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The boy behind the curtain … a national treasure

Hi, I’m Muriel Cowan and I’ve been using our library for seventy years. And so I have decided to share with you some of the books I have enjoyed; because they are entertaining, inspiring, insightful and informative.

A book that I’ve read recently that meets all the above is Tim Winton’s ‘The boy behind the curtain’.

Tim Winton is a Western Australian writer, who has an abiding love for his country, its people and the ocean.  (In 1997 he was named an Australian Living Treasure). This book is a compilation of his life story, interspersed with articles about the environment and his progress as a writer. But it’s much more than that. His skill as a writer lifts his prose to the sublime. It is the beauty of his descriptions.

I found I could identify with his life experiences. There seems to be parallels with Kiwi kids of the era. And then there are quirky observations that are pure Australian. And of course, there is his devotion to the surf. I often watch the mood and movements of the sea; but never with the single-mindedness of a surfer, waiting for a break. They seem so still with only their squinted eyes swivelling – a different state of consciousness.

For me, this is truly a top ten book of a lifetime.



Sale time!

Jake in space … far out!

“Jake in Space, Moon Attack” by Candice Lemon-Scott

In the year 4040, after failing his driving test 30 times, 11 year old Jake is sent to remedial space car driving school on the moon. While he was there, when he was sleeping he heard something strange, the door opened and he could not believe his eyes, it was his friend, Henry. He went out onto the moon’s surface, with no space suit on! He follows Henry to a cone shaped hole in the moon’s surface and learns of a plot that would be evil enough to destroy the moon and earth! Jake and his friends must then discover a way to stop the enemy plan to destroy the moon and earth. In a race against time, Jake ends up having to use his driving skills to try and save everyone.

I really enjoyed reading this book. I liked how it was set in space and it was packed with mystery and adventure. The story was very exciting and made me want to keep turning the page to find out what happened next. If you like space adventures then this is the book for you!


The Genius Files are … genius!

The Genius Files, Mission Unstoppable by  Dan Gutman

In a cross-country drive across America, Coke and Pepsi discover that they are part of a secret organisation… The Genius Files! Aided by Bones and Mya, they must stop a terrorist attack on the largest ball of twine in the World and get to the mysterious Infinity Room whilst going to strange oddball places with their parents. However, they also have to face armed dudes with bowler hats and a crazy health teacher who are all hired to kill off every member of The Genius Files by a crazy and totally insane man who tried to fix the World.  

I thought that this was a very funny and enjoyable book. It was also in my favorite genre of books as it was an adventure and mystery book. It also had a lot of crackpot places such as the Duct-Tape Museum and the Bonneville Salt Lake which is made entirely of salt! I also learned about a new place called ‘Boring’, which is a town in Oregon. I really enjoyed this book and hope others who read it do as well.  

Adam (guest)

Hearing voices … the helpful kind?

Gemma Todd ©Walsall

The first in the Voices series, and also the first novel for librarian G. X. Todd, “Defender” is a ripping good yarn.  Set in the future, Earth is sparsely populated. Somehow, humans started hearing an ‘other’ voice in their heads, and the repercussions were fatal in a great many cases. No one knows exactly what these voices are, where they came from or how to get rid of them.  The ‘hearing’ are persecuted and hounded, even murdered, so most keep their voices a secret.

Pilgrim has been alone a long time – it’s safer that way because he has Voice.  But when passing through a small town, he meets sixteen-year-old Lacey.  She has been shielded from the trials of the last seven years by her Grandma, who passed away a few weeks ago and Lacey has decided it’s time to leave town. Pilgrim is beguiled into giving her a ride to the town her sister, brother-in-law and niece live in. Lacey hasn’t seen them for eight years but is hoping they have survived.

Along the way, they run into several groups of unkind people.  The first take pleasure in raping and torturing people – from that experience, Alex, a lone woman, joins their group.  Further up the road, they witness a car crash and death of a young woman, Red. Her last word is ‘defender’ – is that a warning, an instruction?  It soon turns out to be a warning when some sadistic men driving a car marked ‘defender’ capture them, and take them to their camp.  Alex becomes the plaything of the leader, while Lacey and Pilgrim are hard pushed to survive.  Can they escape? Will they be able to rescue Alex?  And most importantly, what does this group want from them?

This is a very accomplished book, with excellent character development. I can’t wait to pick up the story in the second novel ‘Hunted’.



The Summer Lion by Margaret McAllister

This is a young adults book, 197 pages of great writing. I could not put this book down, if you could give it a star rating, it would definitely be 5 stars from me.

This book is about a girl called Andrina (Drina for short) Snapdargon and her rescue lion Jampot on their adventures to defeat Gerbil Cravat who has unexpectedly concurred Twidings village.

Gerbil buys a castle and the village around it and has to marry a Twidings villager as part of the deal.

Drina’s family own a circus , but Drina has to leave the circus to help look after her grandmother (Annie) who broke her arm. Annie lives in Twidings, this is when the adventures begin.

Jampot loves icecream and fish, mostly fish and not together!!!

I’m off now to get the rest of the books that Margaret McAllister has written. Archies war, A home of Teasel and Fawn.

Shawn (guest blogger)

What if you couldn’t recognise anyone anymore?

The Date by Louise Jensen, is a ripper of a mystery.  After her marriage falls apart, Alison Taylor is reluctantly persuaded to sign up to a dating app. She “meets” a nice man, and they have many good online conversations before agreeing to meet in person. Next thing she knows, Alison is waking up the morning after, with a bruised throat and arms, an aching bleeding head, and face blindness.

Before reading this novel, I didn’t actually know there was a condition called face blindness, or Prosopagnosia.  It can be acquired through trauma, or one can be born with it, but it means that you cannot recognise faces. Ever. Even faces you’ve seen a hundred times.  Occasionally there’s a one in a thousand chance you might retain recognition of a face, but usually, sufferers need to learn how to recognise people by voice, body language, hair, clothing etc. It’s a horrendous condition, when you think about it.

Soon after being released from hospital, Alison starts receiving threating notes implying that on the night of the date, she committed some kind of crime. Perhaps she ran someone over? Enlisting the help of her best friend, who lives next door, and her brother, she tries to recreate the events of the night. The only problem is, she comes to realise that some people are lying to her.  And who she thinks some people are, they aren’t.

Later into the plot, it emerges that her roommate (who she double dated with that night) is officially missing. In addition, she finds out that her roommate is actually the daughter of a woman who was killed in an armed robbery, that Alison’s father was involved in.  Is there a link?  Was it her she hurt?

Suffice to say that there are many twists and turns in this novel, and I certainly didn’t guess the ending. Louise Jensen has done an admirable job of portraying the imagined reality of living with face blindness, intertwined with a suspenseful mystery.  7/10.



Maths is Fun 2018 – holiday programme

Maths is Fun children’s programme for October school holidays is open for registrations now.  It’s for children in Year 1 to Year 8 at school (or homeschooled). Children learn to enjoy maths by applying it to create and have fun. Places are strictly limited so parents need to register your kids quickly.  Sessions are run by qualified teachers, and lunchtimes are supervised.

Age groups are separated into four age-appropriate separate sessions each, depending on school years. Children may not participate in groups outside their allocated group.

The theme this year is “Finding your way” so sessions will be based around map reading, latitude, longitude and the such.

RUNNING TIMES BELOW – MUST BE REGISTERED TO ATTEND.  Contact your local library now.

Dannevirke Library

  • Level 1 (school year 1 & 2) : Mon 8/10 & Tue 9/10 : 9.30am to noon, both days.
  • Level 2 (school year 3 & 4) : Mon 8/10 & Tue 9/10 : 1pm to 3.30pm, both days.
  • Level 3 (school years 5 & 6) : Wed 10/10 : 9.30am-12 then 1pm to 3.30pm. Bring lunch.
  • Level 4 (school years 7 & 8) : Thur 11/10 : 9.30am-12 then 1pm to 3.30pm. Bring lunch.

Woodville Library

  • Level 1 (school year 1 & 2) : Mon 1/10 & Tue 2/10 : 10am to 12.30pm, both days.
  • Level 2 (school year 3 & 4) : Mon 1/10 & Tue 2/10 : 1.30pm to 4pm, both days
  • Level 3 (school years 5 & 6) : Wed 3/10 : 10am-12.30 then 1pm to 4pm. Bring lunch.
  • Level 4 (school years 7 & 8) : Thur 4/10: 10am-12.30 then 1pm to 4pm. Bring lunch.

Eketahuna Library

  • Level 1 (school year 1 & 2) : Mon 8/10 & Tue 9/10 : 10.30am to 12.30pm, both days.
  • Level 2 (school year 3 & 4) : Mon 8/10 & Tue 9/10 : 1.30pm to 3.30pm, both days
  • Level 3 (school years 5 & 6) : Wed 10/10 : 10.30am-12.30 then 1pm to 4pm. Bring lunch.
  • Level 4 (school years 7 & 8) : Thur 11/10: 10.30am-12.30 then 1pm to 4pm. Bring lunch.

Pahiatua Library

  • Level 1 (school year 1 & 2) : Mon 1/10 & Tue 2/10 : 1.30pm to 4pm, both days.
  • Level 2 (school year 3 & 4) : Mon 1/10 & Tue 2/10 : 10am to 12.30pm, both days
  • Level 3 (school years 5 & 6) : Wed 3/10 : 10.30am to 12.30pm, then 1-4pm. Bring lunch.
  • Level 4 (school years 7 & 8) : Thur 4/10 : 10.30am to 12.30pm, then 1-4pm. Bring lunch.


Adult Trivia Quiz 2018 – Results

After a super-fun evening throughout the district, the ‘4 Horsemen of the Potato Chips’ were victorious in retaining the title of District Champs. Thank you to everyone who participated, and a special thank you to all our generous sponsors.  Here are just some of the photos – you can see them all in our Facebook album

Kratos – winning Eketahuna team




‘The Last Minute’ – winning Pahiatua/Woodville team


Staff – Leilani & Fiona in their recycled outfits

Staff – Wyn and Corinna

Eketahuna Library crowd

3 Assets and a Liablity at Dannevirke

Best Fancy Dress at Woodville – The 3 Rs, Yeh Right

Best Fancy Dress at Dannevirke, Tongue Twisters

The 4 Horsemen of the Potato Chips



Extinction Trials : what if dinosaurs still ruled the Earth?

S.M. Wilson has written a teen novel that seems like a blend of the Hunger Games and Jurassic Park.  In this Earth, humanity has been relegated to the over-crowded continent of Earthasia, while dinosaurs rule the other rich and luscious continent of Piloria.  Humans are in a dire situation, with resources diminishing at an alarming rate, and they cannot survive much longer.  The leadership decide to launch another expedition to the other continent, the aim being to steal certain dinosaur eggs so that the scientists can try to establish methods of wiping out the dinosaurs to allow humans to expand.

Stormchaser is an orphan, and she has a secret affinity for swimming with dinosaurs.  Lincoln wants to save his dying sister. They apply to join the expedition but only a few are selected, and competition is fierce and vicious. First they have to make it through the trials. Then, if they go to Piloria, they are risking their lives – in the past, most exploration parties have never returned – but the benefits are huge.  Plenty of sustenance, and riches beyond imagining.

I enjoyed this dystopian fantasy adventure novel, and am looking forward to the second installment. Possibly the next big thing, I suspect. Highly recommended.



Jurassic Park meets Jaws

Imagine discovering an underground sea, pristine for thousands of years and containing prehistoric marine life long extinct.  Now imagine accidentally falling into that sea, to be faced with the looming maw of a giant Carcharodon Megalodon  – a tasty treat for the huge precursor to the modern Great White shark, and an enduring mystery for your relatives, who never know your fate.  That is what the main character in “Fathomless” by Australian author Greig Beck is trying to find out – Cate wants to know what became of her grandfather, missing for 50 years. Now a Professor of evolutionary biology, she identifies a remote place in Alaska that promises a fruitful investigation – primarily because of a fossil tooth and cave drawings found there.  When her University won’t fund it, she persuades a Russian billionaire to invest $150 million to fund the expedition – his condition is that he is included in the team.  But Valery has enemies – and when they realise he is leaving the United States, they embark on their own ambitious expedition to hijack the submarine and bring him back to Russia.

With great excitement, finally the US team accesses the subterranean sea. Their marine expert, Jack, an old flame of Cate’s, confirms there are many extinct species there, that died out above ground tens of thousands, if not millions, of years ago.   Unfortunately, they have underestimated the danger, and combined with the Russian sabotage, some members of the team end up stranded in the cave… floating around on a rubber dinghy while the Megalodon searches for supper. I won’t tell you how that part of the story ends.  Suffice to say that there are three or four threads to this story.

The Russian saboteurs accidentally cause a breach of the underground sea, which allows a Megalodon to escape, where it heads to the continental US coast, it’s ancient hunting ground. When the Coast Guard eventually realise that a mega shark, unlike anything they’ve ever known, has destroyed dozens of ships, they need to develop a plan to kill the Meg before she can give birth. Of course, nothing runs smoothly, especially when the custom-fortified whaling ship they are using to hunt the Meg is attacked by eco-warriors.

Will the Megalodon triumph or will the humans?  Read it and find out!   Recommended to all fans of action and adventure. – Natalie

PS – The Meg movie (2018) is based on the novel/s by Steve Alten, which I personally found superior to the movie both in plot and character development. The movie was a bit of a let down to me, after having read the books.

Poetry competition entries 2018: The art of picking your nose / The little dog ‘girl’

© Badger Bloomfield

© Badger Bloomfield




Poetry competition entries 2018 : Kyoto Station / Thunder in the afternoon

© Ian McClunie


© Ian McClunie

Poetry competition entries 2018: Examination of a life and love / Who I am

Examination of a life and love

I went walking among the talking

And in the space, I saw your face

As it was meant to be


And in that magic grace I found

A depth of love, so profound

That I was bowed with sorrow for

The loss of time that was before


When all your love was spent on me

And I so blind I could not see

That what I needed was just to be…

And rest for a time, in thee


© Barbara Mawson


Who I am

I am the night dancing in the trees

I am the clouds shifting in the breeze

I am the sunlight splintering the waves

I am the darkness echoing in caves




Egocentric, concentric, eccentric






Round and square,

Cutting tracks, new paths, here to there

A journey with no end

A path? a gate? lost? and fear

then indecision. the plan has gone

I am alone and something’s wrong.

To keep on going is scary stuff

I must step out, I’ve had enough.


A choice is there, decision made

A new found freedom to engage

The fear has gone, the “story” lost

and now I find the journeys cost

Is paid in joy, and love, and hope

Luminosity, generosity, possibility


© Barbara Mawson

Poetry competition entry 2018: Resurrection / Poems


Snow silently enshrouds sleeping shrubs,

Which wait,

Naked and forlorn,

Until Spring, dancing gaily through the garden,

Brings verdure,

And vibrant colours to adorn.


© Penny Simpson




Tumbling in a rhythm all their own.

Succinct, and yet sublime,

Like grass,

Which gives its fragrance when it’s mown.

© Penny Simpson