Hi, my name is Hayley and I'm an addict.

I read. And I aim to help others to read. Feeding an addiction is okay, but only when it doesn't become your life. At that point it is safe to sit the person down and talk to them about becoming a librarian...

Hence the creation of this blog, I've had an intervention and am currently undertaking a Certificate in Librarian studies (or something).

So read, comment, tease, challenge: do all you can to help your own addictions grow.

Sunday, 3 April 2011

A teacher's secret weapon

This sophisticated picture book is a godsend! This story is useful for teachers and parents alike in teaching children about perspective, culture, and the environment.

Brother Eagle, Sister Sky.
Susan Jeffers.

How the story goes: The introduction states that this is a retelling of a speech made by Chief Seattle to the leaders of the USA on the signing of treaty agreements back in the day (1850s). So that's what the story is. It is a Native American take on how to treat the environment, why it's important, and what the effects of (for lack of a better term) raping the land would have.

Set out in philosophical terms; "How can you buy the sky? How can you own the rain and the wind?", the retelling takes the reader (or listener) to account for their own actions and as a whole, the human race's. The images are graphically surreal and kids have fun finding the spirits hidden in them. The message is obvious: treat the land better.. or else. However, the links you can make from this book are varied: political, historical, cultural, and environmental.

It's a teachers dream (I made a HUGE unit around this book lol) and can be read to and read with all ages, although I would recommend it for ages 7-12. This is based around the length, which is rather long for a picture book. Parents: this book is useful for exploring perspective and looking at cause and effect (personal responsibility).

Genre: [Sophisticated Picture book] [Historical] [Native American Culture]
Jeffers, S (1991). Brother Eagle, Sister Sky. Dial Books: New York, NY.

Saturday, 2 April 2011

One for the littlies now…

This book in particular is not mine but rather my Mother’s favourite:

Green Eggs and Ham
Dr. Suess

Basic plot outline (as per usual):  Sam-I-am meets his friend and starts raving on about how much he likes green eggs and ham, he eats them everywhere , in many positions, and with numerous acquaintances. Twist, his friend doesn’t like green eggs and ham! (shock horror!!) So the story is one loving them, one hating them. Until… the end… I’ll leave you in suspense here.

Rife with Suess’ memorable illustrations (he was an artist before he became an author) and imaginative rhyme, this story is perfect for children who are either learning to talk or need help with their reading. The rhyme uses the same layout repeatedly throughout the text, making it easier for children to chant along, or if reading, help predict what is coming next, as well as coupling rhymes (house/mouse, fox/box, train/rain).

All of Suess’ works have an underlying theme to them in this case, as in most of his work, it’s about prejudice and pre-judgement (or keeping an open mind… which is the same thing really). So using Suess (any Suess) with children is always a good idea, hey, it even pays to use it with teenagers and adults if they’re of the mind to follow along.

Do you like
green eggs and ham?
I do not like them, Sam-I-am.
I do not like
green eggs and ham.

An awesome page for immersing yourself in the world of Suess (and rummaging for teaching resources):

Genre: [Fiction] [Picture books]
Suess, T (1988). Green Eggs and Ham. Random House Books for Young Readers: New York, NY.

Friday, 1 April 2011

Twilight: an unbiased account

Well, there's been so much hype around this book (and movies- you can't seem to get away from the "based on" hysteria at present) I though that this would be a book (note in point: book, not series) that would draw interest and may benefit from an UNBIASED opinion. Taking the plunge...

Stephanie Meyer

The basic plot outline is as  follows: A clumsy teenage girl moves back with her Father in the beige town of Forks (American...). She meets "the guy" (aloof, apparently unattainable, gorgeous, mysterious etc) and subsequently a romance begins. One more catch: he's a vampire. But he's actually a GOOD vampire who won't suck out your blood, set fire to your home, and generally run amok in your village (slightly off track...). Bella (our female heroine) finds out the secret, makes waves in the small town, falls in love (and gets fallen in love with) the vampire, and things are good. Until the twist. Evil vampires pay a visit, start sucking blood and running amok in the village (no fires though, darn it) and they decide Bella will make a tasty snack. The boyfriend and family stand their ground and use their special powers (did I forget to mention the special powers? mind reading, emotion control, future telling, and super-compassion...) to exterminate the threat and then they live happily ever after (until the next book that is...)

Now, onto the writing style and so forth. The story is told by Bella and is all about teenage angst and forbidden love (yes, it is essentially a romance novel). Now here's the catch: apparently this story is written at a 6th grade reading level (year 5 for us- which is 9 years old) but it's interspersed with a whole lot of "big" words that generally students aren't comfortably familiar with until at least year 10 (4th form), "permanence" and "verbose" anybody? (pages 4 and 5). After having a conversation with an adolescent (year 7), and coincidentally the one who convinced me to go out and read the series) about this, her comment was that she would just read on (aha! good teaching there) but she wouldn't actually attempt to understand the unfamiliar words. So a recommended reading level would actually be higher teens, say 16, which is around the same age as the main character so that connection is solid at least.

Relatabilty to the target audience is fine (if we say the target audience is an average 16 year old girl) as the main character is bland enough for the reader to step into their shoes. She's insecure, physically average, clumsy, unsporty, and is helplessly in love with what she can't have (until she gets it!!!) So there's enough yes boxes for most girls to tick (HUGE generalisation, I know. So no complaints. Please.) However, the person who I borrowed the books off before I went out and bought them (what can I say, they're easy to read) was an 18 year old soccer-playing male.

So the surprising thing about this book is that ANYONE can pick it up and read it. There's a bit of blood involved for the boys to stay engaged, and enough romance for the girls. For the adults, it's a trip down memory lane to the teenage years. And for the sceptics, there's plenty of ammunition to use against the twi-hards if you read the book as well as seeing the movie.

Also pay a visit to this website if you want to view how hardcore some people can be: www.mylifeistwilight.com


Genre: [Fantasy] [Romance] [Action]
Meyer, S. (2005) Twilight. Australia: Griffin Press.

Monday, 28 March 2011

I do believe it is time for a book review...

Let's go with something a lot of people have seen, yet few have actually taken the time to read >evils<:

Whale Rider
Witi Ihimaera

Now, I don't believe I'll be ruining the plot of the story if I were to go into detail, however, there is a likelihood that SOMEONE doesn't know what I'm talking about.

A girl is born to the whanau of the chief, breaking tradition of the male hereditory status. Because her Grandfather sees her as being of little worth, her Mother and Father are allowed to take her to live with her maternal side of the family. After the Mother's death and the Father's return to the iwi, there is more interaction between Kahu and her Koro. He (the Koro) becomes obsessed with finding the next generation's leader of the tribe and ignores his grandchild's obvious skill in this area. Long story short: GIRL POWER!! and redemption.

So, Whale Rider (the book) is cunningly similar to Whale Rider (the movie), funny that... Where it differs, and actually makes it worthwhile reading, is the narrator.

Told from the perspective of (Uncle) Rawiri, the story of the saviour of the iwi, Kahu (see, the name was changed for the movie, which was originally the character's middle name, Paikea >aha! now you know<) is only one character of many in a story more about an iwi and a way of life than just one (or two) people.Whale rider is interspersed with segments from the whale's point of view and follows Rawiri in his own search for identity and worth along with addressing the deeper issues that face Maori culture in these modern times.

It's obvious that I have done something that is frowned upon (compared a movie to a text as a review >naughty me<) However, I believe it important in order to make my recommendation:

Don't just watch the movie, read the book as well! Do it before, do it after, or if you're skilled: do it at the same time. Any which way: just do it!! In this case, the book offers a refreshing intake into the story, with more insight into the actions of the characters and more of an explanation of the way the tribe works. It's an engaging story made even more so with the ease in which it is to read.

Ihimaera, W (2003). Whale Rider. Reed: Auckland, New Zealand.

Sunday, 27 March 2011

One small step...

Well, as this is the very first post on my very first blog I shall have to make it something worthwhile, something profound, something people will talk about for years to come...

Well I've drawn a blank.

Okay, how this is how things are going to roll:
I'm going to write a whole lot of things about all the different types of books (fiction/non-fiction/NZ based) that I have had the pleasure of reading, as well as make recommendations regarding books (only ones I am acquainted with of course) and also websites that may help further your quest in feeding your addiction. They'll be labelled as such:
  • Fiction Reviews
  • New Zealand Literature Reviews
  • Non-fiction Reviews
  • Favourite Websites

Now, any and all feedback is required! I need to know that I am not alone in this crazy world where images are taking over and literacy is becoming frowned upon (dramatic pause...)