Pajama Press

Archive for September, 2012

Feline Facts with Nat the Cat

Posted on September 27th, 2012 by pajamapress

NatTheCat_CYou’ve most likely heard of Nat the Cat Can Sleep Like That by Victoria Allenby and Tara Anderson, a picture book that depicts a day (and night) in the life of a rambunctious kitten and sleepy older cat. It’s currently available in Canada wherever fine books are sold, and is the perfect bedtime story for cats and children alike.

In an early morning meeting, the playful kitten requested we give them some publicity. Nat the cat, on the other hand, had something simpler in mind: a cozy place to curl up for a good nap.

And so, as Nat dozes in the corner, we bring you these five kitten-approved cat facts:






LibraryPoint calls True Blue “riveting” psychological thriller

Posted on September 25th, 2012 by pajamapress

“You know how the female praying mantis bites the head off of the male? That was one of Casey’s favorite things. As a future entomologist, she adored insects. She even copied the head chomp with a little hand signal. The signal meant that someone was really getting on your nerves, and you’d really love to just stop them in their tracks. That was before the murder trial…

…Not many books for teens fall into the genre of psychological thriller, but True Blue definitely has the chops to be a riveting, disturbing page-turner.” -Craig Graziano

Click here to read the full review.

Emily is “thoughtful, introspective, and easily relatable” -School Library Journal

Posted on September 25th, 2012 by pajamapress

“Still experiencing the hurt from a recent breakup, Emily also has to contend with her grandfather’s death and the ensuing family drama that occurs soon after his funeral. Helping her cope is a new friendship with Leo, who, though dismissive and aloof at first, allows her into his life. Plot elements abound. Leo has anger issues, an alcoholic mother, and a sporadically present father, and Emily is hit with one revelation after another (finding out about her grandfather’s infidelity, a half aunt as a result of his affair, and revealed secrets that make her question her identity). Through it all, Gunnery gives Emily a thoughtful, introspective, and easily relatable voice, avoiding histrionics even as the narrative tends to drift toward afterschool-special territory.”
Joanna K. Fabicon, Los Angeles Public Library

Winnipeg Free Press reviews One Step at a Time

Posted on September 24th, 2012 by pajamapress

“While the story is told from Tuyet’s viewpoint, it is a non-fiction account, written for an eight-12 age group and illustrated with black-and-white photographs of Tuyet and the Morrises, who became her family.

Skrypuch, who has published a number of both picture books and juvenile novels, many on the theme of Ukrainian immigration, does a good job of portraying Tuyet’s feelings as she faces the uncertainties of a new country, a new home and frightening surgery.”

Click here and scroll down to read the full review.

Laura Secord: Fact or Fiction?

Posted on September 21st, 2012 by pajamapress

With the bicentennial celebrations of the War of 1812 in full swing, Laura Secord is the lady of the hour. But what part did she really play in the war? Myths and misconceptions about this historical figure abound, and historians have debated her role for years. How well do you know Laura?


1. Laura Secord is one of the most famous heroines ever born on Canadian soil.

False. Surprise! Laura was born in Great Barrington, Massachusetts. Her family moved to Upper Canada when she was a young woman and she spent the rest of her life in what is now Southern Ontario. 

2. When her hometown of Queenston was taken over by the Americans during the War of 1812, Laura—like other women still living in the occupied territory—was forced to cook for any American soldiers who came to her house.

True. Feeding and billeting enemy soldiers has been the lot of families in occupied territory for much of history.

3. Laura overheard some American soldiers discussing plans to capture Lieutenant James FitzGibbon, who was leading a band of soldiers and First Nations warriors in guerrilla raids of American-occupied territory. Since her husband was wounded, Laura decided it was her duty to try to warn FitzGibbon herself.

True. James Secord had been injured in the battle of Queenston Heights and would never fully recover the use of one leg. Laura Secord Clark, our heroine’s granddaughter, told historians in 1933 that James doubted his wife’s ability to make it to FitzGibbon at Beaver Dams, but she was determined to go.

4. Since she was living in American-occupied territory, Laura needed a cover story to get past the sentries. She took a cow with her on the first leg of her journey as an excuse for leaving town.

False. This story was introduced by the historian William Foster Coffin in the 1960s and is still widely believed.

5. Laura walked 19 miles barefoot through forest and swamp to reach FitzGibbon at Beaver Dams.

Unlikely. Laura’s exact route is much contested, although tourists can now walk a marked trail that recreates it. She certainly avoided the main roads in order to escape the notice of American patrols, but some historians suspect she found a trail near the swamp rather than going straight through it. The condition of her footwear is not known.

6. Unfortunately for Laura, FitzGibbon already knew about the surprise attack, so her whole journey was in vain.

False. Historians believed for many years that FitzGibbon’s scouts had warned him of the attack before Laura arrived, or that she arrived too late for her warning to do any good. Then, in 1959, a certificate was found in the Canadian National Archives in Ottawa on which James FitzGibbon had recorded the date of Laura’s arrival and the fact that she brought him information he did not already know. He added that he planned his strategy for the battle “in consequence of this information.”

7. The government rewarded Laura handsomely for her efforts.

False. Laura was given no formal recognition for her part in the War of 1812 until after her death. The one reward she was given came in 1860 when Prince Albert Edward, who would one day become King Edward VII, visited Canada and was surprised to see a woman’s name on the roll of veterans of the War of 1812. He asked questions, learned her story, and sent her 100 pounds in gold upon his return to England.

8. After the War of 1812, Laura Secord opened a chocolate shop.

False. The Laura Secord chain of chocolate shops began as a single small store in Toronto in 1913. According to the chain’s website, its founder, Frank P. O’Connor, admired Laura as a Canadian “symbol of courage, devotion, and loyalty.” 

This quiz was composed by Erin Woods using information from the historical note of Acts of Courage: Laura Secord and the War of 1812 and from an interview with the author, historian Connie Brummel Crook.

Last Airlift earns accolade in The Horn Book Magazine

Posted on September 21st, 2012 by pajamapress

“As the North Vietnamese entered Saigon, missionaries rushed to evacuate the most vulnerable orphans: healthy ones might find new homes, but “children with disabilities—like Tuyet—would be killed.” Tuyet, eight, lame from polio, has cared for babies for as long as she can remember. With her help, fifty or so of these tiny orphans are loaded, two to a box, for what proved to be the last such flight to Canada; once there, it is Tuyet who shows their new caregivers that the wailing infants awaiting adoption could be comforted by letting them sleep together on blankets spread on the floor, as they’d always been—an emotional need she shares, as her adoptive family realizes after Tuyet spends a sleepless night alone in her new bedroom. A concluding note describes the return of Tuyet’s memories during conversations with the author, whose third-person re-creation of these transitional months in 1975 makes vivid the uncertainties of confronting a new language, climate, and family. Tuyet’s initial misapprehensions are telling (those points of light in the Canadian sky aren’t bombs but stars), as is her cautious, unfailingly coureous approach to a life that includes such unfamiliar things as play and ample food. Fortunately, her adoptive family is not only well-meaning but loving, creative, and sensitive. An excellent first step on the ladder that leads to such fine immigrant tales as Thanhha Lai’s Inside Out & Back Again (rev. 3/11). Illustrated with photos. Notes; further resources; index.”

–Joanna Rudge Long, The Horn Book Magazine, September/October 2012

Quill & Quire praises A Good Trade

Posted on September 20th, 2012 by pajamapress

“To most North American children, being able to turn on a tap and have clean water come out is a given. The latest book from Alma Fullerton, with illustrations by Karen Patkau, should open children’s eyes to the fact that not everyone is so lucky.

A Good Trade portrays a day in the life of Kato, a young Ugandan boy who rises with the sun and travels barefoot to the water pump just outside his village to collect a day’s worth of water for his family. On this particular day, an aid worker comes to the village square with a delightful gift, and Kato is inspired to reciprocate her kindness.

Fullerton uses simple prose to relay the story of Kato’s walk to the pump and back, but she notes details—the sloshing of water in the jerry cans, the rumbling of the aid worker’s truck, the armed soldiers standing sentry in a field—that paint a complete picture. Kato’s harsh reality is illustrated through tender moments as well, such as when he splashes cold water on his dusty feet before starting the long trek home.

Patkau’s distinctive digital illustrations are a pleasant complement to Fullerton’s text, capturing the terrain of the village. The greens and browns of the landscape provide a muted backdrop to the children’s brightly coloured clothing and jerry cans. The hard lines and distinct coloration make the pictures leap off the page, as in one splendid image of children pumping water that captures the vibrancy of a girl’s dress, the texture of the children’s hair, and the leafy foliage.

There is much more to this gentle story than its obvious message about the hardships faced by others. The juxtaposition of happy children in a war-torn village, and the beautiful exchange between Kato and the aid worker, portray the endurance of childhood innocence, suggesting small joys can be found in imperfect places.
–Katie Gowrie, Q&Q’s editorial intern.

Marsha Forchuk Skrypuch Book Signing at Green Heron Books

Posted on September 17th, 2012 by pajamapress

Download the Poster


Poetry Pet Peeves: 7 Dos and Don’ts when Rhyming for Children

Posted on September 17th, 2012 by pajamapress


1. Don’t invert syntax for the sake of making a rhyme.

Unnatural phrases, don’t you see,

The end result of this must be!

2. Don’t add “do” before a verb to make the meter fit.

This error many folks do make.

It’s more than my poor ears can take.

3. Don’t strain the pronunciation of a word to make it rhyme. It must rhyme naturally from the last stressed syllable on.

It may look right, but I aver

The stress is inverted on answer.

4. Do have a story arc.

“The sun rose. It was lovely.” Well!

Do you have nothing more to tell?

5. Do avoid trite rhymes.

Breeze, trees. Dove, love. Sigh, cry. Go, fro. Night, tight. Song, along. Need I go on  (and on, and on)?

6. Do use internal rhyme, alliteration, and word play.

When you tickle the fancy and trip the tongue

It’s gear-turning, language-learning, wiggly, giggly fun!

7. Do use contemporary language, situations, and characters.

Perhaps in Queen Victoria’s reign

Their language was delightful,

But oh! to pen such words today

Is absolutely frightful.

Yes, carriages and pocketbooks

And parasols are grand,

But if you’d win your audience,

Examine what’s at hand.

If you ever want your book 

To make it off the shelf,

The child who reads your poetry 

Must recognize herself.

History and Literature at the Lang Pioneer Village Museum

Posted on September 14th, 2012 by pajamapress

The Lang Pioneer Village Museum is a small hamlet of over 25 restored 19th-century buildings. Villagers of all ages go about their business in period dress, transporting visitors back in time to an age of blacksmith shops, woodsmoke, and rail-and-stump fences.

Photo by Didi Anderson

Photo by Didi Anderson

Often, visitors meet another person in period dress who is not museum employee: historian and author Connie Brummel Crook has had a long history with Lang Pioneer Village. Today she shares with us some of the ways she and the museum have worked together to promote her books, the museum’s events, and the passion they both share for educating new generations about their nation’s history.

One of my favourite places to visit is Lang Pioneer Village Museum where my books are sold in their gift shop. I have been visiting there for many years during the latter part of May and most of June. During that time, busloads of schoolchildren visit the village. In the town hall, I talk with them about their school trip, my books, and about the business completed in town halls like this one many years ago. The children, who are very lively and ready for the holiday, respond in different ways. Some linger to ask more about my books while others rush on to the next  event.  Sometimes, students recognize my books because they have studied them in their classrooms, and so have many questions. Their interest, enthusiasm, and energy are inspiring.

Then there are special events to which I have been invited. This year, I was invited for three summer book signings for my newest novel, Acts of Courage: a Book Launch on July 1, and Celebrations and Reenactments of the War of 1812 on August 18 and 19. All three were very interesting days. The books were for sale in Lang Museum’s gift shop and I was seated in a different area each time, where I met a stream of folks who asked me to autograph their books. I went to school at Lang many years ago and had written a book about the time of the Depression there, and there were a few old friends who could remember. Also, there were folks from other areas of Canada and a few even from other countries on their holidays. Youths who had completed a reenactment workshop training course in early August came to have the book signed that had been given to each one taking that workshop.  

Lang Pioneer Museum has many very interesting events throughout the year but is especially busy during the weekends in the summer months. On August 18 and 19, they had many special War of 1812 events; such as, regimental march from military encampments, kids mini militia training drill with the 49th Regiment of Foot Reenactors, War council with Chief Tecumseh at the First Nations Encampment, and Battle reenactments. Also guests were invited to meet impersonators of famous people in costume, such as, Sir Isaac Brock, Chief Tecumseh of the Shawnee, Laura Secord, and many more from the War of 1812–14.

I, too, was dressed in the costume of that period for these three events and enjoyed visiting with old and new friends of all ages from many different areas.

–Connie Brummel Crook is the author of Acts of Courage: Laura Secord and the War of 1812 and more than a dozen other works of historical fiction for young readers.