Students sharing and recommending books for the library

Our students enjoy opportunities to share with each other great books they have read and last week all of our year 3-8s took part in a quick 3 word blurb sharing activity. They each had to think of a book they had enjoyed recently and write 3 words that someone could expect to find in that book. Publishers sometimes do this:

Students then mingled until they found a match for just one of those words. Once a match was found, they shared with each other the title and plot of their book and what they enjoyed about it, in the hope that if the other person had similar tastes they might just like the idea of the rest of their book enough to give it a go. They then set off again to find another match. This created a busy hive of activity of passionate discussions about books. Perfect!

Here are a couple of students whose recommendations led to the purchase of new books for the library:

Tom is a Year 8 and sold the idea of this book,Wild Pork and Watercress by Barry Crump.

This book contains: Hunting, Adventure, Survival

When I started to read this book so many connections popped up in my mind that related to me as my hobbies and me as a person. I am not the most enthusiastic reader but I knew that once I found that book that satisfied my interests I would want to read in my spare time!
I totally encourage people like me who love spending time in the outdoors and hunting to give a new subject a go and ask Mrs Bamber kindly to buy a new book for the school and you never know, someone else might like it too!

David Riley talked about this book during his presentation at the end of 2020. For more details look here. I read this book too, it has been one of my favourites so far this year. Adapted to film by Taika Waititi as Hunt for the Wilderpeople. Ricky has been in the welfare system for as long as he can remember, but feels like he has finally found family when he arrives at his Aunty Bella’s door, even if his Uncle Hec is less than welcoming.

“The main thing about Uncle Hec and Aunty Bella, though, was that they liked each other. They were friends, better than any other old people I’d ever known before. It was worth putting up with a lot of other grown-up stuff for that. What kept me from running away from there when things got bad was the way Uncle Hec never cared about about my Maori skin…..It was a long time before I gave up expecting him to say something about my Maoriness in an argument, because people like him always do, but he never did.”

Borrow this book now! Suitable for year 6+.

Eleanor recommended Keeper of the Lost Cities by Shannon Messenger. She will add a review here soon! Her three words were: Fantasy, Friendship, Elves. Suitable for Year 4+

Here’s Hugo. He asked me if we had any books about building treehouses. Andy Griffiths Treehouse series had generated an interest, and we found there was nothing in the library about actual treehouses! So we found him this book which is full of cool images and ideas.

Here are a few of the new books I talked about with different age groups to get them started:

Beware the Claw by Todd Doodler

Hilarious graphic novel about a group of doggy friends who get hit by a stray alien aircraft. They are given superpowers, such as slobbering your enemy into submission, or the dog with wheels for back legs is given jets instead! They destroy the town in their exuberance but have the chance to redeem themselves when the evil pussycats invade. Year 2+.

My three words Funny, Dogs, Action.

Nico Bravo and the Hound of Hades by Mike Cavallaro

This has 17 reserves already from students age 7+. The first in the series, Nico Bravo works in his uncle’s shop selling supplies to Gods, Monsters, Unicorns and other other worldly customers. The universe works in this way just fine, keeping trouble away from Planet Earth, until one earnest young adventurer thinks her mission is to kill the Hound of Hades. Anyone who knows their Greek mythology knows that Cerberus has a role in keeping the inhabitants of the underworld exactly where they need to be, so Nico and his brave mates descend to the depths to try to prevent catastrophe. Will they be in time? Read and find out. Year 5+

My three words – Quests, Adventure, Mythology

The Night Bus Hero by Onjali Q. Raúf

This is the same author as The boy at the back of the class, a book where kindness to a new refugee sparks a man hunt by his classmates for his lost parents. This book is quite different. Narrator Hector is an unlikeable bully, egged on by his bullying mates to pick out anyone who looks vulnerable and make their life a misery. He picks on the wrong person when Thomas, a homeless man’s entire life crashes into the bottom of the lake in his shopping trolley. A spate of strange thefts from famous landmarks throughout the city and a case of mistaken identity leads to an outpouring of prejudice against the homeless. This is where Hector can turn his life around – it was he that made the mistake of identifying Thomas as the culprit and only he can find out the truth before it is too late. He might just need some help though – who is left that does not despise him for his bullying antics? Year 5+

My three words – Bullying, Mystery, London

The Graveyard riddle by Lisa Thompson

This follows on from the popular Goldfish Boy. Matthew’s friend Melody walks her dog every day in the old cemetery, and on taking a different turn uncovers an abandoned house, that appears to have somebody living in it! Bravely she returns to the house and befriends a boy who claims to be a spy, under cover while he watches a local criminal. He gives her riddles to help him on his mission, and when she finally confides in Matthew, he and new (annoying) friend Jake don’t believe Melody and their friendship becomes very strained. What will convince them to believe her, and what happens when they turn the tables and the spied upon become the spies? Year 4+

My three words: Mystery, Spies, Friendship

The Secret Starling by Judith Eagle

Clara lives with her mean uncle who doesn’t even let her go to school. Her own parents are a mystery and she can not understand why her uncle would have taken her in. When her uncle disappears, leaving her in this big old house and a handful of cash, she makes the best of things and continues to live there alone. Things look up when Peter arrives, only to take a turn when they find out that the house is to be sold! Where will she go? Perhaps finding out the truth about her parents may unlock her future. Year 4+

My three words: Mystery, Adventure, Secrets

After the war by Tom Palmer

Fantastic historical fiction based on the true story of Holocaust survivors finding peace and safety in the beautiful Lake District in the north west of England. There are flashbacks telling their individual harrowing stories to make this gritty while also celebrating the kindness of the locals and tenacity to uncover surviving relatives. Great for Year 6+.

My three words: Survival, War, Friendship

Catch me if I fall by Barry Jonsberg

Intriguing story set in a future Sydney affected by climate change. There are severe restrictions on food production, families can only have one child and crime is high, creating unprecedented social divide. Ashleigh and Aiden are twins and are fiercely protective of one another. They are the rich kids, living in a beautiful, modern, air-conditioned home, their family own 3 self-driven cars, everything at home is controlled by the touch of a button. When Aiden suffers a head injury on a school trip, Ashleigh notices changes in him, and starts to doubt his intentions to protect her at all costs. Unfortunately her power-career driven mother does little to relieve her doubt and the family tension spirals. Year 7+

My three words – Future, Mystery, Siblings

All of these books can be borrowed or reserved now, just click on the library catalogue to find your copy!

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Fast talking PI Poet has a wonderful new book – Mophead Tu

Last year, Selina Tusitala Marsh’s first book Mophead won the New Zealand Children’s Book Award. She was appointed as New Zealand’s Poet Laureate for 2017-2019, however she had already been the official Commonwealth Poet in 2016, for which she was asked to perform for the Queen and other Commonwealth leaders at Westminster Abbey. That is what this new book is about.

She was told that the title of her poem was to be Unity and there were some rules to go with it too:

Our shared colonial histories put a controversial spin on my acceptance of this commission. I’d been approached in November by the Head of the Commonwealth Education Foundation about writing and performing a poem for Her Majesty on behalf of 53 nations for Commonwealth Observance Day. It had a few parameters around it: it had to be less than three minutes long (fine); it had to address the theme of unity; it had to be appeal to over a thousand school children, royalty, dignitaries, heads of state and the common assembly (difficult but do-able); it had to represent all 53 nations of the Commonwealth (in less than three minutes?); and it was not allowed to be political (oookaaay). Challenging but not impossible.”

To be restrained by the rules of this public speaking opportunity meant her creativity was also restrained and it took her a long time to know where to start. The simplest of ideas got her started and the result can be seen here, a fairly poor quality recording of a fantastic performance!

The poem can also be heard here.This is a wonderful book about the writing process and the conflicting thoughts that went into this special task.

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Tūhono – Seatoun students publish their poetry!

Wellington City Libraries have published a beautiful collection of poetry by young people and three of our students submitted a piece of work – Zoey, Millie (now at WEGC) and Claudia. The theme for the collection is Tūhono – Connections and children were asked to write about what that word meant to them.

“The range of poems in this publication reflect the different ways in which that word – connection- resonated with young people during this turbulent time” write the editors. “For some, connection means a link with the physical world and the people, animals or objects that populate it. Others wanted to explore their feelings of being disconnected from the world during long periods of isolation.”

Read the girls’ poems and then read them again. What did the word connection mean to them in 2020? Poems published with permission from Wellington City Libraries and the girls.

Zoey’s poem
Millie’s poem
Claudia’s poem

Thanks to Wellington City Libraries we have our own copy of Tūhono for you to come in and browse, but this can also be borrowed from any of our local libraries and also as an Ebook on Libby. You can find it in the WCL library catalogue here:

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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 spot 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

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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,

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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?

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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.

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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.


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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.

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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

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