Pajama Press

Archive for July, 2014

Books to Remember World War I

Posted on July 28th, 2014 by pajamapress

One hundred years ago today, Austria-Hungary declared war on Serbia, launching the Great War that we know today as World War I. Pajama Press is honoured to work with authors and illustrators who create books about this war for new generations, passing on memories of the past so that it need never be repeated.

Dance of the Banished by Marsha Forchuk Skyrpuch
Publication date: August 22, 2014

DanceOfTheBanished_RGB_72dpiAli and his fiancée Zeynep dream about leaving their home in Anatolia and building a new life together in Canada. But their homeland is controlled by the Turkish government, which is on the brink of war with Britain and Russia. And although Ali finds passage to Canada to work, he is forced to leave Zeynep behind until he can earn enough to bring her out to join him.

When the First World War breaks out and Canada joins Britain, Ali is declared an enemy alien. Unable to convince his captors that he is a refugee from an oppressive regime, he is thrown in an internment camp where he must count himself lucky to have a roof over his head and food to eat.

Meanwhile, Zeynep is a horrified witness to the suffering of her Christian Armenian neighbours under the Young Turk revolutionary forces. Caught in a country that is destroying its own people, she is determined to save a precious few. But if her plan succeeds, will Zeynep still find a way to cross the ocean to search out Ali? And if she does, will he still be waiting for her?

A Bear in War written by Stephanie Innes & Harry Endrulat, illustrated by Brian Deines

A Bear In War case mechIn 1915, 37-year-old Lawrence Browning Rogers enlisted in the Fifth Canadian Mounted Rifles, leaving behind his wife, two children, and their farm in East Farnham, Quebec. Over the next two and a half years, the family exchanged hundreds of letters, and daughter Aileen sent her beloved Teddy overseas to keep her father safe. Teddy returned home safely, but Lieutenant Rogers did not; he was killed in the battle of Passchendaele. Eighty-five years later, Lawrence’s granddaughter found Teddy, the letters, and other war memorabilia packed away in a briefcase. Now Lawrence’s great-granddaughter Stephanie Innes and children’s author Harry Endrulat have used those documents to reconstruct a moving story of one family’s love and sacrifice—a story shared by the families of so many soldiers who have lost their lives in the defense of their country.

Accompanied by family photographs and Brian Deines‘ poignant art, A Bear in War is more than one family’s testament to a brave soldier. It is a gentle introduction to war, to Remembrance Day, and to the honor of those who have served their countries.

Revenge on the Fly featured in Canadian Children’s Book News’ “All Kinds of Friendship”

Posted on July 23rd, 2014 by pajamapress

RevengeFly_C_Dec5.indd“The world of 1912 may seem completely different but is equally captivating in Sylvia McNicoll’s Revenge on the Fly. It is late spring when young Will Alton and his father arrive in Hamilton. Poor immigrants, Will and his father have journeyed from Ireland where mother and baby sister were taken by disease. Will is heartsick and struggles against the discrimination he and his father face as poor Irish newcomers. Not long after his arrival, his school is visited by Dr. Roberts, Hamilton’s public health officer. The lowly fly, he tells his students, is responsible for spreading germs that cause disease and so much death. The local paper is sponsoring a fly-catching contest with a top prize of $50. Kill flies and stop the spread of disease, he exhorts Will’s class. It is a message that Will latches onto with deadly seriousness, and he is galvanized into action. Perhaps it was the dreaded fly that was responsible for the deaths of his mother and sister. He is determined to win the competition to avenge them and so he can give the money to his father to better their situation.

The contest pits Will against Fred Leckie, a particularly nasty and privileged classmate. Fred will do anything to win, including paying off peers with orange segments (a juicy detail) to bring him their flies. Will struggles to beat Fred on his own, but it is when two unlikely girls befriend him that Will actually starts to have a fighting chance. Wealthy and kind Rebecca has no time for the likes of Fred Leckie and believes in Will, seeing beyond their socio-economic differences. She forces Will to question his motives for entering the contest and gently pushed him to consider some of his actions. Ginny is poor and belligerent, a prickly friend who decides to help Will win the contest. Ignoring her rough exterior, Will likes her spunk and devotion to her younger siblings. “And Ginny…seemed as tough as a horseshoe, her loyalty made her gentle and kind, just in a different way than Rebecca.” The friendship of both girls helps Will to understand that winning is not everything, and that true friends are far better than friends bought and paid for.

Vividly narrating the story in Will’s voice, McNicoll brings this intriguing bit of Canadian history to life, deftly weaving rich historical detail into the tale, immersing young readers in the sights, sounds and smells of early 20th century Hamilton. Will’s struggles with friendship and against bullies is timeless, and young readers will be cheering for him all the way.”

– Tracey Schindler

Learn more about Canadian Children’s Book News here.

Canadian Children’s Book News reviews Skydiver

Posted on July 23rd, 2014 by pajamapress

Skydiver_C_Dec5.indd“Because of the effects of the now-outlawed pesticide, DDT, few peregrine falcon chicks were hatching in the wild in the 1970s, which resulted in the breed’s disappearance from much of North America. This story describes the challenges a mature male and female peregrine falcon face when raising their young in the wild, and the determined efforts of scientists and volunteers who appropriate their first clutch of eggs to a sanctuary where the chicks will have a better chance of survival.

Author-illustrator Celia Godkin, renowned for her award-winning picture books concerning environmental issues, once again inspires young readers with an informative account about the natural world – in this case the successful conservation of a species. The operation of a bird sanctuary is outlined, from the arrival of the peregrine eggs to the release of the chicks. Also included are additional facts and websites about these magnificent birds.

Godkin’s beautiful and dramatic oil-on-canvas illustrations, be they of the sweeping vistas in the wild or of the skyscraper-filled cities where peregrines thrive, depict these fascinating creatures from a variety of perspectives. Readers will gain a deeper understanding of the fragile balance and immense survival challenges facing this breed from egg to chick to adult, and how humans, ultimately, have the power to right the wrongs of the past in order to help these raptors, the fastest birds in the world, to flourish.”

– Senta Ross

Learn more about Canadian Children’s Book News here.

Canadian Children’s Book News reviews “riveting” Moon at Nine

Posted on July 23rd, 2014 by pajamapress

MoonAtNine_C_Oct5.indd“Growing up in Tehran in the 1980s, Farrin’s entire life has always been filled with secrets. As secret supporters of the Shah who was overthrown by the Revolutionary Guard in 1979, Farrin’s parents’ illegal activities in support of the Shah could land them all in serious trouble. Her mother has always warned her not to draw attention to herself. Consequently, Farrin has never had close friends at school where she endeavours to keep a low profile. But everything changes when she meets a new girl named Sadira. Sadira’s friendship brings colour and brightness to her days, and soon Farrin knows that her feelings for Sadira are stronger than friendship. But this is Iran, and being gay is considered a crime. Farrin and Sadira cling to a desperate hope that the can somehow be together. But when the truth about their relationship is discovered, they are confronted with the harsh and terrible penalty that they must face for loving one another.

True to form, Deborah Ellis has crafted a stark, riveting and uncompromising account of life in a country and era that is markedly different from our own. Even the day-to-day details of Farrin’s life – the cruel, ever-suspicious school monitor always looking for an excuse to report her to the principal; her father’s driver stealing food from Farrin’s house to feed the other Afghan workers – create a strong sense of the political and religious climate of this time and place. Although the evolution of Farrin and Sadira’s relationship is not shown or explored in any real depth, their plight is nonetheless dramatically depicted. The strength of this novel is in its ability to highlight the social injustices that are still sadly present in our world today. Its heartbreaking and unflinching honestly will both engage readers and create heightened awareness.”

– Lisa Doucet

Learn more about Canadian Children’s Book News here.

Amy’s Marathon of Books reviews True Blue

Posted on July 22nd, 2014 by pajamapress

TrueBlue_Website“…what I liked about Ellis’ challenging character is that her actions made me think hard about how I would act in the same situation…I’d recommend True Blue for young to mid teen readers.”

Click here to read the full review.

Moon at Nine is certainly worth putting on your to-read list” – Amy’s Marathon of Books

Posted on July 21st, 2014 by pajamapress

MoonAtNine_C_Oct5.indd“Moon at Nine is quite frankly one of the most powerful love stories I have ever read, as Ellis shows her reader love is love, no matter what the sexual preference of those involved…With a backdrop of an almost post-war Iran, Farrin and Sadira are vibrant and inspiring characters consciously deciding to live in the moment by clinging to each other in the face of great opposition. Ellis’ writing is passionate and informative, creating a realistic and frightening picture of Iran’s reaction to homosexuality.

Moon at Nine is certainly worth putting on your to-read list.”

Click here to read the full review.

CanLit for LittleCanadians reviews Bear on the Homefront

Posted on July 17th, 2014 by pajamapress

BearOnTheHomefront_Internet“…Inspired by events recounted in Aileen Rogers’ diary, Bear on the Homefront takes Teddy out of the war zone but still working to comfort those impacted by war. And by giving Teddy a voice, Stephanie Innes (the great niece of Aileen Rogers) and Harry Endrulat have endeared the little bear with even more heart than his simple form may suggest.  His longing for Aileen and his honest reflections are not dissimilar to the children’s own, though they all recognize the value in perseverance, even if it is difficult.

The text and atmospheric oil on canvas illustrations of Brian Deines lend an authenticity to the memories held within Bear on the Homefront.  Teddy has an important story to tell…For his heroic efforts in comforting and giving voice to others when their own words and thoughts probably failed them, Teddy is now safe and treasured at the Canadian War Museum in Ottawa.  So, Bear at the Homefront gives us one more happy ending from a time when there weren’t many.”

Click here to read the full review.

Kirkus calls Peach Girl “winningly good-natured”

Posted on July 16th, 2014 by pajamapress

PeachGirl_HR_RGB“Armed with only her wits, her courage and some delicious peach dumplings cooked by the farmer, she meets a monkey, a dog and a pheasant who, lured by the dumplings, accompany her on her quest…The acrylic paintings feature a winsome girl, three friendly animals and a jolly green giant whose friendliness belies the tales told of him…this story has a satisfying ring and a tasty ending. A winningly good-natured version of a familiar favorite.”

Click here to read the full review.

International Reading Association features Moon at Nine on Tales from Around the World

Posted on July 3rd, 2014 by pajamapress

MoonAtNine_C_Oct5.indd“…Adapted from a true story, this novel takes readers into intimate lives of same-sex relationships in a country which still enforces traditional and religious beliefs. While many places around the world are promoting gay rights and the legalization of same-sex marriage, there are still many places considering homosexuality an unspoken issue. This is a thought-provoking story inviting readers to ponder the interplay of cultural, moral, and sexual issues in different countries around the globe.”

Click here to read the full review.

Simcoe Reformer discusses Moon at Nine with Deborah Ellis

Posted on July 3rd, 2014 by pajamapress

“While the book covers a nationality and subject matter she hasn’t covered yet, it does have many of the same themes.

“I write about courage and how people find it,” said Ellis.

MoonAtNine_C_Oct5.indd

Ellis’ work often explores social justice and human rights.

She noted the issues explored in Moon at Nine will resonate with people in many countries.”

Click here to read the full article.