Auckland Libraries’ Anne Dickson led teen zombie hordes against a group of survivors in Tupu Youth Library
Last Friday in Tupu Youth Library, South Auckland, I ran an interactive live-action zombie event for teens on their school holidays.
The ‘survivors’, aged from 12 to 18, found themselves besieged in a meeting room while zombies feasted on hapless victims outside. Teens made barricades from furniture, used library resources to plan their escape from South Auckland, and faced special challenges including detecting potential zombie victims and even wrestling with a zombified police officer!
See the Tupu Zombies on New Zealand’s TV3 News and find more coverage at New Zealand’s Stuff.co.nz website.
Forgive the shameless self-promotion, but I’ve just been featured in the latest edition of Australian Books & Publishing, speaking about community outreach, daring to be different, and why rural Australia proved one of the most exciting places to create children’s and youth events for libraries.
It’s a subscriber-only link, but there is the option to sign up for a free trial.
You can read my profile piece in Australian Books & Publishing Online.
Central City Library, Auckland
So, a big announcement has been in the works for some time: from 25th February I begin a six-month contract as adviser to Auckland Libraries, the largest public library network in the southern hemisphere. The mission is to extend and enhance Auckland’s already superlative library offerings for children and young people with creative, challenging, and sustainable activities for the future.
I feel confident that we’re entering an era of swashbuckling literacy adventure Down Under. Auckland is the city where kids play a Kiwi-themed version of Angry Birds in their libraries; the city whose librarians already talked Bryan Lee O’Malley into letting them use Scott Pilgrim as the face of their comic book events and wooed Amanda Palmer into giving an impromptu Get Loud In Libraries-style guerilla gig.
Before Auckland beckons, I’ve been looking at the latest developments in the UK and US. The Future Foyles workshop held on Monday of this week brought together publishing, retail, and literacy professionals seeking a vision for London’s next great flagship bookstore – you’ll see me quoted in The Bookseller’s report of the event - and finding much food for thought from a wider community outreach perspective.
Over on my Tumblr page there’s a new post with a brief interview.
Corin Haines of Auckland Libraries – whose Central Library recently hosted an impromptu gig by alternative cabaret act The Dresden Dolls – took the time for a quick chat about notions of what libraries, and literacy, can be.
See the post here: http://matthewfinch.tumblr.com/post/16633129913/new-zealand-has-a-reputation-as-a-remote
As I leave Australia and New Zealand for a while, graphic designer and former newspaper cartoonist Hugh Todd of Constructed Meaning pointed me to John Clarke’s song, ‘We Don’t Know How Lucky We Are’, and got me thinking about the power of myth and storytelling.
After my discussion with New Zealand Educational Gazette and our recent features on NZ’s use of comics in education, it pleased me to see one Kiwi don the Caped Crusader’s cowl for a light-hearted prank during the Rugby World Cup.
TVNZ reports that a man in full Batman regalia visited a Christchurch police station demanding to see the commissioner and know why the “Bat-signal” – the White Lights of Hope commemorating the recent earthquake – had been lit. He’s not even the first Kiwi Batman, as the name has apparently already been applied to a 91-year-old community patrol volunteer in Waipawa.
The quakes’ impact on the Christchurch community is discussed from a literacy and outreach perspective in the recent Books and Adventures interview with Carolyn Robertson of the city’s library services.
Wonderfully, the Kiwi police appear to have responded to the Batman prankster with good humour. I’ve no idea if it’s deserved, but they’ve been building a reputation for tolerance and light-heartedness ever since an officer appeared on TV reminding a suspected carjacker to “always blow on the pie” when eating hot food from a late night convenience store.
You can find all the recent Books and Adventures posts on Comics in New Zealand Education here:
As September comes to an end, Auckland sees the grand finale of Comic Book Month, a celebration of graphic literature across the 55 public libraries of New Zealand’s Super City. Books and Adventures joins them for another in our current series on comic book education in New Zealand. You can find my original piece for the New Zealand Education Gazette here.
Auckland’s Comic Book Month events have ranged from dress-as-a-character days to a city-wide prize draw for readers borrowing 6 comic book items in September. Libraries ran illustrator workshops, comic-book-themed performances, dress-up storytimes for younger readers and cosplay contests for older participants. Local businesses including comic stores Heroes For Sale and Gotham Comics became partners with the scheme and New Zealand’s major comic convention, Armageddon, also got on board with organiser Bill Geradts providing free passes as prizes.
Comic Book Month co-ordinator Pip Henderson from Auckland Libraries’ Youth Service Development explained why she and her colleagues chose to focus on comics for this month-long celebration:
“Our customers like to immerse themselves in stories in different ways other than purely print; there are many ways to tell a story!
“Comics were once thought of as an easy read with little substance. Parents, especially, were keen to move their kids away from them but many are now seeing the value. Comics can be just as challenging for young readers, and just as beneficial in terms of concept comprehension and vocabulary extension as a chapter book.
Today as part of our ongoing feature on comics in New Zealand education, we’re joined by the New Zealand children’s author, editor and educator Raymond Huber. You can find out more about him and his great books, including the Ziggy Bee stories, at http://www.raymondhuber.co.nz/
Here’s Raymond on ‘Comics in the Classroom.’
The thought of comic books in the classroom is frowned upon by many teachers and parents. Comics still have an image problem with many adults – a mistrust of the comic format based on suspicions about quality, content, and most of all, literary value. There might be a grain of truth in the first two: comics used to be cheaply produced, and they can contain offensive material. Some comics do take the Readers Digest approach to literature, but there are also many that now take the comic form to its own artistic heights, especially comic picture books and graphic novels.
Why use comics in the classroom?
Perhaps the best reason is that children love reading stories in the comic form. Consider the Tintin books, selling over 120 million copies, and public libraries often put a limit on withdrawals of the books. Given a choice in class, many children will grab comic picture books before novels. And most of these readers will be boys – another great reason for using comics in class.
Alfriston College is a Decile 3 school in South Auckland, serving a mixed population of Maori, Pacific Islanders, pakeha and other immigrants.
Working with Jeremy Bishop of DMC Comics – interviewed here on Books and Adventures – Alfriston has produced some striking comic book work thanks to a pioneering project that empowers students and gives them a platform for their creative expression.
Today we’re joined by Deputy Head Steve Saville to discuss Alfriston’s work as part of our ongoing feature on comics in New Zealand education.
Set out in the South Auckland suburbs, Alfriston College is determinedly non-traditional – it’s referred to, by critics and fans alike, as “that place where they play music instead of ringing a bell between lessons”. The school’s philosophy is to use the latest research to deliver education for the 21st century. Innovations include a timetable of three 100-minute lessons a day, and termly ‘Three Day Episodes’, when students are given time to work on a self-selected project.
As Deputy Head Steve Saville puts it, ‘We’re trying to cultivate things a little bit outside the box. Authenticity and imagination are our watchwords. Traditional schooling was failing disadvantaged communities, and particularly the Maori, so why use it in a brand-new school?’
A British-born teacher with experience in both schools and universities, Steve arrived at Alfriston four years ago as Deputy Principal with responsibility for curriculum, bringing with him a lifelong comic-book obsession.
Today, Books and Adventures continues a series of posts exploring the use of comics in New Zealand education. You can find my New Zealand Education Gazette piece on the subject here.
Artist, author and comic book creator Steve Malley
A fine arts graduate turned tattooist, then comic book creator and novelist, the American Steve Malley was already a wandering soul before a tattoo commission from a Christchurch librarian drew him into the world of New Zealand comic book education.
Minnesota-born Steve abandoned a career as an artist in the US to develop his skills in tattooing, eventually taking his trade to a new home on the South Island of Aotearoa.
Steve wandered into educational work after doing a full sleeve tattoo on a librarian, as he told me over a pint on the outskirts of Christchurch’s quake-shattered Central Business District back in May.