James Russell’s children’s books and junior novels have been known to get even the most reluctant young readers hooked. He aims to write real page turners, where “kids plead with their parents to keep the light on.” Russell’s Dragon Brothers Books will be featured at Page & Blackmore Readers and Writers on Saturday, October 20, as part of the Nelson Arts Festival. This is one of two child-friendly events in this year’s Readers and Writers programme and will particularly appeal to children aged between 8 and 12. Page & Blackmore Booksellers owner Jo Dippie, who is also passionate about children’s literature, will join him on stage to discuss the whole series, with a particular focus on his recently released junior novel, The Dragon Defenders – Book Three: An Unfamiliar Place.

The three picture books – The Dragon Hunters, The Dragon Tamers and The Dragon Riders – follow the adventures of brothers, Flynn and Paddy, along with their dog Coco as they adventure around a world full of dragons where there are many mysteries to be solved and adventures to be had. New Zealand artist Link Choi’s illustrations accompany Russell’s stories.

Russell started writing the books on the train journey to and from work. Writing and operating Dragon Brothers Books as a business became a full-time occupation when, after 12 years as a journalist, he was retrenched. He self-publishes the books here in New Zealand while leading US children’s book publisher Sourcebooks has published them in several major international markets.

Russell was one of the first children’s book publishers in New Zealand to use augmented reality (AR) in his books and only the third in the world to use it with a novel. After downloading an app on their smartphone or tablet, readers focus on pictures in the books with the app and it unveils a world of digital content, including virtual reality, video and audio. Children can, for example, navigate through a three-dimensional view of the inside of a ship or listen to radio calls.

Russell says the AR adds another layer of depth to the story and has been incredibly successful at drawing reluctant readers through the books.

Reproduced for educational purposes. Source: https://www.stuff.co.nz/nelson-mail/arts-festival/106869302/augmented-reality-brings-childrens-books-to-firebreathing-life.