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New Zealand Book Awards for Children : 2017

Finalists : New Zealand Book Awards for Children 2017

Tararua District Library’s  annual quiz for children Year 7/8 will be based on the  ‘HELL Children’s Choice Award’ finalists below. Details about this hotly contested quiz were sent out to schools at the beginning of Term 3, and the quiz will be held 16 August 2017, at 6.30pm.  Registration is essential – please contact your local library for an entry form.

Young Adult titles will not be included in the quiz.  Only the first 10 physical pages of non-fiction books will be quizzed also.

For more information about the titles you can check this website



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    Fuzzy Doodle

    Written by Melinda Szymanik and illustrated by Donovan Bixley

    An uplifting story about imagination, and a rather wonderful caterpillar. It has magic and charm, evocative language and rhyme which echoes Margaret Mahy. Fuzzy’s character is built up by great illustrations from Donovan Bixley. With surprising, interesting design and illustrations, Fuzzy Doodle is a book you can read and read again, discovering something new each time.

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    Written by Juliette MacIver and illustrated by Terri Rose Baynton

    Gwendolyn the penguin has her niche — it just happens to be in the jungle, where she advises others about how to be happy. Her friends adore her, and immediately become concerned when Gwendolyn worries that she is missing out on frosty fun in Antarctica. She needs to find her place in the world, like all of us. The illustrations are a riot of colour and texture, and every page is surprising and fresh.

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    My Grandpa is a Dinosaur

    Written by Richard Fairgray, Terry Jones and illustrated by Richard Fairgray

    Every page of My Grandpa is a Dinosaur is laugh-out-loud good. The story of Wanda and her strange family — and the grandpa that nobody believes is a dinosaur — is a classic tale of assuming a narrator is unreliable just because they are a child. Readers will root for Wanda as she attempts to get her friends and family on board with her hypothesis, because of course he is a dinosaur! The illustrations are retro-cool, and the final pages are a hilarious triumph.

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    That’s Not a Hippopotamus!

    Written by Juliette MacIver and illustrated by Sarah Davis

    From the opening rhyme to the closing line, this story is a flawless tale of a school trip gone awry. The quiet kid reigns supreme in the hippo-hunting stakes, despite the loud-mouths leading the pack. The story has been rhymed innovatively and the illustrations are diverse, three-dimensional, and interesting. The teacher is especially hilarious, as she gradually loses control.

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    The Singing Dolphin / Te Aihe i Waiata

    Written and illustrated by Mere Whaanga

    A truly New Zealand story, beautifully told in both English and te reo Māori, with the words placed side by side. A tale is woven of a family with a grandmother and three grandsons. Tahi and Rua are not kind to their odd-bird third brother, Pōtiki, who is a nature-speaker and who could help them if they accepted him. A trip to sea ends in a change of form, with white-background sketches pushing out the dream spirit world in a delicate, wistful way. This book takes you on a journey.


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    Helper and Helper

    Written by Joy Cowley and illustrated by Gavin Bishop

    Another powerful addition to the popular Snake and Lizard stories. These two characters continue to entertain as they tackle serious life issues such as ‘What is help?’ ‘Where do you draw the line?’ and ‘What does being a good friend mean?’ The wisdom contained in the stories is nicely balanced with wry humour. The characters are brilliant and Gavin Bishop’s illustrations are appealing and expressive throughout.

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    My New Zealand Story: Bastion Point

    Written by Tania Roxborogh

    In this strongly crafted narrative, Tania Roxborogh compellingly documents the Bastion Point protests of the 1970s. The story is told from the viewpoint of Erica Tito, who is resourceful, independent and courageous. From her diary we can clearly hear and feel the conviction of those involved, the sacrifices made, and the opposition to this significant event in our history.

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    The Discombobulated Life of Summer Rain

    Written by Julie Lamb

    Summer is a child of modern-day living. In this laugh-out-loud tale she sweeps us along as she juggles the craziness of living with her dad at weekends and her slightly odd grandfather during the week. In this voyage of discovery, Summer learns to define both who she is and what friendship is all about. The lessons of acceptance, unconditional love and belief in yourself are woven enchantingly into a mystery to be solved.

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    The Impossible Boy

    Written by Leonie Agnew

    This novel skilfully tackles the subject of orphaned children in a war zone, in a fresh and gripping style. The story is told from the viewpoint of Vincent, best friend of six-year-old Benjamin, who is alone, scared and in need of protection. So convincing is this tale that it takes the reader some pages to realise that Vincent is Ben’s imaginary friend. This story is addictive.

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    Sunken Forest

    Written by Des Hunt

    Des Hunt craftily weaves enviro-science issues into his stories, and they are always fresh, full of adventure and stimulating for the reader. In Sunken Forest, family issues mean Matt is faced with the challenges of moving to a new school and attending camp, where he is confronted by a number of physical, emotional and moral dilemmas. You can feel the tension building. Themes of friendship, bullying and fitting in make this a vital and rather exciting read.


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      From Moa to Dinosaurs: Explore & Discover Ancient New Zealand

      Written by Gillian Candler and illustrated by Ned Barraud

      What a treat lies in store for young explorers travelling back in time to ancient New Zealand! The complementary written and visual text will enthral the reader. From the outset, the silhouette endpapers and contents page stimulate curiosity. A question and answer format plus diagrams, glossary and index all contribute to the discoveries encountered.

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      Jack and Charlie: Boys of the Bush

      Written by Jack Marcotte and Josh James Marcotte

      This book transports readers of all ages to life on New Zealand’s rugged West Coast. Through Jack’s perspective, we learn about the boys’ daily life and their hunting and fishing adventures with their father. The writing caters for a range of audiences, with blue strips of text enabling less fluent readers access to information.

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      The Cuckoo and the Warbler

      Written by Kennedy Warne and illustrated by Heather Hunt

      An eye-opening probe into one of the most perplexing relationships of New Zealand’s avian world. A compelling tale, underpinned by surprising facts, with strikingly detailed illustrations that complement the text vividly. The text invites interaction, incorporates te reo Māori, and uses a blend of narrative style to communicate factual information imaginatively.

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      The Genius of Bugs

      Written by Simon Pollard

      A book of genius in its ability to convey the intricate lives of creatures who have been on earth for almost 440 million years, pre-dating dinosaurs. This is an informative and interactive text. Photographs, diagrams, text boxes, captions, glossary and index, plus an engaging use of language, all enhance its wide appeal. The colour coding of categories such as weapons, engineering, deception and teamwork enhances discovery.

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      Torty and the Soldier

      Written by Jennifer Beck and illustrated by Fifi Colston

      The true story of a tortoise saved by a soldier in the First World War reveals insights into the impact of warfare, and offers a moving tribute to friendship and acts of kindness. The bond between animal and human is explored through a crisp yet moving account. The muted colour palette offers the young reader a rich visual encounter with information that reflects a high level of research.


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      Fuzzy Doodle

      Illustrated by Donovan Bixley

      The illustrator is clearly enjoying himself in this book. The illustrations are philosophical, simple and poetic. Donovan Bixley’s skill and talent shine through, with unique and clever illustrations that marry perfectly with the text. These are supported by beautiful design and production values, making it a tactile and well as a visual feast.

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      Gladys Goes to War

      Illustrated by Jenny Cooper

      Gladys Goes to War is a tribute to women in war, and Cooper brings Glyn Harper’s solid story to life with beautiful illustrations that capture the personality of Gladys Sandford with soaring landscapes and intricate details. The use of colour, perspective and light is particularly evocative. Gladys’s determined features are a joy to behold.

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      If I was a Banana

      Illustrated by Kieran Rynhart

      A story about figuring out who you are. The lush and humorous illustrations really bring the story to life, and each page brings a new surprise. The illustrations are vigorous and exciting, with a strong feeling of movement. The earthy colour palette gives a cohesive flow, the pictures capture both realism and a strong sense of magic, and the design and illustration work in perfect harmony.

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      Snark: Being a true history …

      Illustrated and written (after Lewis Carroll) by David Elliot

      A stunningly produced big, beautiful and brilliant book that is an imaginative retelling of Lewis Carroll’s famous poems. The text and illustrations work together with found images and photos to create something truly unique and endlessly fascinating. The watercolour sketches interact intimately with the text, bringing it to life with a sense of urgency.

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      The Day the Costumes Stuck

      Illustrated and written by Toby Morris

      This book stands out with its bold use of fluorescent colours and its simple lines. The illustrations work humorously with the text to tell the story of a boy who finds that all his friends’ costumes have stuck after a costume party and they have become a surgeon, a police officer and a rock star. The interaction between the shadowy adults and the bright child is delightful.



 The Young Adult Fiction and Te Reo Maori Awards can be viewed here but are not included in our children’s quiz.












Winter Warmers 2017

Winter Warmers Reading Incentive Programme for Children in school Year 1 to 8.

The programme runs for six weeks from 26 June to 11 August 2017.   Enrolments are not yet being taken, but watch this space or our Facebook page

How does it work?

  • Children are given a booklet in which to write reviews about Tararua District Library books they have read (books must be at their current reading level).
  • Each review earns a sticker on a map of New Zealand in the booklet
  • Achieving five stickers earns a small gift, and at the end of the programme, a certificate and free book.
  • Achieving ten stickers earns another small gift.
  • Each sticker received qualifies the child to enter our weekly prize book draw.

Many schools have pre-registered entire classes to do Winter Warmers, in conjunction with us, as part of the curriculum. When enrolments open, we encourage you to check with your school office or teacher before enrolling at the library (as you wouldn’t need to).

Educators, please contact your local library if you would like to discuss the possibility of your school (in entirety or in part) participating in Winter Warmers.  Full details of how it operates through the classroom can be emailed to you, on request, or you can arrange for a librarian to come to school to discuss further.  Email

How to find out what we’ve ordered….

Many people are surprised at the volume of new items we purchase – on average, about 400 per month, across all areas.   If you’re curious as to what we’ve ordered, how can you find out? Go to our online catalogue ( and in the search box, leave it empty then click on search. This ‘zero’ search will bring up a huge result.

Now, using your filters on the left side, tick On Order from shelf location, then click on Include.  That will re-run the search and bring up only those items still On Order (ordered, but not received). You can narrow the results down further with filters like Publication Date, or Material Type (book = adult, junior book = child/teen).  Sometimes the Status of the item is confusing :


Ordered Items appear like this.

Ordered means it’s on order;

Available Soon means we have received the item, but it is not ready for issue ;

Available means it’s on the shelves ;

TR_Display means it’s in the library, on a main display shelf and can be checked out ;

On Loan means it’s checked out to someone ;

In Transit means the item is travelling between branches, it can be put on Hold.


Items that are Ordered may still be put on Hold.

You do need to be logged in to place a hold, or to create lists of items – top right of catalogue page, click on Log In. Enter your library membership number (make sure you enter B00 as B zero zero, not B oh oh).  Enter your passcode – if you’ve forgotten, click on the red forgotten your passcode link ; our system will email you your passcode within 15 minutes (please check your junk or spam folder).   Feel free to ask for a lesson within your local library, if you’re unsure how to do this.

Much of our collection is selected by demand meaning that we do buy the majority of items suggested to us by patrons – you can either suggest a purchase direct to a librarian, or fill out a suggestion for purchase form (click on Purchase Suggestions Tab on this blog).

If you need further help with navigating the catalogue, please click on the wheelchair icon on the top right of the catalogue screen, for more tips and tricks.  Happy reading!

Saved by a horseman…

If you’re a horsey person, “The Horseman” by Charlotte Nash may make you cry. The story is set in Australia somewhere near Wonnangatta National Park and revolves around a young woman named Dr Peta Woodward, who suffers great loss within her family. She feels she needs to ‘get away’ from everything to sort herself out, so sets out on a solo walking trip through the Aussie high-country.

Peta enjoys the sense of freedom from a demanding profession and enjoys the quiet until she injures herself.  She is rescued by a high-country horseman. During her recovery, Peta finds herself drawn into small-town life with all its intrigues, and activities. She also finds herself drawn to her rescuer, but is unable to decide what to do about it. 

You need to read it to find out what happens to the horse.


In Flanders Field…

In Flanders fields the poppies blow

between the crosses, row on row

that mark our place; and in the sky

the larks, still bravely singing, fly

scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago

we lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,

loved and were loved, and now we lie

in Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:

to you from failing hands we throw

the torch; be yours to hold it high.

If ye break faith with us who die

we shall not sleep, though poppies grow

in Flanders fields.

–  John McCrae

Review: I am Pilgrim

pilgrim‘I am pilgrim’, the debut by Australian author Terry Hayes got a lot of good press when it came out. I heard about it on the radio and it seemed like just the kind of book I like. My first comment is it’s long, 700 pages. That might be a bit daunting for some but not impossible. What is a little more daunting is the length of background and build up in the book.

There are two stories kinda running parallel throughout the first two sections of the book, they come together sort of at the end, but I really didn’t get a feel for this book or love it. I finished the story and went meh ok, done, but I’m not sure if I would bother to read another. Now obviously if you read online reviews for this book I am in a minority but that’s OK, I don’t mind that.

There is talk that the book will be made into a film in 2017 and I suspect it will make a great film (depending on who they get to play Pilgrim, is Tom Cruise available?). However, despite the hype, if you’ve read other books in this genre I think you might be a little disappointed by Pilgrim’s story. Then again, maybe not.



Undercover in an ice cream factory. What could go wrong?

I like fast paced books  such as ‘Turbo twenty-three’ by Janet Evanovich, but I think I’ve said before that they are very cookie-cutter, and I’m beginning to feel that the character Stephanie Plum needs to make a decision about her life and the two men in it. I realise that this would change the whole dynamic of the books but it’s been 23 books Ms Evanovich, surely by now she could be a bit more organised, clued in and generally ready to face her life and the choices she really does need to make. I would like to see the storyline or character move on.

These stories are fun and easy to read. I like the characters. I would have Ranger in a New York minute, commitment issues or not, and  I suspect I will keep reading them just to see how they pan out and how Ms Evanovich manages the aging of the characters, but to be honest if you’ve read one of these books they are all very similar and I think, in time, I will begin to resent the fact that the characters don’t seem to move on, grow up or mature in either their behaviour or lifestyle.

Fun, light reading if you want an hour or two of time-out.


My mum is a serial killer…

“Good me, bad me” by Ali Land is what I call a cross-over novel, suitable for both teens and adults.   The main character is fifteen-year-old Annie, who is now in witness protection with the new name of Milly. Why?  Because she dobbed her mum into the police – her mum, the serial killer of nine little children.  Milly’s father left years ago, and her older brother got himself taken into care to get away from their Mum, but she was left behind, alone at the age of five  – and abused, manipulated, tortured and groomed ever since. 

The father of the foster family she’s placed with is a psychologist, assigned to help prepare to testify at the court case.  He thinks she is wracked by survivor’s guilt, and she is – after all, she didn’t tell on her mum for ten years, and then only because her mother had horrendous plans for her sweet sixteenth.  And also, the last murder victim was someone she knew.  But it’s not just that – there’s much more involved.

Pheobe, her foster-sister, is a jealous bully, who is determined to make Milly’s stay with them a misery – and temporary.  And although Pheobe initially comes across as mean and spiteful, by the end, one can’t help but feel just a little sorry for her.  Because Milly is beautiful, smart and cunning and Pheobe really doesn’t know who she’s dealing with.  Milly has had a very good tutor, after all….

This book initially seemed quite simple, however the character development is fantastic and it really drew me in. The author leaves trails of clues, which keep you wanting to read long into the night. That said, I have to admit that I did suspect the ending a chapter or two beforehand.  But there was still enough doubt to keep me reading on. I can see this on the big screen one day, and I could imagine a sequel – Milly in a 10 years would be a very interesting character indeed.  Those of you who like family drama, suspense fiction, or real-life stories, will probably love it as much as I did.




Tall, dark and silent?

silent-manI am always looking for a new author – someone to keep me on the edge of my seat while entertaining me. Alex Berenson has good reviews and this book ‘The Silent Man’, was OK. It’s the third in a series and unfortunately, we do not have the first two books although if I was really hooked I could probably order the previous two through the interloan option at the library. It’s an easy read, but I felt a little disjointed coming into a series on the third book and I think I missed a lot of relevant information regarding the characters.

The hero is a little dark. He seems to have rebounded from being on the ‘wrong’ side of the law regarding terrorism and the mind-set of the ‘baddies’. I think he may grow as the story advances and this makes me want to keep reading. This particular story involved a believable storyline and the simplicity of the wrong people getting hold of weapons that could end civilisation. Especially now, I can believe that the fanatics of any religion could cause maximum damage with a few lucky breaks so it’s not so farfetched as some thrillers. I’m looking forward to reading the next in the series, mainly to see the growth of the main character.



Some like it Scot…

The Outlander series, by Diana Gabaldon, consists of eight novels – it has been around for a number of years and was originally called Cross Stitch. I started reading it last year, and can’t believe that I have not read it sooner! Where have I been all this time!!

Be warned – these books are hefty reads – not for the faint-hearted on so many levels –  rich with history, politics, war and no shortage of steamy love  scenes that would put ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ to shame!  The reading is not easy going – for me, personally, there were some tedious parts (war and politics)- but these are interwoven with an often racing plot full of twists and turns and completely un-put-down-able.

The absolute immersion in the history I found so absorbing.  And throw in the fact that the central character, Claire Beauchamp Randall Fraser (called Sassenach by her highlander soul mate Jamie Fraser) is a time traveller – makes for an absolute rollicking read!  I just want to go home and throw myself under the covers and never get up until I have reached the end of Claire and Jamie’s fascinating life.

The novels go back and forth in time – from 1940s Inverness, Scotland to 1740 Inverness, at the first stirrings of the Jacobite rebellion.  Over to France, back to Scotland –  and then forward to 1940s Scotland and  1960s America – THEN back to 1770 Scotland and across the water  to Colonial America, at the beginnings of the War of Independence.. Phew!  I have learned so much , and have so much left to go – I LOVE this series so far ( am currently reading An Echo in the Bone, book 7).  And to top it off, it is now out on DVD –  so I am making my way through the DVD series  as well – which is available to borrow through Tararua District Library.

So, come on, I dare you! If you haven’t discovered the Outlander series, and love a good dose of history/romance/action/war/fantasy, you will love this I guarantee!  But don’t expect to find these books sitting idly on the shelves, this series is so popular, that you often will need to reserve it.  Diana Gabaldon hasn’t finished yet – she is currently researching and writing her 9th novel “Don’t tell the bees that I’m gone”.  No word yet on publication, her books generally take 2-3 years to write.. ohhh.. the anticipation!


What socks really think…

“Odd socks” by Michelle Robinson, is a picture book about Suki and Sosh, a pair of blue stripey socks. They live a happy life in the sock drawer, enjoy being worn on a nice pair of little feet, and have adventures like going down a slide, riding a scooter, and stomping around the beach. They even manage to stay together through the washing!

But one day, Sosh notices that his sock wife Suki has a little hole in her toe. Big Bob, the nasty winter sock, scares them with tales of socks going in the trash, and Sosh swears he will never part from Suki. But next day she has disappeared, so Sosh goes on a quest around the house to find her. What does he find? The family dog is running about with something blue in his mouth … is it Suki, or not?

This is a delightful story, with lovely illustrations. There is a touch of humour and whimsy, but also tension and adventure as Sosh tries to find Suki.  They do end up happily ever after, so you won’t get any upset children at the end, and it also teaches lessons about perseverance, friendship and how change can be a good thing.


April School Holidays 2017 : “Animate it”

Each Term 1 school holidays, we run a free digital literacy programme for young people, and this year it’s  Animate it using OGIBILD creative construction toys to create a stop-motion animated movie! The programme is available at all four of our libraries, for school students aged 8 to 18 years.

Numbers are limited so you must register. If demand is great, more sessions may be added, on the same dates (e.g. all Dannevirke sessions will be on 18/19 April), while the equipment is still at that location.

REGISTRATIONS ARE OPEN, so visit, email or phone your local library to book a place now.  Contact details

Session times (one per child):

Dannevirke Library     18 or 19 April   9:30am – 11am

Woodville Library       20 or 21 April   2:00pm – 3:30pm

Pahiatua Library         24 or 26 April   1:30pm – 3:00pm

Eketahuna Library       27 or 28 April   11:00pm – 12:30pm

Book sale – April 2017

As always, fresh stock will be added as space allows, so remember to keep visiting.  See you in April!

Pizza time! Hell Reading Challenge 2017


Hell Pizza is excited to again support the HELL Reading Challenge.


Hell Pizza wants to reward New Zealand children who read so four years ago, they came up with the idea ‘read for pizza’. What could be better?  Children complete a pizza wheel by reading 7 books, then go to any Hell Pizza store and redeem the wheel for a free pizza.  It’s that simple!

The Challenge runs from now until 1st December 2017.


How it works:

Each cardboard pizza wheel has 7 slices. Each slice represents 1 library book read.  When you’ve finished reading a library book, bring the book and your wheel to the librarian* – she will sign off your wheel.  Once you’ve completed an entire pizza wheel, you can begin a new pizza wheel if you want to – there is no limit to the number of wheels you can complete.

*Except if you’re doing this as part of Winter Warmers



What are the rules?

  1. The Hell Reading Challenge is open to students Years 1-8 (primary) including home schooled.
  2. Children participating must have their own library card*
  3. If a student loses their wheel, they must begin again from the 1st slice.
  4. Limited to one completed slice per week (that is, only one book a week will be signed off)

*During our Winter Warmers programme in June/July, any students participating with their school classes do not need to be library members. Pizza wheels will be awarded to students who complete seven out of ten Winter Warmers book reports.

How to redeem your completed pizza voucher:

  • Each pizza wheel is good for one 333 kids’ pizza from any HELL store nationwide.
  • Each wheel must be clicked off and signed by a librarian and stamped with an official library stamp.
  • The child must redeem their wheel in person, in-store only.  One pizza per visit per child.
  • Offer expires 3 December 2017.
  • Wheels are non-transferrable for money.
  • HELL stores have the right to refuse this offer in cases of suspected fraud.

Kids!  Come along to one of our branches now to collect your pizza wheel, and start reading!

Create a handmade journal!

arne-carlos‘Make your own idea book : create handmade art journals and bound keepsakes to store inspiration and memories’ by Arnie and Carlos is a great book, which I recommend to all crafters. It has wonderful illustrations, is well set out and has a huge number of ideas using recycled materials, paper, corrugated card, colour and fabric, to name but a few.

What I enjoyed most was the step-by-step illustrations. This is its greatest asset and would be ideal for those of us who are more visual creators. For those of you who do not use your sewing machines quite so much anymore, here is a new use for it.