Monday, December 19, 2011

Prairie Creek Tech Crew

THANK YOU to the 93 students who applied to become members of the Prairie Creek Tech Crew.  Mrs. Musselman and I will be reviewing the applications and will contact our first crew members soon.  The crew will begin work after winter break.  Stay tuned!

Friday, December 9, 2011

You Should Totally Read This Book

Have you seen the new display of book recommendations from our 6th grade library volunteers?

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

November books from Scholastic

If you are browsing through this month's Arrow catalog be sure to take a look at the books mentioned in this video.  Have you read any of the books mentioned in this video?  Please add a comment and tell us about it.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

November is National Novel Writing Month

If you are feeling adventurous take a look at the National Novel Writing Month Young Writers Program.  I'll be working on the adult challenge - a 50,000 word novel by the end of November!  Here is how the program works for all you young writers out there.  Let me know if you decide to give it a try.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011


In the future I'll write up a proper review about this book.  For tonight here is a book trailer for Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

The Commute

I imagine most Creek students will enjoy having no school on Monday.  All of the teachers will still be going to school for an entire day of professional learning.  I actually can't wait to get in the car tomorrow!  My commute to Prairie can take 25-30 minutes each way.  This hour of driving has become something I look forward to thanks to audio books.

Last week I finished listening to Theodore Boone: Kid Lawyer by John Grisham. I plan to read book 2 The Abduction this week and will write up a response to both books soon.  In the meantime here is a fun commercial for the series:   

Cued up for this week of driving is Fever Crumb by Phillip Reeves.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Good Mail Day

Look what I found in the mailbox today. Wonder if any Creek students would be interested in reading it? Let me know.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Amulet Video

The graphic novel section of the Creek library will be growing this year. Coming to our shelves soon will be the Amulet series. This book trailer is for The Stonekeeper (Book 1). You will also see a tour of the studios where series author Kazu Kibuishi does his creative work.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Hitting the Books

I've been busy taking two classes this summer but they are nearly complete. Now I can begin to turn my attention to this pile of new books from the Iowa City Public Library.

Do you have a pile of reading at your place?  Share pictures....

In addition to getting back to more reading I will be posting here more frequently.

A few posts back I wrote about using Edmodo for summer reading discussion. 

I posted a question today about your suggestions for magazines to include in the Prairie Creek Library.

It is very simple.
1.) Go to

2.) Create a student account using this group code for the Creek Summer Reading Club - ardukm.
You pick a username and password. If you choose to include your Creek email you can receive notifications when club members post new comments or topics.

3.) Then we get started!  You can post information about books,magazines, comics, or anything else you are reading or plan to read. Others can join in. This should be a fun space to share ideas.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Play Ball

Written by Ann Burg
Published by Scholastic 

This is one of our Iowa Teen Award nominees for next school year.  Ann Burg tells the story of Matt in verse form. From playing baseball to telling the troubled story of Matt's home country these short passages pack a big punch.

Matt wasn't born in the United States and the how and why of him coming here is complicated. All The Broken Pieces is an incredible example of historical fiction. This trailer for a documentary about the events that led to the relocation of many kids  like Matt to American gives you some of the details.

We have lots to talk about with this 2011-2012 ITA nominee.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Mystery Artist & Free Book

This week's photograph is from a recent trip I took to the Art Institute of Chicago.

The first Creek student comment that correctly identifies the artist of this work will win a copy of Elise Broach's Masterpiece - a 2011-2012 ICCA Nominee.

From Mystery Pics

I am planning to stop by the Ely Public Library tomorrow morning at 10 a.m. to meet students and view part of Gnomeo & Juliet.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Creek Summer Reading Club

Why wait until next school year to begin talking about great books with other Creek students and teachers? We can use Edmodo to meet virtually.  Edmodo is a social networking tool made especially for schools.  Here is the plan.

It is very simple.
1.) Go to

2.) Create a student account using this group code for the Creek Summer Reading Club - ardukm.
You pick a username and password. If you choose to include your Creek email you can receive notifications when club members post new comments or topics.

edmodosignup.png  on Aviaryedmodosignup.png on Aviary.

3.) Then we get started!  You can post information about books you are reading or plan to read. Others can join in. This should be a fun space to share ideas.

I've already posted a question to the club.

Any problems, please email me

Laughing and Scared

Published by Starscape Books (2011)
If you are tired of all the vampire books and related movies (you know the ones I mean) this book will give you some comic relief. Lubar is great at making fun of popular topics (like those vampire books). Enjoy the laughs when you can because all it takes is one turn of the page to be scared. I like this collection of short stories because you are laughing one minute and turning on more lights the next. Many of the stories will give you the creeps because Lubar writes about everyday events that turn out badly - very badly - for the characters. 

Have you ever crushed a spider with your shoe, passed cooties on the playground, wear your ear buds too much, or kicked over an anthill?  I encourage you to stop - right now! Curious?  Plan to read the latest in the Weenies books from David Lubar.  

What? Some of you don't know about these hilarious and scary reads? I know a bunch of you are fans of the Scary Stories books Alvin Schwartz.  This is the next series for you!

Monday, June 6, 2011

Make Your Vote Count!

A few days ago I posted about the results of the  International Reading Association's Children's Choice list.

Now it is your turn to vote for the top summer reading choice. What book should everyone read this summer?  Make your vote count!

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Mystery Pic - June 5

A few posts back I mentioned a book entitled Toys in the Basement. The basement in this week's Mystery Pic contains a few toys (thankfully none of them are alive) but mainly it houses many, many books. Where is this basement?

From Mystery Pics

Friday, June 3, 2011

The Next Great Book or Rick Riordan Takes Over the World

Where do you go to find new books to read? Here are a few places I recommend you visit this summer.

Fifth Grade to Sixth Grade Book of the Year
Dork Diaries: Tales from a Not-so-fabulous Life written and illustrated by Rachel Renee Russell 

International Reading Association
Children's Choice Reading List

A few of my favorite books picked by 5th and 6th graders in 2011:

The Sons of Liberty by Alexander and Joseph Lagos. Illustrated by Steve Walker and Oren Kramek.

The popularity papers : research for the social improvement and general betterment of Lydia Goldblatt & Julie Graham-Chang by Amy Ignatow


The Dreamer by Pam Munoz Ryan. Illustrated by Peter Sis

31 Ways to Change the World : We Are What We Do ideas contributed by 4386 children.

I like to keep up with the bestsellers too. I usually watch The New York Times

One guy has almost taken over the top of the charts. Follow this link and you will see another author listed earlier in this post who is doing very well too.

The New York Times  - June 5th

I also like to see what is selling well in independent bookstores. Apparently a certain gentleman is doing well in the independent bookstores too?  I guess I need to read the #1 book. Have you?

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Mixed Up Robots

One of my favorite books from when I was young is "Norby The Mixed Up Robot" by Janet and Isaac Asimov. This was the first book in a series by the Asimov's about a robot named Norby and his adventures around the galaxy with space cadet Jeff Wells. Norby has been hired to train Jeff to pass his space cadet examines.  It was one of the first science fiction books I ever read and I was hooked right away.  The Asimov's include great descriptions of the robots, futuristic cities, and exciting adventures. Isaac Asimov was someone I read all the way through high school. He has written very sophisticated novels about the way artificial intelligence works in robots, including the book "I, Robot" which was recently made into a movie starring Will Smith. Here is Dr. Asimov describing the three laws of robotics.

I just discovered that a new paperback edition of "Norby The Mixed Up Robot" has been released. I think I might need to add it to my home collection. Should I buy one for the Prairie Creek Library too?

Which cover do you like best?

 If you want to look into the genre of science fiction and need a good starting point consider the Norby series:
* Norby, the Mixed-Up Robot (1983)
* Norby's Other Secret (1984)
* Norby and the Lost Princess (1985)
* Norby and the Invaders (1985)
* Norby and the Queen's Necklace (1986)
* Norby Finds a Villain (1987)
* Norby Down to Earth (1988)
* Norby and Yobo's Great Adventure (1989)
* Norby and the Oldest Dragon (1990)
* Norby and the Court Jester (1991)

Much more SciFi news coming this summer!

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 ( 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 -

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: