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Summer Reads + Things To Do With Your Friend/Crush

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Halloween Movies to Make You Feel Young Again

Halloween has arrived and Wellington City Libraries has some spooktacular DVDs in the collection for your viewing pleasure and frightful night in.

Relive your childhood Halloween movie-watching ways with some of our favourite picks from our movie collection below. To complete the experience we recommend a plenitude of popcorn and a whole bunch of blankets to hide under. Even better if you can find your old teddy that used to bring you comfort in the dead of the night.

Let the scare fest begin!

image courtesy of amazon.com1. Tim Burton’s The nightmare before Christmas.

“Jack Skellington, the pumpkin king of Halloween Town, is bored with doing the same thing every year for Halloween. One day he stumbles into Christmas Town, and is so taken with the idea of Christmas that he tries to get the resident bats, ghouls, and goblins of Halloween town to help him put on Christmas instead of Halloween — but alas, they can’t get it quite right.” (Catalogue).

image courtesy of amazon.com2. Corpse bride.

“Set in a 19th century European village, this stop-motion animation feature follows the story of Victor, a young man whicked away to the underworld and wed to a mysterious corpse bride, while his real bride Victoria waits bereft in the land of the living. Though life and the Land of the Dead proves to be a lot more colourful than his strict upbringing, Victor learns that there is nothing in this world – or the next – that can keep him away from his one true love. It’s a tale of optimism, romace and a very lively afterlife, told in classic Burton style.” (Catalogue).

image courtesy of amazon.com3. Paranorman.

“From the makers of Coraline comes the story of Norman, a boy who must use his special powers to save his town from a centuries-old curse. In addition to spooky zombies, he’ll also have to take on unpredictable ghosts, wily witches, and, worst of all, clueless grown-ups. But this young ghoul whisperer will soon find his paranormal activities pushed to their otherworldly limits.” (Catalogue).

image courtesy of amazon.comimage courtesy of amazon.com4. Gremlins 1 and 2.

“Billy Peltzer’s father buys him a new cuddly pet. But heed these three warnings: Don’t ever get him wet. Keep him away from bright light. And the most important thing, the one thing you must never forget: no matter how much he cries, no matter how much he begs…never, never feed him after midnight.” (Catalogue). In the sequel, “A Gremlin is captured by a mad scientist, who not only helps it multiply, but gives it the ability to talk.” (Catalogue).

image courtesy of amazon.com5. Addams Family Values.

“It’s love at first fright when Gomez and Morticia welcome a new addition to the Addams household – Pubert, their soft, cuddly, mustachioed boy. As Fester falls hard for voluptuous nanny Debbie Jilinsky, Wednesday and Pugsley discover she’s a black-widow murderess who plans to add Fester to her collection of dead husbands. The family’s future grows even bleaker when the no-good nanny marries Fester and has the kids shipped off to summer camp. But Wednesday still has a Thing or two up her sleeve.” (Catalogue)

6. The Witches (1989) and (2020). image courtesy of amazon.com

In the 1989 version, “Nine-year-old Luke finds that saving the world from witches is a tall order for a boy who has been turned into a mouse.” (Catalogue). In the 2021 version, “The darkly humorous and heartwarming tale of a young orphaned boy who, in late 1967, goes to live with his loving Grandma in the rural Alabama town of Demopolis. As the boy and his grandmother encounter some deceptively glamorous but thoroughly diabolical witches, she wisely whisks him away to a seaside resort. Regrettably, they arrive at precisely the same time that the world₂s Grand High Witch has gathered her fellow cronies from around the globe, undercover, to carry out her nefarious plans.” (Catalogue).

image courtesy of amazon.com7. Ghostbusters 1 and 2. 

“The original “Ghostbusters” and its sequel teamed comedians Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd and Harold Ramis with director Ivan Reitman, to tell the story of a trio of paranormal investigators who must save the world from the evil clutches of the supernatural.” (Catalogue).

image courtesy of amazon.com8. The Goonies.

Another oldie but a goodie! Join the Goonies on a swashbuckling adventures! Following a mysterious treasure map into a spectacular underground realm of twisting passages, outrageous booby-traps and a long-lost pirate ship full of golden doubloons, the kids race to stay one step ahead of bumbling bad guys… and a mild-mannered monster with a face only a mother could love. A family adventure classic from start to buccaneering finish.

image courtesy of amazon.com

9. Labyrinth.

“When young Sarah cavalierly wishes that goblins would take her crying baby brother away, she gets her wish. Now, she must confront Gareth – ruler of a mystical world one step removed from reality, master of the goblins who abducted her brother… and creator of the treacherous labyrinth that Sarah must solve in order to make things right.” (Catalogue).

image courtesy of amazon.com10. Coraline.

“A young girl walks through a secret door that she has found in her new home and discovers an alternate version of her life. On the surface, this parallel reality is eerily similar to her real life, but much better. When her adventure turns dangerous, and her counterfeit parents, including the Other Mother, try to keep her forever, Coraline must count on her resourcefulness, determination, and bravery to get back home – and save her family.” (Catalogue).

Extra challenge… from beyond the grave!

Get into the Halloween spirit and dance your socks off zombie-style to Thriller by the late but talented Michael Jackson! Hmmm, I wonder if he would be keen to accept the vacancy of Wellington City Libraries’ library ghost?

Did you know? Wellington City Libraries’  Nao Robots, Frank and Stein, (formally known as Red and Blue) can whip out their own dance moves to to Thriller by Michael Jackson. Read more about them here.

Have a safe and happy halloween!

Suffrage and the White Camellia

Suffrage Day  is a special  day in New Zealand’s history. Sunday 19 September 2021 is Suffrage Day / White Camellia Day.

Why is Suffrage Day celebrated?

On the 19th of September 1893, New Zealand became the first nation in the world to grant women the right to vote. This year marks the 126 anniversary of women winning the right to vote in New Zealand. The white camellia was the symbol of the suffragists.

Did you know? November 28th 1893 was the day New Zealand women voted for first time.

What is Suffrage Day?

Suffrage Day provides an opportunity for people to celebrate New Zealand’s suffrage achievements and look for ways to benefit women.

How do we commemorate this day?

  • Wearing a white camellia. Why? These flowers were worn by people supporting women’s right to vote in New Zealand.
  • Wear a The Suffrage 125 symbolWhy? The symbol draws on historical colours and icons adopted by women’s suffrage petitioners and presents them in a contemporary form. 
    image courtesy of women.govt.nz

Where can I find information about the suffragettes and and Suffrage Day?

image courtesy of syndeticsHindsight : pivotal moments in New Zealand history.

Four pivotal events in New Zealands history, (Women’s suffrage, Springbok tour, Dawn raids  and Rainbow warrior), are examined through a variety of source materials and commentary that enlivens the event and describes its impact on our society and growth as a nation. Hindsight is a resource for all schools and libraries. These topics are linked to the social sciences and history syllabus Years 7-11. An authoritative and engaging text, with high visual appeal. Buyers will be given access to download resources from our website, that will be updated as required. (Catalogue).

image courtesy of syndeticsThe book of gutsy women : favourite stories of courage and resilience.

Hillary Rodham Clinton and her daughter, Chelsea, share the stories of the gutsy women who have inspired them–women with the courage to stand up to the status quo, ask hard questions, and get the job done. Ensuring the rights and opportunities of women and girls remains a big piece of the unfinished business of the twenty-first century. While there’s a lot of work to do, we know that throughout history and around the globe women have overcome the toughest resistance imaginable to win victories that have made progress possible for all of us. That is the achievement of each of the women in this book. So how did they do it? The answers are as unique as the women themselves. […] Edie Windsor, Diana Nyad, Rachel Carson, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Mary Beard, Wangari Maathai, Harriet Tubman, Malala Yousafzai — to us, they are all gutsy women — leaders with the courage to stand up to the status quo, ask hard questions, and get the job done. (Adapted from Catalogue). Also available as an eBook

image courtesy of syndeticsSuffragettes : the fight for votes for women.

‘Queen Victoria is most anxious to enlist everyone who can speak or write to join in checking this mad wicked folly of women’s rights, with all its attendant horrors, on which her poor sex is bent’. 1870. It was a bloody and dangerous war lasting several decades, won finally by sheer will and determination in 1928. Drawing on extracts from diaries, newspapers, letters, journals and books, Joyce Marlow has pieced together this inspiring, poignant and exciting history using the voices of the women themselves. Some of the people and events are well-known, but Marlow has gone beyond the obvious, particularly beyond London, to show us the ordinary women – middle and working-class, who had the breathtaking courage to stand up and be counted – or just as likely hectored, or pelted with eggs. These women were clever and determined, knew the power of humour and surprise and exhibited ‘unladylike’ passion and bravery. Joyce Marlow’s anthology is lively, comprehensive, surprising and triumphant.’ (Catalogue).

image courtesy of syndeticsHidden heroines : the forgotten suffragettes.

The story of the struggle for women’s suffrage is not just that of the Pankhursts and Emily Davison. Thousands of others were involved in peaceful protest–and sometimes more militant activity–and they includes women from all walks of life. This book presents the lives of 48 less well-known women who tirelessly campaigned for the vote, from all parts of Great Britain and Ireland, risking ridicule and condemnation from family and friends. They were the hidden heroines who paved the way for women to gain greater equality in Britain. (Catalogue).

image courtesy of syndeticsRise up, women! : the remarkable lives of the suffragettes.

“Between the death of Queen Victoria and the outbreak of the First World War, while the patriarchs of the Liberal and Tory parties vied for supremacy in parliament, the campaign for women’s suffrage was fought with great flair and imagination in the public arena. Led by Emmeline Pankhurst and her daughters Christabel and Sylvia, the suffragettes and their actions would come to define protest movements for generations to come. From their marches on Parliament and 10 Downing Street, to the selling of their paper, Votes for Women, through to the more militant activities of the Women’s Social and Political Union, whose slogan ‘Deeds Not Words!’ resided over bombed pillar-boxes, acts of arson and the slashing of great works of art, the women who participated in the movement endured police brutality, assault, imprisonment and force-feeding, all in the relentless pursuit of one goal: the right to vote. A hundred years on, Diane Atkinson celebrates the lives of the women who answered the call to ‘Rise Up’; a richly diverse group that spanned the divides of class and country, women of all ages who were determined to fight for what had been so long denied. Actresses to mill-workers, teachers to doctors, seamstresses to scientists, clerks, boot-makers and sweated workers, Irish, Welsh, Scottish and English; a wealth of women’s lives are brought together for the first time, in this meticulously researched, vividly rendered and truly defining biography of a movement.”–Dust jacket cover. Also available as an eAudiobook.

Click here for more books about suffragettes.

Lōemis Winter Solstice Festival 2021

Winter has arrived in Wellington, and the Lōemis Winter Solstice Festival is back again, in its fourth year,  during the week of the 11th to the 21st of June, and there’re heaps of exciting events happening in the Capital!

What is the Lōemis Winter Solstice Festival?

The Lōemis (pron. lew-mis) festival began in 2016 and is held annually in Wellington in the lead up to the winter solstice.

For eleven days, the Lōemis Winter Solstice Festival observes the longest nights of the year with a hearty mix of feasting, theatre, music, monstrous creatures and a fiery waterfront procession, based around the winter solstice, which falls on 22 June.

For more information on what events are on, check out the Lōemis website and Facebook page.

In the meantime, why not get into the “festival” season with:


image courtesy of syndeticsCelebrating the southern seasons : rituals for Aotearoa.

“Provides information and insight … of the customs, symbols, stories and meanings relating to the seasonal changes from both European and Maori perspectives … contents include the meeting point: the coming together of Aotearoa New Zealand’s two dominant cultures … an overview of seasonal celebrations, guidelines on how to structure seasonal rituals … a calendar for Aotearoa New Zealand, suggested rituals for Aotearoa New Zealand today, an overview of Celtic and Maori traditions” (Catalogue)

image courtesy of syndeticsA year of festivals : how to have the time of your life.

“Takes you around the world in pursuit of festivals in all their flamboyant color and variety. Discover music, camel races, feats of endurance, manic street parties and monumental food fights. From the sublime (Venice’s Carnevale or India’s Krishna Janmastami) to the absurd (Finland’s Wife-Carrying Championships or Australia’s Beer Can Regatta), the best of the famous and little-known alike are represented here. Organized by month and week to help you to plan a great festival experience at any time of year. Country and Festival indexes allow you to also search by the destination of your next vacation, or by the name or theme of the festival you want to experience.” (Catalogue)

image courtesy of syndetics50 festivals to blow your mind.

“Join the world’s biggest water fight in Thailand, become a reveller on Mexico’s Day of the Dead, and party at Rio’s world-famous carnival. Whatever you like to celebrate, you’ll find a gathering somewhere on the planet to suit. Lonely Planet collects the greatest, weirdest and most jaw-dropping festivals around the world to set your sights on” (Catalogue).


Also, why not join in on “the Lōemis workshop fun”,  in the comfort of your own home… or library by creating your masterpieces, (mask making, Mexican style treats, culinary goodness, puppetry and house building), with some help from the following books:

image courtesy of syndeticsPowermask : the power of masks.

“Since the 1990’s, Walter Van Beirendonck has been fascinated by masks. A mask changes your identity, raises a particular atmosphere and has instant impact. Artists like André Breton, Pablo Picasso or even Breughel were inspired. Power Mask – The Power of Masks goes deeper into the different facets of masks: the link between Western art and African masks, the supernatural and the rituals around masks, masks in fashion, masks like fetish, and more” (Catalogue)

image courtesy of syndeticsLa Boca Loca : Mexican cooking for New Zealanders.

“Lucas Putnam and Marianne Elliott opened their Mexican restaurant, La Boca Loca in April 2011, with a clear goal: to bring the freshest flavours of Mexico to Wellington using fresh and locally available ingredients. Their customers loved the taste of their freshly prepared Mexican food and many wanted to learn to make it themselves at home, so this book makes it possible to recreate and share the taste of Lucas’s childhood.” (Adapted from Catalogue)


image courtesy of syndeticsPuppetry : how to do it.

“A practical, accessible and inspiring guide to using puppetry in theatre — the perfect entry point for anyone looking to use puppets in their productions, to explore what puppets can do, or to develop their puppetry skills” (Catalogue)

image courtesy of syndeticsThe econest home : designing & building a light straw clay house.

“An EcoNest is not just a home–it is a uniquely beautiful structure that nurtures health and embraces ecology. This complete practical guide explains how EcoNests combine light straw clay natural building techniques with the principles of Building Biology, provides fully-illustrated, step-by-step instructions for designing and building your own, and is packed with inspiring photos of completed projects” (Catalogue)


Keep warm and stay safe this winter!

Star Wars Day: A New Hope for us all?

Attention all Jedi, Bounty Hunters and Rebels! Star Wars Day is happening again on May the Fourth, which is observed and celebrated by fans of the Star Wars franchise.  
image courtesy of starwarsnewsnet
This year, you can celebrate by visiting your local library, relive and check out fiction, (as well as non fictioncomics and movies) all related to anything and everything from the Star Wars universe!

Read the following fiction:

image courtesy of syndeticsForce collector.

“In this Journey to Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker young adult novel set just before The Force Awakens, a restless teenager sets out to discover what connection his mysterious Force powers have to the fabled Jedi and what the Force has in store for him.” (Catalogue)

image courtesy of syndeticsLeia, Princess of Alderaan.

“The story of how Leia Organa comes to join the Rebellion. Sixteen-year-old Princess Leia has been taking rigorous survival courses, practicing politics, and spearheading relief missions to worlds under Imperial control so that she becomes formally named heir to the throne of Alderaan. When her parents begin acting strange, sixteen-year-old Princes Leia sets out to uncover their secrets, putting her in the path of the watchful Empire. She finds herself facing the choice of dedicating herself to the people of Alderaan, including the man she loves, or to the galaxy at large which is in desperate need of a rebel hero.” (Catalogue)

image courtesy of syndeticsAhsoka.

“Fans have long wondered what happened to Ahsoka after she left the Jedi Order near the end of the Clone Wars, and before she re-appeared as the mysterious Rebel operative Fulcrum in Rebels. Finally, her story will begin to be told. Following her experiences with the Jedi and the devastation of Order 66, Ahsoka is unsure she can be part of a larger whole ever again. But her desire to fight the evils of the Empire and protect those who need it will lead her right to Bail Organa, and the Rebel Alliance.” (Catalogue)


Read the following non fiction:

image courtesy of syndeticsHow Star Wars conquered the universe : the past, present, and future of a multibillion dollar franchise.

“Why do most people know what an Ewok is, even if they haven’t seen Return of the Jedi? How have Star Wars action figures come to outnumber human beings? How did ‘Jedi’ become an officially recognised religion? When did the films’ merchandising revenue manage to rival the GDP of a small country? Tracing the birth, death and rebirth of the epic universe built by George Lucas and hundreds of writers, artists, producers, and marketers, Chris Taylor jousts with modern-day Jedi, tinkers with droid builders, and gets inside Boba Fett’s helmet, all to find out how STAR WARS has attracted and inspired so many fans for so long.” (Catalogue)

image courtesy of syndeticsThe making of Star Wars : the definitive story behind the original film : based on the lost interviews from the official Lucasfilm archives.

“After the 1973 success of American Graffiti, filmmaker George Lucas made the fateful decision to pursue a longtime dream project: a space fantasy movie unlike any ever produced. Lucas envisioned a swashbuckling science fiction saga inspired by the Flash Gordon serials of the thirties, classic American westerns, the epic cinema of Japanese auteur Akira Kurosawa, and mythological heroes. Its original title: The Star Wars. The rest is history, and how it was made is a story as entertaining and exciting as the movie that has enthralled millions for thirty years – a story that has never been told as it was meant to be. Until now.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

image courtesy of syndeticsStar Wars encyclopedia.

“This comprehensive guide to the Star Wars series of films follows on from the re-release of the first three films. Everything from the smugglers’ spaceport on Abregado-Rae and technical explanations of the Millennium Falcon’s acceleration compensator is covered.” (Catalogue).

Watch the films: The nine-part Skywalker saga!

Original trilogy:

image courtesy of amazon.com.image courtesy of amazon.comimage courtesy of amazon.com

Star Wars [original trilogy]

Relive the exhilarating action, spectacular battles and ultimate triumph of good over evil that make Star Wars the greatest space fantasy adventure of all time – and the ultimate entertainment experience for every family. The Star Wars original trilogy episodes continue the saga with Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia and Han Solo leading the rebel Alliance to claim victory over the Empire and win freedom for the galaxy.

A New Hope: “In a galaxy far, far away, a psychopathic emperor and his most trusted servant – a former Jedi Knight known as Darth Vader – are ruling a universe with fear. They have built a horrifying weapon known as the Death Star, a giant battle station capable of annihilating a world in less than a second. When the Death Star’s master plans are captured by the fledgling Rebel Alliance, Vader starts a pursuit of the ship carrying them…”

The Empire Strikes Back: “Darth Vader is helping the Empire crush the rebellion determined to end the Empire’s domination of the universe. The rebels are based on Hoth, and when troops arrive to wipe them out, Han Solo and Princess Leia flee to Cloud City. Luke Skywalker, in a bid to strengthen his knowledge of the force, finds Yoda, one of the finest Jedis ever. Will they be able to get back together and halt the Empires progress?”

Return of the Jedi: “As the Emperor himself oversees the construction of the new Death Star by Lord Darth Vader and the evil Galactic Empire, smuggler Han Solo is rescued from the clutches of the vile gangster Jabba the Hutt by his friends, Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia and Chewbacca. Leaving Skywalker Jedi training with Yoda, Solo returns to the Rebel Fleet to prepare for to complete his battle with the Empire itself. During the ensuing fighting the newly returned Skywalker is captured by Vader. Can the Rebels, and their new found friends, the Ewoks, help restore freedom to the Galaxy?” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Prequel trilogy:

image courtesy of amazon.com

Star Wars [prequel trilogy].

Relive the nonstop excitement, thrilling discoveries and ultimate triumph of good over evil that make Star Wars the greatest space fantasy adventure of all time – and the ultimate entertainment experience for every family. The Star Wars prequel trilogy episodes begin the saga with young Anakin Skywalker’s descent to the dark side as he transforms from child slave to Jedi apprentice to Darth Vader, the most feared villian in the galaxy!

Phantom Menace: “Set thirty years before the original Star Wars film, Episode I introduces Anakin Skywalker, a boy with special powers, unaware that the journey he is beginning will transform him into the evil Darth Vader.”

Attack of the Clones: “Set 10 years after the events of The phantom menace and the galaxy has undergone significant change, as have Anakin Skywalker, Obi-Wan Kenobi, and Padme.”

Revenge of the Sith: “Torn between loyalty to his mentor, Obi-Wan Kenobi, and the seductive powers of the Sith, Anakin Skywalker ultimately turns his back on the Jedi, thus completing his journey to the dark side and his transformation into Darth Vader.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Sequel trilogy:

image courtesy of amazon.comThe Force Awakens:

“As Kylo Ren and the sinister First Order rise from the ashes of the Empire, Luke Skywalker is missing when the galaxy needs him most. It’s up to Rey, a desert scavenger, and Finn, a defecting stormtrooper, to join forces with Han Solo and Chewbacca in a desperate search for the one hope of restoring peace to the galaxy.” (Catalogue)


image courtesy of amazon.comThe Last Jedi.

“The Skywalker saga continues as the heroes of The Force Awakens join the galactic legends in an epic adventure. Having taken her first steps into the Jedi world, Rey joins Luke Skywalker on an adventure with Leia, Finn and Poe that unlocks mysteries of the Force and secrets of the past.” (Catalogue)


image courtesy of amazon.comThe Rise of Skywalker.

“When it’s discovered that the evil Emperor Palpatine did not die at the hands of Darth Vader, the rebels must race against the clock to find out his whereabouts. Finn and Poe lead the Resistance to put a stop to the First Order’s plans to form a new Empire, while Rey anticipates her inevitable confrontation with Kylo Ren.” (Catalogue)


Check out the official trailer for Star Wars: The Bad Batch, which arrives on the Disney channel on May 4th, as well as the trailer for popular Star Wars series, The Mandalorian, which  follows the travails of a lone gunfighter in the outer reaches of the galaxy far from the authority of the New Republic.



Enjoy!… and May the Fourth be with you!

Hooked on NZ Books; Or, How to Get Free Books and Write About Them, Too!

Dear readers, we are guessing that since we have encountered one another amongst the digital pages of this most redoubtable publication, you are probably fairly keen book-readers as well. But how much do you choose to read books by New Zealand authors? Well, whether your answer was “Um, I LOVE to read books by New Zealand authors!” or “Not much, but I’d like to read more!” we have quite the opportunity for you.

Our friends at Read NZ / Te Pou Muramura (formerly the New Zealand Book Council) have put together an amazing programme called Hooked On NZ Books / He Ao Anofor young New Zealand readers to engage with new Kiwi literature and have their writing professionally edited and published, all while getting to keep swathes of ~free~ books for themselves. Curious to know more? Read on to hear what Read NZ have to say about the initiative.

 If you choose to take up this challenge, you'd better prepare yourself for a serious case of new-book-smell-induced bliss.

We Want to Know What You Think About New Zealand Books!

The American art critic Barbara McAdam writes that the ‘true calling’ of criticism is to start a discussion. Building a community of readers who discuss books, and growing the next generation of critics is what Hooked On NZ BOoks / He Ao Ano is all about.

Here are Read NZ / Te Pou Muramura (formerly the NZ Book Council), we’ve adopted the programme and are looking for passionate readers to review the latest NZ books for us.

First of all, we match readers aged 13-19 with new books. Most of the books we have to choose from are novels, but we also have some non-fiction, poetry and essays. We ask for the reviews to be emailed back within a month, and the reader gets to keep the book.

Our editor works with the reviewer to edit the piece so it’s the best it can be. Then we publish the review on the website, and share it with our wider community. The best review from each month is published on the official Read NZ website.

Our reviewers have the opportunity to respond personally and critically to the latest reads while together building an online resource about NZ books and a genuine platform for their voice.

Established four years ago by the NZ Review of Books journal, Hooked On NZ Books is already a useful archive of reviews, author interviews and other writing resources for younger readers. When the journal ceased publication in late 2019, its editors invited Read NZ to adopt the work.

Read NZ CEO Juliet Blyth says the purpose of Hooked On NZ Books is to grow the audience for home-grown literature, to provide another space for young writers to be published, and to nurture the next generation of critical readers in Aotearoa.

“Anyone can say that they loved or loathed a book, but it’s much harder to say why. Reviewing is important because well-argued reviews can influence what gets published and what gets read,” she says.

Tawa College student Hannah Marshall has submitted reviews to Hooked On NZ Books in past years. In a recent article about reviewing for Tearaway magazine, she describes the programme as a “springboard for a critical conversation.”

A chance visit to my school from the organisation opened my eyes to a world of opportunities. I had barely read a Kiwi-written YA [novel] in my life; today, most of my favourite books are by New Zealand authors. […] I gained valuable skills from the reviewing process and improved myself as a writer. I even found my name in print

— Hannah Marshall, Hooked On NZ Books reviewer

Read NZ is now looking for young readers and writers aged around 13-19 to participate. Interested reviewers can sign up on the Hooked On NZ Books website, or contact Read NZ to get involved. Read NZ also hopes to offer review-writing workshops around the country next year.


So what are you waiting for? Now is the time to get involved! While you’re at it, why not follow Read NZ and Hooked On NZ Books on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube, for more delicious literary content, delivered right to your screen?

Waitohi Youth Nights Return!

Now that we’re all done with that business of emerging, blinking, into the sunlight following the national lockdown, a lot of our regular events and programmes are getting back underway. Happily, this includes our regular Youth Nights at Johnsonville Library at Waitohi Community Hub!

‘What is Youth Night?’ I hear you plaintively ask. ‘Why would I spend my Saturday night in a library of all places?’ Well, friends. Perhaps a more apt question is ‘what isn’t Youth Night?’ We play games, we make music, we watch movies, we debate the ins and outs of LGBTQ+ representation in contemporary media (this one is optional), we try to beat each other’s high scores in Beat Saber, we laugh, we cry, we rank the characters of the classic 1990s cartoon Gargoyles in order of hotness (Goliath and Demona come in at joint first place, obviously, with everyone else trailing a distant second), and most importantly, we eat pizza.

Our Youth Nights are totally free (pizza included!), but you do need to be 13+ in order to come, so please bring your student ID. Once you’re in, our spaces are all yours. Youth Nights are on the first Saturday of every month, from 5.00-8.00pm. The first one since lockdown is this Saturday, the 1st of August. See you there!

Got A Month? Get Writing with CampNaNo!

Today is the first day of April. That means a lot of things for a lot of people: pleas for no pranks, people ignoring those pleas, and the sixth day of lockdown here in New Zealand.

For many around the world, though, it is also the start of CampNaNoWriMo, which itself is a spin-off of the November National Novel Writing Month – NaNoWriMo for short. Unlike the classic NaNoWriMo, where the goal is 50,000 words of a new draft, CampNaNo is far more flexible. You can continue a project, write multiple short stories, do editing and rewrites, and set your own goal for the whole thing. Think 50,000 words is far too much, and just want to get a solid start on that novel? 20,000 is grand. Struggling through that finale? If you’re sure it’s just 10,000 between you and typing ‘the end’, set that for your goal.

Best of all, you don’t have to go it alone. Unique to CampNaNo is the cabin feature – writing groups where you can discuss your project and cheer each other on. So why not gather up a group of your friends and get writing socially even when you are distanced physically? There’s plenty of resources available for teens as well, from workbooks to pep talks from famous novelists.

Whether you’re the next teen author like Hannah Moskowitz or Kody Keplinger, or feeling a little like teenage Mary Shelley when she created Frankenstein and the Monster during the Year Without A Summer, each novel begins with an idea and putting words on the page.

We’ve set up a WCL Teen Writers classroom group as well as a Discord server if you want to join us on our month-long writing journey – we will be writing as well, so you won’t be alone. If you are interested, either Facebook message or email us with your details (if you’re a WCL member, include your card number — if not, let us know which library you belong to), and once confirmed we will send out an invitation. We look forward to hearing from you!

Lasers, Feelings, and RPGs

Tabletop roleplaying, such as Dungeons and Dragons, has experienced a revival in recent years, with liveplays and podcasts such as Critical Role and The Adventure Zone gaining large followings of their own. But one of the biggest sides of this is the internet allowing for not only the creation of games and systems, but the permitted sharing and remixing of them as well.

Whether you’re a tabletop veteran or someone just wanting to dip their toes into roleplaying, “micro” or “one-page” RPGs are both an excellent introduction to the hobby and a fun way to spend an afternoon with a group. The games featured here are quick to set up, don’t require massive or complex character sheets, only require six-sided dice, and can be played in the space of a single session.

Hours of nerdy fun are but a roll of the dice away!

While there are dozens of games out there based on this system, here are six to get you started.

Lasers and Feelings
The game on which all these others are based sees the party take on the roles of the crew of the interstellar ship Raptor. Their mission to explore the vast reaches of space is interrupted when their captain is overcome by a strange entity known as Something Else, leaving only the crew to handle what happens next.

Oh, Dang! Bigfoot Stole My Car With My Friend’s Birthday Present Inside
Its premise obvious, Oh, Dang! leads you on a wacky roadtrip in pursuit of a grand theft auto-committing cryptid. Its sequel Ah, Dang! Mothman Won’t Move Out (He Said It Was Just For The Weekend), sees you dealing with even more cryptid problems.

Wits and Chivalry
You are the Knights of the Round Table, sent by the great wizard Merlin to recover the Holy Grail to save an ailing King Arthur. (This is the only game I know of where Monty Python references are not only permitted, but practically mandatory!)

Magic and Mischief
Ever wanted to go to magic school like Mildred Hubble or Harry Potter? Here is your chance. After a Dark Curse befalls the headmistress of the Young Wizards’ School for Arcane Excellence, a distracted staff and student body makes for the perfect time to solve mysteries or cause mischief.

A Dream In The Woods
Inspired by Shakespeare’s play A Midsummer Night’s Dream, players take on the servants of Titania and Oberon to cause mischief and magic while attempting to please their fickle royals.

Sturdy & Wilde Detective Agency
When the players’ employers go missing it’s up to them to follow the trail and solve the mystery in this steampunk mystery game.

If you enjoyed those and/or want to try something different, there are plenty of other options out there from science fiction to fantasy to horror to mystery. There is even a blank template (appropriately enough named Blanks and Spaces) for you to create your own game. Let us know how it all goes!

Libraries in the Time of COVID

Peeps, it’s a weird time for all of us, librarians included, as we attempt to navigate the apocalypse with nary an open library in sight from which to retrieve the objects of our solace — books. But fear not! The library, in its wisdom, has foreseen such a calamity and from the depths of its vast reserves of online material has produced a bounteous temple of all things YA — the OverDrive Teen Reading Room. All you need is a library card (click here to grab one if you haven’t already) and all the reading material you could ever need is at your fingertips from the comfort of whichever anti-viral fortress you’re currently holed up in. Check the list below for some of my faves:

Aristotle and Dante discover the secrets of the universe / Sáenz, Benjamin Alire
Guys, I don’t want to freak you out but READ THIS BOOK NOW. This is the OverDrive eAudiobook version, so you don’t even have to read words, just zone out and let Saenz’s perfectly spare, searing prose transport you. This is a gorgeous story of family, friendship, love, pain, illness, recovery, and discovery that paints in poignant, pointillistic detail the agony and anticipation of leaving childhood behind and moving somewhere new. Waste no more time, and while you’re at it read everything else Saenz has ever written. You won’t regret it.

Feed / Anderson, M. T
It may seem a little on the nose to be recommending dystopian fiction right now, but hear me out. This modern classic is absolutely worth a read — it takes a peek beneath the veil and examines human nature with a kind of clarity seldom seen in any fiction. Unsettling? Yes. Frightening? Probably. Un-put-downable? Absolutely.

An unofficial encyclopedia of strategy for Fortniters / Rich, Jason
We understand it’s not entirely impossible that there may be some people out there who are choosing to spend their isolation period not reading, but gaming. We have you nerds covered as well! The Unofficial Encyclopedia of Strategy for Fortniters is just one part of a gaming eBook collection that includes titles on Fortnite, Minecraft, Terraria, and more. Can’t go outside? Make your own outside, inside!

Finally, I wanted to do a special plug for our wonderful OverDrive LGBTIQ+ Reading Room. We’ve pulled together our favourite titles from across the rainbow spectrum and curated the ultimate collection of LGBTIQ+ reads for you to enjoy. There’s heaps to choose from across fiction and nonfiction, eBook and eAudio — biographies, romance, YA fiction, the arts, crime and mysteries, social comment and social issues, personal essays, poetry, and much much more. Feel free to send through a request if we’re missing a title you think we should have!

Even though our physical sites are closed, we’re here for you still. Follow us on social media or comment on one of these posts if you want to stay in touch. We’ll be keeping you up to date with books, websites, resources and other cool stuff and general distraction during these spooky, spooky times. Stay safe and stay indoors!

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