Pajama Press

Archive for the ‘Reviews’ Category

The Flooded Earth Reviews

Posted on June 20th, 2018 by pajamapress

CM Magazine

Cover: The Flodded Earth Author: Mardi McConnochie Publisher: Pajama Press“A taut, suspenseful, masterfully written ‘cli-fi’ thriller, The Flooded Earth combines the best of speculative fiction with strong characterization and moral dilemma. The post-Flood world is described in vivid detail, from the high-class world of Annalie’s boarding school to the damp, ramshackle, gang-infested world of their home neighborhood known as Lowtown….

It is interesting that the author has chosen not to set the book in recognizable geography or nations—where is Dux (whose citizens apparently speak Duxan) and the Moon Island archipelago? Yet their world seems very familiar, as if set in the near future after an enormous rupture….[R]eaders will find themselves…exhilarated, and begging for more. Highly Recommended.
—Todd Kyle

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Missing Mike Reviews

Posted on May 4th, 2018 by pajamapress

Kirkus Reviews

Cover: Missing Mike Author: Shari Green Publisher: Pajama Press“The skillful narrative turns white-knuckle tense as taut verse describes the family fleeing on a road clogged with cars and burning trees…Tense, heartwarming, and masterful.”

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Foreword Reviews

“Written in flowing prose, Missing Mike explores the meaning of home….The emotional intensity of the story never falters. It is full of the longing, loss, and desperation of losing everything. Through that sadness and desolation, the book teaches an amazing lesson about hope, kindness, and the importance of family.

Love, friendship, and loyalty are persistent themes; Cara sees how other people define each as they struggle to overcome their losses, and comes to understand that, even if she loses her house and all of her possessions, she can still find home wherever those close to her are found.”
—Catherine Thureson

Read the full review in the September/October 2018 issue of Foreword Reviews

Resource Links

“Rating: E…The verse novel format lends itself well to the frantic and emotional nature of a natural disaster and Shari Green’s writing is carefully crafted. This is a timely book, as wildfires have become a more common occurrence in western Canada and the United States….Dog lovers will also be waiting on the edge of their seats to find out if Mike and Cara are reunited.

Cara’s search for her dog and for a feeling of home will resonate with readers of all ages, and this book would make an excellent addition to a classroom or school library.”

Thematic Links: Natural Disasters; Wildfires; Family; Home; Dogs
—Alice Albarda

Read the full review on page 7 of the June 2018 issue of Resource Links

CM Magazine

“In Missing Mike, a free verse novel, Green takes readers into a wildfire scenario much like that experienced by the residents of Fort McMurry in 2016, an event that was viewed by Canadians across the country via various television or online news outlets….

Green ends Missing Mike…with a number of unknowns regarding the family’s future because of the fire’s larger, long term impact on the community of Pine Grove and its inhabitants.

Green’s choosing to tell this story via free verse was the correct stylistic decision. Her descriptions, particularly those dealing with the evacuation, are absolutely gripping. There’s much to like in Missing Mike. Green also authored two other verse novels, Root Beer Candy and Other Miracles and Macy McMillan and the Rainbow Goddess.

Highly Recommended.
—Dave Jenkinson, CM’s editor, lives in Winnipeg, MB.

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Quill & Quire

“In Missing Mike, Vancouver Island-based writer Shari Green, known for her award-winning middle-grade verse novels Root Beer Candy and Other Miracles and Macy McMillan and the Rainbow Goddess, mines the dynamics of loss, change, and belonging when a family is forced to flee from encroaching wildfires….

The recognition of grey areas in life – and the attempts we make to classify and resolve them – is a theme well suited to upper-middle-grade readers; many will identify with Cara’s desire to have a solution for everything. Green highlights this struggle by including crossword clues and answers in the text, some of which Cara finds easier to solve than others. Her troubles resonate as well in the definitions of her puzzle words: for example, what is ‘lost’ can be found, while what is ‘abandoned’ does not always have the same potential for a happy ending.

…[Green’s] ability to convey complex emotions is on point: uncertainty, regret, nostalgia, loyalty, love, and friendship are palpable. Missing Mike is a novel that subtly shifts from being about a missing dog to become an exploration of the emotional journey of losing home and finding it once again.”
—Jen Bailey

Read the full review on page 28 of the June 2018 issue of Quill & Quire

CanLit for LittleCanadians

“With high summer temperatures and low precipitation predicted for the western provinces this year, there could be record wildfires again like the ones that imposed extensive evacuations on Fort McMurray in 2016. The circumstances of those forced evacuations and the tragedies and stories embedded within cannot be easily told or read but Shari Green, herself an evacuee in 2016, has the voice, the words, and the heart to tell it in her newest middle grade novel Missing Mike….

Missing Mike was…a heartbreaking story to read. Cara’s love for Mike is so deep that her anguish at being separated from him is palpable. She envisions a multitude of scenarios that Mike might be enduring or anticipates where he might be, alternating that distress with reflections on the things she and he did together. But more than the story about a missing dog, Missing Mike is about home and the different configurations it might take. Cara who spends some time working on crosswords, realizes that the synonyms for home are not always structures. They can be feelings and people and more.

Shari Green, who has impressed all readers with her exceptional novels in verse (Root Beer Candy and Other Miracles, Pajama Press, 2016; Macy McMillan and the Rainbow Goddess, Pajama Press,  2017) does not disappoint with this latest middle grade novel in free verse. The genre is a tough one to write but Shari Green has perfected it. She gets the voices dead on with a limited vocabulary and still tells an honest story about a family’s response to disaster and specifically a young girl’s determination to be reunited with the dog she loves and finding home whatever and wherever it may be.”

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Midwest Book Review

“Showcasing author Shari Green’s genuine flair for originality and narrative driven storytelling, Missing Mike will prove to be of extraordinary interest for children ages 9 to 12, making it an especially and unreservedly recommended addition to elementary school and community library Contemporary General Fiction collections for young readers.”

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Youth Services Book Review

Rating: 1-5 (5 is an excellent or a Starred review) 5

What did you like about the book?…Reading a book like this makes me SO GLAD I just made a dedicated #novelsinverse section in my library! I loved this book, especially Cara and Mike’s devotion to each other and the lyrical language throughout. I love how Mike is an “ugly dog” with only one eye and part of an ear missing—it’s clear that he has a big heart and lots of love for his owner and that’s what matters. I can’t wait to purchase this one for my library and recommend it to students….

Anything you didn’t like about it? No.

Who should buy this book? All elementary schools and middle schools

Where would you shelve it? my new books in verse section!

Should we (librarians/readers) put this on the top of our “to read” piles? Yes!”
—Laura Gardner, Dartmouth Middle School, Dartmouth, MA

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Fab Book Reviews

“Canadian author Shari Green, author of the critically acclaimed and award-winning novel-in-verse Macy McMillan and the Rainbow Goddess, returns with Missing Mike, a middle grade novel (also in free verse) about a young girl’s unbreakable bond with her rescue dog Mike and what happens to Mike, her family, and their community when a devastating, seemingly unstoppable wildfire hits their town….

Overall, Missing Mike is a touching, lyrical story with the beautiful, boundless relationship of Cara and Mike as its core and achor. Shari Green’s writing style is effortless and candid, a perfect match for Cara’s natural and appropriately trusting, childlike narrative. Readers who love stories about human-animal bonds, children’s novels told in free verse, or middle grade titles that explore family dynamics and strength in facing adversity might find much to love about Missing Mike. Those who enjoy the writing of authors such as K.A. Holt, Katherine Applegate, Barbara O’Connor, Beth Vrabel or Alison Hughes might also want to check this moving middle grade novel out.”

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Canadian Bookworm

“The book is written in free verse, which adds an interesting flow to the story. And I loved that Cara was a crossword fanatic, mulling over word definitions and able to consider how a word might mean different things to different people. A big part of Cara’s musings throughout the book are around the word “home” and how the word can mean sometime different to people given their experiences, personalities, and situations. A book that will get the reader thinking.”

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Book Time

“It is one of my biggest fears: A natural disaster strikes and I can’t go home and get my pet or somehow he escapes and I am forced to leave, effectively abandoning him. It breaks my heart just thinking about it….

Missing Mike is another great read by Shari Green….Missing Mike is a quick read and full of heartache, but also kindness and we discover, along with Cara, what home means.”

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Sun Dog Reviews

Posted on March 27th, 2018 by pajamapress

Kirkus Reviews

SunDog_Website“At the top of the world in the Arctic Circle, a young sled dog, Juno, seeks adventure….Kerbel weaves facts about the Arctic Circle within a tender story of the devotion between a boy and his dog. Del Rizzo’s vibrant, colorful polymer clay and acrylics capture the beauty of their home. The modeled clay gives Juno, the boy, and environs a sculptural, tactile quality. The boy has beige skin and black hair, there is an inuksuk in one picture, and their town is a tidy one of wood-frame houses. Juno may be a puppy in the Arctic Circle, but children everywhere will relate to her.”

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Resource Links

“Rating: E…

The story is very exciting and full of local colour. The amazing illustrations are done with polymer clay and acrylic paint. They are beautifully rendered in wonderful colours and textures. They reflect the puppy nature and local scenery with great affection.

This book could possibly be an award winner!”

Thematic Links: Sled Dogs; Arctic Circle; Tundra; Courage
—Isobel Lang

Read the full review on page 4 of the June 2018 issue of Resource Links

CM Magazine

“Kerbel’s poetic detail places the reader in a calm town on top of the world at a time before anyone else is awake and where the wind is lighter than a whisper….Del Rizzo’s textured illustrations in polymer clay pair incredibly well with the acrylic wash of the sky, creating a dreamy image of the midnight sun. Each illustration adds a new dimension to the story, encouraging readers to find hidden meaning in the illustration’s detail….This interesting and unique story could lead to scientific conversations with younger children about life in the Arctic, diverse tundra animals, and the sun cycles in a fun and engaging way, as well as the take-home message of displaying true bravery. In addition to the text, which depicts the romantic landscapes of the tundra and the magical feeling of being on top of the world, Kerbel also includes information on the endpapers about the majestic midnight sun and the atmospheric optical phenomenon called sun dog, both being her inspiration for Sun DogHighly Recommended.
—Mallory Dawson is the Teen Advocate Librarian at Vaughan Public Libraries

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Youth Services Book Review

What did you like about the book?…The story is a nice introduction to the arctic. The eye-catching illustrations are rendered in polymer clay and acrylic, bringing the arctic to vivid life.

To whom would you recommend this book? This is a story that will appeal to children interested in the arctic and those who like sled dogs. Pair it with Over in the Arctic by Marianne Berkes and Kumak’s Fish by Michael Bania for a fun arctic themed story time.”
Catherine Coyne, Mansfield Public Library, Mansfield, MA

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Canadian Bookworm

“This is a lovely story of the connection between Juno and her boy, but also of the high Arctic days, and the animals who call that part of the world their home.

The illustrator of this book uses polymer clay as one element of the illustrations and I loved the effect. She brings alive Juno’s playfulness (I particularly liked the picture with the sock) and the beautiful environment Juno and her boy live in. The flowers look so real, I wanted to smell them!

A great book, especially for youngsters with their own special dog.”

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Fab Book Reviews

“Kerbel’s writing is so fluid and measured; while so much activity happens over the course of the picture book, Kerbel’s writing is focused, utterly inviting, and perfectly action-packed (yet not frightening for younger readers) when the climactic action occurs. Del Rizzo’s clay and acrylic art is so meticulously detailed and dynamic (from larger scenery to the smallest particulars)- I am in awe. There is one spread in particular in Sun Dog featuring the story’s polar bear that is incredible- quite a work of art….The combination of Kerbel’s storytelling and Del Rizzo’s art make for terrific reading, and I hope we get to see further collaborations from the duo.

Overall, what a gorgeous picture book! With a terrific combination of warmth, playfulness and love, and moments of excitement and danger that lead to a sunny ending, Sun Dog is sure to please readers and/or an audience of young and old.  With such appealing and vibrant art, and a beautifully written, well-paced story, Sun Dog would make for great read aloud material (for preschool ages and up), as well as for quiet reading and sharing.”

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Storytime with Stephanie

Sun Dog by Deborah Kerbel and Suzanne Del Rizzo is a beautifully illustrated, impeccably written tale about a little sled dog pup who dreams of running with the big dogs….

Sun Dog is a lovely little story that will speak to all little children, who are just desperate to be bigger and older. One of the most common things I hear in my day job as a preschool teacher and mom is “I wish I was a grownup!” Juno is every child who is clamouring to have more responsibility and autonomy. Plus, she is just so darn cute!…Children will love and be inspired by the plasticine illustrations by Suzanne Del Rizzo. All of the illustrations are so vibrant and full of incredible details and mixes of colours to capture the beautiful sky in the far north.”

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Ben and the Scaredy-Dog Reviews

Posted on March 19th, 2018 by pajamapress

Booklist

BenScaredyDog_Shadow_Website“When Ben meets Erv, the new kid across the street, he likes her right away, but her hefty pet, Max, triggers his fears: ‘Big dog. Big jaws. Big teeth.’…This picture book dovetails nicely with the anxiety theme in Ben Overnight (2005) as well as events in Ben Says Goodbye (2016)…The precisely worded text uses dialogue well while revealing Ben’s thoughts through the concise narration. The artwork expresses Ben’s emotions with finesse and captures the story’s gentle humor. A fine read-aloud choice, this Canadian picture book will have broad appeal for young children.”
—Carolyn Phelan

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School Library Journal

“Emphasized in thick, crayonlike outlines, the soft, cartoon illustrations add comfort and charm to this encouraging, gentle narrative about a common childhood fear. VERDICT This compassionate story may ease some anxiety in young children who are nervous or fearful around dogs. A warmhearted addition to Ellis and LaFave’s books about Ben.”

Read the full review in the May 2018 issue of School Library Journal

Kirkus Reviews

“Ben’s fear of dogs is sensitively portrayed in a text that skillfully interweaves exposition, questions, and dialogue, with Ben’s internal musings set in italics. Amusing illustrations in watercolor and ink make effective use of heavy outlines and copious white space for a clean, contemporary look. Another successful outing in a winning series, with lots of room for more adventures for Ben and his new friends Erv and Max.”

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CM Magazine

“When new neighbours move in across the street, Ben is interested in meeting what could possibly be a new friend. But one thing is stopping him: his fear of dogs….

Kim LaFave is an illustrator with a focus of paint, pencil and digital media. His images in Ben and the Scaredy-Dog are beautiful. The feelings of fear and uneasiness are clearly depicted on Ben’s face. The illustrations, by also showing body language, add another element to the story.

Apprehension, fear and anxiety are normal feelings. A fear of dogs is common, but learning to cope with this fear is very important. Ben’s bravery is to be commended, and he provides a great example of overcoming a fear.

Every child has a fear, but how they learn to cope and deal with it is the important thing. Ben and the Scaredy-Dog will contribute greatly to story times in the library, classroom or at home. Highly Recommended.
—Courtney Crocker, Regional Librarian for Central Division with Newfoundland and Labrador Public Libraries

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Resource Links Magazine

“Rating: E…Ben and the Scaredy-Dog offers a surprising perspective on overcoming one’s fears. As we see Ben be brave we also see another character overcome his own fears.

Readers of all ages will enjoy this relatable and fresh story constructed in short, effective prose….La Fave’s colourful yet airy illustrations depict diverse characters and allow for the readers’ own experiences and imagination to fill in the setting. A fun read!

Thematic Links: Fear in Children; Fear in Animals; Dogs; Animals; Friendship; Bravery; New Experiences”
—Ana Malespin

Read the full review on page 4 of the April 2018 issue of Resource Links Magazine

CanLit for LittleCanadians

“…Ben and the Scaredy-Dog solidifies the boy’s place in guiding those in preschool and kindergarten to understanding more about the big world of siblings, change, friendships and dogs….

Sarah Ellis demonstrates that children have enormous potential to learn coping strategies for all manner of fears and anxieties. Ben’s fear of dogs is valid, especially for very little children and very big dogs, but by comparing how Ben’s siblings see dogs–Robin sees their playfulness, Joe sees them as loving creatures–with how the little boy sees them–‘When Ben looks at a dog he sees jaws and teeth. That’s a dog to Ben. Jaws and teeth.’–Sarah Ellis legitimizes all perspectives. Even the baby-steps approach to dealing with Max lends credence to the ability for children to learn how to cope while trying a multitude of strategies, including self-talk and mindfulness.

I love Kim La Fave’s illustrations of Ben and company. His emphasis on perspective–looking up from a child’s point of view and at their eye-level–encourages empathy for Ben’s distress and concerns. Even with the bright colours of the kids’ clothing and Max’s soft expressions, Ben’s fear is validated. But, with that lightness of line and colour, Kim La Fave pulls together Ben’s thoughtful personality, Erv’s playful exuberance and Max’s big puppy nature.

It’s nice to know, courtesy of Ben and the Scaredy-Dog, that anyone can be scaredy-dog about something and that it can be lightened with a little help from inside and out.”

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Book Time

“I love the illustrations in Ben and The Scaredy-Dog. The story was also great and I loved the ending.”

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Bat Citizens: Defending the Ninjas of the Night Reviews

Posted on February 26th, 2018 by pajamapress

School Library Journal

BatCitizens_Website“This extensive introduction to the world of bats covers a wide range of topics from where they live to what they eat to how they communicate. Laidlaw debunks myths such as bats are blind and discusses threats to their survival, such as the devastating disease, white nose syndrome, and human disruption of hibernating sites….Particularly interesting are 10 profiles of ‘bat citizens’ from around the world who are helping conservations efforts…A center gate fold opens to reveal a larger-than-life hoary bat with various anatomical features labeled and explained….VERDICT Even readers who don’t actively engage in citizen science projects should gain a new appreciation of bats through this engaging overview. A good choice for most school and public library collections.”
—Kathy Piehl, Minnesota State University Library, Mankato

Read the full review in the March/April 2018 issue of School Library Journal

Booklist

“[T]hese remarkable nocturnal ninjas are up against threats ranging from urban development to white-nose syndrome. In this educational primer, animal activist Laidlaw (Elephant Journey, 2016) briefs readers on all things bat—and the youngsters working to protect them. With each turn of the page comes a new concept (habitat, hibernation, and diet, to name a few) and a treasure trove of bat-tastic full-color photos….While those already entranced by these singular creatures of the night will be inspired anew, the succinct, well-researched text and interactive format—including a center gatefold of a life-size hoary bat—is sure to recruit a fresh legion of bat lovers, too. Bat citizens unite.”
Briana Shemroske

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Publishers Weekly

“Author and animal welfare activist Laidlaw shows some love for the undervalued bat, while celebrating the work of other bat-enthusiasts to educate the public about the animals….In addition to the striking photographs, a gatefold features a life-size painting of a hoary bat in flight. Many readers will be inspired by Laidlaw’s implication that anyone can become an animal advocate with enough curiosity and compassion.”

Click here to read the full review

CM Magazine

“Because bats are a favorite topic for many young readers, there’s always room in the marketplace for another book, especially one that is comprehensive, based on the latest data, and written in an appealing, kid friendly style….

Scientific information is presented in a direct, easy to read manner throughout, with sufficient detail to answer most questions young readers might have….[B]ecause bat populations are being decimated by White Nose Syndrome, readers learn about the latest research. To help with the loss of habitat or disturbance, readers read how concerned citizens are providing bat roosting boxes, prohibiting people from entering old mines and caves, and most interesting, researching ways to protect bats from wind turbines that kill millions….Since bats have long been given a bad rap, everything in this book is aimed at dispelling the myths….

The book profiles 11 kids, starting as young as four, with life long interests in bats and ambitions to be involved in the solutions to their conservation. Arming these kids with today’s technology is resulting in new data collection. They are terrific ambassadors whose dedication to the cause will inspire readers to think about their own interests and aspirations in science fields.

The orderly layout of the book will engage readers and leave a strong impression. The main text, with large bold subheadings, occupies the centre of each double-spread, framed on each side and along the bottom with many well chosen, captioned photos and sidebars. An exciting surprise awaits mid book: a huge foldout diagram of a Hoary Bat with key body parts labelled. The same poster graces the reverse of the cover. That cover, by the way, is striking for its matte black finish with glossy silhouettes and large bat flying towards you. This is a most visually appealing book! Bat Citizens’ contents should readily satisfy the bat curious.

Highly Recommended.
—Gillian Richardson

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Resource Links Magazine

“Rating: E…Readers of any of award winning Rob Laidlaw’s previous books will agree with the description on the jacket cover of Bat Citizens: Defending the Ninjas of the Night “Rob Laidlaw has devoted his life to protecting animals and empowering others to do the same.” One of the ways that Rob protects animals and empowers others is by producing excellent information-packed books.

Bat Citizens combines an impressive amount of research about bats with snapshots of many ‘bat citizens’, children and young adults, helping bats world-wide. Rob states in his introduction “Bats are disappearing because of threats like habitat destruction, roost disturbance, disease, and wind turbines.” The purpose of the book is to inform readers, to think good things about bats, and to provide inspiration and advice to help bats….

This book is highly recommended for both school and public libraries. Each ‘Bat Citizen’ article could be a starting point for individual or group projects, such as learning mapping software to study local bat ranges, conducting experiments to understand echolocation, building bat-houses in shop class for the school, and community. Students could host a bat festival educating and encouraging others to understand bats. The world needs bats.

Thematic Links: Bats; Bat Conservation; Animal Activists; Animal Welfare”
—Laura Reilly

Read the full review on page 22 of the April 2018 issue of Resource Links Magazine

Kirkus Reviews

“Chock-full of bat facts and photographs, this nonfiction book for young readers makes the case for bat conservation, including challenges that face the species and possible solutions….The smaller ‘bat facts’ and ‘batty ideas’ boxed items, on the other hand, fit in nicely with surrounding photographs….[A] striking center gatefold allows readers a closer look at a hoary bat….Look to this eye-catching book to be convinced of the wonders of the bat and how they are deserving of protection.”

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The Hamilton Spectator, “Good Nature Books for Children of Various Ages”

“Bats have it tough right now. Not only are they suffering from habitat loss, but the disease white-nose syndrome (WNS) is wiping out entire bat populations. To help these important and fascinating animals we need to learn more about them and Rob Laidlaw’s book Bat Citizens: Defending the Ninjas of the Night provides lots of interesting information….

Complementing the interesting text are numerous colour photographs, a centre-gatefold bat illustration and a poster. Numerous features of ‘Bat Citizens’ (young people working to protect bats) along with sidebars and a glossary also help to make Bat Citizens an excellent book aimed at helping these incredible, vital and often misunderstood mammals. Highly recommended!”

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Quill & Quire

“This jam-packed book of facts and fanatics is enjoyable for bat lovers and the uninitiated.”

Read the full review on page 36 of the April 2018 issue of Quill & Quire

Sal’s Fiction Addiction

“Young readers love knowing as much as they can about bats. Rob Laidlaw writes terrific nonfiction on topics that kids love to read. It’s a win-win situation. No one will be disappointed when sharing this new book.

Rob’s writing style is conversational, and personal. He provides clear information, based on up-to-date study and creates a book that is perfect fare for his target audience….

The information provided throughout is easy to follow, answers most common questions and leaves readers with a good amount of knowledge concerning these oft-maligned creatures. The final section provides ideas for being a friend to bats. Making sure that buildings are safe for bats to make their homes there, bat mapping, understanding how important bats are to a healthy world, raising money to help fund bat research, and celebrating their place in the world. A list of 14 Ways You Can Help Bats, and a list of the many organizations that help bats around the world are presented. A glossary and index follow.

Impressive and well-researched, as are other books by Rob Laidlaw, there is much to like about this fine book.”

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Book Time

Bat Citizens: Defending the Ninjas of the Night by Rob Laidlaw is an amazing book with lots of information, pictures and stories….There is also information about the variety of threats bats face, including white-nose syndrome, and humans (of course) as well as suggestions on what we can do to help our winged friends.”

Click here to read the full review

Canadian Bookworm

“This informative book is about a number of young people who have become engaged with bats…This book is a great way for kids to learn more about bats and the different species that exist from miniscule to ones with two metre wingspans. There are lots of pictures, including a poster that comes with the book, and the format has short single page articles on different bats, traits, and the defenders….

This will make a great addition to public and school libraries, and, hopefully, engage more young people in defending bats and their environment.”

Click here to read the full review

Wash On! Reviews

Posted on February 13th, 2018 by pajamapress

School Library Journal

WashOn_Website“When young Petronilla refuses to ‘wash off’ and instead decides to ‘wash on’ one day, she creates a series of hilariously chaotic events. With colors now staining anything she or her family touches, the world becomes a collage of random colors, spreading from person to person until ‘coloritis’ covers the globe….In her newest book Marineau, with the assistance of translator Woods, has delivered a delightful well-paced narrative that constantly catches readers by surprise….Gauthier has created a series of masterful mixed-media illustrations that work with the text and contain extra details that pump up the humor….VERDICT An extremely fun story for family and storytime sharing. Wash on!”
—Margaret Kennelly, iSchool at ­Urbana-Champaign, IL

Read the full review in the April 2018 issue of School Library Journal

Kirkus Reviews

“A girl alters a simple phrase and changes the world….Gauthier’s gorgeous mixed-media illustrations are quirky and angled, with an energetic combination of drawn lines, watery paint, cut paper, wood textures, and photo collage….Topsy-turvy offbeat fun.”

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Resource Links

“The story is diverting and very imaginative. The award winning author has created an energetic romp with a likeable but naughty heroine whom children will relate to. The illustrations are mixed media. Children will revel in the chaotic nonsense.”
—Isobel Lang

Read the full review on page 5 of the June 2018 issue of Resource Links Magazine

CM Magazine

“Be swept away in the magic of colour as Petronilla and her family paint their home and town with every touch! Wash On! brings colour and life to a world in which Petronilla feels is too dull and boring at times….

Michèle Marineau shines the light on Petronilla who has been living in the limelight of her perfect sister. Petronilla has never felt so important – realising the power she holds to ‘wash on’ colours from one object to another. Marineau’s use of dialogue provides a voice for each character. The characters’ emotion, tone, and volume are heard and experienced through Marineau’s use of descriptive dialogue…

Manon Gauthier’s mixed-media illustrations are captivating and inventive. Her use of gouache, pencils, and paper collage provides depth and layers to each setting….

Wash On! (originally published in French as Barbouillette) will leave readers wanting to experience the remarkable transfer of colour from one object to another and paint their world with colour! Highly Recommended.
—Kelsey Sukich is a French-immersion kindergarten teacher at École Rivière-Rouge in Winnipeg, MB. She loves exploring the power and expression of colour with her kindergarteners!

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Youth Services Book Review

“Petronilla is a little girl with ‘a talent for chaos’ compared to her ‘perfect’ older sister Babette. One evening while taking a bath Petronilla says ‘Wash on!’ and instead of dirt washing off, colors wash onto her….When the abundance of colors makes it impossible to find the dog, Petronilla finally agrees to say ‘Wash off’ and things go back to normal. Children will enjoy watching young Petronilla wielding her power. The illustrations of mixed media perfectly convey the chaos of color.”
Catherine Coyne, Mansfield Public Library, Mansfield, MA

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CanLit for LittleCanadians

“Though most of us wash off any dirt and colours that stain our skin, a little twist of words and fate have colour splotches washing onto little Petronilla in Quebec author and translator Michèle Marineau’s newest picture book Wash On!…

Wash On! may be based on a silly situation in which colours are transferred rather than cleaned off but the story actually has several powerful messages hidden in that imaginative scenario. First, Wash On! focuses on the joie de vivre of a world filled with colour. We all need a little colour in our lives…But like anything, it is possible to have too much of a good thing, as everyone learns, including Petronilla. Once the colours explode and there is no contrast and no way to differentiate objects, that joy is lost, like the dog, in an overabundance of stain. Splashes of colour are wonderfully invigorating and therapeutic but excesses are debilitating and even harmful. Second, Governor General award-winning author Michèle Marineau recognizes the power of children in defining the world and their need to manage their own circumstances. Her family may think of Petronilla as chaotic but she seems to just want a hand in determining the life she will lead.

Michèle Marineau tells powerful stories in her native French language and this translation by Pajama Press’s Erin Woods highlights that poignancy with merriment and spirit. That same boldness is depicted with daring by Manon Gauthier’s mixed media illustrations. Manon Gauthier…continues to do amazing things with gouache, pencil and paper collage, ever different and totally wonderful.

Wash On! may say a lot about living a life in colour but it also reminds us about moderation and having control over the lives we lead. Young readers will laugh at the silliness of the family’s situation but we can all learn a lesson or two from Petronilla and her splashy world.”
—Helen K

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Canadian Bookworm

“This lovely tale of a young girl who finds the magical power of words while taking a bath, will delight all young readers….The fun of imagining [coloritis] happening is enhanced by the illustrations showing color moving to other objects and the confusion it causes. A fun book.”

Click here to read the full review

Where’s Bunny? Reviews

Posted on February 6th, 2018 by pajamapress

Kirkus Reviews

WheresBunny_Website“The sibling pair that last made Baby Cakes (2017) now walk themselves through a bedtime routine….As in the prior book, the pictures’ focus is on the children, both brown-skinned and with straight, black hair. The brown-skinned adult hands that place the toddler in the bath and then lift the tot back out make it clear that the children are being lovingly supervised, but the visual centering of the children allows for fluid reading of the text….[R]eaders may well see a newly literate older sibling reading aloud to a younger one—an empowering possibility….A nicely child-centered iteration on a common theme. (Picture book. 2-5)”

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School Library Journal

“Designed for the youngest listeners and readers, this sweet story features an older sister who helps her adorable younger brother wind down from his day and enjoy the rituals of bedtime….By using a warm color palette without strong contrasts, the watercolor-and-digital art suggests coziness, happiness, and familial love. The fluffy bathrobes and pajamas look positively snuggly….VERDICT A soothing bedtime story perfect for one-on-one sharing with babies, toddlers, and preschoolers alike.”
—Sally James, South Hillsborough Elementary School, CA

Read the full review in the March/April 2018 issue of School Library Journal

Midwest Book Review

“Humor, helpfulness, and heart combine as Baby’s big sister helps to see him – and, of course, his stuffed bunny – through the nighttime routine from bath to bed. Little listeners ages 1 to 3 will connect with familiar sensory language of warm, tickly water and blanket snuggles, and they will be able to enjoy it time and again in this study-format…Where’s Bunny? will make bedtime a happy time for the whole family and is unreservedly recommended for daycare center and preschool collections.”

Click here to read the full review

CM Magazine

“Told with sparse language, Where’s Bunny? will appeal to the very young. Its soothing pace makes it an ideal bedtime book. It includes supplementary material – a bedtime checklist and a “clean teeth” checklist….The illustrations are simple, interesting, and cheerful, with an emphasis toward the blue range of the colour spectrum. The children have happy expressions, even during times of potential strife, such as brushing teeth or saying goodnight (as any parent could attest to!). Refreshing, too, is the depiction of children of colour.

Young children are sure to be soothed by the content, pace, and illustration of Where’s Bunny?

Highly Recommended.
—Roxy Garstad is the Collections Librarian at MacEwan University in Edmonton, AB.

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CanLit for LittleCanadians

“Author Theo Heras and illustrator Renné Benoit’s very young brother and sister from Hat On, Hat Off and Baby Cakes have returned in a story about getting ready for bed and the routines involved with that evening ritual….

Theo Heras makes her text simple and readable for those just learning to decipher books, and it is sweetly appropriate for a concept book about bedtime routines. Many concept books tend to be flat, emphasizing only the concept in the simplest of texts. Thankfully Theo Heras does more than just assert a concept. There is a story here, one of sibling affection and a young child’s bond to his stuffed animal, that is elevated with Renné Benoit’s artwork. The children are so beautiful and angelic with their bright faces and cowlicked hair, and their surroundings are as soft and inviting to the reader as to the children. From Bunny with his carrot-topped hat and the towels and robes and bedcovers, Renné Benoit draws readers into the warmth of the children’s home and lives and asks them to stay for a bit.

Another invitation that is extended to readers comes by way of Pajama Press’s unique picture book format for the very young: a padded cover with rounded corners, and extra-heavy paper….Like the words and the art of Where’s Bunny?, the book says, ‘Hug me’ and the very young will be sure to oblige at least once before lights out.”
—Helen K

 Click here to read the full review

Resource Links Magazine

“A book on bedtime routines….This book is helpful with a bedtime checklist that could have parents of young children establishing their own bedtime routine.”
—Holly Rainville

Read the full review on page 6 of the April 2018 issue of Resource Links Magazine

Canadian Bookworm

“At various points in the book, the question “Where’s bunny?” is asked, and each time this is asked, there is an opportunity to look for the bunny in the drawing on that page. Most children have a stuffy of some kind that is a favourite bedtime pal, and this let’s that be part of the ritual as well….Bedtime books are a great way to introduce routine to children, and make getting ready for bed a pleasant time….I also liked that the book showed diversity without being about diversity.

This book is a great choice for little ones.”

Click here to read the full review

Small Things Reviews

Posted on January 18th, 2018 by pajamapress

Booklist ★ Starred Review

SmallThings_Website“In this wordless picture book-graphic novel mashup, originally published in Australia, artist Tregonning introduces an unnamed boy grappling with corrosive anxiety….Much like the boy’s ever-transforming anxieties, panels shift from slender, compressed squares to sweeping double-page spreads. The otherworldly glow of the black-and-white palette, too, elegantly underscores the boy’s ongoing battle against darkness. More than a moving portrayal of one boy’s struggle, this is also a magnifying lens through which to identify and discuss mental illness with readers of all ages. Don’t let its title or page count fool you, Small Things’ effects are monumental.”
— Briana Shemroske

Read the full review in the April 2018 issue of Booklist

School Library Journal ★ Starred Review

“[An] incredibly moving tale…This wordless, picture book–size graphic novel is rendered in beautiful gradients of pencil. It was created by the late Tregonning and completed by Shaun Tan (The Arrival), whose own style is similarly characterized by surrealism. Cute character designs with bobble heads and circular eyes make the work pensive rather than depressing. This is a sympathetic examination of anxiety that never assigns blame; instead, the authors acknowledge the complexity of the situation and that resolutions aren’t easy….VERDICT With direction from educators, guidance counselors, or parents, this poignant title will resonate with those dealing with mental illness. A superb example of bibliotherapy.”
—Rachel Forbes, Oakville Public Library, Ont.

Read the full review in the March/April 2018 issue of School Library Journal

Foreword Reviews ★ Starred Review

“A boy struggles to fit in at a new school in this wordless story with a big message about childhood anxiety and the power of kindness and acceptance….[The illustrations] depict the insidious nature of worry…”

Read the full review in the May/June 2018 issue of Foreword Reviews

The Times Literary Supplement

“When giving children books, well-meaning adults may feel impelled to offer challenge, too – opting for text-dense vocabulary boosters at the reader’s diagnosed level, with the difficulty ramped up a little for luck. However gentle, though, this sort of nudge is not an unalloyed blessing. It may pluck children out of storylines in which they were ecstatically resident; deny them the elegant plotting of a well-turned mystery, the satisfying structure of a pony story or the terseness of a comic adventure….

A frequent casualty of the utilitarian focus on advancement and sheer length is illustration, and the reader’s respect for it. The children told “You’re too old for picture books” are not only banished abruptly from an enchanted kingdom. They are also held back from winkling out images’ stored secrets of detail, and from learning the artist’s language of window-frame, colour, light, shade, emphasis, the single line that communicates mood, or loss, or season – everything we mean by “visual literacy”. Sophisticated, demanding concepts may also be com­municated, via illustration, to readers unable or unwilling as yet to parse the complex language required.

Small Things, a wordless graphic novel by Mel Tregonning, and finished, after her death, by Shaun Tan (Allen & Unwin), is an extra­ordinary example: an illustrated book that communicates difficult, painful ideas solely via intricate monochrome graphite drawings….[T]o the ten- or twelve-year-old besieged by incipient anxiety or depression it offers a ­significant potential gift: understanding, and the possibility of recovery….The image of a small, vulnerable body breaking down by degrees, while deeply discomfiting, honours the weight of what it conveys; and the book as a whole celebrates the helpfulness of uncon­ditional love, while successfully avoiding a superficial, unduly swift resolution….”

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The Horn Book Magazine

“In this wordless story told through paneled graphite art that makes achingly attuned use of chiaroscuro, a boy is having a hard time—not the kind many picture-book kids have en route to finding a problem’s clear-cut solution, but an enduringly hard time….One hopes this book will reach children who relate to the boy’s plight and anyone who, like the boy’s sister, suspects that a loved one is in pain and needs help.”
—Nell Beram

Read the full review in the July/August 2018 issue of The Horn Book Magazine

Publishers Weekly

“The late Australian artist Tregonning’s wordless graphic tale, completed posthumously with help from Shaun Tan, captures the way anxiety can ravage children’s lives….Tregonning creates a visual language for the pain of depression and anxiety, and her story may provide a measure of hope to those who might otherwise have given up in despair.”

Click here to read the full review

Kirkus Reviews

“Anxiety is more than a feeling in this visual narrative, more than the pressure of school tests, the loneliness of exclusion by classmates, or the fear of such shortcomings being discovered at home. Anxiety, represented here by ominously sharp swirls of black ink, has a visceral, visual gravitas—it grows to fill literal and figurative space as the young protagonist’s outlook progresses steadily downhill….[T]he refreshing visibility and validity of childhood pressures accompanied by the equally important realization that no one is alone in their experience of such strain balances the slight risk that readers might lose track of the narrative….A picture book that wants to be a graphic novel, and a message worthy of both.”

Click here to read the full review

CM Magazine

“Every once in a while, we are privileged with the gift of holding in our hands truly unique and emotionally riveting books which have the capacity to leave permanent footprints etched in the heart. Mel Tregonning’s Small Things is, undeniably, one of those books. While Tregonning’s untimely passing in 2014 has resulted in her being unable to physically witness the impact that her work has had on so many lives, it is safe to say that the legacy she has left behind in Small Things will continue to inspire and promote awareness for years to come….

Sadly, Tregonning was unable to see her project to its entirety, and, therefore, the final illustrations of the book were completed by renowned illustrator Shaun Tan who has forever redefined the genre of children’s literature with his creative, wordless vision and masterful life-like illustrations through such influential books as The Arrival. The similarities between Tregonning’s and Tan’s work are uncanny, and their mutual use of black and white and intricate shading techniques results in an extraordinarily realistic and haunting visual depiction of the actions and emotions of their characters. While evidently unforeseen, this chance merger of two such prolific illustrators of our time has resulted in a wordless masterpiece that, like The Arrival, effortlessly taps into the rawness of the human experience.

In Small Things, the author seems to speak to us from beyond the pages with a poignant reminder that no one is ever truly alone in their internal battles. Furthermore, Tregonning’s young protagonist acts as an example of the newfound hope and healing that can progressively emerge from confiding in others during life’s more challenging phases. Perhaps what makes this book most appealing is its relatability. Readers of all ages will be able to associate with the examples of daily stresses and worries that make us vulnerable and, at times, chip away at the soul, leaving temporary cracks for the light to escape. This beautifully depicted textless narrative which effectively honours not only the life of Tregonning, herself, but also the lives of all those who have been impacted by struggles with mental health, is a must-have, one-of-a-kind addition to every school library and home collection.

Highly Recommended.
—Christina Quintiliani is an Ontario Certified Teacher and Ph.D. Candidate at the Faculty of Education, Brock University, St. Catharines, ON., where she is researching children’s literature.

Click here to read the full review

Fab Book Reviews

Small Things is one of those tremendous reads that is an experience…Mel Tregonning’s Small Things, a wordless graphic picture book, is all at once superbly illustrated, unforgettable, extremely emotionally resonant, beautiful, heartbreaking, and hopeful all at once. Far too often I have had conversations with a parent or caregiver at the library who does not see merit in wordless books; an adult who tries to dissuade their child from reading a wordless picture book as ‘there are no words in it, why would you read it’. I find this crushing and a total disservice to the potent, consequential nature of wordless graphic books like Small Things….

Overall, I highly, highly recommend this title for readers young and old….An exceptional, stand-out piece that opens the way for discourse on mental health, I hope Small Things is a title that gets shared, talked about and appreciated.”

Click here to read the full review

Marmalade Books

“According to parenting and teaching educator Barbara Coloroso, childhood anxiety is an issue facing an alarming number of youth today. The subject is hit head-on in Small Things, an amazing and emotional new wordless graphic picture book for ages 8-12, by Australian artist Mel Tregonning.

I received an advance copy from the Canadian publisher Pajama Press. It immediately reminded me of Shaun Tan’s book The Arrival, published in 2007. I never forgot this migrant story. Also wordless in graphic book style, it was the perfect way for the ‘reader’ to really feel what it would be like to arrive in a foreign country, not able to speak or read the language or understand the culture….

Mel Tregonning was obviously inspired by Shaun Tan’s work and created a similar opportunity for readers to see what it would be like to walk in the shoes of a child suffering from debilitating anxiety….

This is an important book for pre-teens and young teens that deal with or know someone that deals with anxiety. A must for middle grade school libraries and would be an ideal conversation starter for classrooms.

Like The ArrivalSmall Things is also a book this bookseller won’t forget.”

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Canadian Bookworm

“This graphic picture book just blew me away….The drawings are amazing, showing the child’s emotions clearly. The way the drawings show the loss of self are brilliant and relatable. I absolutely loved this book and will be recommending it. The publisher information indicates a targeted age range of 8-12, but it can definitely be for adults as well.”

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Jill’s Book Blog

“When I was a kid, I didn’t like picture books without words. However, now I know that the pictures can tell a more powerful story without words. This is the case with this book….

The illustrations in this book are beautiful….The depiction of his demons were much more prominent though the images than they would have been with words. The number or demons increased so much that they eventually filled the entire page. This is a great, honest way to show how the demons of anxiety can consume a child or adult.

I loved this picture book! It is a powerful story for adults or children.”

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Book Time

Small Things by Mel Tregonning ($22.95, Pajama Press) is one of the most unique picture books I have read in a while….

In the afterword by Barbara Coloroso, author of Kids Are Worth It, writes ‘Mel Tregonning speaks volumes about childhood anxiety – an issue facing an alarming number of youth today.’…

Once I read that afterword, my first thought was Wow. What a powerful message with powerful illustrations.

But I wondered if my nine-year-old son would get it. When I ‘read’ it to him, I told him the black creatures were demons and we looked through the story together. I explained to him about anxiety and not letting fear get in your way of doing what you want to do. I plan to keep this book and pull it out once in a while to remind my son of what doubt, fear and negative self-talk can do. Because I think Coloroso is right – this book is a great starting pointing to help identify anxiety and ensure my son never let the demons win.”

Click here to read the full review

Kiss the Book

“[E]veryone…has their own cracks and missing pieces and maybe by reaching out with kindness we all can slowly heal.

Tregonning has written a wordless picture book, that is almost dense enough to be a graphic novel – at least a graphic short story. I would love for this to be discovered by upper elementary and middle school students…

EL – ESSENTIAL.  MS, HS – OPTIONAL.”
—Cindy, Library Teacher

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Timo Goes Camping Reviews

Posted on December 21st, 2017 by pajamapress

Booklist

TimoGoesCamping_Website“A sequel to Timo’s Garden (2016) and Timo’s Party (2017), this book tells an accessible, appealing story in eight chapters of large-print text. Created with warmth and attention to detail, the illustrations will help other noncampers imagine the settings and equipment as well as the dressed animal characters. The inviting cover art will draw readers to the book.”
—Carolyn Phelan

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School Library Journal

“Five friends embark on a camping trip in this early reader chapter book. Saucy Suki, grumpy Bogs, helpful Rae, quiet Hedgewick, and studious Timo decide—with the urging of adventurous Suki—to take a camping trip, even though none of them have gone camping before….The bold illustrations are coupled with flowing, sensory-laden prose to make a treat for the eyes and ears alike. VERDICT An enjoyable choice for elementary schools and sure to be popular with children. A great choice for a class read-aloud during Kindness Week.”
—Amanda C. Buschmann, Carroll Elementary School, Houston

Read the full review in the February 2018 issue of School Library Journal

Kirkus Reviews

“Allenby’s five woodland characters are full of personality….Griffiths’ digital illustrations depict the animals realistically but also anthropomorphize them with clothing; they walk on two legs. Vignette, single-page, and double-page artwork serves to show the friends’ emotions and illustrate the text. Beginning chapter-book readers will look for the friends’ next adventure and head to the library whenever their own skills are lacking.”

Click here to read the full review

ILA Literacy Daily, “Best of Friends”

“Colorful, digital illustrations reveal each animal friend’s personality and complement the text of this early chapter book, which describes an experience with which many children will be familiar.”

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CM Magazine

“In this wonderful addition to the Timo series! Timo’s friends have decided to go camping, despite the fact that none of them have gone before….Timo Goes Camping is a great book for newly independent readers who are looking for a bit of a challenge. There is a good amount of novel vocabulary, but this is well-balanced with clear writing and supportive illustrations. There are two major themes in this story….

A lovely touch is the illustration of a table of contents. For some readers, this may be their first introduction to navigating an information book. The inclusion of some basic camping knowledge will inspire many readers to do some research of their own….

The colourful illustrations are engaging and do a good job of supporting the text. As expected with a book intended for independent readers, the pictures do not provide explicit cues as to the text’s meaning. They do, however, do a good job of bringing the story to life and drawing in the reader….Overall, Timo Goes Camping is a fun story that skillfully combines camping know-how with emotional intelligence.

Highly Recommended.
—Sadie Tucker is a children’s librarian with the Vancouver Public Library

Click here to read the full review

Resource Links Magazine

“Rating: E

Timo Goes Camping is the newest early reader chapter book about the loveable rabbit Timo and his friends…

Each of the five characters on the camping trip has a distinctive personality: nervous Timo, smarty Suki, grumpy Bog, helpful Rae, and quiet Hedgewick. Children will relate to this cast of characters, and when the trip is complete, and the last pages of the book are read, children will understand that the camping adventure was also about courage, lessons in life, and how teasing can be hurtful. The message lends easily to opportunities for discussions about teasing, courage, teamwork, and learning from mistakes, etc. The text is refreshing, uncomplicated and the perfect font for an early chapter book.

The complementing illustrations are vibrant, delightful, and inviting….

Timo Goes Camping is a great book for beginning campers and readers who enjoy the outdoors. The story has lots of information and ideas for preparing for a camping trip. Certainly an enchanting story depicting a familiar Canadian adventure!

Thematic Links: Camping; Friendship; Kindness; Courage; Teasing”
—Carmelita Cechetto-Shea

Read the full review on page 13 of the April 2018 issue of Resource Links Magazine

Ingram Children’s Advance

“[A] confrontation with [a friend] leads to better communication and consideration all around.”

Read the full review on page 71 of the March/April 2018 issue of Ingram Children’s Advance

CanLit for LittleCanadians

“It’s wonderful to see a new Timo story from Victoria Allenby and illustrated by Dean Griffiths. This early reader series tugs at my heart with each new story as the rabbit Timo learns new life lessons alongside his friends Bogs, Hedgewick, Rae and Suki….

This lovely series of early readers returns an innocence and humility to children’s early readers that we haven’t seen since Peter Rabbit and Frog and Toad. There are valuable lessons about friendship and self-acceptance and learning. But, even more, Timo allows children to share in his learning about friendship and interacting with others, as well as the importance of reading. From his first book, Timo’s Garden (2015), and his second, Timo’s Party (2016), the rabbit is learning how to deal with friends and his own insecurities which he is always able to put aside when he takes the opportunities to learn and gain insight from his experiences.

As in all three of the Timo books, Victoria Allenby has made her characters so distinct that their roles in this camping adventure make perfect sense….For an author to create a story rich in characters, atmosphere, plot and positive messages is an astounding achievement for any book but extraordinary for an early reader.

The story is brought to visual life by Dean Griffiths’ artwork, with its textural richness of setting and scene. Dean Griffiths…knows how to adapt his style for an early reader, balancing the story, not becoming the story as it may, and rightly so, in picture books.

Together Victoria Allenby and Dean Griffiths have made Timo Goes Camping a book that any child would love to take on their own camping adventure, as guide (see the illustration below about using a compass), insurance or pleasant diversion.”

Click here to read the full review

Canadian Bookworm

“This delightful chapter book is due to be released in March 2018, plenty of time before camping season here in Canada kicks in….

When the trip begins, Timo immediately finds his knowledge useful, helping tie the frying pan to Hedgewick’s pack with the knots he learned about. As the trip progresses, Timo’s knowledge continues to come in handy. There is much teasing from Suki about the mistakes made along the way, and even about Timo’s book-learning until Timo gathers the courage to discuss how teasing can hurt people’s feelings. I liked the opportunity taken for this discussion and the way it came up naturally through the plot. I liked the topic of a typical Canadian pastime such as camping.

Of course, the thing I loved most about this book was how even Suki agreed by the end that every adventure needs a librarian.

This is a good book for kids to introduce the idea of camping and some of the activities involved in such an adventure, the importance of not going into an adventure without some knowledge and preparation, and about ensuring that teasing doesn’t become hurtful. The illustrations are lovely, bringing the animals to life, along with their environment.”
—Shonna Froebel

Click here to read the full review

Youth Services Book Review

Rating: 1-5 (5 is an excellent or a Starred review) 4

Genre: animal fiction

What did you like about the book? …This is an excellent choice to display teamwork, to learn about camping and canoeing and having fun….A simple, short story perfect for beginning chapter book readers. There are bright, detailed digitally created illustrations on every page.

Anything you did not like about this book?  No.

To whom would you recommend this book? Kids who have enjoyed the previous two stories about Timo and his friends will like this in addition to those who like animal fiction.”
Katrina Yurenka, Moderator, Youth Services Book Review

Click here to read the full review

Through the Looking Glass Children’s Book Reviews

“In this engaging and thoughtful chapter book Timo the rabbit has an adventure with his friends and the trip challenges them in many ways. Timo is forced out of his comfort zone and in the end this turns out to be a good thing.”
—Marya Jansen-Gruber

Click here to read the full review

Woodrow at Sea Reviews

Posted on December 1st, 2017 by pajamapress

Kirkus ★ Starred Review

WoodrowAtSea_Website“Edwards’ watercolor-and-ink illustrations are deceptively simple without fancy visual angles or digital effects—but it is this simplicity that creates and supports the story’s authentic, heartfelt ingenuousness. A lively, intelligent variation of full-page illustrations, double-page spreads, and spot vignettes keeps the pace active….A story of adventure and friendship without the boundaries of words, which becomes more personal and satisfying as a consequence.”

Click here to read the full review

Quill & Quire

Woodrow at Sea is another ocean-faring adventure story, this time about an elephant and mouse on separate but strikingly similar journeys…The characters are likeable in their animation and the ‘plot’ finds just the right mix of silly and scary….With this book, [Wallace] Edwards is moving in a different direction, forgoing his rich, deep-coloured palette for one much brighter, and embracing simplicity in his drawings rather than detail and subtext….[T]aken on its own, Woodrow at Sea is a delight.”

Click here to read the full review

Resource Links Magazine

“Rating: G…This wordless book could also be called a beginning graphic novel….

This book represents a positive message of friendship, peace and harmony, which are common themes in Edwards’ work….[A] good exemplar to show children how to create a wordless book (using illustrations to tell a story) as well as a fantastic example of a book that allows for elaboration and multiple interpretations by each reader (as it has no text to direct the full narrative) and each reading and reader will see different nuances and make different connections based on their own imaginations and lived experiences. This book will be a strong addition to any library. Thematic Links: Sea Journeys; Friendship; Wordless Book”
—Erin Hansen

Read the full review on page 3 of the February 2018 issue of Resource Links Magazine

CM Magazine

“Unquestionably, there is something quite refreshing in this excitingly new creative direction which Edwards has fully embraced in this latest publication. Although almost entirely unrecognizable from his previous drawings, the illustrations in Woodrow at Sea are masterpieces in and of themselves. Through the introduction of softer hues and unembellished characters, Edwards creates a dynamic contrast between visual simplicity and a powerful, adventurous narrative….

Edwards’ exclusively visual narrative unfolds effortlessly through the clever arrangement of illustrative content on each page. The imaginative depiction of action through a combination of single, whole page drawings and unframed montage sequences smoothly guides the eye, allowing for easy comprehension and seamless transitions between events….

Woodrow at Sea is a fun-filled tale that offers something new with each reread. The wordless nature of the book will enable pre-readers to assume an active role in the storytelling process. Edwards’ journey into textless format is truly a treat for new and old fans alike. A beautiful reminder of the joy of a newfound friendship rooted in kindness, Woodrow at Sea is sure to become an instant favourite.

Highly Recommended.
—Christina Quintiliani

Click here to read the full review

Hakai Magazine

“The elephant and the mouse went to sea … and the rest of the story Woodrow at Sea is up to your interpretation of the cute and colorful watercolor illustrations in this wordless book….If you’re looking for a more interactive reading experience, try taking turns telling the story with your young reading buddy.”

Click here to read the full review

Ingram Children’s Advance

“[E]xperience a lonely journey, an unlikely encounter, a brave rescue, and a series of adventures, each more exciting than the last.”

Read the full review on page 45 of the March/April 2018 issue of Ingram Children’s Advance

CanLit for LittleCanadians

“Not since an owl and a pussycat set off to sea have two wholly unlikely friends shared a boat on the open water. But the story of Woodrow at Sea is less love story than story of friendship and a far more poignant one than Edward Lear’s nonsense poem….

Because Woodrow at Sea is a wordless book, author-illustrator Wallace Edwards allows his illustrations to carry the story. But it really isn’t just one story. Everyone will read something different into his touching and considerate artwork….For a story told with no words, Woodrow at Sea has much to tell. And a lesson in creative thinking and visual literacy would not go amiss here.

Woodrow at Sea is truly a story about the importance of friendship and the good fortune of having a friend who has your back when seas get a little rough. It may not always be an angry ocean or a purple monster, but there’s always something that is eased with the support of a friend.”

Click here to read the full review