Pajama Press

Archive for July, 2012

Sylvia Gunnery Goes on Tour

Posted on July 31st, 2012 by pajamapress

On virtual tour, that is.

August 1, 2012 is the American publication date for Emily For Real, and Sylvia is going to spend the month of August talking about it on blogs throughout Canada and the United States.

The celebration kicks off tomorrow at Pajama Press’ own Pajama Party blog with Sylvia’s Top Ten Tips for YA Writers. You can also catch her guest posts, interviews, excerpts and giveaways at the following “locations” throughout the month:


Open Book Toronto
YA Booklover Blog
Pub(lishing) Crawl
Midnight Bloom Reads
Book Labyrinth

Musings of a YA Reader
Books in the Spotlight
The Yakety Yaks

For updates of the appearances as they happen, follow our blog at, or Like us on Facebook.

Congratulations, Sylvia! We can’t wait to see what you have in store!

Plan a Giraffe and Bird Party Part 2: Handprint Loot Bags

Posted on July 30th, 2012 by pajamapress

This summer we’re having a virtual party with our favourite funny friends from Don’t Laugh at Giraffe! We’ve already given you some game ideas; today we’ll be sharing an activity that lets kids get in on the fun of making their own loot bags!



One paper bag per child

Tempera paint—mix it with a little liquid hand soap to make it easier to get out of clothes

Plastic plates or lids to hold the paint

Paper towel and newspapers to help with the mess

Black pencil crayon or marker

Hand print 1

Step 1

Press your hand into the yellow paint.

Hand print2

Step 2

Press your painted hand onto the paper bag.

Wash your hand!

Handprint Giraffe Art

Step 3

Dip your finger in the brown pain and give your giraffe spots.


Step 4

One the paint is dry, add details with a pencil crayon or marker.

You can make a thumbprint bird using the same technique!


Stay tuned for even more fun with Giraffe and Bird!

9-year-old Blogger reviews No Shelter Here

Posted on July 30th, 2012 by pajamapress

Lili, who blogs at Rescue Dogs the Movie, is nine years old—the perfect age to review No Shelter Here!

I just got this FABULOUS book from the library yesterday.

It’s called No Shelter Here. I LOVE IT! It’s very sad knowing what things are happening to dogs, but it just reminds you to give your dog extra love.

It also tells you about great websites to visit that have to do with Animal Welfare and Shelter Dogs.
With each dog problem it tells you about, there’s one story of someone who helps make the world a better place for dogs.

Thank you, Rob Laidlaw, for making the world a better place for dogs.

Click here to see Lili’s full post.

The Vietnamese Orphan Airlift: An Interview with Tuyết Pham

Posted on July 27th, 2012 by pajamapress


Tuyet in December, 1975

Last Airlift: A Vietnamese Orphan’s Rescue from War tells the story of one orphan, Tuyet, who was airlifted from Saigon (now Hồ Chí Minh City) at the close of the Vietnam War and adopted into a new family in Canada. Today we are sharing an interview with another orphan, also named Tuyết,who came to Canada in the same dramatic way and who has a story of her own.

How old were you when you left Vietnam?

Although my parents were told, verbally (so they say), that I was born December 7, 1968, unfortunately, none of my paperwork shows that date. In actual fact, all my paperwork had been prepared one year before I left Vietnam, indicating that I was born December 7, 1969.

You must remember that although I was given this birthdate, and I stress “given”, this is not necessarily my birthdate.  During the time of war, many children found in the most awful places you can imagine, left to die, were taken to the orphanages with no paperwork on them.  And those children who were in orphanages, whose lives could not be saved whether through diseases, malnutrition and/or already existing birth defects, who died, their birthdates would have been used for those who were going to be adopted by families around the world.

So, to answer your question, I’m not really sure how old I was when I left Vietnam—possibly 5 or 6 years old.

What do you know about your life before you came to Canada?

There’s not much really that I can recall about my life in Vietnam before coming to Canada.  It was not indicated on my paperwork which orphanage I was at or if I ever was—but obviously I was, because my paperwork was prepared.  I must have been somewhere. There are times when I am doing something and I get flashbacks, like having been piggy-backed either to school or church, or having been given something by one of the soldiers who came to visit at the orphanage.  My mother has said to me at some point (I must have told her at one time) I remember sitting on a soldier’s knee and having a great time—he must have been pretending to give me rides or something—I don’t recall that, but I guess that’s what I told her.

What do you remember about the journey?

Not much. However, I do recall that I was placed beside another girl, either in a van on the way to the airport or on the plane.  I think her name was also Tuyết.  I think she was a little older than me.

You should know that Operation “Baby lift” was coined by the Americans regarding their flights. All Canadian flights were referred to as “Orphan” flights—so I was told by one of the pilots on our flight.”

Did you know these things while you were growing up, or did you have to do research later to discover your history?

I had known as a child that I was adopted and that I had come all the way from Vietnam.  My parents had always been supportive in trying to show me a lot of pictures from Vietnam, or television shows or movies that had anything to do with Vietnam.  They had spoken of the Vietnam War and that I was probably found by someone on the streets, probably left to die, and was taken to an orphanage.  My mother even made my Áo dài (Vietnamese traditional dress), once every two or three years right up until I finished college.  I did do a bit more research later on when I grew older, and when I was more interested and could understand better the history of the Vietnam War.

When did your adoptive parents know that they would be adopting you?

My parents didn’t know they were going to adopt me.  They had at first looked to adopt a boy and a girl from the same orphanage who left before me.  Unfortunately, the plane (C-5A Galaxy) they were taking out of Vietnam on April 4, 1975, crashed within 10 or 15 minutes of being up in the air. The plane lost control and crashed into the rice paddies below.  Everyone in the lower compartment of the plane died, and that included the girl my parents were looking to adopt. The boy, however, survived the plane crash and was sent the next day, on another plane that arrived in Montreal.

My parents were still looking to adopt a girl, at which time they heard about me.

What was it like to travel back to Vietnam?

I made a return trip to Vietnam in March/April of 2010.  I was 39 years old.  I felt I needed to make at least one trip back, in my life, to my homeland to see how much of it has changed and to see if there was anything I could remember of it.

Overall, there were some great highlights to my trip (and some not so great) and I learned so much, but the whole experience was an exercise to see if I could still have fit in with the culture. Everywhere I went, each of my tour guides explained to the curious local people, when they found out that I couldn’t understand their language, let alone a greeting, that I had been adopted into a Canadian family from a very young age. That, I found, in itself, set me apart from the people who were part of my history. I didn’t feel that I had that sense of belonging. There were no memories in any place that I travelled to that I could pinpoint any sense of familiarity. But then again, how would I know?  I was in an orphanage for my whole life there. I had lost that aura of being a Vietnamese.

Are there still unanswered questions that bother you about your past and about the war? What are they?

For the rest of my life, there will always be questions about my past—although it’s always great to tell people, “I don’t know who I really am”.  There will always be questions of, “Who were my parents?” “Are they still alive?” “Where are they now?” “When and where was I born?” “Why was I given up to either be left to die or to be saved and adopted?”  “What were my biological parents’ thoughts during the time of war?” “What is my family background?” “What medical history should I know about?” For now, it would seem that all of these questions will remain buried in the past.

For information about Operation Babylift, a similar initiative in the United States, visit


Whitney Library reviews “Nifty Nonfiction Book” No Shelter Here

Posted on July 21st, 2012 by pajamapress

Are you a dog lover?  Learn about what life is like for a shelter dog and how you can help.  Kids like you all over the world are doing what they can to make the world a better place for dogs everywhere.  If you’re thinking about getting a dog, this book has lots of helpful information to guide you in choosing the perfect pet for you.  Learn the sad truth about pet stores and puppy mills and what goes on behind closed doors at some shelters.  Author Rob Laidlaw wants to spread the word about helping dogs, and he hopes you will listen!  Request this book today and learn what you can do to help dogs.
–Whitney Library

Click here to view the full post

Plan a Giraffe and Bird Party Part 1: Games

Posted on July 20th, 2012 by pajamapress

Giraffe and Bird are unlikely companions, but their antics in Rebecca Bender’s Giraffe and Bird and Don’t Laugh at Giraffe have charmed children, teachers and parents across the country. 

For those who just can’t get enough, we’re building a virtual Giraffe and Bird party, complete with games, food, crafts, and favours—each one of them healthy, wholesome, and kid-tested. Over the course of the summer we’ll be bringing you step-by-step instructions so that you can have your own party! And don’t forget to share any fun ideas of your own in the comments. We can’t wait to hear from you!

Today we begin with…GAMES:


The Materials: 

One glass of water per child

One drinking straw per child

The Setup:

The straw goes in the glass of water.

The glass of water goes on the ground.

The Goal:

Be the first to drink a whole glass of water.

The Catch:

No bending your arms or legs!


The Materials

Thin slices (“leaves”) of green apple

A paring knife

Kitchen string

The Setup:

Make a hole in each apple slice with the paring knife and feed a length of string through.

Appoint half of the children as “trees” for the first round and half as “giraffes”. They can switch afterward.

Give each “tree” a leaf to dangle.

The Goal

Just like Giraffe when he’s browsing for leaves, eat your apple slice without using your hands!


If you’re preparing your apple slices ahead of time, let them sit in lemon juice to keep them from browning.


Bird HATES it when Giraffe steps on an earthworm. It means the worm will be stretched all out of shape by the time Bird pulls it free. How long will the worm stretch? Find out!


The Materials

One empty drinking glass (Giraffe’s “hoof”) per pair of children

One gummy worm per child


The Setup

Partner A presses down with the drinking glass on one end of the gummy worm

Partner B stretches the gummy worm as far as it will go

The Goal

To have the most stretched-out gummy worm in the group! Check your results with a ruler.


The Materials

A pole that can be held horizontally at various heights

The Goal

This is just like regular limbo, except instead of bending backward, you’re bending forward! Don’t forget to keep those front hooves hands off the ground!

Stay Tuned for food, craft, and favour ideas for your Giraffe and Bird party!

Rescue Me! Mackin Books in Bloom celebrates books about shelter dogs

Posted on July 20th, 2012 by pajamapress

Rob Laidlaw, long-time animal advocate and international champion of dogs, provides information about the challenges dogs face around the world.  With examples from Canada, Japan, India, and several other countries in addition to the United States, he exposes the plight of these abandoned and often abused animals.  Urging readers to get involved, he relates the stories of children and young people around the globe who saw a problem and became Dog Champions.  Kids have created documentaries, raised money, and helped to make lawmakers aware of dog abuse.  This book is great for reluctant readers, dog lovers, or kids who need to do a service project.

–Tracey L, Mackin Books in Bloom

Click here to view the full post

Booklist Review of No Shelter Here

Posted on July 19th, 2012 by pajamapress

Animal advocate [Rob] Laidlaw has a bone to pick with the way some of the world’s 500 million dogs are treated. After identifying what all dogs need, the author takes a hard look at puppy mills, free-ranging dogs, dogs that are constantly chained, and dogs submitted to devocalizing and appearance-altering surgeries. While some dogs have healthy “careers” as dog sniffers, rescue dogs, and therapy dogs, the engaging text explains the perils for greyhound and sled-dog racers, as well as dogs used for scientific research. But not all dogs have it bad. Numerous profiles reveal how “Dog Champions” have initiated grassroots efforts to provide better services and protection to canines. For readers looking for their next best friend, Laidlaw explains how and why to adopt a dog and the various kinds of shelters available. Abundantly stocked with color photographs and supplemented with online resources and a glossary, this book invites children to pause and consider our friends who have paws.
— Angela Leeper, Booklist


The Chronicle Herald reviews Emily For Real

Posted on July 18th, 2012 by pajamapress

…Gunnery nicely captures the way families really are, the sweet, mundane and strained interactions of everyday life.

A longtime N.S. junior and senior high school teacher, Gunnery deftly handles the interactions among Emily, her schoolmates and teachers and her best friend Jenn, as well as giving credibility to Emily as the narrator.

Emily for Real is a satisfying read for teens who will root for Emily as she faces the challenges of friendship and families and growing up.

–Pam Sword, The Chronicle Herald

Click here to read the full review

Rebecca Bender captures the “paradox” of childhood friendship –Toronto Public Library

Posted on July 17th, 2012 by pajamapress

Giraffe and birdjpegHave you ever been totally puzzled by the peregrinations, bumps and grinds that children experience in their friendships? It was always endlessly fascinating for me to watch the way children bicker and argue with those children they declare to be their best friends. Both with my own children and those I taught, it was evident that there were constant readjustments being made in the relationships that children have with each other.

With that I would like to welcome a relatively new author who is DontLaughAtGiraffe_Cable to capture that paradox. Rebecca Bender has just two picture books in print, and is a relatively new voice in Canadian literature, but what a voice it is. She has captured this unusual nature of friendship between children in both of the picture books available.

…Giraffe and Bird…resonated so well with children that it won the 2012 Blue Spruce award voted on by thousands of children across Ontario.

This title has been followed up by a hilarious sequel, Don’t Laugh at GiraffeIn this book, Rebecca examines the delicate nature of embarrassment and friendship… How Bird handles this situation is a wonderful blueprint for friendship and problem solving.

Your children will go through many situations with their friends that they will have to grapple with and find solutions for. Having books on hand that show this as a normal process in friendships will support them in these journeys, and open the conversations with thinking about how to solve their own problems in a creative and positive way.
Peggy Thomas, Toronto Public Library

Click here to read the full post