Pajama Press

Archive for January, 2014

OLA Best Bets committee recognizes three Pajama Press titles

Posted on January 31st, 2014 by pajamapress

Pajama Press is pleased to announce that Nix Minus One by Jill MacLean and Graffiti Knight by Karen Bass have both been selected for the Ontario Library Association Best Bets Young Adult Top Ten list. The Stowaways by Meghan Marentette, with illustrations by Dean Griffiths, is a Junior Fiction honourable mention.

We are extremely proud of all three of these titles. For more information, resources, and book trailers, please visit our Books page. Here’s a taste of what reviewers have been saying:

Nix_C_PRINT_Nov13.inddNix Minus One
“Well-crafted and intense, an engrossing family drama in which both young and old learn what it means to grow up.”—Kirkus Reviews

“Writing with careful, evocative language, MacLean explores love in myriad forms…”
—Publishers Weekly

“Readers used to a diet of cliché-ridden YA fiction will enjoy this refreshing take on the teenage plight…[T]he hard-won hopefulness of Nix’s growth will linger with them long after the poetry ends.”—School Library Journal

“The novel’s strength comes from the authenticity of Nix’s emotional evolution…This is an absorbing, emotionally resonant book.”—Quill & Quire

GraffitiKnight_MedGraffiti Knight
“[A] gripping page-turner…The authentic setting, compelling characters and taut, suspenseful plot claim attention throughout. Bass refuses to oversimplify human beings…A different kind of war story, highly recommended.”—Kirkus Reviews

“…it has more drama than the Hunger Games.”—Resource Links

“…incredibly gripping and informative. As young adult war-related historical fiction goes, this book is second to none…Highly Recommended.”—CM Magazine
 
“Bass has artfully recreated an historical time and place peopled by realistic, three-dimensional characters grappling with their own emotions and global forces they can only barely understand.”—John Wilson, Quill & Quire
 
TheStowaways_C_July14.inddThe Stowaways
“In the tradition of memorable mouse heroes, the Stowaways deliver page-turning, cliffhanging, heartwarming, first-rate adventure.”—Kirkus Reviews

“…charmingly illustrated by Dean Griffiths… exciting, interesting, and really good fun. I hesitate to compare it to The Wind in the Willows, but it is in the same league; so read and enjoy…Highly Recommended.”—CM Magazine

“Not since Stuart Little has the heart of a valiant mouse beat quite so fiercely as that of Rory Stowaway in Meghan Marentette’s first novel, The Stowaways. It meets and exceeds all the expectations of a good mouse story, with a well-constructed and self-sufficient mouse world, a teeny-tiny hero set against impossible odds, and an adventure brimming with mystery that scampers from chapter to chapter.”—National Reading Campaign

“Marentette has created a lovely world that combines animals and fantasy with humans and reality in an original and lively story. Her writing style is elegant yet conversational.”—Resource Links

Snuggle Up and Read for Family Literacy Day

Posted on January 31st, 2014 by pajamapress

A small school in North Bay, Ontario hosted a remarkable event for Family Literacy Day this week.

Inspired by the Family Literacy Day booklist compiled by the Canadian Children’s Book Centre, a teacher at J.W. Trusler Public School decided to organize a “Snuggle Up and Read” event, inviting parents to bring their pajama-clad children to school in the evening for cookies, milk, and story time. The evening’s feature family-themed book? Hoogie in the Middle.
Stephanie meeting her audience

Stephanie meeting her audience

Stephanie McLellan, author of Hoogie in the Middle, heard about the event. Undeterred by a long, snowy drive and the expectation of a small audience (J.W. Trusler only has about 150 students), she decided to attend herself. The school staff, eager to welcome an award-winning author, spread the word to families, baked cookies, and acquired enough milk and books for a crowd.

The next day The North Bay Nugget described the event, which ultimately included over thirty families—more than 100 people: “Children came in their pyjamas and brought pillows, blankets, and favourite books. Board superintendent Amanda Meighan also read the award-winning bedtime story, ‘Nat the Cat Can Sleep Like That.’”
Debbie Woods introducing Stephanie

Debbie Woods introducing Stephanie

Debbie Woods, the teacher who organized the event, described families using blankets and pillows to create cozy campsites on the gym floor while they listened to the stories. Stephanie McLellan called it “a fantastic event” on social
media, adding that “Debbie had a goodie bag for every family which included a book…”

Pajama Press salutes Debbie, Stephanie, and the CCBC for doing so much to encourage literacy and a love of books among children and their families.

Kirkus Reviews: “the Stowaways deliver page-turning, cliffhanging, heartwarming, first-rate adventure.”

Posted on January 29th, 2014 by pajamapress

TheStowaways_C_July14.indd“An adventure-seeking mouse leaves the safety of home to search for his missing grandfather in the terrifying World Beyond, with perilous consequences.

Rory Stowaway has grown up in the protected Weedle Mouse community, but he knows “his own life [is] meant for adventure.” Unlike the Weedle mice who scorn them, the Stowaways have “always been known as great explorers.” But ever since Grampa Stowaway disappeared on a caper into the World Beyond, Papa has refused to take Rory and his twin brother, Morgan, exploring, as Terrible Things could happen. However, their Gran’s determined to search for Grampa, and Rory knows he must help her. With remarkable finesse and guts, they begin an incredible odyssey that carries them into a zoological museum and a scientific lab, where they are captured and barely escape through the mail. Meanwhile, Morgan initiates a search for his missing twin, and soon, the whole family’s involved, but not before a flood threatens their lives and home. Although the World Beyond proves as dangerous as Papa predicted, the diminutive but feisty Stowaways are up to the challenge. Black-and-white pencil illustrations capture the Stowaways in action.

In the tradition of memorable mouse heroes, the Stowaways deliver page-turning, cliffhanging, heartwarming, first-rate adventure. (map) (Animal fantasy. 8-12)”

Click here to learn more about Kirkus Reviews.

Cat Champions will “inspire new advocates”—Kirkus Reviews

Posted on January 29th, 2014 by pajamapress

CatChampions“As he did in No Shelter Here (2012), Laidlaw offers a brief history and basic details about a particular kind of companion animal (in this case, cats) and recognizes individuals and organizations who advocate and care for them.

Feline fanciers and casual browsers alike will be attracted by the numerous photos—generally three to seven per double-page spread. Posed or candid, stock photos or personalized portraits, the pictures vary in size and placement but are crisp and colorful for the most part. They showcase oodles of cute cats and playful kittens, some accompanied by the humans who love them. The text, meanwhile, explores a variety of related topics, each covered in a few short paragraphs. From a young girl in China who speaks up against animal exploitation to Canadian and U.S. citizens, primarily children and teens, who volunteer in shelters, raise funds or tend to feral cats, the author profiles people making a difference. He also explains how cats behave, what they need and how readers can help. The friendly, conversational tone begins in the first few pages with a personal note that addresses readers directly and continues throughout. Backmatter includes a “Cat Lover’s Pledge” as well as a page of Web resources, a glossary and an index.

The straightforward message, good examples and plentiful resources may well combine to inspire new advocates. (Nonfiction. 9-12)”

Click here to learn more about Kirkus Reviews

Preschool Reads Award won by Nat the Cat Can Sleep Like That

Posted on January 28th, 2014 by pajamapress

NatTheCat_MedPajama Press is pleased to announce that Nat the Cat Can Sleep Like That, written by Victoria Allenby and illustrated by Tara Anderson, has won the 2014 Preschool Reads Award.

Developed by Wee Read Guelph, Wellington, and Dufferin County, the Preschool Reads program is a reader’s choice award for young children who listen to a shortlist of four titles and vote for their favourite. This year’s shortlist also included:

  • I Want My Hat Back by Jon Klassen
  • The Yoga Game by Kathy Beliveau and Farida Zaman
  • Where do you Look? by Marthe and Neil Jocelyn

Nat the Cat Can Sleep Like That is featured in the January/February 2014 issue of Chirp Magazine, the theme of which is “Time for Bed!” Reviewers have also been charmed by this determinedly dozy feline. Here’s what some of them had to say:

“…Allenby and Anderson have captured a cat any young ailurophile will recognize. The simple rhyming text listing the odd (yet realistic) places Nat can sleep during the daytime and all the silly mischief he and his black-and-white kitten sidekick get up to at night will hook young listeners. The watercolor, acrylic and pencil illustrations of floppy, goggle-eyed Nat and his buddy are a just-right pairing.

Good kitty fun that will demand repeated reads.”—Kirkus Reviews

“In Nat the Cat Can Sleep Like That, author Victoria Allenby’s poetic text and illustrator Tara Anderson’s whimsical art lulls kids – and kitten – to sleep, making it a lovely bedtime read

But it’s more than a bedtime story: it’s a tale of friendship and acceptance. It’s a story in which kids safely explore relational differences and boundaries through the eyes of cats.

…. Parents and teachers will love Allenby’s word play. Her use of repetition and alliteration is calming and her steady cadence is mesmerizing. Nat the Cat Can Sleep Like That is a story of love and limits… and it might just induce a good night’s sleep.”—The National Reading Campaign

“The rhyming word choice is spare in this delightful picture book for younger children, and deliberately so….Tara Anderson’s illustrations are whimsical and fun… Although the illustrations complement the story, they also tell a story of their own, encouraging children, and their grownups, to read the story again and again.

The mood of the book is playful, easily appealing to a preschool audience. Victoria Allenby’s title is a perfect choice for bedtime and storytimes for young children. Highly Recommended.”—CM Magazine ****/4

“This rhyming story has a playful tone, great for reading aloud to preschoolers. The adorable illustrations by Tara Anderson, rendered primarily in pencil crayon, will appeal to the target audience a great deal, and may even inspire them to try their hand at similar drawings. The onomatopoeia in words like “whoosh,” “shush” and “hush” further add to the light heartedness of the book, and will be fun for kids to imitate.”—Resource Links

Click here for full reviews. You can also download Nat the Cat Can Sleep Like That  worksheets to help kids learn about prepositions and rhyming.

Happy reading!

Graffiti Knight is “an eye opener”—Ms. J’s Book Reviews 4 School Libraries

Posted on January 27th, 2014 by pajamapress

GraffitiKnight_Med“I thoroughly enjoyed the pace and historical details in this novel.  Karen Bass—the author, gave me a sense of the difficulties of living in a communist, post war Germany in 1947.  I learned many details and now I have even more questions about life after World War 2.”

Click here to read the full review.

Tweezle into Everything is “a wonderful family read”—Bookish Notions

Posted on January 27th, 2014 by pajamapress

 

TweezleintoEverything_Med“Not only will the message in this cute story win over the youngsters in your life, but the  illustrations are sure to capture their attention and imaginations. Bursting with colour and movement, the pictures of the monster family are a lot of fun. I love how bright they are!

…Tweezle into Everything is a wonderful family read, especially for young children who may be struggling with either being the youngest, or having a young sibling who always seems to be getting into everything.”

Click here to read the full review.

Resource Links can’t say enough about The Stowaways

Posted on January 27th, 2014 by pajamapress

TheStowaways_C_July14.inddThe Stowaways tells the story of twin brothers, Rory and Morgan Stowaway, and their family, which includes Mama, Papa, Gran, and their little sister, Bimble. They are Weedle mice, and they live next to a Cranberry Bog near Biggle’s farm. Unlike the other Weedle mice around them, The Stowaways have a strong spirit of adventure. At the beginning of the story, the reader learns that Grampa disappeared while on an adventure with Great Aunt Hazel, and is believed to be dead. Consequently, Papa has become extremely cautious and concerned for his family’s safety, limiting their travels and trying to restrain their natural inclination towards adventure. However, this restrictive parenting cannot stop Rory and Gran, who go searching for Grampa after discovering clues relating to his possible whereabouts. When they get captured by humans at the Museum of Natural Curiosity and do not return home, Morgan goes after them without telling Mama and Papa. The result is an exciting adventure that brings the family closer together, reignites all of their adventurous spirit, briefly reunites them with Grampa, and finally, sends them all off into the great unknown when a storm destroys their home.

Marentette has created a lovely world that combines animals and fantasy with humans and reality in an original and lively story. Her writing style is elegant yet conversational. Each character has been given a unique and vibrant personality, and the reader is carried through the story caring for their well-being and excited to see what precarious situations they find themselves in next. Griffiths’ simple, black-and-white illustrations jump off the page and add another dimension to this beautiful book.

There are many potential discussion points for students, which makes this story even more interesting to read. The tensions between family members are well-developed, and display many of the issues that all families face. Papa is overly protective and does not want his family to go on any potentially-dangerous trips; Gran is spunky and strong-minded and does what she pleases; and Rory and Morgan are rivals with a relationship that evolves and improves over the course of the story. There are also tensions between the Stowaway family and the rest of the Weedle mice, who do not understand the family’s desire to go on adventures and mock them for it. In addition, there is the general conflict with humans, who capture mice in order to conduct research on them in laboratories. Marentette’s story is therefore not only charming, but also clever and thought-provoking.”

Rating: E—Excellent, enduring, everyone should see it!

Thematic links: Animals; Mice; Family; Adventure

Caroline Chung

“a good choice for…storytime and for bedtime”—Resource Links

Posted on January 27th, 2014 by pajamapress

NatTheCat_Med“Nat the Cat can sleep through anything, even the antics of his rambunctious kitten housemate. He can also sleep in, on, or around anything, including a cooking pot, halfway off a shelf, and of course in the comfort of the window’s sunbeams. The pesky kitten does eventually interfere with Nat and his dreamland—naturally when the rest of the house is quiet—and the two friends engage in some energetic antics while avoiding what actually should be their bedtime.

This rhyming story has a playful tone, great for reading aloud to preschoolers. The adorable illustrations by Tara Anderson, rendered primarily in pencil crayon, will appeal to the target audience a great deal, and may even inspire them to try their hand at similar drawings. The onomatopoeia in words like “whoosh,” “shush” and “hush” further add to the light heartedness of the book, and will be fun for kids to imitate.

Nat the Cat is a good choice for both a preschool storytime and for bedtimes, and young ones will especially find the bright illustrations sweet and charming.”

Thematic links: Cats; Bedtime

—Nicole Rowlinson

Cat Champions “a wonderful book for any animal lover”—Resource Links

Posted on January 27th, 2014 by pajamapress

CatChampions“Cat Champions is a compilation of stories of children who have made a difference in the world by caring for feral cats. The book is divided into sections to highlight different types of stories, from the lives that cats have when they do not live in a home, to shelters, to becoming a foster parent, and to adopting a cat and raising funds for cats who need help. Interspersed throughout the book are sidebars with information that provide readers with statistics and concrete information on the world of cats and how to look after them.

The book is simple but well put together. Every page has at least one photograph, if not more, of children and their cats. The information is easily accessible and the stories are engaging and heart-warming. It is a pleasure to read about children making a difference in the world. It includes a links page, glossary and index. The resource pages will be especially useful in a classroom research project, and the contents of the book would provide a great foundation for further research and discussion. This is a wonderful book for any animal lover.”

Rating: E—Excellent, enduring, everyone should see it!

Thematic links: Cats; Pets; Fostering Animals; Feral Cats

—Elizabeth Ford