Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Amazing Cows

Sandra Boynton
never runs out of silliness.
This particular book parses cowmedy into many forms.
The jokes that run through it about on the order of
my pun above, but the true humor lies in Boynton's 
unmatchable animals and whimsy.
But my boy likes the puns and the word play, and
the sheer absurdity of the stories, songs, and jokes.
Particularly the cow comic book which riffs on the
Superman tropes inimitably (in its imitation). 
What my boy remembers from the book:
Amazing Cows
Red Rover, Red Rover, let which cow named Tino come over? 
There were 80 cows named Tino. 
“Moo revoir.” 
“Bob, Bob, black sheep, have you any wool? ... little kid who lives dow th-MOOOOOOOOOO!” 
“Cock-a-doodle won’t do.” 
Counselor Phil was teaching his campers to be a cow until he said “Quackity-quack” 
“Johan Sebastian BOCKBOCKBOCK” 

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Frog Trouble

In honor of Spring, I bring you a stampede of frogs.

Frog Trouble and Eleven Other Pretty Serious Songs
For ages one to older than dirt
Songs and Illustrations by Sandra Boynton
Recording Artists include"
Alison Krause “End of a Summer Storm”
Dwight Yoakum “I’ve Got a Dog” 
Fountains of Wayne "Trucks"
Ben Folds "Broken Piano"
Other cool songs:
Alligator Stroll
Heartache Song
The hardcover book includes words and music for the songs, bios of the musicians, instructions for a paper frog puppet, and a cd with all twelve songs.
My boy's notes:
In the song, “I’ve Got a Dog”, It’s as if Dwight Yoakum was singing, “I’ve got a dawg.” The song “Trucks” started in the key of D, went down to C, went up to D-flat, and went back to D. There was a song that talked about when pigs really fly! What does deepest blue mean?

Friday, May 16, 2014

Education Friday - "How Comics and Graphic Novels Can Help Your Kids Love to Read!"

Raising a Reader is a comic book subtitled
with the title above. For a real mouthful,
try saying the name of the publisher
(Comic Book Legal Defense Fund)
ten times fast, or just go to the link
and read the short pamphlet (published/
formatted as a comic book).
The comic suggests several reasons why
graphic novels help reading 

  • Short Bursts of Text
  • Fun Fonts
  • Text Paired with Images
All of the above are elements that 
often help readers with autism.
Raising a Reader also discusses ways
graphic novels can be used for book clubs, 
to meet common core standards, and
to improve a variety of skills, such as

  • Memory
  • Sequencing
  • Language
  • Critical Thinking
If you're interested in this topic, you can click 
Raising a Reader to read more. CBLDF also
offers monthly columns on graphic novels in
education with teaching and discussion suggestions
and correlations to the common core.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Literate Comics - Comic Literacy

Friday I'll run a piece on why and how kids should read 
comics, but for today I'll assume you agree, kids can
learn reading from comics.
But what comics or graphic novels 
(an increasingly elastic term) - 
will intrigue and please your kid?
As always, I don't know, but I'm willing
to make some suggestions.
"Monster on the Hill" takes the outsider who 
wants to conform tale into an odd English
landscape where villagers pride themselves
on their resident monster. Except in the small
town of Stoker-on-Avon where the monster 
that lives on the hill just isn't scary. 
Publisher Top Shelf also offers "Johnny Boo,"
a very simple comic where
the title character's bouncy adventures remind
me a bit of Mo Willems' Elephant and Piggie 
stories (the level and humor are similar),
and might appeal to those readers.
And for fans of the silly and absurd,
"Pirate Penguin vs. Ninja Chicken" - I hope
the title says it all because I can't describe
it more clearly except to mention they're
If you're looking for mainstream comics,
try DC's "Teen Titans Go"  
(now on Cartoon Network)
or "Guardians of the Galaxy" from Marvel
-specifically the character Rocket Raccoon.
Both of these, as you might expect, contain
fairly frequent fight scenes, the latter with
space age weaponry.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Comic Books and Graphic Novels

I have mixed feelings about this popular comic*
These days the distinction between comic books 
and graphic novels seems to be more about format
and frequency than content.
Comic books also may contain more than one story,
especially if the comic is humorous or aimed at 
younger readers - think Archie or Richie Rich.
You can still get Archie comics. 
Of course, if you have a computer with internet, or
can get to a comic book store, you can still get
almost anything. Which leads to the question,
what should you get?
As with any reading matter, try to follow
your child's interest.
Star Wars, Star Trek, Dr. Who, Fraggle Rock,
Muppet Show, The Simpsons, all have or have
had comic books devoted to them. And the 
variations on Disney are out there too, though
aside from Scrooge McDuck the Disney license
usually goes to books that fall on the picture
book rather than the comic book side. And many
popular children's books are available in graphic
novel form, including The Boxcar Children and
the Redwall books.
Next week I'll talk about some less familiar titles
that may interest your kids.
*Archie comics are fun, but their social and gender
stereotypes offer a poor blueprint for social behavior.
If your kid can't sort that out, you may want to stick
with fantasy comics. And if someone knows a realistic
comic that offers better social models, please comment
or email me!