James Russell is the author of the Dragon Hunters trilogy of picture books and the first of a series of chapter books, The Dragon Defenders. We loved having James come into school and talk to the students about his books and how he came to be a writer.
The Dragon Hunters are Flynn and Paddy, brothers growing up on a faraway island with their parents in a basic but hardy life away from modern conveniences. They discover a colony of dragons and adopt one of them, naming him Elton and so begins this exciting adventure into the world of dragons. In the chapter book they are also brought into the modern world, often with amusing consequences as they encounter technology for the first time, but fraught with danger as the dragon colony comes under threat.
James’ sons Flynn and Paddy enjoyed their dad telling them stories about dragons and so he decided to turn his stories into books. James was inspired to be a writer after discovering the excitement of a great book reading The Power of One, and he in turn creates gripping storylines in order to build the excitement as you journey through each book. We are delighted that he is almost ready to publish the second book in this series and you can bet we will be among the first to have some copies in our library! Perhaps we will also find out yet another terrible sandwich combination not to try out! We do know however that he has introduced a strong female character, Briar and we can’t wait to find out how she gets involved.
The other unique quality of James’s books is the augmented reality that he has built into his illustrations. By downloading a free app and viewing the book through a tablet camera you can see the world of Flynn and Paddy really come to life, literally! Take a look at still images taken here in the library! One News did a feature on his books which you can see here. You can also find out more about AR at James’ website here.
James read some his books to the students and we felt very privileged to have him visit our school. Room 12 have already bagged the first copy of the chapter book to read in class but we have a full set of his books in the library ready to go. The Dragon Defenders is already the best selling book by a New Zealand author and I am sure all of his books will be enjoyed for years to come. Thank you James for such an awesome visit!
Last week in the library we had some fun with our green screen. Most of us have read ‘We’re going on a bear hunt’, but this time we went on a lion hunt and used the green screen to make the story come alive!
Room 6 swish-swashed through the long grass, squelched through the swamp, splash-splashed through the lake and tiptoed through the cave.
Green screens seem to work by magic! Here is a website which talks about how green screens are used in television and film and tries to explain how they work. We use an app called Do Ink Green Screen to create our videos and pictures.
In Junior Enrichment we also had fun with the green screen. Here are a few photos.
The beautiful characters of Houndsley with his “soft as a rose petal” voice and his best friend Catina face a few challenges in this lovely series of books now in the library. They show extreme tolerance, courage, friendship and kindness – Houndsley faces real disappointment when he doesn’t do as well as he expected in a cooking competition, Catina finally learns to swim, they both overcome sadness at not knowing when their birthdays are and a snow storm teaches them the gift of the quiet time.
“Yes,” Catina said. “First I will find something I like to do. Then I will do it and do it and do it until I am very good at it. And then I might be famous.”
“I know something you are good at already,” said Houndsley, “although you will never be famous for it.”
“Being my friend.”
This is our longfin eel or tuna and he is happiest living in the shadows of our lovely clear waters in New Zealand. What happens if our rivers are no longer clear because so much silt runs into them from the hills around them? Or what happens if river banks are slowly being trampled and there is no longer any shadow left for Mr Eel?
This is Oliver Vetter and he talked to our Year 5/6 team last week about something he is very passionate about – water! In his previous job as an oceanographer he has seen the damage that the interruption to the water cycle and the impact of humans has caused to not just New Zealand’s waterways but all over the world. Oliver represents an organisation called Sustainable Coastlines and they are helping New Zealanders make our rivers and streams be beautiful again. Take a look at their website below.
Photo taken during the Travis Wetland Tree Planting. Thanks Sustainable Coastlines for letting us use this image.
Oliver gave us some friendly tips on how we could make a difference.
Plant some native trees – either at home or as part of a project. Miramar ecological restoration has some advice on finding the right plants for our environment. Native trees grow well, look good, give out lots of good oxygen and can even reverse some of the bad effects of our habitation – like the cabbage tree which actually sucks bad metals out from the ground to free up nice soil space for our lovely new trees.
Buy certified biogro – these are products that have been made with ingredients which have not had pesticides or herbicides sprayed on them and have therefore had little or no negative impact on our waterways. Look for this symbol:
Walk, scooter or bike to school – any reduction in the number of cars on the road is positive.
Oliver’s final and easiest 3 suggestions for anyone wanting to do their bit:
- Don’t ever use or buy the plastics that are forever being found in our stormwater drains (heading for the sea) – plastic straws, plastic bags, bottles of shop-bought water.
- Pick up rubbish especially near the beach to stop it getting into the stomachs of poor sea creatures.
- Tell 3 people who don’t know about any of this – the more people that know, the bigger impact these little things can have.
On 26th June 1997, the first 500 copies of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone were released into the world. Since then, more than 450 million copies of Harry Potter books have been sold, translated into 79 languages. Harry Potter and the many amazing characters that appear alongside are beloved by their fans young and old.
Did you know there are huge Fandoms for Harry Potter – great online places for fans to indulge themselves, find out more about the characters, be sorted into a house, try out new spells or read about the latest Wizarding news. Try one of them here:
Harry Potter books are a great choice for children to read for many reasons:
- they are filled with a rich word choice to build vocabulary
- the writing builds an exciting plot so well that you just want to keep reading and reading
- the stories offer superb life lessons, like accepting differences, acknowledging courage and loyalty, the power of friendships, people aren’t perfect
- there are some fantastic female role models, like Hermione, Luna, Mrs Weasley
- you enter a fantastical, magical world of adventure which ignites imagination
Enjoy Harry Potter, always.
This is Sacha Walters and as well as being Super Mum to our very own Elinor in Room 17, she is also a Senior Policy Advisor for the Department of Conservation, advising our government in how best to protect New Zealand’s natural resources and wildlife. Sacha came in today to talk to the Year 5/6 team because they have been studying this exact topic.
Sacha gave us some interesting background information about her role and how the Department of Conservation is looking after the whole country with quite limited resources. In terms of what we can do ourselves, here are some suggestions that we heard today:
We have shared a couple of books with our junior classes over the last week which have promoted discussions about empathy, difference, kindness and how unique and amazing we all are.
We’re all Wonders by RJ Palacio is the picture book version of one of our favourites Wonder, and in this book for younger readers we find out from Auggie how he feels to be seen as so different to everybody when he is actually just an ordinary boy.
“I know I can’t change the way I look but maybe, just maybe, people can change the way they see”.
Manukura the white kiwi by Joy Cowley is a brand new book we received this week in our free pack from the publishers Penguin. This tells the true story of a one of a kind white Kiwi born in the Pukaha sanctuary in the Wairarapa. You can find out about this by clicking here. Manukura is considered a taonga (a blessing) by local iwi and her name means ‘of chiefly status’.
Here are a few books from our library which acknowledge difference. Can you think of any more?
Billy by Kate de Goldi
My name is Mina by David Almond
Raymie Nightingale by Kate DiCamillo
The terrible thing that happened to Barnaby Brocket by John Boyne
Happy in our skin by Fran Manushkin
Spork by Kyo Maclear
There was certainly some power reading going on at Seatoun School last night when nearly 40 families squeezed into the library and read together for Book Night. Our great student helpers kept the milo flowing and overall our school group of readers was the biggest community group in New Zealand getting together to read.
If you click here you can go to the Book Night website and have a look at the map of New Zealand to see where people were joining in. You might need to zoom in on Wellington to find the individual photos of our school readers.
Some of our photos are here:
Thank you to all of the parents who took the time out of their evenings to support the fantastic reading culture we have at our school.
On Tuesday night, children and adults all over New Zealand will be celebrating reading by registering their 15 minutes of book time with Book Night. People will take selfies and send them in and soon a map of New Zealand will light up with readers from every corner of our country. Every registration goes into a draw for book voucher prizes.
We will be joining in at Seatoun School – from 6.30 to 7.30pm, students can come along with their parents to the school library and either bring your own books to read or choose from our wonderful collection and read those. Once you are here you can register with the Book Night organisation. Bring your beanbags and cushions and we will provide Milo and biscuits. There will be a draw for spot prizes on the night. See you then!!
If you can’t come along you can still register your reading effort by going to this website on Tuesday night.