Saturday, 23 September 2017

Are You A City Slicker?

I am...

But mostly in the literal sense that I live in the city. Not a BIG city, yet it's still an urban area. But I'm not a traditional city slicker because unlike many kids that live in the city, I know a lot about agriculture. Obviously—my grandparents are canola farmers! (You already knew that.)

I guess not everyone is as lucky as me to have farmers in the family.

Yesterday, more than 300 Grade 4-6 city slickers spent the day at the Multicultural Heritage Centre in Stony Plain to learn about the importance of agriculture. Commodity groups, such as the Alberta Canola Producers Commission, from across the province told their stories—and Dawn Ius, the author of the Superman Duffy books, was there to share the newest (and last) graphic novel in the series, "O." That's the one about Canadian inventions, including canola (which celebrates its 50th birthday this year!)

It sounds like a fun event, but I wasn't sure why kids would have to go to something like this to learn about agriculture—doesn't everyone know that milk comes from cows? Not quite, my grandma says. (Which is why the book I Approve was written—we can't make any assumptions about what the public knows and believes.)

Okay, so it's clearly important to talk about where our food comes from. But there are some other great reasons for events such as City Slickers. Like, the simple fact that people are interested. If you've never watched harvesting in the fall, it's pretty amazing. At City Slickers this year, kids got to see live, fuzzy chicks. They rolled canola seeds to make oil. They heard the story of the first canola farmer. That's some seriously INTERESTING stuff, don't you think?

Agriculture education also puts a face on the people behind food production—the farmers who till the land, the producers who milk the cows and feed the pigs, the mechanics who keep the equipment running, and so on and so on. Did you know that there are more than 100 jobs in the agriculture field? You can learn about a bunch of them in the Superman Duffy graphic novel, It Takes A Village.

Actually, if you didn't get a chance to go to City Slickers, but you ARE a city slicker, I'd recommend reading all 16 of the Superman Duffy series—you won't believe what you can learn! (And they're free for Alberta elementary school classrooms...)

Gotta jet! I'm preparing some very special October posts in celebration of my favourite holiday, HALLOWEEN. The first one goes live next Friday. It's going to be spooktacular....mwha ha ha...

~ Chase Superman Duffy

Friday, 15 September 2017

Back To School Goals - The 2017 Edition

If you've followed my blog for a few years (and thanks to those of you who have!), you may have been wondering why it's taken me so long to write up my 2017 Back To School Goals—that's when I talk about all the ways I'm going to make this school year even better than the last. 

Usually, that happens over the summer, when I'm starting to get excited about meeting new teachers or friends, or when Mom takes us shopping for pens, pencils, and cool notebooks. (I have Superman on the front of mine this year—I know, shocking, right?) 

Anyway, I held off making my list this year because I wanted to settle into the new schedule. Get to know my teachers and fellow students, see what I might be up against, what challenges and opportunities I came across. 

A few of my goals are the same—like increasing my math mark. I'm not failing, but it definitely isn't my favourite or easiest subject. So watch for some fun math puzzlers on the blog soon. Maybe we can learn together?

And of course, I vow to read more. I nailed my summer reading challenge (finally!) coming in at a whopping twelve books. I read almost half of them in the last two weeks before school started, though. Talk about cramming it in.  

Last year, I decided to learn French, and not just because some of the Superman Duffy graphic novels were translated into French, either. (P.S. Have you read them? Did you know that if you're in Alberta, your teacher can order them for the school library?) I'm not fluent in the language yet, but I did manage to read the seven books that were translated!

Obviously track and field is important to me, and I practiced my running all summer at my grandparents's canola farm. I'm sure my coach will see an improvement in my sprinting times. This year, I'm going to focus a bit more on distance running, to work on my endurance. 

So, what does that leave? Yup, you guessed it. Writing. I barely wrote anything last year, and I didn't even draft a short story during the break. <Gulp.> I'm going to do NaNoWriMo again this November (that's where you write a book—or in my case, a long short story—in 30 days) but I'm really going to set myself up for success, because over the next couple of weeks, I'm plan to plot my story and sketch out my characters. To make myself accountable, I'm going to talk about my story, and maybe share some of my writing, on the blog. This blog. What do you think? 

Okay, I've talked a lot about my school goals—what are yours? Are there any we could do together? Like share writing, or review books, or test each other in math? Let's brainstorm!

Gotta jet—it's almost time for me to leave for school. Happy Friday, and have a great, and productive, weekend!

~ Chase Superman Duffy

Friday, 8 September 2017

Tackling The Dreaded Assignment

We got the dreaded assignment yesterday.

You know the one I'm talking about. The "What I Did This Summer" essay. Even when my summer is jam packed with fun stuff, I still have a hard time writing it all down—like I'm going to forget something, or that maybe, I think my summer won't measure up to what some of my friends did. My friend Lightning, for example, went to Mexico with his grandparents. 

It's tough not to try and compare adventures.

But this morning at breakfast, my mom started reminding me of some of the fun things we did as a family over the break—like the July 1 fireworks celebrating Canada's 150th birthday, a weekend at the Calgary Stampede, a stroll through Edmonton's festivals (I even went to a Fringe play), and hanging out at my grandparents' farm. We watched the solar eclipse as a family (through special goggles, obviously)—hasn't the moon been amazing the past few days?

And I ran. Not as much as usual because of the smoky air and the intense heat. But I'm feeling ready for track. Plus, I got through my five book reading goal, and even surpassed it. I read EIGHT books this year. I could totally write about those. 

Huh, come to think of it, I'm kind of writing my essay right now. WAIT A MINUTE! I have an idea I'm going to pitch to my teacher. Instead of a class set of essays, what if we each wrote a blog post about what we did over the summer, and we set up a class blog? We could all read each other's posts, make comments, put up pictures...

Ha! Suddenly this "dreaded" assignment isn't feeling so dreaded at all! Gotta jet!

See you next week!

~ Chase Superman Duffy

Saturday, 5 August 2017

National Book Day: A One-Day Readathon

I love how National Book Day (August 9) is smack dab in the middle of summer. It's like a gut-punch reminder that I should be reading. In just a few weeks, I'll be heading back to school—and I'm nowhere near my goal of reading 10 books before the end of August.

That's about to change.

Two years ago, I uncovered some research that says "Reading All Day" is good for you. I'm taking that research to heart next week and blocking off ALL DAY on August 9th to celebrate National Book Day with a full eight hours (at least) of reading.

What will I be reading? I'm so glad you asked!

I sifted through several lists of new books, and the one that keeps coming up is Isle of the Lost by Melissa de la Cruz. It's actually been a New York Times bestseller for several weeks—not that I judge a book by that, at all. I also don't judge a book by its cover...but you have to admit, this one is pretty sweet.

The story, from what I've read about it, is about four unlikely friends who come together to find Maleficent's dragon eye (so it's obviously an adventure), but the cool thing is that friends are all villains from various Disney stories...and my sister and I are fans of the Descendants T.V. show, so this should be right up my alley.

Anyway, I'm off to the bookstore to grab a copy. What will you be reading on National Book Day?

Gotta jet! Have a great weekend.

~ Chase Superman Duffy

Friday, 28 July 2017

Frankenstein Day Is Coming Soon!

Okay, not SOON. Its' actually not until August 30, in celebration of Mary Shelly's birthday. (She's the author of the original Frankenstein book.)

BUT, I just found out that the illustrator of the Superman Duffy graphic novels, James Grasdal, is working on a FRANKENSTEIN BOOK! Sure, it's for little kids, but on Wednesday he showed me the drawings, and when it gets published it is SO going into my Frankenstein collection. 

You guys know that monsters are my favourite—I love them all, especially zombies. So, I've decided that the rest of the books for my summer reading challenge are going to be FRANKENSTEIN inspired. That way, when it's REALLY Frankenstein Day, I'll be prepared. 

I might toss in a couple of Frankenstein movies, too. If I make a big batch of popcorn, Grandma will watch them with me (she loves monster flicks!) And I'm going to dig out my comics too. Last year I re-read the original (it's so great!), so this year I'm going to tackle a couple of the adaptations. Do you have a favourite? 

And on a completely different (scary!) note, do you realize that the summer is HALF OVER?! I've only scratched the surface on my summer bucket list. What have you been up to?

Gotta jet. I'm heading to K-Days tomorrow and I need plenty of rest. Maybe I'll see you there? Have a safe weekend!

— Chase Superman Duffy

Friday, 21 July 2017

Looking Back

I was going through some of my old blog posts this week, remembering what I was doing last summer—and it's kind of surreal to think about where the time has gone. Last July, I was counting down the days until the Summer Olympics and playing Pokemon Go with my sister. (I haven't played that game in forever!)

This year I'm reminiscing about the 16 graphic novels that were written about me. If you're new to the blog or the series, you probably don't remember Fields of Home, the first book, where *I* go back in time to meet the first Canadian canola farmer, Mr. Slovonuk. He brought a handful of seeds over from Poland, planted the first crop and well...the rest is history. The adventures continued from there.

The new book, "O" celebrates 50 years of the canola industry, but unlike the Superman Duffy series, the crop will continue to grow and thrive and expand, and the books...well, they've come to an end. (Hey, we had a great run!)

Yes, I'm a little sad that *I* won't be going through any more adventures at the hands of the author and illustrator—no more tunnelling through damp soil, or running from dinosaurs, or defeating mosquitoes of unusual size—but I guess that just means I'll have to write my own adventures.

Starting this summer!

I've been pretty laid back this past month, but as of tomorrow, I am going to start doing some of the things I wrote on my summer bucket list. Like going to the local museum, or trying out a new sport—maybe kayaking! <grin>

What are YOU doing for the rest of your summer? Can you believe our break is already half over?

Gotta jet!

~ Chase Superman Duffy

Friday, 7 July 2017

The Official Launch of “O”

It’s here. FINALLY! The official release of the 16th—and final <sniff>—Superman Duffy graphic novel, “O.”

I know, I’ve been talking about this book for what probably seems like FOREVER. 

But this one is special. Not just because it’s the last one, or that it brings back many characters from the previous 15 books. “O” is a celebration.

Of Canada’s 150th birthday. Of the Canadian canola industry’s 50th anniversary. Of the Canadian inventors and inventions that have made the world a better place. Of 16 amazing books written by Alberta author Dawn Ius, illustrated by Alberta cartoonist James Grasdal, and published (with support from the Alberta Crop Industry Development Fund) by the Alberta Canola Producers Commission.

What. A. Project. <sigh>

So, where can you get this masterpiece of celebration? Well, if you’re going to the Calgary Stampede over the next 10 days, stop by the Alberta Canola Producers Commission booth where they’ll be handing out hot-off-the-press copies. (Seriously!)

Not planning to attend the Calgary Stampede? Contact the Alberta Canola Producers Commission via phone at 780-454-0844 to learn how to order your school or library copy—it’s free for Alberta teachers! (Plus, you can stock up on other great education resources.)

I hope you had a great Canada Day. I’ve gotta jet—we’re packing up for a weekend of rides, rodeo, and…food? (I couldn’t think of another “r” word!) Maybe I’ll see you at the Calgary Stampede? Yeehaw!

~ Chase Superman Duffy