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Poetry Competition 2021 – Rules

From 26 July to 20 August 2021, Tararua District Library is celebrating National Poetry Day with our annual Poetry Competition.

Win the prize!  Get the glory! 

Need some tips?  Learn about writing poetry here or you can be a manly poet or a slam poet, or check out one of our many poetry books.

Entry rules:

  1. Open to all New Zealand residents aged 16 plus (Tararua District Library employees are not eligible to enter)
  2. Entries to be accompanied by the name, age, address and phone/email of the submitter.
  3. All entries must be in English. Email to or hand in at any branch of Tararua District Library.  If emailed, poem/s can be in the body of the email or attached as a Microsoft Word or Publisher document. Handwritten entries will be accepted, however, they must be legibly printed.
  4. Maximum of two entries per person ; at least one poem will be published online, selected by us.
  5. All poems are to be an original creation of the person submitting it, and previously unpublished
  6. To keep poems relatively anonymous for judging purposes, authors will be identified as [your first name] & [first initial of your last name]..
  7. By entering, you grant Tararua District Library exclusive royalty-free and irrevocable license to copy, store, distribute and publish your submitted poem/s.
  8. No late entries will be accepted. Entries close 4pm on Friday 20 August 2021.
  9. The winner will be announced on 27 August 2021, on this blog and our Facebook page. The winner will be contacted by phone or email.
  10. There will be one prize, for the best poem, as selected by the judge. The judges decision is final. 

PS, if you search poems or poetry in the blog search bar, you’ll find the wonderful entries from previous years to get your creative juices flowing. 

Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir

From the author of the hit novel ‘The Martian’, which was made into a movie starring Matt Damon.

Ryland Grace awakes on the Hail Mary spaceship but he doesn’t know how or why – he can’t remember anything, not where he is, why or even his name.  His memory returns in bits and pieces, and he figures out that he is currently in another solar system. His mission is to save the Earth. But he is all alone, no one else survived the trip…

Grace is a high school science teacher – also a PhD in molecular biology. One day, an acquaintance informs him that an unknown ‘something’ has infected the Sun, and seems to be depleting its energy. The science community has detected that there is a stream of something traveling from the Sun to Venus – this they call the Petrova Line. If the situation continues, it will cause an extinction level event in about 20 years. Grace finds it intriguing but not his problem really. He’s just a teacher.

That is until Eva Stratt, the head of the international Petrova Task Force, recruits him.  Because of his unpopular theories, he has been selected to analyse the organism (which he names Astrophage) and eventually, becomes heavily involved in the Hail Mary project. Humans are building two spaceships and training two separate crews, to send to another star, Tau Ceti, that has Astrophage but is not being diminished by it. Why? And can that save the Earth? The timeline is tight, as it will take 13 years to get there – and it’s a suicide mission, as they won’t have enough fuel to return.

Now, years later, Grace has arrived at this other star. Fortunately, an alien spaceship comes alongside and he meets it’s sole occupant – an arachnid type of creature, which he calls Rocky for lack of a better name. Rocky is an engineer, not a scientist, and they need each other’s help to solve their mutual problem, as Rocky is also the last of his crew. Rocky speaks in musical chords so they both have to learn each other’s language. They also have the problem that Rocky survives in an atmosphere of extreme heat, pitch black and ammonia! Before long, they are fast friends. In fact, their friendship was a highlight of the story for me.

But can they save both of their planets from Astrophage? And can they survive long enough to get the information back to their homes?

Extremely entertaining, funny, action packed and scientifically educational all at the same time. If you enjoyed learning all about potatoes and Mars in The Martian, you will certainly also enjoy this book. Highly recommended.

PS : if you prefer to listen, the audio book from Audible is very well narrated.

By Natalie Raynel

Interview with the Author by Dr Brian Keating:


Author talk – Dr Cynric Temple-Camp

To secure your seat, please visit your local library to pay the $5 cover fee in advance (cash or eftpost).

Little Ears storytime Term 2 2021

LEGO Robotics – School Holiday Digital Literacy Programme 2021

Create different codes to get the Lego puppy to sit, bark and do other tricks.

Free sessions, but limited places. For children aged 8+.


Contact your local library (see below for phone numbers) or email

Info required: To register, we require child name, age, any coding experience (yes or no), caregiver name and contact phone and/or email. Session date/s desired.

When & where?

Dannevirke: 20 to 23 April, 27 to 30 April, daily 2.30 to 4.30pm. Phone 06-374-4255

Pahiatua : 20 to 23 April, 27 to 30 April, daily 2pm to 4pm. Phone 06-376-0121

Woodville : 20 to 23 April, 27 to 30 April, daily 2pm to 4pm. Phone 06-376-0212

Eketahuna : 20 to 23 April, 27 to 30 April, daily 1.30pm to 3.30pm. 06 376 0114

Review: Alchemy and Rose by Sarah Maine

Will Stewart emigrated from Scotland to New Zealand, chasing gold and running from his crimes.  In Hokitika, he rescues a bedraggled young woman from the wild surf. Flotsam Rose they call her.  Women are scarce in these parts, so it’s not long before young Rose has her pick of many suitors, but her savior wins her hand. Will is a good man, and he doesn’t care that she was sent to New Zealand as a fallen woman, a maid taken advantage of by the masters son.

When Will goes to Kumara to investigate a new seam of gold, he leaves Rose behind working for the local photographer, Mr Urquhart. It’s a respectable post, and gives them a little money to survive on until the claim pays off. Rose loves it, and when Urquhart asks her to pose for him, she agrees.  It’s just to practice his composition he says, but as the weeks pass, she becomes more adventurous and agrees to his proposals to expose more of herself…

Wills friend and claim partner, Robbie Fraser, visits Hokitika and discovers what Rose is doing.  He is jealous of Will, as he wanted Rose for himself, so he concocts a scheme to expose Rose and Urquhart.  Naturally, Will confronts the photographer and in the resulting fight, both of them fall into the raging river. Will is presumed drowned. A disgraced Rose is left with little choice but to leave the area, and Robbie suggests they travel to Dunedin together.  However, he kidnaps her instead and takes her to Melbourne. 

As a young and secretly pregnant widow, Rose must comply as she needs him, because he has stolen the only gold that Will and Rose had found.  Robbie soon gets into trouble with local mobsters, so they flee to Sydney. There, Urquhart sights Rose one day, but unfortunately, Robbie saw him too. Robbie flees with Rose back to Scotland. There, he sells the bulk of the gold and rents a fine home.

All this time Rose has been desperate to escape Robbie, but where can she turn? Her child has been born, and she is terrified Robbie will realize that he is not the father. Fortunately, Urquhart has also returned to Scotland, where he hears of Rose again.  Can he help her escape from the cruel and violent Robbie?

I really liked this historical, romantic fiction. The author described 1800s life in New Zealand, Australia and Scotland beautifully, and the characters were well developed and realistic. That’s not surprising really, as the author is also an archaeologist.   I think both men and women would enjoy this novel, as it’s told in first person according to whichever character – so it has the male and female viewpoint.  There’s plenty of action and adventure, intrigue and a touch of romance. I would certainly read another novel by Sarah Maine.


Review: Death in Daylesford by Kerry Greenwood

The indomitable Honorable Miss Phryne Fisher is back in her 21st mystery!  Phryne and her trusty companion Dot, travel to the spa towns of Daylesford and Hepburn Springs, Victoria. Captain Herbert Spencer has invited her to tour his soldier’s retreat in the hopes of her patronage.  However, when attending the local Highland Gathering, an unfortunate accident occurs and a bystander is killed by a flying caber. Shortly thereafter, at a town dance honoring the deceased, another person dies.  Miss Fisher soon determines that both cases are murder, and in fact, there may have been a preceding murder before her arrival. The only thing that seems to link them is that all the deceased were young men infatuated with the town beauty, Annie. But surely the idea of murdering love rivals is not feasible?  In addition, several town ladies have mysteriously disappeared. Could this be linked?  Phryne and the local inspector join forces to see if they can solve these many mysteries before the next scheduled town event, the opening of a cinema.

In the meantime, Cec and Bert, plus Miss Fishers adopted children Tinker, Jane and Ruth lend their services to Detective Sergeant Hugh Collins. While fishing, Cec, Bert and Tinker chanced upon the body of a young woman floating in the river. Unfortunately, she is known to Jane and Ruth, who are determined to discover how she met her end.

Once again, Kerry Greenwood has outdone herself with presenting no less than three distinct mysteries within one volume, interspersed with romantic escapades and action sequences. There is no doubt that Phryne Fisher is one of the best heroine’s ever imagined, and I thoroughly enjoyed this novel.

Happy reading! – Natalie

Kerry Greenwood titles in our catalogue

Learning to read – how you can help your child

How do you help your child learn to read? First, read to them every night (same time, same place). Second, have plenty of books around the house. Third, early readers are the first step (available at the library).

Choose the ones with zero on the spine to begin with, then work your way up. Most of these books are systemic phonics which means they are designed to help you teach your children how to recognize that certain letters represent certain sounds, and how to segment words to identify those individual letters and sounds. In other words, sounding out the letters to figure out the word, then sounding out the smaller words to figure out the larger words. E.g. read + ing = reading! See our lists

The latest research shows that systemic phonics is the most effective way to teach youngsters how to read. Unlike learning a language, which is more repetitive and intuitive, reading involves learning how to decipher letters much like a computer code. There is no way that someone can memorise by sight, an entire language – or several languages – which is why sounding out the sounds and letters is so important. In recent years, NZ schools have used analytic phonics but are now switching back to systemic phonics.

Take the word “bat.” In synthetic phonics, students would first learn the /b/ sound, then the /a/ sound, then the /t/ sound and blend them together to sound out “bat.” In analytic phonics, students would learn the word “bat” alongside words like “cat,” “mat,” and “hat,” and would be taught that all these words end in the “at” sound pattern.

As the child gets older, and practices more, the sounding out of the words becomes faster and faster, until it’s an unconscious and instant process. Then the focus switches more to comprehension – are they understanding syntax, grammar, vocabulary, and idioms? Having general and topic-specific background knowledge are also essential for reading comprehension, which is why it’s great to read with your child to help them with that. Reading with trusted adults also helps children develop a love of reading. An extra bonus is that good readers learn to spell, just by reading so much!

Please, don’t give up reading to or with your child too early. Reading a chapter of a longer book (like Harry Potter) each night can be a wonderful bonding experience, and also maintain that joy of reading through the tween years (10-11-12) when so many children give up reading in favour of online experiences. It can also help them learn to be better writers, which is important going into high school years, and trigger important discussions depending on what you’re reading about.

What about reading online? Some recent studies have shown that it’s less likely children will learn to read from ebooks. They do have a place, especially with reluctant readers, however, it’s best to also use print books as well. Remember, ebooks can distract children from reading if animations, sound effects and games don’t work well with the text, or they might just switch to playing a game on the device!

YOLO Kids Bookclub – 2021, Term 1

Book club for children aged 8 to 12 years.

Have you ever read a book that was so GOOD you told all your friends they had to read it? Or a book that was so AWFUL you can’t stop talking about how bad it was? Come and share stories about books – good and bad. FREE. Fun activities. All welcome – join anytime.

Each session has a theme, so be prepared (the librarian will help you plan ahead)

Where and when?

Dannevirke Library – Thursday 4.00 pm to 5.00 pm – 11 February (1), 4 March (2), 25 March (3), 15 April (4)

Pahiatua Library – Monday 3.30 pm to 4.30 pm – 22 February (1), 15 March (2), 29 March (3), 12 April (4)

Woodville Library – Thursday 3.15 pm to 4.00 pm – 11 February (1), 4 March (2), 25 March (3), 15 April (4)

Eketahuna Library – Thursday 3.15 pm to 4.00 pm – 11 February (1), 4 March (2), 25 March (3), 15 April (4)


(1) Holiday reading – bring along something you read over the summer holidays

(2) Adventure

(3) A book someone else picked for you

(4) A classic story

Little Ears – Story Time for Toddlers – Term 1, 2021

All our branches offer story time for under five-year-olds, and we would love for you to come! Bring your tots along at the times below, and maybe meet new friends, or arrange a coffee group for afterwards? Everyone is welcome.

Dannevirke Library – Mondays starting 9.30am to 10am

Pahiatua Library – Tuesdays starting 10.30am to 11am

Woodville Library – Wednesdays starting 11am to 11.30am

Eketahuna Library – Tuesdays staring 11am to 11.30am

Each session is themed, so you can continue the theme during the week at home if you like, with other activities and learnings.

Being read to is a great way to start your kiddies literacy journey, and it might give you the chance to relax too!

Pahiatua Library above, Dannevirke Library below

Review: Conviction by Denise Mina

Ten years ago, Sophie Burke was gang-raped by four footballers. But instead of convictions, she was the one tried and sentenced – by the Press. Their team owner, multi-billionairess Gretchen Teigler, paid their way out of trouble.

But then another girl stepped forward to corroborate Sophie’s story. And just like that, Sophie became Anna McDonald – on the run from hitmen hired to remove the possibility of her giving evidence.

Sophie/Anna is now married to a successful lawyer with two kids and a good life. Until the day he leaves her for her best friend. And her best friends’ famous husband turns up on her doorstep, followed by paparazzi who publish pictures of the two of them. And once again, she is fleeing for her life. The only way to save herself is to solve the mystery of Gretchen Teiglers husband’s death, which she feels is likely murder. And if Sophie/Anna can discover the truth, she may just have the leverage she needs to save her life…

I enjoyed this suspense novel, and it’s the first time I’ve read anything by Scottish author Denise Mina – but it won’t be the last!    7/10

Find Denise Mina novels in our collection




Denise Mina

Review: The guardians by John Grisham

This John Grisham thriller focuses on the people who work to exonerate and free convicted murderers in the USA.

Cullen Post is an innocence lawyer and minister. He works with an organisation called Guardian Ministries, completely funded by donations. They have managed to free eight death row prisoners so far, but the work isn’t easy. It takes years of research as well as battling the legal system and often corrupt law enforcement agencies.

“The Guardians” examines the case of Quincy Miller who has been on Death Row in Florida for 22 years for a crime he didn’t commit. Planted evidence, corrupt police, false witnesses and drug cartels all feature in this fascinating story. Even though the crime was committed over 22 years ago, the threat of those involved still remains. Cullen has to be on guard for his own safety as his investigation leads him to witnesses who would rather remain hidden.

Highly recommended.


Find John Grisham books in the library

Review: Miss Kopp just won’t quit by Amy Stewart

Constance Kopp, women’s matron and deputy Sheriff, is tasked with transporting Mrs Anna Kayser to the lunatic asylum. However, when she discovers this is the fourth time her husband has committed her, and that Mrs Kayser hasn’t even been assessed by a Doctor, she decides to investigate further. It seems that Mr Kayser has his own reasons for getting his wife out of the way…

Meanwhile, Sheriff Heath prepares to leave office. He’s confident that the Republican standing for Sheriff will not win. Constance hopes so, because if he does win, she will lose her job. And after her struggle to become one of America’s first female police officers, and with her exemplary record, that would be unthinkable!

This is the fourth instalment in the Kopp sisters series, based on a true story. Once again, the author skilfully weaves a mystery amongst the domestic life of Constance and her sisters, Norma and Fleurette, while maintaining the suspense of the election and whether Constance will retain her job.  I really enjoy this series, which reminds of Phryne Fisher (if she lived on a farm). If you like historical fiction, with a gentle splash of crime and action, and a feisty heroine or two to boot, I think you will too. 


Kopp sisters series in our catalogue

Poetry Group 2021

Do you enjoy writing, reading or reciting poetry? Then this is the group for you! Come along and join a fun group of like-minded people to discuss poems, create and enjoy. Each meeting has a theme to guide the discussion (listed below). Tea & coffee provided. Look for the reserved table!

Where: Dannevirke Library, 1 Station Street, Dannevirke NZ

When: First Tuesday each month 11am  (excluding January)

Themes for 2021:

Jan 5 – no meeting in January.

Feb 2 – Be my Valentine

Mar 2 – Laughing limericks

Apr 6 – Cut Up Poetry workshop   

May 4 – Complete this poem: “One white lie…”

Jun 1 – An outsider’s perspective: let your imagination run wild – you could be an alien coming to Earth.. or visiting a foreign land/people ..or an outside looking in on something you don’t appreciate or understand…

July 6 – War poetry

August – will be held on National Poetry Day. Date/theme to be advised.

Sep 7 – Haiku

Oct 5 – Mythological poems

Nov 2 – Give thanks / be kind

Dec 7 – Christmas themed poetry / breakup.

No poetry group in January 2022.

Review: “Across the void” by S. K. Vaughn

This science fiction novel is set in the year 2067, and Commander May Knox and the crew of the Hawking II are on a mission to land on Europa, a moon of Mars, and collect samples.  The story starts with May waking up in the infirmary, where it seems she has been in a coma for some time, suffering from an unknown illness.  The Artificial Intelligence on the ship is non-responsive, and no one else can be found.  Eventually, May restores the AI (henceforth known as Eve) and between them, they realise that both of them are suffering from a degree of amnesia. May can’t remember anything since about a month before the launch, and Eve can’t remember anything since before whatever disaster has befallen the ship.

After much difficulty, between them they manage to restore contact with NASA and establish telemetry to get back to Mars where a rescue mission is set to rendezvous with them.  In the meantime, May finds the other crew members dead and floating in the vehicle docking bay.  All May and Eve can conclude is that a pathogen was released on board, perhaps from the Europa samples, and they were trying to escape.  As the trip continues, further disasters occur … a breach here in the Biolab, another breach in the docking bay that nearly kills May, problems with the engines, etc.  It’s almost as if there is someone on board trying to sabotage the ship…

Back on Earth, May’s husband, Stephen, is desperately assisting NASA in the hopes of getting her back. Especially when they discover that she is pregnant.  But things start to go terribly wrong, almost as if someone is deliberately trying to put obstacles in the way.

I’m not going to spoil the ending. Suffice to say that this is a good story, with plenty of sci fi/space drama, and a dash of intrigue and romance, just enough of everything to appeal to both males and females. 7/10


Science fiction in our catalogue