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Acorn Newspaper PictureNewbury Park author encourages students to explore
By Stephanie Bertholdo -

Local author David R. Smith has created a bold new world in “The Dark Eagles: First Flight,” the first in a series of books that he hopes will inspire kids to replace video games with real-life adventures of their own. Smith is visiting Conejo Valley middle schools this week to share the value of exploration, imagination, creativity and the freedom derived from adventure.

On Monday, Smith told students at Lindero Canyon Middle School in Agoura Hills about the adventures he’d had as a child and the active, imaginative life he forged with his wife and three sons. He toured several middle schools in the Conejo Valley this week and will be in Thousand Oaks at Redwood Middle School today and at Los Cerritos Middle School tomorrow. Having grown up in the Wasatch Mountains near Park City, Utah, Smith, 43, told students about the freedom he felt riding his horse, stargazing and making movies with a used movie camera that he bought at a pawn shop.

In a subsequent interview, Smith said that when he was 12 he read the book “The Ash Staff” by Paul R. Fisher. “My friend and I loved that story,” he said. The fantasy tale inspired Smith and his pal to venture into the mountains on horseback with homemade swords in hand to fight imaginary goblins and real-life red ants, and generally just enjoy a day of fun rooted in imagination. “For us it had been a grand adventure,” he said.

Smith told the students at Lindero Canyon, “There are so many amazing, exciting things you can do.” When asked to share an imaginary world of their own creation, students talked about characters with magical powers, elves, superheroes and horses that ate cotton candy. Smith then shared some of the secrets from his book. The world that Smith’s characters inhabit is a planet called “Fundautum” that is similar to Earth but with slight differences. The fictional planet is smaller, has two moons, less gravity, a shorter calendar year (292 days) and a smaller population.