Friday, July 25, 2014

Children's Books in the Media

From the New Republic:
Harriet the Spy has proved "surprisingly prescient" in predicting a surveillance state. Click here
From Entertainment Weekly:
Get a sneak peek at the next Wimpy Kid book, The Long Haul. Click here
From Time:
The newly released trailer for If I Stay ups the romance. Click here
From BuzzFeed:
10 things you probably didn't know about The Giver. Click here
From the Huffington Post:
How the public library turned me into a reader. Click here
From BuzzFeed:
The 14 best U.S. kids' bookstores, chosen by teachers. Click here
From Coins Weekly:
Moomins creator Tove Jansson will be featured on a two-euro commemorative coin. Click here
From the Guardian:
A look at The Phoenix, a U.K. comic created by publisher David Fickling. Click here
From Cheat Sheet:
Five film adaptations of YA books for the remainder of 2014. Click here
Also from BuzzFeed:
16 signs that your Harry Potter books are actually your best friend. Click here
From Book Riot:
Books I Wish I Had When I Was Growing Up. Click here
From the Guardian:
Author John Boyne's top 10 child narrators. Click here



Kupu Mahi Ōtautahi

The finalists for the New Zealand Post Book Awards have been announced and we are thrilled that four of our festival guests have been honoured.

Rebecca Macfie is a finalist in the general non-fiction section for her sensitive and thorough investigative book Tragedy at Pike River Mine, about the 2010 mine explosion on the West Coast. Rebecca is a senior writer for the Listener and lives in Christchurch.
Lloyd Jones is also a finalist in the general non-fiction category for his beautifully written memoir of his family, The History of Silence, inspired by his visits to post-quake Christchurch. No stranger to awards, his novel Mister Pip won Commonwealth Writers’ Prize and the Montana Medal for fiction. It was also shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize.

Both Rebecca Macfie and Lloyd Jones appear on the panel Tough Stuff  along with Gaylene Preston, director of Hope & Wire, to discuss telling stories about difficult subjects. Rebecca also joins the discussion on the Christchurch rebuild, Red Zones, Green Frames and Blueprints.

Acclaimed Canterbury author Charlotte Randall is a finalist in the fiction section with her novel The Bright Side of My Condition, which follows the fortunes of a group of shipwrecked convicts on the unforgivingly rugged Snares Islands. Charlotte is the author of seven novels and lives on Banks Peninsula. She appears in the session Island Lives  with Tina Makereti.

Eleanor Catton is —perhaps unsurprisingly, given her Man Booker win— a finalist in the fiction category for her brilliant and internationally acclaimed novel of the West Coast, The Luminaries. Her session in the Transitional Cathedral,The Luminary, is selling fast — don’t miss out.

The winners will be announced on 27 August.
Will any of our guests arrive clutching awards? We hope so!
For a full list of finalists in the 2014 New Zealand Post Book Awards, go here.

See the full programme at

Book tickets at Dash Tickets


Man Booker prize 2014: why the longlist has bewildered the bookies

With its lack of big names and its potential contenders that have yet to be published, this year's lineup has elicited wildly divergent predictions

David Mitchell
Bookies are agreed that author David Mitchell will be among the front-runners. Photograph: Murdo Macleod for the Guardian

In a nice coincidence, Commonwealth Games athletes paraded in Wednesday's opening ceremony just a few hours after this year's competitors were unveiled for an award hitherto limited to authors from Commonwealth (and ex-Commonwealth) countries. In the much-parroted words of its sponsor, Man Group, the Man Booker prize has now "gone global", resembling the Olympics rather than a gathering of former colonies. But this claim is based on the almost purely theoretical possibility that novelists from anywhere writing in English can now be submitted by publishers.

In reality, the Booker map is still missing continental Europe, most of Asia, the Middle East, non-anglophone Africa, all of Latin America. If the prize is serious about going global, a second opening-up will be needed, to admit translated fiction. And if the first longlist under the new rules is any guide, it may have paradoxically become less international, not more, as a result of introducing them.

Last July, the 2013 longlist included five writers from the Commonwealth beyond the UK, including the eventual winner, New Zealand's Eleanor Catton. This time, the equivalent number is just one, Australia's Richard Flanagan, with the difference corresponding neatly to the number of Americans selected.

The 50 Worst Synonyms in Fifty Shades of Grey

This post was originally published in 2012. We are rerunning it now for obvious reasons.
Remember grade school, when you wrote papers and used big words because you thought that meant you were smart? And now when you look back on those papers, you cringe a little? Well, not E.L. James! The Fifty Shades of Grey author loves her a fancy synonym. And since you probably missed most of her obvious moments by skipping to the sex parts, Vulture compiled a list of them for you. Note: In some cases, James's word choices may have to do with the fact that she's British. But her protagonist, Anastasia — and Ana's insufferable subconscious and inner goddess — are not. So we're calling the author out for them anyway, and even offering up some simple edits, all of which show that, sometimes, less is more. Unless you're Christian Grey.
The offense: "To be honest, I prefer my own company, reading a classic British novel, curled up in a chair in the campus library. Not sitting twitching nervously in a colossal glass-and-stone edifice."
The fix: "To be honest, I prefer my own company, reading a classic British novel, curled up in a chair in the campus library. Not sitting twitching nervously in a giant glass-and-stone building."
The offense: “I squirm; he’s made me feel like an errant child.”
The fix: “I squirm; he’s made me feel like a disobedient child.”

And here is the trailer for the movie


The Astonishing Geoff Cochrane
Geoff Cochrane's latest book, Astonished Dice, is a collection of his published short stories. Showcasing Cochrane's compressed, fragmentary style and dark-edged humour, Astonished Dice is an important addition to the catalogue of this major talent. Join us as he discusses his fiction with publisher and friend Fergus Barrowman.
DATE:        Monday 28 July
TIME:         12.15-1.15pm
VENUE:     Te Papa Marae, Level 4, Te Papa
(please note that no food may be taken onto the Marae).

Standing Room Only for Sunday 27 July 2014 - Radio New Zealand National

12:39 Lexus Song Quest

The winner of this year’s Lexus Song Quest, announced on Saturday night.

12:47 Dunedin’s Great War

A new exhibition at Toitū Otago Settlers Museum looks at the effect of World War One on Dunedin and its people. Curator Seán Brosnahan and Exhibiton Developer Will McKee talk about the research that’s gone into the exhibition.

1:10 At The Movies with Simon Morris

Featuring Sex Tape, A Promise and The Broken Circle Breakdown.

1:34 Lara Strongman

The Christchurch Art Gallery is on track to reopen late next year, almost five years after the most devastating of the city’s earthquakes put it out of commission. One of the key players in this important next step is Dr Lara Strongman who’s the gallery’s new senior curator.

1:47 Constellations

A beekeeper and an astrophysicist form an unlikely relationship which is traced through parallel universes in Constellatons, a play which asks some of the big questions in science while keeping the audience grounded in what is essentially a love story. Concepts such as choice, control and certainty are all put under the microscope. Written by Nick Payne, Constellations is a two-hander with the main characters played by Erin Banks and Richard Dey. Directed by Rachel Lenart, and with music composed by Tane Upjohn-Beatson, the production is billed as “One relationship. Infinite possibilities.” It is playing at Circa Theatre from 26 July to 23 August 2014.

2:05 The Laugh Track

This week’s guest is the very busy Auckland actor Joel Tobeck, star of the recent TV miniseries Hope and Wire.  His picks included Bill Cosby, Rowan Atkinson and the Flight of the Conchords.

2:26 Ethan Steifel

The outgoing Artistic Director of the Royal New Zealand Ballet – famed American choreographer Ethan Steifel – looks back on an eventful three years.  

2:38 Books – Gemma Bowker-Wright The Red Queen

Scientist by day and author by night, Gemma Bowker-Wright manages to do both very well indeed. She’s won both the Sunday Star Times Short Story competition and the Katherine Mansfield Competition while balancing a day job is as a science analyst for the Government. Her first collection of short stories, called The Red Queen, has just been published by Victoria University Press.

2:49 Our Glasgow Opera Representatives

Thomas Atkins and Amelia Perry are representing New Zealand in Glasgow, not in sport, but in opera. They are performing in a Scottish Opera production in Glasgow to accompany the Commonwealth Games – it is called Anamchara Songs of Friendship and features emerging artists from Commonwealth countries including New Zealand. Amelia Berry, is a soprano who’s recently graduated from her studies in the USA, while tenor Thomas Atkins is studying at the Guildhall School in London.

3:05 The Drama Hour

A new short story, The Red Notebook, Geraldine Brophy weighs in with some all-women monologues in the BardFest, and the next chapter of Encore – The story of New Zealand Theatre.

Visit our webpage for pictures and more information:

Saturday Morning with Kim Hill: 26 July 2014 - Radio New Zealand National

8:15 Kitty Green: feminism in Ukraine
9:05 Philip Hensher: waltz through time
9:40 Phil Seddon: de-extinction
10:05 Playing Favourites with Bob Harvey
11:05 Rolf de Heer: whose country?
11:45 Energy with David Haywood: marine energy

This Saturday's team:
Producer: Mark Cubey
Wellington engineer: Damon Taylor
Auckland engineer: Ian Gordon
Research by Anne Buchanan, Infofind

8:15 Kitty Green
Kitty Green is an Australian filmmaker whose new documentary, Ukraine is Not a Brothel, is about FEMEN, the Ukrainian feminist group run for years by a man. She is a guest of the New Zealand International Film Festivals for screenings of her film in Auckland (23 and 24 July) and Wellington (25 and 27 July).

9:05 Philip Hensher
Philip Hensher is Professor of Creative Writing at University of Bath Spa, and writes for The Independent, The Spectator and Mail on Sunday. He is the author of a collection of short stories, an opera libretto, the non-fiction title The Missing Ink: the Lost Art of Handwriting and Why It Still Matters (Macmillan, ISBN: 978-0-230-76712-6), and seven novels, most recently The Emperor Waltz (Fourth Estate, ISBN: 978-0-00-745957-5).

9:45 Phil Seddon
Phil Seddon is Professor of Zoology at the University of Otago. He is a specialist in reintroducing endangered species in protected areas, and leads an international team exploring the issues around bringing extinct creatures back to life for the International Union for the Conservation of Nature.

10:05 Playing Favourites with Bob Harvey 
Sir Robert Anster "Bob" Harvey KNZM QSO, is a former advertising agency owner, political strategist, environmental campaigner, television producer, and mayor, and currently sits on a number of boards of directors. His biography, Wild Westie: the Incredible Life of Bob Harvey by Hazel Phillips (Penguin, ISBN: 978-014356977-0) has just been published.

11:05 Rolf de Heer
Director, writer and producer Rolf de Heer has been involved with the creation of many independent Australian films, including Bad Boy Bubby (1994), Dance Me to My Song (1998), The Tracker (2002), and Ten Canoes (2006), which won awards in Australia and at Cannes, and generated the interactive internet project Twelve Canoes. His latest film, Charlie's Country was selected for competition in Un Certain Regard at the 2014 Cannes Film Festival, where David Gulpilil won the award for Best Actor. Charlie's Country will screen during the 2014 New Zealand International Film Festivals, and Rolf de Heer will present and talk about his film at screenings in Auckland (27 July) and Wellington (29 July).

11:45 Energy with David Haywood           
David Haywood has a Ph.D. in engineering and lives in Dunsandel. He writes the Southerly blog for Public Address, and is the author of the collection of humorous essays My First Stabbing, the children's book The Hidden Talent of Albert Otter, and The New Zealand Reserve Bank Annual 2010 (all He will discuss tidal and wave energy.

On Saturday 26 July 2014 during Great Encounters between 6:06pm and 7:00pm on Radio New Zealand National, you can hear a repeat broadcast of Kim Hill's interview from 19 July with filmmaker Alex Gibney.

Next Saturday, 2 August, Kim Hill's guests will include Claire Hall and Hinemoana Baker.

20 years of magic captured in Weta’s 20th anniversary books

Stories and achievements of Weta Workshop and Weta Digital brought to life   

San Diego, USA: The celebrations of 20 years of film-making from the Weta Group will kick off with the launch today of two stunning books capturing the history of the Weta companies.

The books, Weta Digital: 20 Years of Imagination on Screen and Weta Workshop: Celebrating 20 Years of Creativity will be unveiled at Weta’s booth at Comic-Con International and are available as a special edition dual set for purchase by fans attending Comic-Con.

Published by HarperCollins and Weta, the books are available for pre-order through Weta’s online store:; and ship in September.

The deluxe slipcase two-volume set is an insider's tour of 20 years of film-making magic at Weta Workshop and Weta Digital, the creative companies behind such celebrated films as The Lord of the Rings, Avatar, The Avengers, King Kong, District 9 and The Hobbit.  Brimming with never-before-published content, including concept designs, sketches, making of and behind-the-scenes imagery, along with interview material from cast and crew members, it is a stunning look at how the costumes, creatures and characters, weaponry, and visual effects are created for some of the world's most iconic films. The two-volume set, titled The Art of Film Magic: 20 Years of Weta, includes both books.

Weta Digital: 20 Years of Imagination on Screen is a celebration of the people and projects that have defined the first two decades of Weta Digital. One of the world’s premier visual-effects studios, Wellington-based Weta Digital is known for its Academy Award®-winning visual effects for such films as The Lord of the Rings, King Kong, and Avatar, as well as its ground-breaking work on Rise of the Planet of the Apes, The Avengers, Prometheus, and The Hobbit trilogy. Featuring a foreword by Peter Jackson, personal stories and recollections, expert technical insights, and a wealth of behind-the-scenes imagery, the book offers fans an intimate look inside the studio and the minds of the people behind its innovative effects. Visual Effects Producer Clare Burgess wrote the book with the assistance of writer Brian Sibley and countless others who helped chronicle the studio’s remarkable history.

Weta Workshop: Celebrating 20 Years of Creativity reveals the extraordinary story of Weta Workshop, an Academy Award®-winning  conceptual design and manufacturing studio known for its creations for such films as The Lord of the Rings, King Kong, Avatar, The Chronicles of Narnia, District 9, and The Hobbit trilogy. Along with its film work, Weta Workshop makes collectible art, children’s television shows, and public sculptural pieces. Featuring a foreword by Peter Jackson, the book delivers unprecedented access to behind-the-scenes photographs, concept sketches, and final imagery from all these ventures. Weta Workshop: Celebrating 20 Years of Creativity was written by Weta Workshop Supervisor Luke Hawker, who has been with the Workshop for 14 years.

The book launch is the first of a number of activities celebrating 20 years of “Weta.” 
The books are a key part of the celebration as they document, for the first time, the history and achievements of Weta, says Weta Workshop co-founder Sir Richard Taylor.

“We are very proud of our work and these books really bring that work and our artists to life. We hope our friends and fans who have supported us all these years will enjoy adding these volumes to their library, as we are incredibly proud of what our teams have achieved over these past 20 years.”

Weta Digital Senior Visual Effects Supervisor Joe Letteri says: “This is a great opportunity to give fans a closer look at how some of the new ideas and techniques developed by the artists at Weta Digital came into existence over the past twenty years, and how they have contributed to the changing world of Visual Effects in filmmaking.”

The Weta Group of Companies has their largest presence ever at this weekend’s Comic-Con International event in San Diego (July 24-27). The booth showcases New Zealand creativity, talent and artistry to industry media and thousands of fans. Weta is also exhibiting at the other satellite events in Denver, New York and Utah in 2014.

Comic-Con Media Note: The 20th Anniversary book signing events at Comic Con will be held on the Weta booth (No. 3613, access through doors D and E).  The signing event will feature Richard Taylor with authors Luke Hawker and Clare Burgess and will take place at the following times:
·         Thursday 24 July – 1:00pm - 3:00pm
·         Friday 25 July - 10:00am – noon
·         Saturday 26 July - 2:00pm - 4:00pm
·         Sunday 27 July - 1:30pm - 3:30pm

Fans who purchase the books at Weta’s Comic-Con booth have the opportunity to win a special copy of the dual slipcase books signed by Weta Workshop and Weta Digital crew. 

E-readers vs books: the debate

Are you going to be piling books into your suitcase this summer or will you opt for the tech version? Claire Kearns argues that even in this era of instant downloads and constant connectivity, there's plenty of pleasure still to be found in a good, solid book

Kindle on a bookshelf
Kindle on a bookshelf. Photographer: Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg via Getty Images

My childhood recollections are full of memories of reading. Of the smell, feel and character of real books. Well-thumbed editions of Matilda and Alice in Wonderland. A shelf of Judy Blumes with wrinkled spines, and a particularly fantastic special edition Goosebumps that wailed on opening. Huddled in the corner of my school library, I'd often lose myself in my favourite stories.

Reading habits have undeniably evolved over time, exponentially it seems during recent years. Modern life is fast-paced and technology is always advancing. It's normal to want to keep up with the latest 'next best thing', especially when new products are all around us, shiny and inviting. When it comes to the realm of literature, though, I still think a lot can be said for the pleasure found in a good, solid book.


VIP Boxes & Seven-Figure Advances : How fiction gets the publishing industry "laughably wrong," from Laura Miller, at Salon.

World's Coolest Bookstores : Rounded up at CNN.

WME Launches Pop-Up Bookstore : The agency has created a pop-up bookstore, Gimme Books, to sell clients’ books at all WME and IMG events going forward.

Seeing '50 Shades' on Screen : Sure, fans of E.L. James’ kink-romance “Fifty Shades of Grey” book trilogy turned it into a mega-best-seller, but they can read books in private. Will they go see a movie featuring lots of sex, bondage, and submission?

Martin Donates $10k to Wolf Charity : The "Game of Thrones" author, who is holding an online auction for a wolf charity, responded to a 13-year-old's fan letter asking that Martin kill him off in his next novel.


Man Booker longlist prompts pub date rethink

Man Booker longlist prompts pub date rethink
HarperCollins imprint Fourth Estate is to bring forward its publication date for Joseph O'Neill's The Dog to 31st...
Kingsnorth: readers 'hungry for experimental writing'
Readers are hungering for more experimental fiction, according to Man Booker Prize longlisted author Paul Kingsnorth. His...

via The Bookseller