Wellington City Libraries

Te Matapihi Ki Te Ao Nui

Teen Blog

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

Tag: activism

Making Sense of the World Around Us

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

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

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

Hope was here / Bauer, Joan

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

 

 

Legacy / Hereaka, Whiti

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

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

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

 

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

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

The dharma punks / Sang, Anthony

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

Bernie Sanders guide to political revolution / Sanders, Bernard

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

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

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

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

Dawn Raid / Smith, Pauline

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

The rise of the Nazis / Tonge, Neil

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

 

Persepolis / Satrapi, Marjane

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

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

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

 

Free Photography Workshops Coming to a Library Near You

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

Where and when?

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

What even is it?

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

So how do I do the thing?

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

Photo of a smiling young man holding a DSLR camera

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

New Books

In time for the long weekend (happy Queen’s Birthday to you)!

From Simon:

The Dreamwalker’s Child, by Steve Voake (300 pages) – Young Sam lives in the country and hates it. He has no pals and everything is relaxed and peaceful slow and dull. Until he’s in an accident which sticks him in a coma. However! His mind wakes in another world run by giant smart insects who want to wupe humanity from the face of Earth with mosquito-spread disease. It’s up to Sam and his allies to stop this from happening.

First line: ‘When they are first born, most people find the world a fascinating, magical place.

The Girl in the Mask, by Marie-Louise Jensen (311 pages) – It is 1715 or so, and Sophie’s duty is to look pretty and get hitched ASAP. She hate all the balls and dances and so on required of her, so when it’s dark she secretly moonlights as a highway robber. Which seems reasonable. She also gets involved with the failed Stuart rebellion, just to add a touch of historical context.

First lines: ‘I didn’t hear my cousin’s voice at first. It wasn’t until the library door was flung open with a bang, making me jump, that I came back down to earth.

The Calling, by Kelley Armstrong (326 pages) – This is the second book in the Darkness Rising series (the first is The Gathering). Maya. who has a pawprint birthmark and can talk to animals (I think?), and her similarly supernatural friends have all been kidnapped. They escape! And are now being chased through the Vancouver wilds.

First line: ‘I don’t know who was more anxious – Daniel or Kenjii – but they weren’t making this emergency helicopter evacuation and easier.

Ready Player One, by Ernest Cline (372 pages) – In a vast virtual reality world (designed by Willy Wonka’s futuristic twin), Wade Watts escapes the ecological wasteland that is Earth in 2044. The world’s founder died a few years previously and had left his fortune to whoever can solve numerous 1980s-pop-culture riddles throughout the world. 1980s pop culture! Well I am sold. Ready Player One has been showered with praise and awards probably and I think a movie is on its way.

First line: ‘Everyone my age remembers where they were and what they were doing when the first heard about the contest. I was sitting in my hideout watching cartoons when the news bulletin broke in on my video feed, announcing the James Halliday had died during the night.’

From Grimm, since Simon is sickathomewithacold:

Lovetorn, by Kavita Daswani (250 pages) – Shalini has moved from India to Los Angeles, which is a rather large cultural shock (accent, hair, clothes etc.). Additionally, and most differently of all, she is set to marry Vikram (and has been almost her whole life). Then there’s Toby at school, who is bound to turn Shalini’s sense of her destiny on its head.

First sentence: In a carved wooden frame on my mother’s bedside table sits a photograph of me taken on the day that I got engaged.

The Difference Between You and Me, by Madeleine George (256 pages) – Jesse and Emily are really rather different. One is an activist (or rather, the only member of NOLAW – the National Organization to Liberate All Weirdos) the other is vice president of the student council. But they are attracted to one another. Things get complicated when they end up on opposite sides of an issue – what will win over, their relationship or their commitment to their causes?

First sentence: Jesse is in the sophomore hall girls’ bathroom, the farthest stall from the door, one huge, scuffed fisherman’s boot propped up on the toilet seat so she can balance her backpack on her knee and rifle through it.

Trafficked, by Kim Purcell (384 pages) – Hannah struggles to look after her grandmother in Moldova, so she leaps at the chance to go to Los Angeles to work as a nanny. However, the family treats her like a captive slave, and when she is caught sneaking out the house to visit Colin, her neighbour, she is threatened with prostitution. Hannah, fortunately, has a lot of gumption, and her investigations into her employers captors may lead to the truth about a missing uncle who disappeared mysteriously in Moldova, but they may also put her in danger.

First sentence: Hannah took two small steps forward in the immigration line entering America at LAX.

When the Sea is Rising Red, by Cat Hellisen (296 pages) – Felicita lives an elite life as a member of Pelimburg’s founding family, but she has few choices. When her friend throws herself off a cliff rather than marry the man she’s been assigned to, Felicita fakes her own suicide and escapes to the city’s slums. There she meets Dash (a “charismatic renegade”, what’s not to like?) and the vampire Jannik. Things take a turn for the disturbing when pale corpses begin washing up on the beach. In her death, Felicita’s friend has (maybe unknowingly?) unleashed some sinister magic from the sea, which those who want to overthrow the powerful classes of Pelimburg might use to start a rebellion.

First sentence: She’s not here.

Frost, Marianna Baer (396 pages) – Strange goings on are going on at Frost House, a boarding school with a rather creepy name. Door slam, pictures fall off walls. Leena’s room mate, Celeste, thinks it’s the other students trying to scare her off, but Leena is not so sure, and fears increasingly for her safety: “does the threat lie with her new roommate, within Leena’s own mind… or in Frost House itself?” (book cover). Warning: this book may also contain a love interest named David.

First sentence: Before I lived here, before any of this happened, I imagined Frost House as a sanctuary.

Somebody Please Tell Me Who I Am, Harry Mazer and Peter Lerangis (148 pages) – Ben is a bit of a star: he’s bright, popular, and talented. He surprises everyone when he enlists in the army straight out of high school, saying he feels compelled to serve his country. But things go horribly wrong when he’s serving in Iraq, and Ben returns with a brain injury: he comes back hardly able to speak or walk, and with no memory of who he is.

First sentence: The knife came out of nowhere.

New Books Again

A box of chocolates: horror, angels, love triangles, the origins of a New York icon, memoirs of addiction, high fantasy, gritty realism, dramas, and short stories, oh and chimpanzees again!

Non-fiction

We All Fall Down: Living With Addiction, and Tweak: Growing Up On Methamphetamines, by Nic Sheff – Two memoirs with rave reviews on the subject of drug addiction, and companions to the book Beautiful Boy: A Father’s Journey Through His Son’s Addiction by David Sheff. On Tweak: “The author details his immersion in a world of hardcore drugs, revealing the mental and physical depths of addiction, and the violent relapse one summer in California that forever changed his life, leading him down the road to recovery.” (Library catalogue)

Fiction

Half Brother, Kenneth Oppel (377 pages) – Oh fab! Ben’s father is a behavioural scientist, and on Ben’s 13th birthday, Zan comes to live with the family, as an experiment: Zan is a chimpanzee. Cool, you’d think. Well yes indeed!, although having a chimpanzee for a half-brother can have its hairy moments, and then when things start going wrong can Ben save Zan? (From what, I want to know, hoping it’s not horrible, and that it has a happy ending like the Chimpanzee movie.)

First sentence: This is how we got Zan.

Angry Young Man, Chris Lynch (167 pages) – Xan (not to be confused with Zan) is an angry young man, becoming increasingly involved in hard-core activism and groups of anarchists. Robert, his older brother, is completely different, steady and together. But when Xan appears to spiral out of control will Robert be able to rescue him, and is Robert such a solid, dependable hero anyway?

First sentence: I want you to understand my brother.

Huntress, Malinda Lo (371 pages) – High fantasy (complete with map) inspired by the I Ching, and prequel (by several centuries) to Ash, in Huntress the human kingdom is suffering: the sun never shines and strange creatures have begun appearing. Two seventeen year old girls are chosen to go on a dangerous journey to save the kingdom. Along the way they fall in love, but then it becomes clear that there should only be one Huntress saviour: will they be torn apart?

First sentence: She saw a beach made of ice, and she felt her heart breaking.

Summer and the City, Candace Bushnell (409 pages) – sequel to The Carrie Diaries and therefore also prequel to Sex and the City. Carrie’s having a good summer, enjoying the shopping, the parties, and the men the Big Apple provide, plus she’s in a writing class learning what will become her trade. During the summer she will meet two of her BFFs, Samantha and Miranda, and become more Carrie Bradshaw-ish.

First sentence: First Samantha asks me to find her shoe.

Dramarama, E Lockhart (305 pages) – Sadye (Sarah) and Demi (Douglas) become instant best friends when they meet at the auditions for a prestigious drama camp. When they both get in things look exciting – the chance to study under one of New York’s leading directors, for example, but it’s drama camp in more ways than one: can their friendship survive?

First sentence: Transcript of a microcassette recording: Demi: Is it on?

We’ll Always Have Summer, Jenny Han (291 pages) – the conclusion to the trilogy that began with The Summer I Turned Pretty. Belly and Jeremiah have been together for two years. Things should be happily ever after, but they aren’t really. Belly has unresolved feelings for Conrad, and when Jeremiah proposes marriage she must choose between the two, possibly breaking one of their hearts in the process. Obviously you must read this if you’ve read the others! And bring a hankie!

First sentence: On Wednesday nights when I was little, my mom and I would watch old musicals.

The Saga of Larten Crepsley: Ocean of Blood, Darren Shan (247 pages) – The prequel to Cirque Du Freak, where you get to learn more about Larten: what he was like as a teenager, rebelling against vampire authorities and hitting the road with his brother, leaving a trail of human destruction behind them. But are there dangers for him in this wanton, destructive lifestyle?

First sentence: The vampire known as Quicksilver threw a knife high into the smoke-clogged air of the tavern.

Fallen Angel, Heather Terrell (310 pages) – Ellie is shy and withdrawn around everyone except her friend Ruth, until she meets Michael. Together, she and Michael discover they have a similar secret: otherworldly powers, which will come in handy when they’re pitched into the eternal conflict, the battle between good and evil.

First sentence: I watched my curtains billow in the early autumn wind that wafted through my opened bedroom window.

Virgin Territory, Jame Lecesne (218 pages) – Set around the time of September 11 2001. Dylan’s father moves the family from New York to a small Florida town after the death of his mother. Dylan finds himself drifting through summer, losing a sense of his future while his past – and memories of his mother – appears to fade. When the Blessed Virgin Mary is sighted in town, interesting new arrivals bring a new perspective for Dylan: can he forge ahead and carve out a new future for himself?

First sentence: I’m staring out the passenger window of Doug’s banged-up Ford Explorer as we speed along I-95.

The Kissing Game: Short Stories, Aidan Chambers (215 pages) – including several pieces of flash fiction, which we like as a concept. The cover says, “In these sixteen short stories, acclaimed author Aidan Chambers examines moments of truth in which a conversation or an event suddenly reveals a surprising, sometimes life-altering meaning.”

First sentence (‘Cindy’s Day Out’): Enough! she said to herself.