Summer Reading Challenge is back!!!!

Image from Wellington City Libraries

From 1st December (yes it’s already live) anyone writing a short review of one of the books in the reading challenge list not only wins a prize straight away but also goes into a draw to win a big prize pack at the end of the school holidays. Every review you do goes in the draw, and there are many sport prizes to be won along the way.

It’s very simple

  1. Pick up a Summer Reading Challenge booklet from the library either at school or near your house, or look at a digital version here.
  2. Find a book from the list: click on the link

Any book in a series can be read, and can be reserved from Wellington City Libraries and brought to your local library FREE OF CHARGE!!! Just make sure you use a child’s card to reserve it.

3. Read the book and then go back to the Summer Reading Challenge website to fill in your details and say what you liked about the book. Make sure to give your name and contact email (so they can contact you to say your prize is waiting for you) and to complete the Summer Reading Challenge extra question to say you go to Seatoun School. If we have the most students taking part, we win a prize for the school too!!!

The Entry form is on the website here.

Remember to go back to the website in a few days to see your review posted for all the world to see!!!!!

4. Go back to step 2 and so on and so on until it’s time to come back to school!!!! See you in February!!!!!

Tata Beach, Golden Bay, Image courtesy of

Posted in Fiction, Graphic Novels, Junior Fiction | Tagged | Leave a comment

The Players’ Tribune – articles on sport

There are some great, up to date articles here about sport written by the players and artists themselves. This was recommended by our visiting author David Riley as a great source of reading for students looking for something other than fiction or a long sports biography. There is something for everyone here, from basketball to ballet. Click on the image below to take a look. I loved this article about US ballet dancer Misty Copeland and her battle with racism in her field, and the one above, a letter to Kobe Bryant. There is all sorts here, for example a section titled “Letters to my former self” in which great sports personalities write about what they wished they knew then and what they might have done differently. Have a browse, find something you like.

Image courtesy of Misty Copeland,

Posted in Non-Fiction, Senior Fiction | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Author David Riley inspires our senior students

This is David Riley, an author from Auckland, and we were really lucky that he visited our school last week. Students from years 5-8 squeezed into the library to hear him tell his story and the inspiration behind his writing.

David has always loved to read. As a child growing up in Mangere, one of his favourite series was The Magic Faraway Tree by Enid Blyton. As a teenager he read mostly magazines about his other great passion – Rugby League, and the New Zealand’s Heritage books about great NZers. He also loved books by Barry Crump because he wrote about everyday people that reminded him of his dad and his mates.

David was inspired by New Zealanders who have written books that have become successful – Barry Crump’s book Wild Pork and Watercress was made into the film Hunt for the Wilderpeople, written and directed by Taika Waititi, and Joy Cowley’s novel The Silent One which sat unpublished for seven years was made into an internationally successful film.

If there’s a book you want to read
but it hasn’t been written yet
then you have to write it.
Toni Morrison

This is a quote which resonated with David. David was teaching English at a high school with mainly Pacific island and Maori students and when they went to the library they could find nothing that they wanted to read. There were no characters they could identify with. Some of the boys wanted to read about their passion, Rugby League, and Benji Marshall. There were no books about Benji Marshall that David could give them. So he decided to write his own.

Publishers rejected this book, saying there were not enough people in New Zealand that would want to read it. David felt very strongly that this book was needed by the community he served, so he took the plunge and published it himself. It was an instant success with his students and David has become well known throughout schools in New Zealand for the books he creates about everyday New Zealanders making their dreams happen, much like he did himself. He inspires his students of Drama and Dance by finding connections between the curriculum and their lives. This in turn inspires others to support their students in the same way. David’s key message to our students was this:

We have many of David’s books in the library which you can borrow, and you can also have a look at his website to find even more. Is there one there that you think we should have?

Posted in Non-Fiction | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

New books for senior readers – read the reviews

Red Edge had me on the edge of my seat the whole way through and I couldn’t stop until I knew how it all ended.” My Best Friends are Books

Red Edge is just one of our new books to arrive this week and features a 10 year post earthquake Christchurch setting that might be the book that gets you hooked on author Des Hunt. One of the book reviewers I follow is a librarian at Halswell School in Christchurch and knows the area well. I often read and buy the books for our library that he has reviewed – click on the image above to read the entire review.

The  10th Hunger Games are to take place and one of the most vile and sadistic characters I have read in children’s literature, a woman named Dr Gaul, is in charge of presenting the games. ” Bob’s Books

Bob’s Books is another blog we follow on our blog, a long time reviewer of books relied upon by librarians all over New Zealand to inform us about books heading to the shops and helping us make informed decisions about whether to buy them for our libraries. We all read a large majority of the books we buy but it’s great to get an informed opinion.

This prequel to the Hunger Games trilogy will shock you as much as the originals and is available now. Click on the image to read Bob’s review.

Finally we see a graphic novel around the issues of changing friendships that has boys as the main characters. Schoolfriends Andrew and Russ are amateur film makers and their current project is focused on a legendary monster that is said to roam the woods on the edge of their town. They are all set to make the final touches to make their movie legendary when a new distraction gets in the way – a girl by the name of Tara. Suddenly Andrew feels silly for liking the same things the boys have always enjoyed doing together and their long term friendship looks to be falling apart, along with their movie project. This may resonate with many boys and girls going into years 6-8 and will be popular. Read a full review by Best Friends are Books reviewer by clicking on the image.

We would love to feature reviews by students of these books. They can be borrowed from our library now. Read them or any other book from our senior collection and let us know what you think.

These blogs and others can be found to the right of this review under Blogs I follow and are a great source of ideas.

Posted in Graphic Novels, Senior Fiction | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Calling all Graphic Novel fans

Over 200 schools from the UK take part in these awards in which children read, rate and review graphic novels. This list represents the best in graphic novels each year and will serve as a great guide for buying new titles for our school library.

Take a look at the shortlist from this year (and then previous years) and comment below the titles you would love to see in our library.  Click on the image of the overall winner.


Posted in Graphic Novels | Leave a comment

New Graphic Novels and Readathon Challenges

Many of our lovely teachers have set themselves Reading Goals for the school Readathon. Here are the brave ones who have completely committed! Aren’t they wonderful? Hopefully more will follow!

On the topic of graphic novels, we committed this year to buying more of them because they are so popular. As well as updating some of the usual series like Asterix, Babysitters Club, Amulet etc, here are a few of the most recent purchases (which I of course have read for my reading challenge). Some of these have also been reviewed on the blog I follow My Best Friends are Books which gives me a lot of inspiration for my book shopping. Go and have a look!

 A lowly seamstress is whisked away in secrecy to make beautiful gowns for a mysterious customer. Can she ever claim her fame? Will it destroy their friendship? Read and find out!

A fun, fantastical adventure which starts as a dare and becomes a very strange outing indeed. Who knew a bear could be such loyal company?

After a 30 year long cryogenic trip to earth, Amy becomes accustomed to living on such a beautiful, living planet after spending all of her life so far in a mining community in Deep Space. She feels strange contacting her best friends back home, they are all older than her parents now, so she must start again, and soon enough she makes new friends and starts to feel at home. Except she doesn’t know much about the strange boy until book 2. I sense book 3 will need to be bought soon!

Zac from My Best Friends are Books has written up an amazing interview with the author of this book. The setting is very much based on Lyttleton Harbour near Christchurch and follows the mysterious goings on at the port and the mythical creatures from the deep. Read the interview or the review.

One girl is off the charts smart but has to carry out criminal missions for her dangerous uncle to keep paying for her mother’s medical bills. Another girl has super strength and uses it to roam the streets looking for ways to help others, only sometimes she’s stronger than she thinks. What happens when the scientific device they each have their own reasons for stealing accidentally switches the girls into each other’s bodies? Read Antihero to find out.

A gentle story of friendship and following your own path, mixed with the effects of an hallucinogenic tea brewed from dragon scales! An interesting choice!

There are many more new graphic novels to be found in our smart new shelves which finally arrived this week. They also house a collection of non-fiction for senior readers. Come in and have a look! There’s something for everyone.

Posted in Graphic Novels, Non-Fiction | Leave a comment

Virtual author visit – Ned Barraud

One of the rare silver linings of COVID-19 is that, with many authors unable to commit to travel to schools due to changing covid levels, organisations such as Storylines are arranging these visits to be virtual with an almost unlimited number of schools able to watch. This week our Year 1&2s were lucky enough to attend a session with Ned Barraud, Wellington based author/illustrator.

Ned worked at Weta Digital for 15 years, contributing to projects such as Lord of the Rings, Avatar and King Kong, then decided to follow his passion for insects and wildlife and make a go of it as an illustrator. His first series, Explore and Discover Aotearoa written by Gillian Candler are very popular in our library and we have added more of Ned’s books over the last year.

Tohorā was a popular read aloud this year around the time of Matariki because many of our students remember seeing the southern right whale in the harbour which delayed the Matariki fireworks. We learned a lot from this book about the sad history of whaling around Wellington and how the southern right whale was almost hunted to extinction.

Backyard Beasts is one of our brand new books. Ned told us how he remembers a dragonfly darting in and hovering so near to his face that he was able to study it in detail and found the detail fascinating and beautiful. This experience fed Ned’s love of insects and led to books like Backyard Beasts which features all of the insects and creatures he could find with his children in the garden at his home in Karori. He started this project by taking many photographs and Ned shared some of his photos of spiders and the stink bug with us.

When writing this new book about Moa, Ned told us how he contacted renowned moa expert Trevor Worthy to help research and ensure the detail was correct. We are excited to read this book and learn more about the small chicken-sized bush moa and the different varieties of moa which were wiped out by hunting 500 years ago. It was interesting to hear that the large moa’s main predator in the South Island was the Haast’s Eagle, and in the North Island, the Eyles’ Harrier. It is hard to imagine a bird of prey large enough to attack and kill such a huge flightless bird. Click on the heavy footed moa below to read the article by Trevor Worthy on Te Ara, the encyclopaedia of New Zealand, and then an 1982 photo of Trevor to learn more about his work in a Stuff article.

Photo credit Te Ara

Photo credit Stuff

Ned read us a short extract from a really brand new book the Big Woolly Mammoth, so new that we don’t even have a picture of it! It looks so interesting because in addition to a great rhyming story, we also learn a lot at the back of the book about many creatures that were alive during the Ice Age, 20,000 years ago, when this book is set, including early humans, woolly camels and the Musk Ox, the only species still to be found today. I can’t wait for it to be available in the bookshop!

Ned gave us a brilliant demonstration on Photoshop of how he creates his illustrations using a potential new character Otto the Cockabully. He starts with a sketch which he scans in, then adds the background layer which he can colour separately to the sketch. He selects various “brushes” and has a colour palette much like an artist’s palette that he chooses from. We hope he writes a story about this bullying taniwha of the rock pools.

Our children were well prepared in their classrooms with teachers reading several of Ned’s books and preparing “wonderings” about Ned. I love this image of Room 8’s wonderings taken by Jayshri:

Room 5 had these questions for Ned. What inquisitive children they are!

How do you draw your pictures? – Reider
What is your favourite picture you have drawn? – Hamish
How many times did you have to draw the pictures to get them right? – Blain
What age did you start drawing at? – Joachim
How did you draw them so realistic? – Abby, Anya, Lily
What do use for your drawings, pen or pencil or other? – Oliver
How long does it take you to draw you pictures? – Annabelle, Otis
How many books have you illustrated? – Sacha
How do you colour it in without going outside the lines? – Annalize
How long have you been illustrating books? – Kaspar, Zander
What gave you the idea to make the books? – Isla
How did you know what animals to draw and what they looked like? – Luke
Did you go to art classes or art school? – Brooke
Why did you choose to be an illustrator? – Akaiysha

In his interview he answered many of their questions:

  • Ned drew sketches all the time when he was young and keeps all of his sketches as inspiration for when he is looking for a new idea
  • Ned is really interested in nature which is why many of his books include the native creatures of Aotearoa. Occasionally he also likes to use his imagination and create new creatures.
  • Ned enjoys walking with his dog Tinkerbell and exploring with his children in the hills and coastline around his home in Karori, Wellington.
  • Ned spent time watching his aunt Sally Burton work. She is also a New Zealand artist and her work showed him it was possible to make a living as an artist.
  • Ned went to Art School in Dunedin to learn about all forms of art
  • Ned uses Photoshop to colour in his work, this enables him to experiment with colour and texture and make changes whenever he wants.

Thanks to Storylines and to Ned for such a fabulous opportunity for our tamariki. His books can be borrowed from our school library and available to buy as gifts at The Children’s Bookshop in Kilbirnie.

All book cover images courtesy of click image to visit his website

Posted in Information, Picture Books | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Virtual Author Visit from award winning author Pauline Vaeluaga Smith

Pauline Vaeluaga Smith won the Best First Book Award in the 2018 NZ Children’s Book Awards for her book Dawn Raid, a diary format fictional account of a 13 year old girl whose family is caught up in the Dawn Raids of 1974. Supporting our school wide focus celebrating the different cultures of Aotearoa New Zealand, last week our year 7/8s were treated to an awesome virtual visit by Pauline, in which she spoke live on Youtube about her experiences growing up in the Pacific Islander community and also of writing her first book. Several other intermediate and high schools across New Zealand joined in and schools were able to submit questions to Pauline – Seatoun School was noted for the number of quality questions we submitted and had answered! Thanks to Storylines for hosting this event.

Pauline was an educator in Pacific Studies and was disturbed by the fact that the majority of young people coming through knew nothing about the ill treatment of specifically Pacific Island immigrants in New Zealand during the 1970’s. She decided that the best place to start was with children and therefore started researching and writing the book that won her many accolades.

Pauline told us about the events that led to the action taken by the Polynesian Panthers, an activist group led by the young people of the Pacific Island community. This film above was part of the National government led advertising campaign, heavily suggesting that the problem causing the high unemployment and civic disturbances of the 1970s was the overstayers, and disproportionately blamed the Pacific Island community. More than 3/4 of overstayers were actually from other countries, mainly Europe. The dawn raids were an extended period of immigration officials knocking on doors in the early hours of the mornings hoping to catch people who had overstayed their visas to stay in New Zealand. This mainly happened in Wellington, however, all over the country people were being stopped in the street simply because of the colour of their skin, and asked to produce their papers giving them the right to live in New Zealand.

Pauline was extremely proud that it was the young people who took action – she particularly remembers in her own community that the older generation wanted everyone to keep their heads down and hope the trouble passed, while the young people were unhappy about the poor treatment and wanted to take action. Mimicking the actions of the police, the Panthers found out where politicians and prominent policemen lived and went to their houses in the early hours to wake them up. This made quite a difference actually and the Dawn Raids soon ceased. Further actions were very positive and community minded – breakfast and lunch clubs for the poor, visiting prisoners, supporting older people.

Some of the questions that we asked Pauline:

Did you anticipate a dawn raid on your house and family?

Pauline – No, I was so young I didn’t realise the extent of what was going on. Just after the book was published my Mum told me that the police stopped my dad and asked for his papers.

How did the racist cartoons make you feel?

Pauline – When I heard about how the people stood up against them I felt proud.

What are the long term effects of the dawn raids?

Pauline – The Pacific Islanders, still to this day, feel humiliated by the terrible events of the past.

We love the patterns in the book – how were they inspired?

Pauline – I wanted everyone to know that this is a Samoan/NZ book.

Pauline talked about her experiences of writing her first book – she started with a visual timeline of the main events of the book and then wrote the story including elements of home and school life from there. She loved having a say with the publishers about how her book would look – for example she made subtle changes to the front cover to ensure the girl was more obviously Samoan. Pauline said that young people who wanted to get into writing should just start something and start with what they know, using their own experiences. For example, in this book, the younger brothers who always ran around the house and ended up breaking things were very much like her own family growing up.

Pauline has started her second book which is about the Landmarch of 1978. She has found her genre of writing which is to educate. We very much look forward to reading more of her work.

Thank you to Amy and Madeleine from Room 1 for input on the questions and their answers and to little Naomi from Room 6 who helped me write this post!

Posted in Fiction | Tagged , | Leave a comment

The Proudest Blue – being proud of the cultural items we display

To tie in with this week’s sharing of cultural items, the book we have read with our junior students in the library this week is The Proudest Blue by Ibtihaj Muhammad. Ibtihaj is an Olympic Medallist for the USA in fencing and was the first Muslim woman in hijab to represent the US.

In this book, Faizah enjoys her first day at school, made especially exciting because it is also the first day that her older sister Asiya will wear her hijab. The book explores what it means to Faizah and her sister to wear the hijab, and also to overcome the attitude and reactions of children at school who don’t understand their significance.

Faizah remembers the words of her mother each time she faces scrutiny or questions, and one sentence has been particularly well received and discussed during library time:

Don’t carry around the hurtful words that others say. Drop them. They are not yours to keep. They belong only to those who said them.

Ibtihaj Muhammad is a strong role model for girls and describes herself as a change agent, being named in Time Magazine’s 100 Most Influential people in the world. Here is her website, have a look:


Posted in Picture Books | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Mophead by Selina Tusitala Marsh

The New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults are upon us again and Mophead by Selina Tusitala Marsh is a great entry in the Non-Fiction section. Selina Tusitala Marsh is an awesome lady who overcame the put downs of childhood and decided to champion her passion for poetry. Here she is with the tokotoko she received when she became Poet Laureate in 2017:

In Mophead, we learn about the moment she saw her idol, Sam Hunt, performing his poetry in her school hall, and saw then that to be yourself and to be wild can be celebrated. She took her passion for poetry to Auckland University where she became the first Pacific Islander to graduate with a PhD in English, and she represented Tuvalu at the 2012 Poetry Olympics in London in 2012. On this poetry archive website you can listen to the poem she wrote about Sam Hunt, and his school visit, entitled “Orange Crayon Stick Figure Man”:

Poets Laureates are “poets officially appointed by a government or conferring institution, typically expected to compose poems for special events and occasions” (Wikipedia). Not every country has one, but we are lucky to have a new one every three years. Look on this link to a blog run by the poets laureate of New Zealand to see some more examples of their work:

This book can be borrowed from our library, along with more of this year’s finalists. Images of Selina Tusitala Marsh and Mophead courtesy of The New Zealand Book Awards Trust.

Posted in Non-Fiction | Tagged , , | Leave a comment