robert Byron’s ten-month journey through Persia to Afghanistan in the early 30s; Jack London’s 1907 sailing adventure across the south Pacific; and Teddy Roosevelt’s scientific exploration of the Brazilian jungles exotic flora and fauna […] (Adapted from Catalogue)

Lost lore : a celebration of traditional wisdom, from foraging and festivals to seafaring and smoke signals / McGovern, Una
“An engaging introduction to traditional knowledge and forgotten wisdom” (Catalogue)

Te Taiao Needs Our Help: Recycling Week 2021


Did you know that Aotearoa has a week dedicated to recycling? Of course we should be recycling all the time, but it’s good to have a reminder about what we can do to care for the taiao. Recycling Week runs from the 18th-24th of October, with each day being dedicated to challenges to encourage us to re-think our waste minimization and recycling behaviours. To get us inspired, here are some awesome recycling initiatives from around the world!

There are machines in Colombia where you can recycle your tin, glass and plastic bottles in exchange for public transit credits. Imagine paying for the bus with bottles! You could literally collect other people’s littering and profit from it. Then you’d be both a tidy kiwi, and a kiwi with a topped up Snapper card, Incredible!

Barcelona had a issues with cooking oil being poured down the drain and clogging the pipes (sound familiar?). City officials tackled this problem by giving away free “Olipots” for people to collect their used oil in, while also setting up collection spots for people to dispose of their oil around the city. The collected oils are then recycled into a biodiesel.

ReTuna Återbruksgalleria, in Sweden, is the world’s first recycling mall! Here, old items are given new life through repair and upcycling. Everything sold is recycled, reused or has been organically or sustainably produced. Visitors to the mall can also easily drop off donations, which are then sorted into what can be repaired and resold or donated to somewhere the item will be useful.

Scientists in South Korea have invented a t-shirt that could be used to charge your phone! Specifically, the fabric of the t-shirt generates electricity as it bends and flexes and “a person wearing a shirt tailored from the material only has to move around to power a small screen or other electronic devices” .  This process is possible through the utilising of Triboelectricity, electricity generated by friction. If you want to know more, click through to the article because this goes over my head very quickly. It has been a minute/decade since I did NCEA Physics. Most importantly, this invention would be very handy for long Pokémon GO missions (is Pokémon GO still relevant and cool? Please let it still be relevant and cool. I need this). 


Keen to take the next step in your recycling? Here’s a little book list to send you on your way. 🙂


My zero-waste kitchen : easy ways to eat waste free / O’Rourke-Jones, Ruth
“Looking to live sustainably without overhauling your life? My Zero-Waste Kitchen shows you how to put the three R’s – reduce, reuse, recycle – into practice in the kitchen.  (Adapted from Catalogue)


Make & mend : a guide to recycling clothes and fabrics / Peacock, Rebecca
“Welcome to Make & Mend! This book shows how, with a little knowledge and a little creativity, you can make a wide range of fantastic items from those old clothes and fabrics you can’t bear to throw away. Full of projects, from aprons to curtains, bags to jewellery, we show you how to turn a bag of scraps into wearable, beautiful and personalised items.” (Adapted from Catalogue)


Remade vintage jewelry : 35 step-by-step projects inspired by lost, found, and recycled treasures / Bush, *Co-Co Nichole
“Transform vintage finds and broken objects into pieces to treasure with Remade Vintage Jewelry.” (Catalogue)


A little bit crafty
“A little bit crafty is a nifty collection of 39 DIY ideas from creative types across Australia and New Zealand. With an emphasis on recycling, cheap and easy materials, and projects that can be done in an afternoon, it’s chock full of sweet, clever and slightly oddball crafts that’ll make you smile and keep your hands happy, too.” (Catalogue)


ReadyMade : how to make (almost) everything : a do-it-yourself primer / Berger, Shoshana
“For people who like to make stuff, who see the flicker of invention in everyday objects, this quirky ‘how-to’ volume contains design projects ranging from water-bottle lounge chairs and ladder shelving to shopping bag rugs and denim dog beds.” (Catalogue)


The upcycled T-shirt : 28 easy-to-make projects that save the planet – clothing, accessories, home decor & gifts / Montilone, Jenelle
“Did you know the average American throws away more than 68 pounds of clothing each year? Join the revolution to reduce your carbon footprint—one T-shirt at a time! Widely known for her recycling efforts, environmental crafter Jenelle Montilone will show you how to upcycle tees into fun and fanciful quilts, accessories, toys, and gifts for the whole family. (Adapted from Catalogue)


50 fantastic ideas for sustainability / O’Sullivan, June
“Teach children to reduce, reuse, recycle, repair and be respectful with 50 fun activities for encouraging environmental sustainability. From creating butterfly feeders with food scraps, to turning old kitchen equipment into beautiful planters or bringing broken crayons back to life, these original ideas encourage practitioners to see the potential for creativity and fun using and reusing everyday, easy-to-source items, some of which might have otherwise gone to waste. Enhance children’s creativity, cognitive development and motor skills through indoor and outdoor activities that are enjoyable, educational and environmentally friendly. (Adapted from Catalogue)

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