Pajama Press

Archive for June, 2015

Publishers Weekly praises In a Cloud of Dust

Posted on June 30th, 2015 by pajamapress

homecover-in-a-cloud “Through the fictional story of a Tanzanian girl named Anna, Fullerton (Community Soup) and Deines (Bear on the Homefront) reveal how bicycles can change the lives of children whose families lack access to motorized transportation. Opening on “a little schoolhouse [that] sits at the end of a dusty road,” Deines shows Anna working indoors at a desk. “There will be no daylight for schoolwork by the time she reaches home,” writes Fullerton. A truck from a “Bicycle Library” unloads several bikes, but none are left for Anna; undeterred, she helps her friends learn how to ride their bikes (“She directs Samwel around the obstacles/ Left/ Right/ Stop!”) and shares one of them with another student so both of them can get home quickly. Soaked in warm golds and oranges, Deines’s oil paintings glow with a sense of promise as the children race around the schoolyard on their bikes. Fullerton says quite a bit with few words in her verselike prose, and a detailed author’s note discusses the vital role bicycles play in communities across Africa and supplies information about bicycle donation organizations. Ages 4–up. (Sept.)”

CBC’s 100 YA Books That Make You Proud To Be Canadian

Posted on June 29th, 2015 by pajamapress


This Canada Day, celebrate your patriotism the literary way.

CBC Books has rounded up 100 Young Adult Books That Make You Proud To Be Canadian. How many have you read? Take the quiz on the CBC Books website.

Among the chosen 100 are Nix Minus One by Jill MacLean and Graffiti Knight by Karen Bass. We are indeed proud to have these books recognized as the great Canadian treasures we believe them to be.

Nix Minus One, a novel by Jill MacLean Graffiti Knight by Karen Bass, winner of the Geoffrey Bilson Award and the CLA Young Adult Book Award

Will this list inspire you to read more Canada? Are there any standouts you feel are missing? Join the conversation on social media with the hashtag #CBCbooks100.


Wallace Edwards’ Once Upon a Line is “captivating”—Kirkus Reviews

Posted on June 29th, 2015 by pajamapress

OnceUponALine“Great-Uncle George was a magician whose “enchanted pen” has created an array of fancifully surreal illustrations, each begun with the same-shaped pen stroke and each accompanied by a brief story starter. Great-Uncle George’s mustachioed portrait appears next to a succinct history of the fictional magician and his special pen: “With this pen he would draw an ordinary line. That line turned into a painting. He drew the line many times and painted hundreds of paintings, but all that remains are the ones that you see in this book.” Readers are then invited to find that line—duplicated on the first page—and to “finish each story.” The colorful, absurd, detailed illustrations feature a fantastical array of characters—many of them anthropomorphic animals—in an intriguing style that defies easy classification. Each absorbing illustration includes a sentence or two, always beginning with the titular “Once upon a line” and ending with ellipses….The artwork is captivating, finding the pen stroke is challenging, and the text will spark some animated conversation. (Picture book. 4-9)”

“Sincerely Sweet”—Kirkus reviews Giraffe Meets Bird by Rebecca Bender

Posted on June 29th, 2015 by pajamapress

Giraffe Meets Bird by Rebecca Bender“The unlikeliest of friendships grows, baby step by baby step. As Bird emerges from his shell, Giraffe’s head looms nearby. Giraffe is “surprised,” and Bird is “amazed.” Each double-page spread of Bender’s story focuses on a small development in the duo’s relationship, using crunchy vocabulary in large, emphatic type to explain it. Giraffe is “fascinated” by Bird’s growth. It’s not all smooth sailing. If Giraffe wants Bird to give him a scratch, he has to be “polite.” Bird wants to be alone in his tree, but Giraffe was there first: “sharing is hard” and “tough.” The standoff reaches a kind of solution when Bird falls into the tall grass. Giraffe scoops him up just as a young lion seems ready to pounce, jumping so high that he lands in the tree, the safety of which Bird and Giraffe don’t mind sharing this night. Next morning, there’s no sign of the lion, and they know that it’s time to leave. But who should stay at the tree and who should go? The final double-page spread depicts a line of three walking elephants (baby elephant in the middle), with Giraffe sitting on the back of the lead elephant and Bird perched in his small nest on top of Giraffe’s head. Attractive, bright acrylics give Bender’s animal characters personality, especially fuzzy, cantankerous Bird, and her friendship story is nicely modulated, with vocabulary lessons neatly tucked in. Sincerely sweet. (Picture book. 3-5)”

Winnipeg Free Press reviews “gorgeous” and “vibrant” Giraffe Meets Bird

Posted on June 23rd, 2015 by pajamapress

Giraffe Meets Bird by Rebecca Bender“…With gorgeous illustrations done in vibrant acrylics, Giraffe Meets Bird tells how an unlikely friendship developed between these two.

Good for reading aloud, this vibrant picture book tells an important lesson: despite minor clashes, true friends will be there when you most need them.”
—Helen Norrie

Click here to read the full review.

Moon at Nine is the romantic adventure tale longed for by queer teenagers—Plenitude Magazine

Posted on June 18th, 2015 by pajamapress

Moon At Nine by Deborah Ellis - the true story of two girls who fell in love in post-revolution Iran “Like a conscientious hiker, Deborah Ellis treads skilfully through the historical terrain of her thirtieth work, Moon at Nine. The revolutionary tumult of 1980s post-shah Iran might not seem like fertile territory for a YA novel with queer and feminist themes, yet Ellis’s superbly crafted storytelling weaves together the ensuing political chaos with a teenage girl’s struggle to find her place within her restrictive society in a way that reveals the YA genre as capable of more than it is usually given credit for. That Ellis is so comfortable spinning so many plates at once is a testament to her authorial skill; that not one of these plates falls is what makes Moon at Nine such a cracking piece of literature.

…Moon at Nine is the romantic adventure tale longed for by queer teenagers prowling the school library for stories that more closely resemble their own. The novel’s foreign and historical setting are brought to life by Ellis’s energizing prose, and each character is fully realized as a layered human being attempting to negotiate and survive an oppressive political regime. While Deborah Ellis succeeds resoundingly in her pioneering position, Moon at Nine reveals that LGBT themes so dexterously written into YA literature are sadly all too rare.”

—Matthew R. Loney

Click here to read the full review.

Resource Links calls Uncertain Soldier “Compelling”

Posted on June 18th, 2015 by pajamapress

UncertainSoldier“Erich Hofmeyer is an uncertain soldier. He enlisted in the German navy only because his father left him no choice, and now his ship has been sunk, and he is in in a POW camp in northern Alberta. His British grandparents have given him a broader world view than his fellow German soldiers, and he becomes a target of vicious bullying when he expresses what is perceived as disloyalty to the Reich. When the opportunity arises to leave the camp to work in the bush logging, he and his friend jump at the chance. But the logging camp has its complications: half the workers are Canadians who hate the German prisoners because of the deaths or imprisonment of relatives fighting overseas. At a nearby farm, Max Schmidt is also uncertain. His father wants him to be proud of his German heritage, but he is bullied daily at school by the other boys, who take out their anger on this little “Hitler”. Max’s family is under suspicion, as all German nationals were, so there is no one to whom Max can take his concerns. On a visit to the logging camp, he is befriended by Erich, who senses their shared experiences. The German prisoners at the camp are increasingly endangered by mysterious accidents, and in their fear they turn on Erich as the only one who speaks English fluently. The attacks on Max become more vicious, until he barely escapes being hanged. Max takes off into the bush, and only the skill of the native tracker Christmas and Erich’s help save him from drowning. Both Max and Erich have learned to stand up to an enemy and stand up for a friend. Bass has shone a light on a lesser known part of Canadian history. German nationals living in Canada were discomfiting for many communities, at a time when husbands and sons were fighting and dying in Europe. This novel shows solid research into the conditions of the 38,000 German POW’s in Canada, and life in rural Alberta in the 1940s…the visceral details and important themes make the journey compelling.”

Thematic Links: Friendship; Bullying; Stereotyping and Racism; World War II – Canada – POW Camps

—Patricia Jermey

Giraffe Meets Bird “a wonderful book to share with younger children”—Resource Links

Posted on June 18th, 2015 by pajamapress

Giraffe Meets Bird by Rebecca Bender“This is the third book by this accomplished author/illustrator featuring Giraffe. The earlier volumes both received OLA recognition, and I would expect that this one will too. In contrast to many books for preschool and young readers, the author introduces a rich and varied vocabulary to express the emotions felt by both the characters. Not restricting herself to “mad”, “glad” and “sad”, the characters are “fascinated”, “thrilled” and “peeved” at different points in the story. The text is limited to one or two sentences per page and difficult words are in a large and different font. The text is accompanied with delightful, full page coloured, acrylic illustrations by the author. The huge difference in size of these friends is not mentioned explicitly, but the illustrations present the problem brilliantly. When the two meet a family of elephants the concepts of small and big, bigger and biggest are quite clear. This will be a wonderful book to share with younger children to feature unlikely friendships and explore emotions.”

Thematic Links: Friendship; Emotions

—Mavis Holder

Kirkus Reviews praises In a Cloud of Dust

Posted on June 10th, 2015 by pajamapress

homecover-in-a-cloud“In Tanzania, a bicycle lending library provides joy for village schoolchildren. When the truck full of bicycles arrives at Anna’s school, there aren’t quite enough for hardworking Anna to get one, at first, but she helps her friends learn to ride, and on their way home, she gets her turn. In A Good Trade, illustrated by Karen Patkau (2013), Fullerton showed how much a barefoot Ugandan boy might treasure a pair of new shoes. Here, she returns to rural southern Africa with a similarly understated story about another kind of need. The truck comes from the local bicycle repair shop, and it’s labeled “Bicycle Library.” True to the spirit of the loan, the bikes it brings are shared and offer both entertainment and relatively efficient transportation. Oil paintings in rich shades of orange show the children surrounded by clouds of dust….[T]hey show well, and the simple text reads aloud smoothly, making the book a good introduction for a discussion of different yet similar lives. An author’s note, appropriate for adults sharing this story with children, explains the need for bicycles in southern African countries and provides the names of organizations that work to fill that need. A nice addition to primary-grade “values” collections. (Picture book. 5-8)”

A Kirkus Star for Bad Pirate!

Posted on June 10th, 2015 by pajamapress

Bad Pirate by Kari-Lynn Winters and Dean Griffiths“Wicked smart pacing and playful art tell the tale of a pirate too doggone loyal for her own good. Capt. Barnacle Garrick may be the scurviest cur (literally—he’s a springer spaniel) to sail the seven seas, but his blue-eyed daughter Augusta is kind, considerate, and caring. In short, she’s a very bad pirate indeed. Disgusted—she’s more inclined to tuck her bunkmates in than to commit basic forms of piracy—her father admonishes her to “be saucy…bold….But most important, me sea pup, yez gots to be SELFISH!” Augusta tries by purloining a fellow shipmate’s peg leg, but when a squall and a torn mainsail mean almost certain sinking, the feisty sea pup teaches her father and his crew that sometimes it pays to be saucy, bold, and selfless. In a story so packed with piratical jargon and growls that even the most staid and sorry landlubbers will become salty dogs while reading it, it’s Griffiths’ art that takes the wave-swept narrative to another level. Augusta’s charm goes far, and each breed of canine is rendered with a loving hand. Even more delightful are the tiny details. From Augusta’s surreptitious carving of a new peg leg to Garrick’s battles with uniformed mice in an early vignette, young readers will see something new with each turn of the page. Arrrrguably the best piratical dogfight you’ll ever sink your teeth into. (Picture book. 4-6)”