Friday, April 29, 2011
'I love being married. It's so great to find that one special person you want to annoy for the rest of your life.'
Happy Royal Wedding Day! Well, to be honest, I'm kind of ignoring the royal wedding, happy enough for it to pass me by, and my own wedding was a heartfelt but very very low-key meet-up at the Manukau registry office, but something about these old photographs of wedding parties from the 1800s and early 1900s really gets to me. I guess I'm trying to see within the wedding photo the story of the courtship and marriage; they fill me with questions mostly - what happened next? Did they have children? Were they in love, and did it last? How does their family remember them?
Thursday, April 28, 2011
Top 5 books I nabbed from Auckland Central Library's nonfiction display shelves for quirky titles and/or covers
I adore libraries. I live to raid their shelves for items I have never seen before because, in a nutshell, I love books. Big books, little books, old books, new books, heavy books, light books, tatty books, pristine books - if it's got pages I'll read it. And smell it. And stroke it. And, if it moves me in some way, I'll probably dog ear its pages, too. Some people tell me that my love of books is incredibly naive and sweet and those people I happily ignore. Yesterday, between meetings, I had 15 mins to nip down to the second level of Auckland Central Library and look for ideas for a top 5 post. I'm fatally attracted to display shelves - my goldfish attention span is never more happy than when presented with row upon row of display books. The 'Supernatural' fanfic-reading girlish part of me SQUEEs with delight. The grown-up half of me wants to assure you that I walked around calmly while carefully choosing books. We all know that wasn't the case. A few students darted away from me whenever I lunged madly for books and I know I startled a couple of staff members when my sense of humour got the best of me and I snorted/laughed at a few titles and covers. I won't apologise for my enthusiasm. Books are serious business :) Here's a list of what I ended up with, in the order I think they deserve to be in, and I most certainly look forward to my next visit there! (Run, hide...)
Wednesday, April 27, 2011
"Soon the light at the gate was like a little bright hole far behind, and the quiet was so deep that their feet seemed to thump along while all the trees leaned over them and listened."
Mirkwood, from 'The hobbit: or there and back again', by J.R.R. Tolkien
I love trees. Everytime I come back from holiday, there are at least a dozen frustrated and inadequate photos of trees - usually taken from a moving car - as I try one more time to record how much I love them.
Myths and legends, folktales and fairytales, they love their forests too. And for every tale about a forest of surpassing beauty where fair elves and noble unicorns dwell in golden glades, at one with nature, there is a story that burrows deep into the freaky flipside of forests - the cool, impenetrable darkness, the creatures that hide behind leaves and buried beneath the undergrowth, the endless cycle of rebirth - and decay. Giant spiders. Demons and the undead. Eyes, in the night. Fairytale and fantasy forests are resistant to maps, with shifting boundaries that remake themselves at will. All sorts of things make their homes there, and some of the denizens of the forests below would snack on the Big Bad Wolf for breakfast and pick their teeth on the Woodsman. NOM NOM NOM.
Monday, April 25, 2011
"They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them."
- For the Fallen by Laurence Binyon
I've taken part in a few dawn parades and ANZAC memorial services over the years and have read numerous books about life back then but it has always seemed as if it were all one step removed. I have felt such overwhelming sadness for so many lives lost, thinking that these soldiers were young and brave and foolhardy and probably oh so very scared. As much as I have understood why we remember such a time, I have never really felt it. At least, not until this year. Whether it's age, frame of mind or the company I had at the time, I'm not sure. I have always found it quite hard to know how to describe ANZAC Day to the nephews and I've often thought that I do it a disservice when I recite the timeline in such a dry matter-of-fact way with no actual feeling for the people involved. The 'how' and the 'who' seems easily enough said, but trying to explain what motivated soldiers to enlist - going off to war, far from family, fighting, unaware if they were going to live or die that day, the next day, the day after... - that's not so easy to do. I've no idea how much of it all my nephews truly understood beforehand and, unlike many friends and acquaintances, we have no personal knowledge of any family members who fought in the war, so other than a general sense of empathy and sadness it often seems like they (we?) view it rather objectively. This year, in an effort to be able to answer any questions they might possibly have about ANZAC Day, I raided our collections for a mix of books that would, hopefully, help explain the day itself in particular, and the war in general. I rounded up a whole heap and, with the nephews, spent a long time going through each title (where Mr 7's input was very much missed). By the end, Mr 12 and Mr 13 were rather subdued and reflective and (maybe?) somewhat wiser. Unfortunately, we couldn't spend the day together this year as the boys would be with the grandparents in Taipa, so we've made a date to take part in our local memorial service in 2012, an activity we've never done together. We don't profess that these are the top 5 of everything we have on this topic, but they are certainly 5 resources that helped.
Sunday, April 24, 2011
Top 5 of Whitcoulls kids' top 50 books that I am going to casually wave under Mr 12 and Mr 13's noses in the hopes that they find their book mojo
"There are many little ways to enlarge your child's world. Love of books is the best of all."
— Jacqueline Kennedy
Mr 12 and Mr 13 were both reading and writing by the time they turned four years old. They ate books for breakfast, lunch and tea and they enjoyed them all. I remember, about eight years ago, on a family trip home to Wellington Markhiem and Jaxin sang the same song on the way down - and I'm talking an eight hour drive here, folks - over and over: 'A for apple - a a a, B for butterfly - b b b...' complete with actions. It would have driven me mad except that I remember how much they loved to learn. I think that may have been the last time they were excited about reading and writing because, somewhere during their time at school, they lost that. These days I barely see them read. Often I'll hand them books only to hear, 'I'll just watch the movie, thanks.' Slightly disheartening. Every now and then, though, in an effort to help them find their book mojo, I'll not-so-casually bring a few books home and leave them lying around where they'll find them and hope something catches their interest. Sometimes stuff does. Mostly it doesn't and then Mr 7 asks me to read them to him instead. This time around I've requested the top 5 books from The Whitcoulls Kids' Top 50 list. Yes, even The Wonky Donkey. I'm on a mission to help them re-discover books. Whether they want to or not :-/
Thursday, April 21, 2011
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.
~Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, from 'In Flanders fields'
Sonia works at Te Matariki Clendon Library, and has reviewed a number of kids and teens books for the (ex) Manukau Libraries website, with a particular focus on the topic of war. Below is a selection from her reviews, which may give you some ideas about where to start if you've got kids around who are interested in learning more about World War One, and what it might have been like to be at the front.
Click here to browse through the rest of Sonia's reviews, which include highly recommended titles such as John Boyne's The boy in the striped pyjamas, Melanie Drewery's Papa's Island and Jane Mitchell's Chalkline.
Friday, April 15, 2011
'I've been making chocolate for more than ten years. Almost without noticing it, I find myself telling its story. Maybe through the telling of its story, I can also tell something about myself, something about the longings, the romance - the decadence.' ~ Max Brenner, 'Chocolate: a love story'
Something about chocolate seems to bring out the best in food photographers, I swear. These 5 books below with will seduce you with their pure decadence - we're talking edible gold leaf, gentle dustings of powdered sugar, the ripest strawberries and figs, antique silver table settings and crystal goblets of something gently effervescing off to one side... oh - and don't forget the marmite. Marmite?! Yes, marmite.
Thursday, April 14, 2011
Papakura Library guest post: Top 5 Xbox games enjoyed by a girl who very much isn’t a gamer (and didn’t even necessarily play them herself)
My husband and I bought an Xbox 360 with Kinect for our Christmas present to ourselves J I’ve never really been interested in gaming before, but the Kinect sensor is awesome because you are the controller i.e. it does fancy 3D body scans to sense your movements and that is how you play games. Auckland Libraries don’t have any Kinect games on the catalogue yet, but there are heaps of standard Xbox 360 games available, and the following are my pick of the games I (or more likely my family members) have played already.
Wednesday, April 13, 2011
"Most human beings have an almost infinite capacity for taking things for granted. That men do not learn very much from the lessons of history is the most important of all the lessons of history."
- Aldous Huxley
Last year sometime I came across the word 'dystopia' in relation to fiction and films. Somehow or other I had gotten to 35 and had never heard it before. Turning to Twitter (as I do at most times for quick answers) I asked 'What are dystopian novels?' It was Tim Jones, New Zealand poet, fiction writer and editor, who answered my query. Even better, he didn't just tell me what it was, he listed some examples (such as Brave new world by Huxley, Fahrenheit 451 by Bradbury, The handmaid's tale by Atwood and even The road by McCarthy to name a few) and then suddenly a lightbulb went on. I knew what he was talking about because I'd read some of these books. In fact, as a teen so much of what I'd been drawn to was, in fact, about dystopias rather than utopias - I just hadn't realised that that's what they were called. Which made me wonder about dystopian films - what were they? Had I seen them and not known? And how soon could I get my hands on a list to compare? A little Google-fu (Google is my boyfriend, I swear, geez) and I ended up at Snarkerati.com a pop culture site (which features a lot of celebrity gossip), who had, back in 2007, put together a fantastic list of their Top 50 Dystopian Movies of All Time. It made for great reading and prompted some intense discussions with siblings about a lot of the placings *sigh* It's never boring in our house though I often wish it were. We've listed the Top 5 from their list - this being a Top 5 blog and all - so you can see how your choices stack up against Snarkerati. And as a final note - two things: 1) Equilibrium at #50? Shut the front door! Really? I would've had it in my top 20 for Bale's fight scenes alone! and 2) We don't hold Mad Max 2? Shut the front door! Woe is me :(
Tuesday, April 12, 2011
Top 5 books I would have appreciated as a young girl had my mum let me go crazy and redecorate my shared bedroom
"I would be the most content if my children grew up to be the kind of people who think decorating consists mostly of building enough bookshelves."
- Anna Quindlen
At ten, though, I didn't want more bookshelves. Now I do but then? Then I wanted to be able to chuck paint on my walls a-la Jackson Pollock's 'Summertime' and call it art. I wanted to be able to make tacky doorway beads and snow globes and put splotches on my bedroom furniture. In short, I wanted to be able to put some part of my still-forming personality on the room and know that I belonged there. This quick and simple post is for the ten year old girl in all of us who wishes she had been able to redecorate her room more often. Can you tell that I feel my personal development as a child was thwarted by parental common sense? Oh, those crazy, crazy parents, making decisions for us! With hindsight (because we're all wise after the event) it was probably a good call. It's never easy sharing a bedroom with a sibling - most days we drew battle lines down the middle of the room avowing death to whomsoever put a toe across the line first - so I do wonder if mum said no to redecorating because one or the other of us would've tried to obliterate any trace of the other's individuality. Maybe she did know what she was doing, after all. Had we been allowed to do so, though, I would have loved having these books available to me in all their kitschy pva sticky glue glory! Although there's nothing says I can't employ a few of these tricks even now, at 35... This list of books also makes for great school holiday craft ideas for young girls wanting to brighten up their living spaces.
Monday, April 11, 2011
"Comic books and graphic novels are a great medium. It's incredibly underused."
- Darren Aronofsky
Another of the joys of belonging to the fabulous 55 libraries across Auckland is the extensive collection of Graphic Novels for adults. Haven’t read a comic since you were a kid? These titles below are my all time favourites and a great way to launch you back into the world of comics. Please note that these are titles for grown ups, all feature adult themes and language.
Powers by Brian Michael Bendis - The only reason that this series is an honourable mention rather than at number 2 on my list, is because sadly we don’t have the complete run of this fabulous crime noir superhero series. I have the (to date) complete run on my shelf at home, and the combination of crime noir with capes is unbelievably good reading.
Wednesday, April 6, 2011
"Easter is the demonstration of God that life is essentially spiritual and timeless."
- Charles M. Crowe
Every year my siblings and I put together a day of Easter activities that involves a storytime, a couple of craft projects, a cooking session and then ends with our annual Easter egg hunt using multiple houses, clue cards, incentives, a quiz and a puzzle map. Our Easter day of celebration and remembrance came about accidentally when, a few years back, my nephews asked if they could have an Easter egg hunt. I remembered that mum used to set up egg hunts and craft activities for us as children and I wanted the boys to have that, too. I just wasn't sure if I could pull it off successfully. More importantly, my siblings decided that if we were going to do this we were going to do it well and use it as a chance to teach the boys about the actual meaning of Easter - that it wasn't all about chocolate eggs and hot cross buns. I'm not particularly religious (in spite of dad's family being Mormon and mum's being Anglican) but it didn't seem right to let them celebrate without understanding how it came about. We requested anything and everything containing information about Easter - no matter how small the info - that would, hopefully, give us ideas for how to plan out the day. Somehow or other (and I'm not sure I was there for the vote, in fact, I don't even know if there *was* a vote) it was decided that I would deliver the programme. Each year I review our library resources and try out new crafts, new story versions etc. which is why you have the (somewhat dubious) pleasure of reading this post! (This is the part where you look amazed at my skill and cunning...). This year, thinking things were going ahead as normal, I requested a variety of titles (my apologies to Manukau Library whose request shelves are overflowing with my holds - I'd look shamefaced but we all know I have no shame when it comes to books and this blog) only to learn that we won't be doing anything. Mr 7 and his mother (one of my many siblings) are moving to Wellington indefinitely (I'm desolate - who will I watch Doctor Who re-runs with?) and Mr 12 and Mr 13 have announced that they are too old for Easter, thank you very much. So, there you go. I've been stood up ahead of time. Their loss is (hopefully) your gain! I make no definitive claim that these books are the best of the best - they are, simply, 5 books with Easter craft ideas.
Tuesday, April 5, 2011
"Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested."
Jean Auel, Lesley Pearse, Jeff Kinney, Maeve Binchey and Joanna Trollope round out our top 5 most requested titles for March 2011. Take a look...