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Wellington City Libraries

Te Matapihi Ki Te Ao Nui

Teen Blog

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

Tag: eLibrary

Matariki Short Story Competition with Lingogo!

You said there was a writing competition?

Yes indeed! Fancy yourself a bit of a language aficionado? Our friends at Lingogo are running a Matariki Short Story Competition for rangatahi aged 13-18 around the country. The winner gets a $500 Prezzy card, plus gets published on the Lingogo app! Your story must be on the theme of Matariki, and be less than 500 words, and may be in English or te reo Māori, but other than that, all the creative stuff is down to you!

Start writing now for your chance to win — entries close at midnight on the 30th of June, but there’s still plenty of time to get in those submissions. In their words, “you could be flying into the Māori new year as a published author with some extra moolah in your pocket!” Check out all the deets, and submit your story, here. And if you’re in the mood for inspiration, check out some of our previous posts on the topic of creative writing here!

Wait, so what is Lingogo again?

We’re glad you asked! Lingogo is a library app developed in Aotearoa that provides access to a wide range of dual-language Māori and Pacific stories with audio. It’s awesome for beginner and intermediate language learners as well as fluent speakers. You can simply tap any sentence to listen to it spoken aloud and find its English translation, so it’s super easy and intuitive to use. It’s one of the best tools out there to get clued up about indigenous story and language, so get amongst!

Get started with Lingogo by visiting our eLibrary page here, or you can find the app on the Google Play Store or Apple App Store. We reckon Lingogo is pretty awesome, so we’re keen for you to give it a go!

New LGBTIQ+ Teen Reads on OverDrive

Look, I get it. Sometimes you just need someone to tell you what books to read. I understand that! There’s a lot of books out there — entirely too many to count — so the intrepid librarians behind our illustrious eBook collection on OverDrive and Libby have undertaken to sort these books into comprehensive, yet easily-digestible lists for your convenience. One such list in the Teen Reading Room is the LGBTIQ+ Teen Reads list, which has recently doubled in size thanks to the efforts of our mystical and talented library gremlins! Make sure to keep checking in as new lists are being worked on all the time.

LGBTIQ+ Teen Reads

This list pulls together a veritable panoply of the best of the best in LGBTIQ+ authors and titles for young adults — that’s you! Here are some of my current faves from this selection:

Overdrive cover We Contain Multitudes, Sarah Henstra (Audiobook)

This beautiful book, told as an epistolary story (through letters and diary entries) is a classic oppposites-attract romance set in a Minnesota high school. You may have to suspend your disbelief a little at the premise of this story (letter-writing pen pals in high school? In 2019? Sure, Jan), but give it some time. The characters are deftly drawn, the storytelling by turns cerebral and intensely emotional, and the language absolutely to die for. Plus it was my sister’s favourite read of 2019. Give it a whirl!

Overdrive cover Lizard Radio, Pat Schmatz (ebook)

I totally dig this oddball dystopian coming-of-age novel (with lizard-people aliens!) wrapped in layers of mysticism, cyber-tech, and explorations of gender identity. Kivali is a “bender,” a young person who doesn’t conform to the extremely rigid gender culture of the all-powerful Gov’s future society, sent to mandatory rewiring in a gruelling CropCamp with other nonconforming teens. From all quarters, Kivali is faced with the question — who are you? — a question she refuses to take at face value, and challenges in different ways throughout the book. A must-read for nonbinary teens everywhere!

Overdrive cover My Fairy Godmother is a Drag Queen, David Clawson (ebook)

This book is a super sweet modern fairytale — a kind of Cinderella for the modern sensibility. It has its moments of darkness, sure, and like many of the mainstays of queer literature some of its musings on issues of sexuality, family, money and stability, and self-doubt will hit home a little too squarely for some. But where My Fairy Godmother is a Drag Queen really shines, for me, is in its lighter moments — how a random encounter with a drag queen can sweep joy into your world; how getting swept off your feet by sudden, unexpected romance can feel easier and lighter than breathing. This book is a celebration of all things glitter and warmth, and it invites you to the party every time.

Overdrive cover The Full Spectrum, David Levithan (ebook)

This is a Very Cool and Most Timely collection of poems, essays, and stories written by young adults and teens from across the LGBTQIA+ spectrum. The writings cover a massive range of topics — coming out, dealing with family (supportive and not so much), navigating friendships that suddenly seem to have taken on a new dynamic, questions of faith and identity, and much more. Plus it’s all been pulled together by none other than the legendary David Levithan, and rad queer poet Billy Merrell, whose 2017 novel Vanilla is also a Must Read for fans of poetry and queerness.

Overdrive cover You Asked for Perfect, Laura Silverman (ebook)

Ya okay so this book is just painfully, beautifully relatable on so many levels. Perfectionist attitude towards school keeping you down in terms of life? Check. So worried about the future that you’re losing your grip on what’s happening right now? Check. Queer and stressed? Yep, that’s one big ol’ checkeroon. But don’t worry friends, all is not lost, because books like this are here to save the day! As the wonderful Bill Konigsberg puts it in his back-cover review, “[the book] hit me straight in the heart.”

Overdrive cover Finding Nevo, Nevo Zisin (ebook)

This powerful autobiography should be a required read for anybody to whom questions of identity are important. I can’t put it any better than the OverDrive description, so let me quote from it: “Meet Nevo: girl, boy, he she, him, her, they, them, daughter, son, teacher, student, friend, gay, bisexual, lesbian, transgender, homosexual, Jew, dyke, masculine, feminine, androgynous, queer. Nevo was not born in the wrong body. Nevo just wants everyone to catch up with all that Nevo is.” Read it now!

Overdrive cover The Rest of Us Just Live Here, Patrick Ness (ebook)

Patrick Ness’s trademark poetic and slightly oblique style is really brought to bear in this sci-fi deconstruction to end all sci-fi deconstructions. What if something remarkable and improbable is happening in your town (dark and mystical forces colliding; people’s family members disappearing in the woods; extra-terrestrial beings descending from the Great Beyond to wreak terror and destruction, only to be stopped at the last minute by an ordinary teen who just happens to be the only one with the power to stand up to what may or may not be the gods of old made manifest in this realm), but you’re not the Chosen One? You’re just a background character (in most books like this, you’d be among the first to go, possibly before we even got to hear your tragic backstory) and you’d really like it to stay that way. You’re not trying to save the world, you’re just trying to make it through the day without embarrassing yourself too much. This book’s queerness is part of its fabric without being the main focus — you should read it anyway, because it’s Just That Good, Folks.

Overdrive cover The Falling in Love Montage, Ciara Smyth (ebook)

This novel balances tongue-in-cheek witticisms with clear-eyed sincerity in an absolutely gorgeous way. Saoirse, 17, dealing with many issues in her life beyond her recent breakup with her ex, Hannah, meets Ruby, one of the most instantly loveable characters of any in books on this list. Ruby believes in true love, you see, and invites Saoirse to make a rom-com out of their lives together, complete with long, meaningful glances on Ferris wheels, ‘spontaneous’ skinny dipping late at night, and yes, a falling-in-love-montage just like in the movies. Not that the book is all bubbles and soft lens filters, but definitely one to curl up with under the covers, wearing out your face from all the smiling.

Overdrive cover Rainbow Revolutionaries, Sarah Prager (ebook)

The LGBTIQ+ Teen Reads curated list doesn’t just include fiction, but a great amount of nonfiction as well. This is a compelling collection of autobiographies covering the lives and times of 50 very rad and very revolutionary queer people spanning continents and centuries, who have left some indelible mark on culture, society, and what-it-means-to-be-queer-ness at some point in their lives. The people discussed range from the super well-known (the Frida Kahlos, Alan Turings, and Harvey Milks of this world) to the less well-known, at least in Western pop culture (Maryam Molkara, Nzinga, Al-Hakam II, and Tshepo Ricki Kgositau, to name a few), all  accompanied by Sarah Papworth’s striking and energising art and Sarah Prager’s concise and, at times, searing descriptions. 

Overdrive cover Are You Listening?, Tillie Walden (ebook)

I had to end this selection with one of my absolute favourite reads in recent months — Tillie Walden’s atmospheric, surreal, breathtaking ride of a graphic novel in Are You Listening? I don’t want to spoil too much of the story, but prepare yourself for a real emotional rollercoaster, and one of the most arresting and most genuine depictions of a moment of real human connection that I can remember seeing in a book (or anywhere else, for that matter). I read this one in a single sitting, oblivious to the world around me, and to be honest I can’t imagine anyone putting it down before the end. Do yourself a favour and pick this one up as soon as you can — you definitely won’t regret it.

Five Days in the Life: A Review(ish) of MangoLanguages

Hello, B. Spinach here. Another week in lockdown Wellington is upon us and I’m really starting to feel sad that a Spanish language course I had signed up for, and is obviously not running, has been postponed. I was really pumped to meet new people and get my brain, mouth and thoughts around a whole new set of sounds to communicate with. So I have decided to do something about it with —drum roll please– one of Wellington City Libraries awesome resources: MangoLanguages!

You might be familiar with the app DuoLingo? It’s a goodie. The Italian and French courses that I did (only to a very basic level) were invaluable when I was travelling in Europe last year. So for that DuoLingo, Merci beaucoup! Well MangoLanguages is a little bit like that, but like all online language learning software it’s got its own particular format and way of doing things. It’s a really effective and well designed programme that offers 71 different language courses all of which you can access for free if you are a WCL card holder (it just takes your library card number and your PIN and you’re good to go my friend). I would like to point out that MangoLanguages is an American-run app and does not have a te reo Māori course or Pacific languages from our part of the world, so it won’t be the right tool to fulfill your reo needs.

I’ve gone for the introductory Spanish module. Firstly I am very mono-lingual so this is quite new and exciting. Secondly this post is only going to track five days and five lessons which is a WOEFULLY small sample size, but hey, hopefully it’s interesting for you to see what it’s like to dip your toes in this software and also useful for me to make sure that I stick to my plan.

To give you a feeling of what this looks like introductory Spanish is divided up into five main units, which are in turn divided into chapters inside of which there are lessons. It’s not as complicated as it sounds, don’t worry! For Spanish, the five units are: Introductions, Connections, Community, Lifestyle, and Ambition. For this blog I’m just doing the smallest sized chunk I can, because this seems sustainable, so I am doing a single lesson every day. I should mention also that there are additional units with tantalising titles like: Romance, Text Talk, Medical, Spanish for Librarians… I know we’re all drooling about that last one.


Day UNO

I’m not going to lie, I’m pretty tired today and it has been hard to focus generally. Regardless I did a lesson and managed to to do the whole thing happily. I really like the format of these lessons. There is a timer feature for you to practice the words after first being introduced to them. This seemed stressful at first but even on a tired brain I managed to happily piece together the sentences with individual words I had learned. The timer kept a good pace, I like it.

“Hello, how are you today?”                                                                                                       “Hola, ¿cómo estás hoy?”

I will be interested to see how much sticks in my tired brain for tomorrow but is quite a testament to the lesson that it grabbed my attention easier than all the chirpy TV I have been struggling to focus on today. Buenas noches.


Day DOS

So I have more energy today, excellent. I have gone for a run, done some work, watched YouTube, played frisbee, written an email, cooked food…you know, general adult stuff… and now it’s time for Spanish. Though the energy is higher today the word I related to the most is cansado, which means tired. Hmm… maybe I do need sleep after all.

Some thoughts:                                                                                          – I’m really impressed with the sound quality (would recommend headphones).
– I’ve remembered a surprising amount since yesterday, cool.                                          – – The rate of repetition is excellent. Just when something is slipping out of your brain it comes back into circulation. Doesn’t feel like a chore, more like a game/ 10/10.


Day TRES 

Day three, whoop! A beautiful Wellington day. Today’s Spanish was good, it’s really fun getting my mouth around the Spanish words. It’s worth listening carefully to the demo, just to get the softness of the T’s and get just how the double L (ll) sounds, and other letters that are said differently in English.

P.S fun fact! Did you know that llamas…yes those cute giant furry animals…are actually meant to be said with a Y sound. So like Ya-maas, if you’re sounding it out. Cool right!


Day CUATRO

Took me four days to realise this but if you click on any of the Spanish terms a little box comes up with how you say this phonetically! Don’t wait four days to work this out, it is very helpful. Also I’m on to slightly more complicated sentences now and it is helpfully showing the literal vs. equivalent phrase when word orders vary between the languages.


Day CINCO

I made it. Mini celebration. A smooth run today, I’ve got into the swing of it and am really milking the review section to keep on top of words I learned earlier in the week.

Final fun fact: Days of the Week are not capitalised like they are in English. There you go, now you know a new thing too!


My conclusion

I really like MangoLanguages! I know, a surprise right? But no, in sincerity, being in lockdown has been a really strange time for me finding any kind of focus let alone learning something totally new, and even so I have really enjoyed MangoLanguages. It is going to become a proper habit, like brushing my teeth or drinking coffee every morning. Anyway, B. Spinach out. Hope lockdown is treating you all okay and you’re finding ways to be really nice to yourself and everyone in your bubble and the world outside.

What do you say?/Was sagst du?/He aha tō whakaaro?

You’re back at school now, you might be learning a language, you might not be learning a language, you might want to learn a language… Well! For any of you interested in starting, or brushing up on a language you started a while ago, or trying to launch yourself to the top of the class, we’ve got some tools to help you with that! And these online tools that we offer do not come with a threatening and eerie owl that accosts and harangues you until you meet your language goals (even though ominous owls are something I’m particularly interested in, it’s best to be safe in these circumstances).

Anyway. The two resources I’m writing about are LanguageNut and Mango Languages, which can be found on our language resources page. Both are free for you to use, all you have to do is plug in your library card number and your pin and you’re away.

Mango Languages has many languages for you to choose, from Greek (Ancient) to Greek (Modern), from Bengali to Yiddish, from Irish to Tamil, there’ll be something to interest you. You can even learn to talk like a pirate, or insult someone the way Shakespeare would have!

A screenshot taken from Unit 1, Chapter 1, Lesson 2 of the Pirate language course. The phrase in English is "Stop your messing around and quickly align the ship with the wind!". In Pirate the phrase is "Belay yer carousin' and haul wind smartly!" A screenshot taken from Unit 1, Chapter 1, Lesson 8 of the English (Shakespearean) language course. The phrase in English is "No, as they dare. I will give them the finger; which is an insult, if they take it.". In English (Shakespearean) the phrase is "Nay, as they dare. I will bite my thumb at them; which is a disgrace, if they bear it."

LanguageNut has fewer languages, but they’ve got a fun selection of games and activities to help you revise before you test yourself. And they’ve got a good selection of Pasifika languages, including Māori!

So what language will you choose? You could learn Spanish, German, Japanese, and Hebrew to catch up with Natalie Portman, or Greek, Spanish, and French to catch up with Tom Hiddleston. Seriously. Some friends of mine started teaching themselves German in high school because of a German pop rock band. And they still remember some of the language that they managed to teach themselves in that eight month period! What have you got to lose?

And we’d love to hear from you, in whatever language you’d like to use. Get in touch with us on FacebookTwitter or Instagram and give us your best Shakespearean insult, your most carousin’ piratical expression, or just let us know what you’ve been up to during the lockdown!

 

Music and Other Distractions

School’s back today, which I’m sure everyone’s very excited about. Sometimes the best thing to do after a hard day’s distance learning is to chill out with some music. I know that’s what I like to do after another day churning out content for the library’s blogs. My irrational love of Alanis Morissette is already well-attested in this very publication.

Well, we got music for you. But first, it’s time to sing for your life. The New Zealand Choral Federation (the very same peeps who bring us The Big Sing every year) is running The Virtual Sing — an awesome project where rad people like your fine selves get to be part of a whole virtual performance of A Te Tarakihi by Alfred Hill, arranged by Wellington’s own Brent Stewart. Want an idea of what it will be like? Check out Eric Whitacre’s epic virtual choir of nearly 4,000 voices singing his Water Night below. YOU COULD BE AS COOL AS THAT TOO. Check the link for the deets.

If that ain’t your jam, there’s still plenty of free musical goodness the library can provide. First up are the awesome Naxos Music Libraries. If you’re classically inclined (I know you’re out there, dear classical readers!), the Music Library and Video Library provide access to, oh, hundreds of thousands of free performances of classical music from around the world, including live concerts, ballets, operas, studio recordings and more. The Jazz Library is the same, but it’s jazz, folks! Miles Davis, saxophones, weird chords, the lick — what’s not to love?

Before we leave the database side of things, I’d be remiss if I didn’t tell you about Lynda.com. Plug in your library card number, and you’ll be set for life with guided tutorials on everything from music production to home studio setups, how to get creatively inspired, how to read and write music, and so much more. And it’s all totally free.

Finally, if you want to keep up with the latest happenings in the Wellington music scene, our friends over at the Wellington Music blog have you covered. New releases, exclusive interviews, sneak previews and more — it’s all going on there. We’re also hosting live music performances (#quarantunes) every night over on the Johnsonville Library Facebook page. Join in on the fun if you just want to chill out to some zen realness every night, but also get in touch if you want to be involved! We’re always keen to showcase local talent.

Alright, that’s it for now, folks. Until next time, stay cool.