Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Blogs and Readers - Made Very Simple

How do I keep up with dozens and dozens of blogs? I use Google Reader and you can too. This link is to Google Reader for your Prairie Google Apps account (http://www.google.com/reader/view/?hl=en&source=mmm-en.) Here is a quick video about using Google Reader to subscribe to blogs. Notice you can also use your Google email to receive notices of new blog posts.

If you have any questions please feel free to email me - erncox@prairiepride.org

Monday, May 30, 2011

Fowl Play

Doreen Cronin's newest book is being praised for its deadpan humor. This type of humor has a long tradition in mystery detective stories. The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines deadpan as "showing no feeling or emotion — used to describe humor that is done or said in a serious way". 

One of the first examples that came to my mind was from Ace Lacewing, Bug Detective written and illustrated by David Biedrzycki. If you haven't seen this book check it out or use your local libraries' TumbleBooks account to view the animated version. Here is a great example of Ace's deadpan humor. Ace has received a phone call:
"It was Mayor Buzzbee. Behind him it sounded like a beehive of activity. Actually, it was a beehive."
These lines are deadpan because Ace is completely serious when he says them (listening to the TumbleBooks version really helps to hear what deadpan humor sounds like). Ace Lacewing also has a bunch of wordplay - if you like that sort of thing.

Written by Doreen Cronin
Illustrated by Kevin Cornell

Published by HarperCollins (2011)

Funny! Hilarious! A real knee-slapper! This is how I would describe Cronin's new chapter book. She is a favorite author of mine with such classics as Diary of a Worm and Diary of a Fly illustrated by Harry Bliss.

Jonathan Joseph (J.J. for short) Tulley is a retired search-and-rescue dog. One of his many naps is interrupted by an irritated mother hen named Moosh. She has a big problem and wants J.J. to help her solve it. When they agree on the terms of his employment J.J. observes, with a deadpan tone, "I thought she smiled, but it's tough to tell with a beak".

What is the mystery ? Can you see the problem in these pages?

If this style of humor makes you laugh out loud The Trouble with Chickens is perfect for you. This is the first book in the J.J. Tully Mystery series.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Mystery Picture Sunday

Every Sunday I will post a Mystery Picture. Below is the first installment.
This is not my car but I wish it could be. Do you know what type of car is pictured?
Not enough mystery for you? Where was this picture taken (hint - it is somewhere in Eastern Iowa).

From Mystery Pics

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Kiki Magazine

Looking for a great magazine to take to the pool this summer?  For those creative and fashionable readers let me recommend Kiki Magazine.

You can read sample articles, play games, and look at their book recommendations.

This magazine will be included in the Prairie Creek Library collection next school year.
Do you have other magazines to recommend to readers?  Please leave ideas in the comments. Students - just use your first name. 

Friday, May 27, 2011

Toys in the Basement

Written and illustrated by
Stephane Blanquet

Published by Fantagraphics (2010)

Where do all of the damaged and forgotten toys go to when children are finished playing with them? In this graphic novel by the French author and illustrator Stephane Blanquet we join two kids on an adventure to the land of lost toys. While attending a costume party a boy (unhappily wearing a pink bunny costume) and girl are sent to bring refreshments from the basement. Several toys are lingering downstairs and mistake the kids for discarded toys too. A torn bear, a robot with a missing arm and several other battered toys invite the boy and girl to come to a secret hiding place. After a long journey through a dark tunnel they emerge into a vast room full of unwanted and menacing toys (look at the cover to see the frightening appearances of these old dolls and action figures). These toys are not happy with the children who previously owned them! One of the girl's old toys appears, having recognized her voice, and reveals that the visitors are actually human. Will the kids escape?

This graphic novel import from Europe is a unique reading and viewing experience. I wonder what American artist is most similar to Blanquet's style? How would you describe the illustrations?  Would you be interested in this graphic novel if it were in the Creek library? Do you have a favorite graphic novel?  Please share titles and artists as comments.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Summer of Changes

by Audrey Couloumbis
Illustrated by Julia Denos
Random House Books for Young Readers
Publication date - May 2011

What do you think of when someone says "summer vacation"? For ten-year-old Lexie it has always meant a trip to her family's beach house. This year the vacation will be very different since her parents' divorce. Lexie hopes that a week alone with her father will give them time to catch up. This plan is quickly altered when her dad's new girlfriend Vicky (and her two sons!) arrive at the house. Lexie must give up her room for the boys, sit next to Harris (3 years old) at dinner (he has disgusting grubby hands and constantly makes motor noises), and try not to do anything silly in front of 14 year old Ben. Everything feels weird for Lexie. She doesn't know all of the right things to say and do with Vicky and her sons. Her feelings are all mixed up.

Lexie is surprised to learn that the boys can't swim and that they have never explored a beach. On their first beach walk Lexie and Ben discover a sand shark stranded in a tidal pool. They work together for the rest of the day to rescue the fish. I think this scene is one of the most important because Ben and Lexie begin to learn more about one another through their shared effort to save the shark. There is still one more BIG SURPRISE for Lexie to discover in this new story by Newbery Honor winning author Audrey Couloumbis.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Summer Reading

A brief introduction: My name is Mr. Cox and I will be joining the staff of Prairie Creek Intermediate School as the Media Specialist and Learning Strategist.  I graduated from the University of Iowa School of Library and Information Science and earned my teaching certificate from the University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill.  My teaching experiences have been in a K-8 school in Raleigh, North Carolina and at Mark Twain Elementary School in Iowa City, IA.

Summer vacation is nearly here and that means more time for reading. I have a stack of books to read this summer and look forward to sharing news about them. My plan is to visit the public libraries in our attendance area this summer to take part in summer reading activities and meet Prairie students (more scheduling details to follow).This blog will be a way we can stay in touch to share news about great books and ideas.

Please leave comments on posts that are interesting to you.
Email me with questions, ideas, or to introduce yourself: erncox@prairiepride.org.