Monday, 29 November 2010

Do Boys and Books Mix?

Not according to a study of year 7 boys just done by New Zealand teacher Sheryl White.

"Boys think reading books is for girls, but that reading for information, such as a TV guide, is a useful, masculine activity, a new study shows. The study of Year 7 boys sheds some light on why it's so hard to get boys to read" reads the opening of the report in the Sunday Star Times yesterday.

I would love to read the whole report sometime as it is something that librarians, parents and teachers all struggle with. However a reluctance to read is not restricted to the boys and my personal opinion is that there is a danger (albiet small) that a knee jerk reaction in concentrating on the boys will lead to a future where girls will struggle to find good quality reading material.

My faith in the boys was restored yesterday when a young man (9 or 10) came up to me at a social gathering and asked me if I had any other books like Holes (Louis Sachar) which he has just finished. He said it was the best book he had ever read and he was keen to find more. With our Summer Reading programmes starting up today, it will be a great opportunity to see how the boys and girls of Rodney match up.

Read the full article from the Sunday Star Times here.

Friday, 26 November 2010

Pass on your messages of support

People from right around the Auckland area will be able pay their respects to the victims of Pike River and the people of the West Coast in condolence books at the Auckland Town Hall and all libraries across Auckland. Books are now available at Wellsford, Warkworth, Mahurangi East, Orewa, Whangaparaoa, Helensville and Kumeu Libraries for the public to sign.

Mayor Len Brown is working with church leaders to organise a memorial service to be held in Auckland and we will let you know the details once they have been confirmed.

Top 5 for Friday - Thanksgiving Day

It may already be Friday in New Zealand, but in most of North America it is still Thursday, which means that a lot of people are lying back, completely stuffed to the brim with lots of good food and family festivity, because the fourth Tuesday of November is Thanksgiving Day.

I feel a bit of a fraud as I don't have a drop of pilgrim or American blood in me and have never celebrated (or even thought much about) Thanksgiving Day. I must also admit in the following list that I have not read any of these books. But I really wanted to finish the week off on a positive note so here is my Top 5 List for Thanksgiving Day.
  1. If Thanksgiving is about family and feasting (which to a large extent it is), then first up we have to have a recipe book. Thanksgiving 101 : celebrate America's favorite holiday with America's Thanksgiving expert (Rick Rodgers) looks like it has it all. And in the lead up to Christmas, who doesn't need a few new recipes. One of the reviews says "Rodgers tells you Everything You've Always Wanted to Know About Cooking Thanksgiving Dinner but Were Too Harassed to Ask". Sounds like my kind of book.
  2. Thanksgiving : the biography of an American holiday (James W. Baker). We know Thanksgiving primarily as an American tradition (although this is not srictly true as Thanksgiving and/or harvest festivals are celebrated in many other places around the world. However if you want to know the American history, this is one of the books from the library that can help you.
  3. A Thanksgiving book written by a Kiwi - who would have thought it? I was surprised to come across this one. Gracias, the Thanksgiving Turkey by none other than Joy Cowley. Trouble ensues when Papa gets Miguel a turkey to fatten up for Thanksgiving and Miguel develops an attachment to it.
  4. A catered Thanksgiving : a mystery with recipes (Isis Crawford) is the seventh title in a series. I (and a lot of our customers) enjoy books that integrate two different elements (i.e. the story and the recipe or the story and the quilts). The Publisher's description makes it sound quite light hearted and good fun so I may have to add it to my TBR list. The proprietors of A Little Taste of Heaven, their Longely, N.Y., catering company, prepare a Thanksgiving feast for Scrooge-like fireworks manufacturer Monty Field and his family at the Field mansion. When Monty comes into the kitchen to test the roasting turkey, Bernie and Libby watch in horror as Monty taps the pop-up button in the bird's breast and the turkey explodes, blowing off the top of his head. Libby fears their stuffing made the turkey explode, but they soon learn that there was plenty of rivalry among the assembled family members, any one of whom had reason to want Monty dead. A heavy snowstorm ensures the suspects stay put as the sisters start to investigate. That their father, Sean, was on bad terms with the victim complicates their task. The action builds to more fireworks and a dramatic rescue.
  5. Thanksgiving on Thursday (Mary Pope Osborne) is one of the Magic Tree House series for children. I love the concept and so do a lot of the kids. Jack and Annie travel in their magic treehouse to the year 1621, where they celebrate the first Thanksgiving with the Pilgrims and Wampanoag Indians in the New Plymouth Colony.

Have a good and safe weekend everyone.

Thursday, 25 November 2010

RIP

It is hard to find the words and sometimes words are not enough.

To the miners underground - Rest in Peace
To the families left behind - Our deepest sympathies
To the rescue teams and mine staff who were frustrated in their efforts to rescue their brothers and mates - You did everything you could
To Peter Whittall - Your dignity and strength are an inspiration
To the community - Your togetherness and support in the face of this disaster are what makes us Kiwi

My final wish - that they do manage to bring the boys home.

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

What does it mean to be Brave?

The Brave by Nicholas Evans is the author’s first book in five years, and while it is a departure from the wilderness and nature that feature in some of his other titles (e.g. The Horse Whisperer, The Smoke Jumper), it retains strong characterisation. Several people complete journeys of discovery and there are very mixed destinations.

Nicholas Evans skilfully intertwines the stories of 1950’s England and Hollywood, with present day America. The constant running through both is Tom Bedford. In earlier times he was Tommy, bullied at boarding school, and taking refuge in a fantasy world of TV Westerns. Today he is Tom, slightly bitter, living alone and estranged from his son who is fighting in Iraq.
Despite the fact that (for me at least) parts of the book were telegraphed, it still kept me entertained and interested to the end. Characters were developed, innocence destroyed and with everyone confronting their demons, true bravery was discovered.

It wasn’t the book I was expecting from Nicholas Evans. It reminded me slightly of the Sidney Sheldon novels of Hollywood that I used to devour. But it had an innocence and naivety to the storytelling which came from much of the story being told from the viewpoint of the younger Tommy and this lifted it above some of the other books and sagas which use the darker side of Hollywood as their base. It is well worth a read.

As well as being available in print, The Brave will also shortly be available in audio book in the Library. Or request some of the author's other titles by clicking on this author link.

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

Free Email Reminders

If you are anything like me (especially in the lead up to Christmas), returning your library books on time is something that is either way down the priority list or so far off the radar that you have completely forgotton about it. That is until next time you come into the library and discover that the books were late, and that you have to reach into your pocket.

BUT it doesn't have to be that way. If you have your current email address on our records, we will email you a couple of days before you books (or other items) are due and remind you of their due date. This gives you time to go online (or phone us) to renew them or to drop them back.

It's quick, it's easy and it's free. So next time you are in the library update your record with your email address (or check with us that we have your current details).

Monday, 22 November 2010

Bring them home

First it was history. Then it became a book, more than one movie and finally an award winning musical. It started as Les Miserables and an is known world-wide as Les Mis. You can read it, watch it, listen to it (and all through the Library)

But as I was sitting in the Matakana Cinemas yesterday watching the screening of the 25th Anniversary production of Les Miserables, one song resonated. And it was not just me, but many others in the audience who commented that they too said a prayer.

So today I would like to borrow the words of Alain Boubil, Claude-Michel Schonberg and Cameron Mackintosh, as sung by Jean Valjean. With thoughts and hopes for the miners, rescuers, families and community at Pike River.

God on high
Hear my prayer -
In my need
You have always been there.
He is young,
He's afraid -
Let him rest
Heaven blessed.
Bring him home,
Bring him home,
Bring him home.

Bring them home!

Friday, 19 November 2010

Top 5 for Friday - Kids and Medicine

It's Red Nose today for Cure Kids and Warkworth Library has gone red to celebrate the occasion. That's also the inspiration for today's blog. It's a fairly eclectic (and sometimes rather vague) selection of titles, some of which have I'v read, and some which just appealed when I sat down to type today.
  1. In a Heartbeat (Loretta Ellsworth). When a small mistake costs sixteen-year-old Eagan her life during a figure-skating competition, she leaves many things unreconciled, including her troubled relationship with her mother. From her vantage point in the afterlife, Eagan reflects back on her memories, and what she could have done differently, through her still-beating heart. When fourteen-year-old Amelia learns she will be getting a heart transplant, her fear and guilt battle with her joy at this new chance at life. And afterwards when she starts to feel different, dreaming about figure skating, craving grape candy. Her need to learn about her donor leads her to discover and explore Eagan's life, meeting her grieving loved ones and trying to bring the closure they all need to move on. Told in alternating viewpoints, In a Heartbeat tells the emotional and compelling story of two girls sharing one heart. I'v just started to read this book which is a recommended teen read for summer. Watch this space for a review before Christmas.
  2. Sadako and the thousand paper cranes (Eleanor Coerr) After several dizzy spells send Hiroshima-born Sadako to the doctor, the budding school track star finds out she has leukemia--known as the "atom bomb disease." But she faces life with spirit and bravery. And a legend says that if she folds 1,000 paper cranes, the gods will grant her wish to be healthy again. I read this book as a child and adored it. It is gentle and sad and uplifting all at the same time. The libraries have several different versions from children's fiction, illustrated and audio to choose from.
  3. The ghost map : a street, an epidemic and the two men who battled to save Victorian London (Steven Johnson). At 6am on 28 August 1854, the city of London struggled to sleep at the end of an oppressively hot summer. But at 40 Broad Street, Soho, Sarah Lewis was awake tending to her feverish baby girl. As she threw a used bucket of water into the cesspool at the front of her lodgings, it marked the start of a cholera epidemic that would consume 50,000 lives in England and Wales - and become a battle between man and microbe unlike any other. Steven Johnson takes us day by day through what happened and re-creates a London full of dust heaps, furnaces and slaughterhouses; where a ghost class of bone-pickers, rag gatherers, dredger men and mud-larks scavenged off waste; where families were crammed into tiny rooms and cartloads of bodies wheeled down the streets. And at the heart of the story is Doctor John Snow: vegetarian, teetotaller, anaesthesiologist and Soho resident, whose use of maps to prove that cholera was spread by water - and not borne on the air as most believed - would bring him into conflict with the entire medical establishment, but ultimately defeat his era's greatest killer. Steven Johnson interweaves this extraordinary story with a wealth of ideas about how cities work, ecosystems thrive and cultures connect. He argues that, with half the planet's population set to be urban, today's megacities could soon be wrestling with the same problems as John Snow and that, just as in 1854, science could be our salvation. This is just one of several books we have about or based on the cholera epidemic in the mid 19th Century. It reminds us of how doctors have had to be detectives over the years. And just how much we have to thank some of those early medical detectives. It is also a tale of a disease which can still prevail today, as the citizens of Haiti can no doubt attest.
  4. Measly Medicine (Nick Arnold). A romp through the history of healthcare, hosted by the inimitable Dr Grimgrave.Includes chapters ancient medicine - Stone Age trepanning, Chinese medicine, Romans, Greeks· the dodgy diagnostics of the Middle Ages· the bloody operations before anaesthetics and hygiene were implemented· Florence Nightingale's nursing revolution and development of public health· Life-saving surgery available today, including plastic surgery and transplants.· Modern miracles - new drugs and treatment. The Horrible Science crew make us thankful that we were not born in earlier times. Children will love it.
  5. Urgency Emergency Picture Book Series (Dosh Archer) From a choking wolf and a girl dressed in red looking for her lost granny, to an injured spider lying under a water spout, Doctor Glenda and Nurse Percy at City Hospital have a lot to deal with in this lovely series of early read picture books. I haven't seen them yet, but I love books that put a new twist on old tales, so will be looking out for these.

Of course, honourable mentions need to go to my favourite Jodi Picoult novel My Sister's Keeper, my favourite TV show Grey's Anatomy and stories about Helen Keller and her teacher Annie Sullivan (another favourite from when I was growing up).

Take care everyone. Have a fantastic weekend.

Thursday, 18 November 2010

A "pot pourri" of a book

I was looking for just the right words to describe Joy Cowley's memoir Navigation and yesterday I was struggling. Today over lunch I read an interview with her in the latest Next magazine and she nailed it for me. It's a pot pourri.

It is funny and thought-provoking, interesting and insightful. And through it all the warm smile and friendly essence of one of our most prolific and loved authors and advocates of Good reading for Kiwi kids shines through. I would have expected no less from Joy Cowley.

If Margaret Mahy is the “Word Witch” of New Zealand children’s literature, then Joy Cowley must surely be the Magician. Observations and memories from her past and her present mingle with commentary on a wide range of subjects. Magical word pictures of her special place in the Marlborough Sounds dance through the pages. Laugh out loud interactions with children around the world prove that are a deceptively perceptive as well as sometimes brutally honest and logical. Joy’s commonsense blends with her love of life in telling her story from childhood, to a teenager coveting a motorcycle, motherhood to author and sought after speaker.

This book was long overdue and a pleasure to read.

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

Summer Reading Programmes


Once again, the seven libraries (previously known as Rodney) are running our very successful Summer Reading Programmes. This summer the theme is to Go Bush and we are carrying that theme through with the Big Bush Read for 5 to 8 year olds and Library Monopoly for the 9 to 13 year olds.


The Big Bush Read : Te Panui Ngahere Nui
This is an incentive based reading programme which aims to encourage and promote books, libraries, and the fun of reading to children over the summer holidays. Participants do not need to be reading by themselves to participate in the programme. In fact reading aloud to and with your child is of real benefit in keeping up the momentum over the holiday break and in preparing them for independent reading.

Children enrolled in the programme receive a colourful folder to record the books that they read. When the children come into the library to ‘report-in’ (share with a staff member the books they have been reading) they receive a sticker and earn Library dollars to buy their ticket to the Grand Finale party. Children who complete the programme by ‘reporting-in’ four times can buy their ticket to the Finale which includes guest storytellers, and presentation of their prizes.

Library Monopoly - Branch out in your Reading
This programme for the older children was so well received last year, that we had to bring it back. Following a similar format of incentives, the children receive a special Monopoly Board when they enrol. At each visit they roll the dice three times to move around the board and must read the type of book that they land on (for instance an author they have never read before, adventure, animal stories, non-fiction). Each book is given a star rating and to earn their Library dollars, at each report in they must hand in a short review. Four dollars will buy their ticket to the Grand Finale party where they will receive their certificates and prize.

AND with the support of the community and the Library, these programmes are offered free of charge. Enrolments for both programmes open on the 29th of November and all report in's must be completed by 24th January so that you can buy your tickets for the Finales later that week. So that's eight weeks of the summer in which to come to the library four times for your report-ins (we do stagger these so they are not all completed in one week). If you are on holiday it may be possible to report-in by phone, fax, or email.

For more information or to find out about the enrolments, talk to your local library (Mahurangi East, Wellsford, Warkworth, Kumeu, Helensville, Orewa or Whangaparaoa). Or if you are somewhere else in Auckland, check with your library about what they are doing as we almost all run something to keep you reading on holiday.

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Where are all these libraries?

There are 55 libraries around Auckland where you can use your Library card. That's enough libraries for you to visit a different one every week of the year, and still have some left over.

If you would like to do this exercise and want to make sure the library will be open when you get there, here is the link through the Library Map where you can track all of the libraries, their addresses and opening hours. Borrow and return items to any library from Wellsford to Waiheke to Waiuku.

AND if those 55 libraries don't keep you busy, you can catch up with one of the four mobile libraries that are also part of our network.

Monday, 15 November 2010

Keeping up with What's on at the Library

If you are anything like me, there are days when organisation goes out the window and trying to keep up with dates of birthdays and events doesn't even get a look in. So rather than making you do all the hard work of trying to find out what's on at your local libraries, we have a great new way of keeping you in touch. It's our regular monthly "What's On" E-newsletter.

It's a free monthly news and events update delivered straight to your inbox. Highlights include author talks, children's and teens' activities, heritage exhibitions, workshops and seminars, concerts, book clubs, computer classes and more. And it's events right around Auckland so if there is something you want to do or someone you want to listen to in another part of our City, this is the newsletter for you.

Sign up here to receive our What's On E-Newsletter (and you can sign up for one of our next Reads newsletters at the same time).

In the meantime, here is the link through to the November newsletter.

Friday, 12 November 2010

Top 5 for Friday - Death and Bereavement

I'm off to a funeral this afternoon for one of my old primary school teachers who I have kept in touch with. He admitted a couple of years ago that he had hoped I would become a teacher, but conceded that librarian was the next best thing. So I am off to celebrate his life and it has got me looking for just the right words, something that we often help people do in the library on just such occasions.
  1. Beyond Absence - collected by Edward Searl. This "treasury of poems, quotations and readings on death and remembrance" is just one of the books that is held by the library with words for the service, a personal note or for comfort.
  2. Sometimes it's not a poem about death, remembrance or grief that you are looking for but that favourite poem of your loved one. One of the most satisfying experiences I have ever had as a librarian is managing to help a gentleman find his mother's favourite poem for her service (and he had a last little giggle as she had got the poet wrong). Often we find the words in books like Best-Loved Poems (Neil Philip - Editor) but we have volumes of poetry as well as all our on line resources which we can utilise in our detective work to find what you are looking for.
  3. Earth, Sea, Sky by Patricia and Waiariki Grace with photos by Craig Potton is just one volume of Images and Maori Proverbs which have been published by Huia. The Maori proverb is accompanied by the English translation as well as a short explanation. It is simple but inspiring.
  4. It's not something we really like to talk about but there are things we can do to prepare for death. That starts with making a Will and can also include creating a Family Trust, a subject that we often get inquiries about here at the Library. A lot of lawyers recommend Martin Hawes book Family Trusts so we try to have several copies of this on the shelves, but it is not the only book on the subject so have a look around or do a Subject Search Trusts - New Zealand.
  5. Everyone deals with loss differently and we have a selection of books in the library to help you work your way through the process. 101 ways you can help (Liz Aleshire) and After life, after you : true stories of love, grief and hope (S.K. Reid) are two quite new books that give different perspectives on bereavement.

An honourable mention today comes from a title that I came across writing today's blog. The Book of Death: Kicking the Bucket in Style (Sarah McKenzie, Liz Poole and Amanda McKenzie) has such an in-your-face title that I am pretty sure it would be worth a read.

In the meantime, here is a proverb from Earth, Sea, Sky (mentioned above)

Rarangi maunga, tu tonu, tu tonu. Rarangi tangata, ngaro noa, ngaro noa.

You have gone. But your mountain is everlasting.

RIP Val.

Thursday, 11 November 2010

Make Music

Are you a singer or musician? Then our transition into Auckland Libraries brings you not just more music to listen to, but the resources to make your own.

You can now access the growing collection of Sheet Music that is held at the Auckland Central Library. The collection covers a broad range of styles. In addition to classical, jazz and rock, the collection also contains:
- song anthologies
- vocal scores and librettos for opera and musicals
- miniature scores and full scores
- instrumental tutors
- a strong New Zealand music collection, both print and manuscript
- choral and orchestral sets

There is a wealth of other types of sheet music in the basement of the Central City Library, all available for loan. Most is available at no charge, although there is a fee for the Orchestral sets.

Check out some of the links on this Printed Music Catalogue Search to find out more.

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

Row Row Row your boat..

... faster than the rest
Kiwis at Karapiro
Simply were the best

Okay - so poetry isn't my forte! But weren't the Kiwis fantastic at the World Rowing Champs at Lake Karapiro over the last week and a half. Congratulations to everyone involved, from the competitors to the organisers.

If the sight of the skiffs (or boats or whatever the technical term is) skimming through the waves has inspired you, check out what's available from more than 4,000 resources at your local library. There's everything here from the How to manuals for beginners to the How to Go Faster tips for those already involved in the sport. Crew: The Power's Handbook (2007) sounds like it might have everything you need from the history (slaves and galley ships), equipment, training and racing.

Or check out the stories of famous rowers (or scullers) and some of the incredible trips that they have undertaken. The story of Rob Hamill and Phil Stubbs in The Naked Rower is an interesting and inspiring read, while the title Five months in a leaky boat : rowing through Mongolia and Siberia to the Arctic Ocean, is intriguing to say the least.
And to find out more about rowing in New Zealand go to the Rowing New Zealand website.

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

What makes a good picture book?

The Best Picture Books are the ones that make the children giggle and which make the parents (usually the reader) laugh. Which is exactly what happened yesterday morning at Storytime in Warkworth with the last book of the session (when the audience is starting to get a little distracted and at it's toughest).

The Pig's Knickers (Jonathan Emmett - Writer. Vanessa Cabban - Illustrator) is the story of a pig who thinks he is quite dull and boring. What does it take to transform a gloomy pig into a break-dancing, tango-tastic super pig? A pair of polka-dot knickers! Pig's new polka-dot knickers make him feel so special that he can't stop showing off in them. 'What do you think of me in my new knickers?' he asks, as he parades proudly past his friends. But is it really Pig's knickers that are so extraordinary, or is it something else?
A cheeky picture book that's fun to read, right through to the last page.

Monday, 8 November 2010

Information 24/7 - Library Resources from Home or Work

If you were a member of any of the previous library networks: Auckland, Manukau, North Shore, Waitakere, Rodney, Franklin and Papakura – you now have access to the Digital Library.

The Digital Library is ideal for those who cannot physically get to the library for books and information due to time constraints or other reasons. It is great for researchers, teachers, students, and parents helping their kids with homework. You can use your current library barcode and PIN to access the Digital Library, which holds 100+ specialist eResources encompassing some of the world’s most sought after information including:

1. Renowned encyclopaedias, e.g. World Book Online and Encyclopaedia Britannica Online
2. Top business statistics and information, e.g. Kompass, MarketLine
3. Top arts eResources: Oxford Art Online and William Blake’s America
4. Fun interactive children’s sites: TumbleBooks and TumbleReadables
5. World-class online exhibitions e.g. Shades of Grey, Shakespeare, and, Is It Real Gold?
6. Downloadable Media (eAudio books)
7. Auckland and specialist family history databases, e.g. passenger lists and cemetery records
8. Digitised heritage material e.g. Manuscripts Online

Visit the all-new Digital Library now: www.aucklandcitylibraries.com/digitallibrary. Over the next few weeks I will be having a look at some of these resources. While most of them do need a library card for access, some are open sites. Have a look around and if you have any questions, let me know.

Friday, 5 November 2010

Top 5 for Friday - Change

WOW - What a week! It has been crazy busy (forgive the bad grammar) across Auckland as customers from Wellsford to Clevedon (and every part in between) have taken to the bigger brighter Auckland Libraries organisation with enthusiasm. Books are winging their way around Auckland (huge ups to all our courier drivers who are moving enormous quantities of books and other resources). We have all been working really hard behind the scenes so that service at the desk remains as seamless as possible - all with a smile.

As this week as seen so much change, I thought that would be an excellent theme for the Top 5 today. So I went to our flash new Library website and typed "Change" into the search box. As a keyword search that gave me over 30,000 results. If you look closely at the right hand side of the new search page, you can see that this search can be narrowed down (refined) by format, year, subject, audience, region (among others). It takes a bit of getting used to but is a wonderful option for those that want something more than our classic catalogue (which is also available). I will be talking more about how this all works next week. In the meantime, here is my Top 5 for Friday.
  1. The Winners Bible: Rewire your brain for permanent change by Kerry Spackman. The Winner's Bible gives you mental and emotional tools that can change your natural desires and rid you of habits that limit your happiness or potential. Dr. Spackman provides practical, proven techniques for acquiring the strengths necessary to grow into a better, happier, and more powerful person. He's used these techniques to genuinely revolutionize the lives of normal people, sports stars, business people and even drug addicts - sometimes in a single session.
  2. Destitute Gourmet - Sophie Gray. Change means different things to different people so the subtitle of this book "stunning food for small change" puts it firmly into my top 5 (plus I am a cook-book junkie).
  3. Change for the Better - Georgina Beyer and Cathy Casey. Former MP and Mayor of Carterton Georgina Beyer, was born in 1957 as George Bertrand. This powerful biography tells her story - of a change bigger than most of us can imagine.
  4. Leaving Microsoft to Change the World - John Wood. I haven't read this book but it is immediately going onto my request list. An entrepreneur's odyssey to educate the world's children sounds like just the sort of inspirational tale that will keep me interested and inspire me.
  5. And for a light-hearted and musical end to the list, I can't go past my first ever pop idol. David Bowie with the album Changes.

Have an awesome weekend everyone. Ka kite

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

What can I read Next?

Do you ever get stuck for something to read? I do - in fact I am at the moment. It's not that there aren't plenty of books on the shelf. It's more that I have seen books and thought - I must read that, only to find that I forget the titles when I do now (finally) have the time to read.

We can now offer you something to help - Next Read enewsletters.

NextReads eNewsletters are email newsletters that provide reading suggestions for all ages in more than 25 reading categories, from armchair travel and biographies, through to romance, thrillers and picture books. There's something for everyone: kids, tweens, teens and adults. Each book is carefully selected by our editors, who add a brief summary. If you see a title that catches your fancy, simply click on the link and place your request. It really is that simple.

It's simple to sign up for too. Just go to our Next Reads page on the Auckland Libraries website and click sign up. I have.

Tuesday, 2 November 2010

No Ordinary Apes

It's been a long time since I read a book in one sitting. Which isn't really a reflection on the fact that my reading recently has mostly comprised of text books. I was overjoyed then, that the end of the semester coincided with the arrival on my desk of the new Sara Gruen novel Ape House.

For fans of her previous novel, Water for Elephants, I have to advise that while animals are still a primary focus of Ape House, perhaps even more so than the previous title, the book has quite a different feel. It is contemporary and fast paced, whereas Water for Elephants had a slower pace as befitted life in the 1920's. Perhaps this is a reflection on the hyper activity displayed by the six apes of the title who play are characters in their own right.

The publisher's summary of the plot reads "When a family of bonobo apes who know American Sign Language are kidnapped from a language laboratory, their mysterious appearance on a reality TV show propels scientist Isabel Duncan, together with reporter John Thigpen, on a personal mission to rescue them. An entertaining book that calls into question our assumptions about these animals who share 99.4% of our DNA." Any book that keeps me turning the pages is definitely entertaining. The story behind the book sounds just as interesting with the author having to undertake extensive study and research before getting to meet the real bonobos in Iowa.

I found some of the subplots a little distracting as I was so invested in the story of Isabel, John and the apes. However that is a small detail in a book from this wonderful storyteller. Highly recommended.

Monday, 1 November 2010

Read to Succeed Winners

Read to Succeed is over for another year and this week we celebrate the winners for 2010.

First place getter and the winner of a new (green) iPod nano is Ashleigh Milner from Kingsway School.

Runners up were Laura Bates from Rangitoto College and Caitlin Mowatt, also from Kingsway, who both receive book vouchers. A special set of book vouchers is awarded to Sam Sinnott from Kaipara College for the most entries into the competition (very impressive Sam)

Read to Succeed is our teen reading challenge which launches during Youth Week in May and runs right through to the end of Term 3. It challenges Rodney Year 9 to 13 students to read five different types of books (e.g. historical, science fiction, poetry, etc) and is designed to support the NCEA "wide reading" criteria. The schools this year were again very supportive of the challenge and entry numbers were up. So well done Rodney, congratulations to the winners and thanks to everyone for taking part.

Welcome to Auckland Libraries

Inspiring, engaging and informing you

Here is a message from Allison Dobbie, the Manager of the new Auckland Libraries which we are part of.

Kia ora and welcome to all the libraries of the new Auckland Council. I'm really excited to share the resources and opportunities that libraries bring to you...

The original Auckland City Library opening in 1880, thanks to Sir George Grey who had the foresight to gift his diverse book collection to the people of Auckland. Some 130 years later, there are now 55 libraries across Auckland. using your existing library card, you can have free access to any and all of them.

Libraries have changed enormously in recent years. They offer so much more than books - you can also check out dvds, audio books, materials in many different languages, music. They are a fantastic resource and play an important part in your communities by providing opportunities for you and your whole family to learn, to research, to attend story times and events, to browse, to study, to access the internet, to have a coffee, and to find a good book to relax with. Many library resources are available through our website so do check that out as well.

Libraries are great places to spend time - our buildings range from heritage landmarks to modern award winning spaces. Now you can use the libraries that suit you best as you go about your daily life, in conjunction with your work, sport, family or shopping. They are full of surprises and treasures, and will bring much pleasure and value to you and your family. There's something for everyone.

I invite you to discover and explore the libraries across the region. Enjoy!

Allison Dobbie
Manager - Libraries and Information

We will be posting more about all the fantastic resources at the Library (both old and new) in the coming weeks. Or pick up a brochure and bookmark next time you are here.