Pajama Press

Archive for the ‘Reviews’ Category

Road Signs That Say West

Posted on April 27th, 2017 by pajamapress

CM Magazineroadsignsthatsaywest_website

“…In Sylvia Gunnery’s novel Road Signs That Say West, Hanna persuades her younger sisters, Megan and Claire, to join her on a parent-free road trip across Canada….With a cast of interesting yet believable characters, Road Signs That Say West gives a realistic look into the lives and relationships of three very different yet inextricably linked sisters.

Road Signs That Say West is a novel that will absolutely find its way to the shelves of the junior high library I run. In a YA world full of fantasy, sci-fi, and dystopian fiction, I have a large number of readers looking for what we call people stories: complex stories about realistic characters and their lives. The sisters in this story are believable and familiar without the author’s resorting to clichés….

Road Signs That Say West reads quickly and cleanly, with simple yet engaging language. It’s broken up into sections; there are smaller passages within the chapters, and 6-8 chapters within each of the three parts. This structure makes the novel manageable for struggling readers without affecting the flow of the story or making it choppy….

On a personal note, there are few things I enjoy more than seeing my hometown mentioned in works of literature. Gunnery’s novel opens with a fitting quote from Islander Catherine McLellan’s song ‘Lines on the Road’. A few chapters in, there is a reference to the university in Charlottetown. A reader in Southern Manitoba will recognize the name Pinawa, and one in Saskatchewan might recognize Weyburn. Baddeck, Edmundston, Jasper, and Mount Robson are among the other places named as the girls travel west across Canada. The mentions of various cities and landmarks across the country is a perfect way to draw readers into the story.

Highly Recommended.
Allison Giggey

Click here to read the full review

Atlantic Books Today

“Despite the weight of the themes Road Signs is funny and full of heart, with skillful depiction of the hooks and barbs of sibling rivalry.”

Read the full review on page 64 of the Spring 2017 issue of Atlantic Books Today

Library of Clean Reads

“As soon as I read the book description, I was pulled to the storyline about three sisters who take a road trip. In my family we are three sisters and I like stories that center on sisterhood. I liked that the trip was across Canada from Nova Scotia to Vancouver, including a stopover in my city of Montreal….

The best part of the novel was how the sisters experienced life together and grew closer by the end of the trip, although it was in subtle ways.”

Click here to read the full review

Booktime

“I often wonder if I was brave enough to simply get in the car and drive, if I would have had the adventures sisters Hanna, Claire and Megan had in Road Signs That Say West.

That is not to say their adventures were far-fetched or unlikely, because they certainly were not, I just feel as though I am bit more like Megan – practical and responsible (but less grouchy) or Claire, up for adventure, but who likely wouldn’t do it on her own, then say Hanna, who is spontaneous and free spirited.”

Click here to read the full review

Two Times a Traitor Reviews

Posted on March 3rd, 2017 by pajamapress

Recently Readtwotimesatraitor_website

Two Times a Traitor is the newest endeavor by multi-nominated and celebrated Canadian author, Karen Bass.

Two Times a Traitor is a surprising departure from what YA readers have come to expect from this dynamic author….Readers will be swept up and away in this riveting middle-grade historical/time travel nail biting adventure, and into the pages of an exciting part of Canadian history!

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!!! [for Junior and Intermediate readers!]

FIVE STARS!!”

Click here to read the full review

Water’s Children Reviews

Posted on February 21st, 2017 by pajamapress

Kirkus Reviewswaterschildren_website

“Twelve children from different areas of the world offer lyrical reflections on what water means to them. To Delaunois’ fictive cast water invariably sparks positive feelings…Though the specific locale of each young speaker is keyed only by a watermarked version of ‘Water is life’ embedded in the illustration that is translated into his or her script and language (identified in a list at the end), Frischeteau varies the skin color and, albeit in an idealized way, facial features of his human figures. He also often adds characteristic wildlife, national dress, or other cues to each locale.…A tribute to the essential substance, washed free of preachiness or even faintly cautionary messages.”

Click here to read the full review

CM Magazine

“…Because the book is beautifully illustrated in vibrant colours, readers can vividly see how children live around the world. Gérard Frischeteau, a well-known animator, commercial artist and illustrator from Montreal, QC, is billed as a perfectionist, and it shows in the authenticity of the children and their environments on each double-page spread….Both the text and the illustrations serve to unify the world in a common theme, something that isn’t often done well in children’s books, but is done in both a matter of fact and sensitive way by Delaunois and Frischeteau.

The text is poetic and would be wonderful read-aloud with, by and for children to demonstrate that water doesn’t just flow out of a tap. Water is often taken for granted, and Water’s Children is a unique way to introduce the importance of water throughout the world. Set to be published on Earth Day 2017, it is destined to become a new classic…

The final page of Water’s Children teaches the reader the languages and regions covered in the book, and the endpapers are swirling blues, mauves and whites of water, reminding the reader of the beauty, necessity and power of water in our world.

Highly Recommended.

—Jill Griffith is the Youth Services Manager at Red Deer Public Library in Red Deer, AB.

Click here to read the full review

Resource Links

“[A] unique title that explores the vital importance of water…Written in poetic form, each two-page spread features a child from a different country who was invited by the author to share what water means to them in their life and surroundings. Each does so in their own language, and their (translated) answers are inspiring….The illustrations are gorgeous and tailored to represent a familiar depiction of each of the twelve narrators’ homeland….

This title is suitable for older toddlers through to primary school students and would be a wonderful addition to a personal, school, or public library collection. It reads like a crossover between a picture book, poetry, and a non-fiction title. Highly recommended.”

Thematic Links: Water; Conservation; Cultural Diversity
Erin Hansen

Read the full review on page 14 of the April 2017 issue of Resource Links

CanLit for LittleCanadians

“…Quebec author, visual artist and publisher Angèle Delaunois takes the reader across the world to witness the importance of water to the children of different countries….Canada is represented by two spreads, one from Quebec and one from Nunavut, both which speak in terms of what is most familiar to young Canadian readers….

While other texts and illustrations will be familiar or at least obvious such as the Russian child of a fishing village and the rain experienced by an urban child in Germany, many spreads will rouse thoughtful discussions of unfamiliar depictions of water….

The artwork of Montreal animator, graphic artist and illustrator Gérard Frischeteau rings with authenticity, depicting each global child in both personal and expansive landscapes, often providing details about daily life and family….

In fact, ‘Water is Life’ is a special touch in Water’s Children. On watermarks adorning each spread, the term ‘water is life’ is translated into a corresponding language, including French, Inuktitut, Catalan, German, Portuguese, Tamil, Arabic and Wolof with a final listing of all regions and languages represented in the book.

I know I’ve listed the reading audience as 4 to 8 years of age but don’t follow that. Water’s Children’s audience should read “All ages” or “Everyone” because it is an extraordinarily inspirational examination of the importance of water throughout the world. You can save it for World Water Day (March 22) but I recommend it for this weekend’s Earth Day (April 22) and anytime meaningful attention be paid to a global resource i.e., always.”

Click here to read the full review

Sal’s Fiction Addiction

“…In this book about water in its many forms, we are introduced to twelve children of the world, quick to share what it means to them. They have been invited by the author to share their thoughts. They do so in their own language, and their answers will inspire those children who share it to voice their own thoughts and may lead to valuable discussion about its importance to every one of us.

Written in poetic form, and accompanied by light-infused illustrations that are full of life and detail, it is a book that will be appreciated in classrooms and at home. Water is our most precious resource, and each speaker honors that….”

Click here to read the full review

Raising Mom

“…DESCRIPTION: This unique title reads like a crossover between a picture book, poem(s), and a non-fiction title. The necessity of water is focused through the lens of its vital importance to twelve children from different countries….The ultimate goal of the book is to spark discussion (and hopefully a plan for conservancy) about the vital role that water plays to each of us. The illustrations are vivid and each showcases a snapshot of each of the twelve ‘narrator’s’ homelands….

MY EXPERIENCE:

My 3-yo and I spent a lot of time pouring over this title. Our eyes were drawn to the first names of the twelve narrators that are listed in the dedication at the front of the book – as I read them, she recognized that some sounded different to her ears and we explored the concept that there are a wide variety of names and pronunciations for children from around the world. My daughter was able to recognize that each two-page spread was depicting a specific locale and we discussed things that were similar and different to our surroundings in each different depiction of a homeland. What a great discussion about diversity. She easily grasped the idea that water exists all over the world and is of vital importance to everyone. We ended our reading by brainstorming ways that we can help conserve the water around us and in our household, specifically.

LIKES:

  • vibrant and eye-catching illustrations
  • lyrical and poetic text that is vocabulary-rich (a great chance to learn new words!)
  • strong conservation message without being too heavy-handed. The message is clearly sent, but beautifully conveyed
  • effective hybrid of fiction/poem/non-fiction…”

Click here to read the full review

Kids’ BookBuzz

“We rated this book: [5/5]

Water’s Children: Celebrating the Resource that Unites us All is a fantastic book that shows how children around the world see water….

I really liked Water’s Children. It made me think about how lucky I am to have water whenever I want. A few years ago in Texas, we were in a drought and couldn’t water our lawns and the lake was really low, but it was not as hard to get water as in other places in the world. I loved flipping to the back of the book and seeing where each child was from and what language ‘Water is Life’ was translated into. This was my favorite thing about the book. The illustrations were fantastic and gave me a good idea what it was like for the children living in the different parts of the world. I think Water’s Children would be a great book to read on Earth Day.”
—Jewel – Age 9

Click here to read the full review

Youth Services Book Review

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

What did you like about the book? Water is essential to life. This book travels around the world illustrating the different uses of water: bathing, drinking swimming, watering the plants. Sometimes it appears as snow or frost or ice. Water is the ocean where there is so much life, above which gulls soar. Water is essential to life – around the world beautifully illustrated here by Gerard Frischeteau.

Anything you did not like about this book? No.

To whom would you recommend this book? This book would work well as a storytime for kindergarteners through 2nd grade followed by discussion. It could be used as a stepping-off point for essays.”
Katrina Yurenka, Moderator, Youth Services Book Review

Click here to read the full review

Waiting for Sophie Reviews

Posted on February 17th, 2017 by pajamapress

Kirkus Reviewswaitingforsophie_website

“Waiting for a little sister to be born and then waiting for her to grow up can be trying, but it eventually has its rewards….Nana-Downstairs sets the tone for this down-to-earth, sweet but never mushy story. The accompanying illustrations have a simple, gentle quality that neatly matches the story. The hand-printing-style type used for the text also complements the story and is easy for readers entering the world of early chapter books to decode. Warmth and quiet humor capture the realities of a new baby in the house.”

Click here to read the full review

Publishers Weekly

“The arrival of a new baby sibling conjures mixed emotions for a boy named Liam in this sweet and relatable story from [Sarah] Ellis…[Carmen] Mok’s warm digital illustrations tenderly depict Liam’s moments of adjustment…”

Click here to read the full review

CM Magazine

“Sarah Ellis is one of Canada’s most successful writer of children’s books (Back of BeyondBen Overnight, and several volumes in the “I, Canada” series). She is also a critic, a teacher and a librarian.

Utilizing the trope of “new baby – concerned older brother – problem with new baby – happy ending”, Ellis begins her story with Liam, who looks about six, being woken up by Nana-Downstairs, a hip lady in pants and designer specs. Mom and Dad have gone to the hospital because new sister Sophie is on the way.

Ellis’ trademark wry humour comes into play almost immediately…

Carmen Mok, who has many picturebook and magazine credits to her name, has graced the pages with some charming digitally-created art with the look of watercolours, mostly images of the characters in the story. The font chosen is a large, clear one, and the layout beckons new readers of ‘chapter books’ to give it a try. The book would also be appropriate for a slighter younger audience for reading aloud.

Waiting for Sophie is a fine addition to library collections, especially those requiring more easy novels with contemporary themes.

Highly Recommended.
Ellen Heaney

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Resource Links

“…Liam loves to play with little Sophie, and everyone says that he is her favourite person. However, even after three weeks, Sophie is still just lying in her crib. It is taking much too long for little Sophie to grow up and to be able to play with him….How will Liam learn to cope?

This is a beautifully written chapter book about the relationship between Liam and his new baby sister Sophie….Young Liam is an appealing character who loves his little sister, but definitely wants her to grow up quickly so that she will not break his toys, and will be able to play with him. Throughout the story, Liam learns how to love his sister, but more importantly, learns how to be more patient with her. The illustrations are colourful and filled with lots of detail which adds to the narrative….This is a gentle story which will definitely appeal to young readers with siblings, as well as the adults who care for them!

Thematic Links: Sibling Relationships; Babies; Family Relationships; Grandparents; Building; Playing With Young Children; Patience”
—Myra Junyk

Read the full review on page 9-10 of the April 2017 issue of Resource Links

CanLit for LittleCanadians

“Waiting can be so hard for little ones, especially when it’s for a baby sister who is taking her time being born and growing up so you can play with her. And this waiting is just about killing little Liam….

Sarah Ellis gives Liam a voice that is so filled with hope about his new sister and the promise of having a familial playmate that even his frustrations are natural and unfeigned. He speaks with his heart, never with meanness or anger, though he acknowledges the annoyance of biding his time. Sophie has a great big brother. And, although Waiting for Sophie is an early reader, rather than a picture book, the illustrations by Carmen Mok augment Sarah Ellis’ story with the innocence and family that the author’s words already convey.

Young children being challenged to read their first chapter books will appreciate this early reader as it will undoubtedly speak to them. So many know the anguish of waiting, whether for a new sibling to be born or some other significant life event, and will easily put themselves in Liam’s shoes. Maybe they’ll undertake their own DIY project, with a little help from an adult, or maybe they’ll find their own coping strategies but you can be sure that they’ll appreciate Liam’s story of Waiting for Sophie and the fun that can be had with it.”

Click here to read the full review

Sal’s Fiction Addiction

“[Sarah Ellis] constantly writes strong stories that have lasting impact for her audience. Many remain on my ‘keepers’ shelf to now be shared with my granddaughters….

In this early chapter book, she introduces us to Liam and his family. Upon meeting him we learn that his parents have gone to the hospital in hopes that baby Sophie will soon arrive. Liam is super excited, but wants everything to happen now!…

Sarah Ellis tells another timeless story with beautifully chosen text and Carmen Mok matches the tone of the story perfectly with gentle images and soft colors….”

Click here to read the full review

Mom Read It

“…Waiting for Sophie is a great older sibling book for younger school-age kids. Sarah Ellis not only captures the excitement of waiting for a new baby brother or sister, but also gives voice to the little frustrations kids can experience when dealing with a new baby in the house, and the desire to have a playmate their age. Sarah Ellis shows readers the fun side of being an older brother, like being the one to make the baby giggle. The gently colored illustrations make this a cozy reading choice for parents and kids, or educators discussing caregiving, to gather together and enjoy. This is a good book for any expectant sibling…”

Click here to read the full review

Under the Umbrella Reviews

Posted on January 17th, 2017 by pajamapress

Kirkus Reviews **Starred Review**undertheumbrella_website

“A grumpy man fights a rainstorm and other pedestrians but learns a lesson when his umbrella goes flying. Pithy poetry pairs with artful illustrations in this Canadian import, translated from the French….Arbona’s fantastical illustrations play with perspective, shape, and pops of bright color that enliven scenes primarily composed of black, gray, and white. Buquet’s text is translated into well-crafted verse by Woods. Memorable and instructive without a hint of didacticism.”

Click here to read the full review

Quill & Quire **Starred Review**

“…The two strangers form an almost-instant friendship; the man buys the boy a tart, which they share as the weather magically turns from grey rain to bright yellow sunshine, through which the two soar happily.

Buquet’s prose, translated into English by Erin Woods, consists of rhyming couplets, most of which fit together and flow with satisfying precision…..

Under the Umbrella is as sweet and lovingly constructed as the brightest treat in a bakery window.”
Nathan Whitlock

Read the full review on page 29 of the March 2017 issue of Quill & Quire

CM Magazine

“I have always enjoyed reading rhyming text out loud to groups of unsuspecting story time children as the atmosphere of the story unfolds in a rhythmic manner and comes alive when I do. The pace and anticipation of the story is set through the author’s clever ability to create the mood with simple words. The dark mood of the man in the story is felt by the quick and short sentences within the rhyming text, and it seems to become more urgent with every step that he takes through the stormy streets of Paris. When the worst of all things happens and his umbrella is blown from his hands, the man encounters a young boy who transports him to a better place, a place that is bright and warm where the rhythm of the rhymes has changed the atmosphere to illustrate a luxurious longing for the treats in the shop window….

The writing and illustrations in this book complement each other well and work together to highlight the special moment that the two characters share. One could say that they are in the calm of the storm before heading back out to continue their day. This story can be read with a group or shared with one child quite successfully….

Recommended.”
Tamara Opar

Click here to read the full review

Resource Links

“…Originally published in French, Under the Umbrella beautifully celebrates the gentle power of kindness to bring people of different ages together on common ground. The rhyming text is lilting and descriptive, pairing seamlessly with the book’s bold illustrations that are reminiscent of Picasso in the most delightful way. Facial features are stylized and rendered in a mix of bright colours and charcoal grey, lending the illustrations a unique contrast that adds visual interest. Young readers will feast their eyes on the array of sweet treats in the patisserie window, as a rainbow of macaroons, tarts and éclairs float by.

Under the Umbrella is a visually stunning picture book that will warm the hearts of all who read it.”

Thematic Links: Intergenerational Relationships; Generosity; Kindness; Sharing
—Chloe Humphreys

Read the full review on page 4 of the February 2017 issue of Resource Links

49th Shelf

“Catherine Buquet’s touching debut in lyrical rhyme, accompanied by Marion Arbona’s bold and stylish illustrations, celebrates intergenerational friendship and the magic of sharing. It also reminds children and adults alike that bright moments can be found on even the gloomiest of days.”

Click here to read the full review

Winnipeg Free Press

“Anyone who dislikes rainy days would enjoy Under the Umbrella by French author Catherine Buquet and illustrated by Marion Arbona…

Arbona’s artwork, in gouache and pencil, is the real highlight of this rhyming story. She is a three-time Governor General’s Award finalist, and her unique illustrations evoke the very feeling of a rain-soaked day. For youngest readers (2-4).”
—Helen Norrie

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Midwest Book Review

“…Artistic, unusual drawings of this sullen man perfectly capture his dark mood and the dark day, until a little boy changes his perspective in an unexpected way.”

Click here to read the full review

Omnilibros

“Bold, fantastical illustrations that play with perspective, shape, and color accompany the rhyming text which is a delightful read-aloud.”

Click here to read the full review

Geo Librarian

“…I loved the message of this book, that what we bring to the world is more important than what the world brings to us….I did appreciate the use of color and shape to convey the mood of the characters and the story. The story begins with mostly sharp angles and dark colors until the boy is introduced when light, bright, cheerful colors reign supreme. The contrast between the man’s mood and the boy’s shows brightest in the contrasting light and dark shades. And the way the light spreads into the dark demonstrates the message of the story far beyond the ability of the text to do so.”

Click here to read the full review

CanLit for LittleCanadians

“If Under the Umbrella proves anything, it’s that there’s always a little sunshine associated with the gloominess of rain if you just open your eyes to see beyond the umbrellas….

Under the Umbrella was first published in French as Sous le parapluie (Les 400 coups, 2016) and garnered much attention for its simple but restorative story told with the pencil and gouache illustrations of Marion Arbona…Catherine Buquet’s text suggests a darkness to the man’s trek in the rain, using words like “grumbled”, “growled”, “muttered”, “attacked”, “forced”, and “With striding feet and stormy heart” (pg. 15), making it evident that the man’s mood is as foul as the weather. Yet when she introduces the boy who is “entranced” “at a warm and glowing window”…the atmosphere changes completely, though the rain continues to fall. What a great lesson in word choice for older readers and writers to witness the impact vocabulary has on atmosphere. Marion Arbona’s artwork conforms to that climate, using dusky greys and sharp angles for the dreary scenes while shining bright yellows and reds and pinks within the patisserie and then upon the two as they savour a shared treat. The interaction between the balding older man in the pin-striped suit and the little boy in cap and short pants is fleeting but colossal in its momentary importance. I’m glad the boy was taking the time to enjoy the visual display and that the man took the time to acknowledge the boy. It’s a small thing, but it’s a good thing.”

Click here to read the full review

Sal’s Fiction Addiction

“…March 1 – a ‘birth’ day of sorts for two new books from Pajama Press. The first of two new releases is about a very grumpy man. If you are one of those people who doesn’t much like wind and rain and are often in a hurry, you will know how he is feeling. His surroundings are as grey and moody as he is. His mood is aptly displayed in the rhyming text and in the dreary darkness of the artwork.

That mood is effectively changed for the reader when we note a young boy looking at the warm glow emanating from a patisserie window. Bathed in yellow light, he is standing on tiptoe to get a clear look at the sweetness on display. A turn of the page and the reader is fully aware of the warmth the boy is feeling….

Just as quickly, with the strength of a gusty wind, we are returned to the gloom as the man loses his umbrella. Luckily, the boy is there to grab it, and to bring a welcome change to the man’s day.

The artwork beautifully matches the feel of the rainy day from two clearly different perspectives. Use of color, shape, and varying perspective add to the book’s appeal. The text is filled with an invitation to look at the world from point of view, and the translation to memorable rhyming text is a real plus!”

Click here to read the full review

Pickle Me This

“A beautifully illustrated picture book that celebrates a few of my favourite things, namely light, umbrellas, and baked goods? Yes, please….

As we turn towards the season in which the rain can seem unceasing and the world still a bit too cold and grim, it becomes important to be reminded not to hurry too much, and not to miss those moments in which light and communion is possible.

The book begins with a man who’s doing battle with the wind and rain, barrelling his way along his journey, and furious at the crowds and the weather, and everything that’s offering resistance….The man doesn’t even notice the boy he passes staring into the window of the bakeshop….

When a gust of wind rips the umbrella away from the hurrying man’s clutches, the flyaway object lands at the little boy’s feet. The boy retrieves it and the man offers his thanks, and suddenly notices the world around him, the light at the window, the good things on display inside.”

Click here to read the full review

Picture Book Play Date

“[Under the Umbrella] was the second book I won from Pajama Press Books and it’s another rhyming delight. If you liked RAIN! by Linda Ashman/Christian Robinson then you should add this one to your reading list….Great read that we will treasure, particularly on rainy days.”

Click here to read the full review

Good Morning Grumple Reviews

Posted on January 6th, 2017 by pajamapress

School Library Journalgoodmorninggrumple_website

“Toddler-PreS–What to do with tots who don’t like to wake up in the morning? Do you tiptoe carefully around them, or do you wake them up with a tickle and a song? Allenby and Gauthier address this very issue with a patient mother fox who knows just how to coax her own little ‘grumple’ out of bed….Gauthier’s mixed-media and paper collage illustrations are quiet in tone, emphasizing that this is one fox who just wants to sleep. Tinges of taupe, cream, brown, and heather gray are shaded across the pages. The small size, soft padded cover, and sturdy card stock pages make this suitable for lap sharing. VERDICT Consider for medium to large picture book collections that serve a heavy toddler and preschool population.”
—Lisa Kropp, Lindenhurst Memorial Library, NY

Read the full review in the February 2017 issue of School Library Journal

Publishers Weekly

“This padded storybook with sturdy cardstock pages follows a mother’s persistent efforts to get her sleepy ‘grumple’ out of bed in the morning. Allenby’s intermittently rhyming text traces the mother’s escalating actions, which involve singing ever-louder…Gauthier’s naif collages sweetly emphasize the warmth between parent and child (they resemble a cross between a panda and a squirrel), even when the little one’s eyes are squeezed tight in a desperate attempt to hang onto sleep a little longer.”

Read the full review in the January 30 issue of Publishers Weekly

Booklist Online

“Allenby and Gauthier’s picture book opens on a scene likely familiar in many households…The grumple, a cranky bearlike creature, doesn’t want to get out of bed to greet the day…Allenby’s lilting lines encourage singing progressively louder, tickling toes, and kissing foreheads to get little grumples out of bed, but it’s the music that’s the most affirming and powerful method for urging kiddos out from under their covers and off to enjoy the great outdoors and play with friends. Gauthier’s naive-style collage illustrations, rendered in rough-cut shapes covered in thick paint and freewheeling scribbles, nicely complement Allenby’s bouncy rhymes, particularly when contrasting the mother’s singsongy cheerfulness with the grumple’s rumpled, bleary-eyed appearance….”
—Anita Lock

Click here to read the full review

Quill & Quire

“…Good Morning, Grumple is a sweet story about a sleepy fox-like creature ­­- who does not want to get up in the morning – and the patient mother who knows exactly what to do.

Author Victoria Allenby – whose debut picture books, Nat the Cat Can Sleep Like That, won the 2014 Preschool Reads Award – succeeds once again in crafting a charming tale befitting the kindie set. Just as the mother in Good Morning, Grumple tries different tactics to awaken her sleepy-headed child, Allenby incorporates different narrative styles, moving deftly from rhyming couplets to sing-song lyrics to abrupt variances in rhythm that allow for recalibration and reflection….

The mixed media and paper-collage illustrations by four-time Governor General’s Literary Award nominee Manon Gauthier are rustic in appearance, but convey great depths of emotion….The child-like quality of Gauthier’s work matches the story’s sweet and tender tone, while the gradual increase in text size as the book progresses is a great representation of the experience of waking up and embracing the morning….”
—Sarah Sorensen

Read the full review on page 37 of the May 2017 issue of Quill & Quire

Resource Links

“This book is a wonderful invitation to celebrate morning and waking up routines….

Manon Gauthier’s illustrations are very unique and appear to be photographs of drawings on paper cut out and assembled/pasted in a collage-like style. They are reminiscent of the art of childhood, without being too childish. Children will relate to them as to something they could have created and in fact, this style would be a great one to have children try as an extension to the book. This is a unique and endearing title that will be a toddler favourite, especially for the ‘Grumples’!”

Thematic Links: Daily Routines/Time of Day; Emotions; Feelings
—Erin Hansen

Read the full review on page 1 of the February 2017 issue of Resource Links

CM Magazine

“Victoria Allenby’s sweet, lyrical text is rhythmic and loving, and it includes plenty of opportunities for interaction between toddlers and their caregivers….Sweet, simple and loving, Good Morning, Grumple would be a lovely addition to a toddler’s morning wake-up routine and is sure to help start the day off with a smile.
—Jane Whittingham is a librarian in Vancouver, BC.

Click here to read the full review

Midwest Book Review

“Thoroughly ‘kid friendly’ in tone and presentation, Good Morning, Grumple combines author Victoria Alleby’s imaginative flair for original storytelling with Manon Gautheir’s charming illustrations….Simply stated, Good Morning, Grumple is unreservedly and enthusiastically recommended for family, preschool, and community library collections.”

Click here to read the full review

Montreal Review of Books

“Not everyone is a morning person, and Good Morning, Grumple is a story in rhyme that offers a solution to those grumpy feelings that overtake many of us when forced to greet another new day. Written by Victoria Allenby and illustrated using a combination of mixed media and collage by Manon Gauthier, this picture book introduces us to Grumple at his worst….

Good Morning, Grumple is a sweet spin on what can be a stressful morning routine that is sure to please both pre-school kids and their parents.”

Click here to read the full review

CanLit for LittleCanadians

“…In Good Morning, Grumple, a mother fox, who has obviously endured many a morning struggling to get a grumpy young one in rumpled bed clothes out of bed, attempts the near impossible feat with an established process of rhyming song and accompanying actions….

Every household must have one or two grumples, and Victoria Allenby has contrived a playful way of rousing them to waking….[L]ittle ones will delight in the role they get to play, even if it means ultimately getting out of bed.

Victoria Allenby has proven that she can write light and refreshing books for pre-readers and early readers…but now she’s bringing that novelty to helping parents parent, all without preaching about how to do it right….

Manon Gauthier lends her trademark cut paper collage…to Good Morning, Grumple, establishing evocative scenes with her artistry. Colour is limited but effective, with the neutrality of a grumple atmosphere evident throughout. No grumple would ever see much in the way of colour before deigning to open his/her eyes completely, and Manon Gauthier supports this premise wholeheartedly. But Manon Gauthier refuses to keep things stark and uninspiring. All indoor and outdoor scenes, before and after waking, are freckled with birds, flowers, and household furnishings and decorations that invite readers in. Collage art has never been so expressive and atmospheric.

Enjoy the smaller and inviting format of Good Morning, Grumple with Pajama Press’ unique padded cover, rounded corners and heavy-duty paper that make it a pleasure to hold….”

Click here to read the full review

Raising Mom

DESCRIPTION:

This book is a delightful invitation to celebrate waking-up routines. The gentle rhyming text is engaging without being too wordy, and there is opportunity for the reader to create their own short melody to sing the mother’s songs as a way to personalize the story. Manon Gauthier’s illustrations are very unique and appear to be photographs of hand-done drawings on paper cut out and pasted in a paper collage. This is a unique and endearing title that will be a toddler favourite, especially for the ‘Grumples’!

MY EXPERIENCE:

My 3-year old was fascinated with the illustrations in this book and with the creature being called ‘Grumple’. It took her two readings to connect ‘grumple’ to grumpy and she was thrilled with herself for making the connection. She helped me make up a tune to put the mother’s songs to music, which was fun for us both. The 23-month old twins have enjoyed listening to this, too, and have excitedly pointed at the engaging illustrations – they have evoked a reaction for sure! They noticed the point in the story when Grumple’s frown turned into a smile and enjoy hearing the short songs that their sister and I set to our own tune(s). My kids most often wake up happy, but on the rare days when they don’t, I’ve coaxed smiles from them each time I’ve read them this title!…”

Click here to read the full review

My Beautiful Birds Reviews

Posted on December 27th, 2016 by pajamapress

The New York Timesmybeautifulbirds_website

“If you’ve been wondering how to present the refugee crisis to children without losing faith in humanity, take a look at this graceful, even uplifting book. Del Rizzo’s stunning dimensional art, made mostly of clay, can’t help feeling playful, and the story brims with hope.”

Click here to read the full review

Quill & Quire **Starred Review**

“With the arrival of Syrian refugee families in many Canadian communities, parents and children alike are charged with trying to understand the harsh experiences these new classmates and neighbours have undergone. The compassionate and beautiful new picture book from Oakville, Ontario, illustrator Suzanne Del Rizzo – the first for which she has created both pictures and text – imagines a Syrian child and his family driven by war into a refugee camp. While the others settle into the new realities of life in the camp, sensitive Sami is unable to recover, expressing his trauma through grief for the pet pigeons he had to leave behind. He tries to paint a picture of his pigeons, but covers their coloured feathers with smears of black, then tears the painting to pieces. When four wild birds fly into the camp and respond to Sami’s attention, they break through the little boy’s isolation and misery. By the end of the book, Sami has reconnected with life, and is even able to reach out to help a new child arriving at the camp. Del Rizzo bases her story on an account from the Zaatari refugee camp in Jordan of a child finding solace in some wild birds there. She wisely focuses on what Sami sees and feels without trying to explain too much of the context, relying instead on her visuals to provide this information. The first images of the sky over his former home, glowing with flames and explosions, give way to the beauty of the desert skyscapes in which Sami sees the colourful plumage of his beloved birds. These skillful and imaginative illustrations – created with Plasticine, polymer clay, and other media – give a sense of dimension, which is enhanced by striking and unusual perspectives. My Beautiful Birds is a lovely, timely book.
Gwyneth Evans

Read the full review on page 43 of the January/February 2017 issue of Quill & Quire

The Horn Book Magazine

At the start of the emotional tale My Beautiful Birds by Suzanne Del Rizzo, Sami and his family climb a hill while their Syrian village burns in the background below. They continue walking for a day and two nights until they reach a refugee camp: “Helpful hands welcome us in. We made it. We are safe.” But Sami is still scared, and he is heartbroken over the loss of his beloved pet pigeons, even though his father reassures him that “they escaped, too.” Healing finally comes after a quartet of birds arrive — not his birds, “but it doesn’t matter.” Del Rizzo uses polymer clay and acrylic paint to create vibrant pictures of Sami, his family, the refugee camp, and the swirling pink-and-purple sky. Most of all, she creates birds for which every feather and color looks real. Beauty and sorrow sit side by side in this compassionate and age-appropriate depiction of contemporary refugee life. (Pajama Press, 6–9 years)

Click here to view The Horn Book Magazine’s post on books about refugee children

School Library Journal

“Exquisite dimensional illustrations using Plasticine, polymer clay, and other media bring a unique, lifelike quality to the page, enriching Sami’s story to its fullest potential when paired with the often lyrical prose. VERDICT A stunning offering for libraries wishing to add to their collection of hopeful yet realistic refugee tales.”
—Brittany Drehobl, Eisenhower Public Library District, IL

Read the full review in the March 2017 issue of School Library Journal or click here to read it in the School Library Journal Spotlight “9 Refugee Stories for Kids and Teens”

School Library Journal “Reading Around The World | Picture Books”

“Suzanne Del Rizzo’s My Beautiful Birds articulately conveys the experiences of a child displaced by war in Syria….Intricately detailed and lifelike, the polymer clay and mixed-media illustrations combine with the understated first-person narrative to communicate Sami’s circumstances, heartbreak, and healing process. Through this emotionally accessible story…readers begin to understand Sami’s plight, and to gain awareness and insight into the lives of the many children facing calamity across the globe. An author’s note provides background and a link to resources about the Syrian conflict and the refugee crisis.”
—Joy Fleishhacker

Click here to read the full review and the rest of the article

Kirkus Reviews

Del Rizzo uses her considerable talent with paint, Plasticine, and polymer clay to create the colorful, highly textured illustrations for this book, which she conceived while searching for a way to explain the Syrian civil war to her young children. Based on a real refugee child who keeps birds, this story isn’t about war but its effect on those who experience it and survive. This story of one frightened little boy who finds strength in caring for animals and uses that strength to comfort other kids is an excellent means of explaining a difficult subject to young children. (author’s note) (Picture book. 4-10)

Click here to read the full review

Resource Links

“…With its elegant prose and beautiful clay illustrations, this book tells a timely story through the voice of a Syrian refugee. It is important to provide readers with perspectives different than their own, and this book may be particularly relevant for Canadian readers due to the influx of Syrian refugees into Canada. My Beautiful Birds is a very well-executed book that provides a window into the life of a refugee while also being a pleasure to read.”
—Alice Albarda

Read the full review on page 5 of the February 2017 issue of Resource Links

Canadian Children’s BookNews

“Every year, more and more families find themselves forced to flee their homes and relocate. Recently, this has become more relevant than ever with the war in Syria displacing hundreds of thousands of families to nearby countries and refugee camps. My Beautiful Birds tells the story of a family escaping Syria from the perspective of a little boy named Sami. Through his anxiety and confusion, Sami’s thoughts remain focused on the pet pigeons he left behind, and whether or not they were also able to escape. Slowly, he becomes familiar with his new home and routines, and learns to move on from the loss of his most cherished pets. This is a wonderful story for all children, as learning about the growing-up experiences of others is always helpful. The book would be especially useful, however, for children who are going through major life changes themselves. It contains not only lessons on relocation and moving, but also on making new friends, acclimatizing to new environments, moving on from the past, and much more! Suzanne Del Rizzo weaves the story together beautifully with the help of her own illustrations done in a variety of mediums, including clay, and Plasticine. The images are multi-dimensional and seem to almost jump off the page. They are extremely captivating and add even more depth to the already engaging story that accompanies them. In addition to all of its many amazing aspects, My Beautiful Birds is a stunning tool to teach children about what goes on in the world outside their own backyards.”

Read the full review on page 29 of the Spring 2017 issue of Canadian Children’s BookNews

49th Shelf

“A gentle yet moving story of refugees of the Syrian civil war, My Beautiful Birds illuminates the ongoing crisis as it affects its children. It shows the reality of the refugee camps, where people attempt to pick up their lives and carry on. And it reveals the hope of generations of people as they struggle to redefine home.”

Click here to read the full review

Youth Services Book Review

What did you like about the book? Sami, a recent Syrian refugee, explores his very powerful, personal perspective of the pain, healing and hope of his resettlement ordeal. Suzanne Del Rizzo’s incredible attention to each detail in the story line, dialogue and exceptionally detailed polymer clay and acrylic art work of the landscape and living conditions, beautifully combines to allow the reader to absorb the profound emotional loss that Sami has experienced and continues daily. The hopeful symbolism of reconnecting with his beloved birds begins his self-healing process that takes flight in the community and spreads as he welcomes his newest refugee friend. I appreciated that the book did not explain, blame or discuss any political themes, leaving these questions outside Sami’s innocent mind, allowing him to focus on reality, humanity and survival. I hope this book inspires others to realize the daily plight of refugees. I appreciated the “Author’s Note” on the last page that simply outlined facts about the refugee crisis, sadly noting that half of those displaced are innocent children like Sami.

Anything you didn’t like about it? NO, it was well thought out and executed beautifully.

To whom would you recommend this book? Everyone that works in any small way for social justice and peace, parents that want to expose and inspire young children to social justice issues, ministers, religious education teachers., community organizers.”
—Diane Neylon

Click here to read the full review

Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast

“Coming to shelves in March is Suzanne Del Rizzo’s My Beautiful Birds (Pajama Press), a new book specifically about Syrian refugees. Rendered in bright and textured polymer clay and acrylic, it’s the story of a boy named Sami, leaving his Syrian home (with a sky full of smoke) to escape war…. Del Rizzo writes in an arresting first-person, present-tense voice, the story coming straight from the boy’s point of view and giving us a glimpse into his inner turmoil….In a closing author’s note, she summarizes the plight of Syrian refugees, singling out the work of the United Nations Refugee Agency. In her bio, she notes what prompted this story — reading about a boy who “took solace in a connection with wild birds at the Za’atari refugee camp” in Jordan and being struck by “the universality of a child’s relationship to animals.”

Click here to read the full review

Let’s Talk Picture Books

My Beautiful Birds, written and illustrated by Suzanne Del Rizzo, sheds a light on the ongoing Syrian Refugee crisis and its effects on its children. The narrative follows a boy named Sami who is uprooted from home, leaving behind all of the birds he’d grown to love and care for. My Beautiful Birds shows the reality of refugee camps and ultimately provides hope for people in search of a new place in life…. As beautiful as the story is, the illustrations are even more so. Del Rizzo creates her illustrations from acrylic paint and polymer clay, so the texture is out of this world. With each page flip it feels like we can reach out and touch the illustrations. We can even see Del Rizzo’s fingerprints! But of course she doesn’t stop there: each illustration also features rich colors, thoughtful composition, and a keen sense of light. I would love to talk about each and every spread (and I would love to show you more of them!) but this is a book worth seeing for yourself.”

Click here to read the full review

Geo Librarian

“I think my favorite thing about this book…are the gorgeous illustrations. Using…polymer clay, and other mixed media Del Rizzo has created illustrations that really pop out at you. The story itself really touched my heart…here we have a young boy who has lost his home, his pets, pretty much his whole world, and he grieves the loss, but when new birds fly into his life, he finds a reason to rejoice despite his humble circumstances.”

Click here to read the full review

CanLit for LittleCanadians

“In My Beautiful Birds, author-illustrator Suzanne Del Rizzo offers a poignant story of a Syrian child refugee traumatized by leaving his cherished pigeons behind. It is a tale of sorrow and suffering and promise, and beautifully rendered in Suzanne Del Rizzo’s distinctive art…. The sadness and trauma in this little boy’s life is so palpable, from the family’s departure to their adjustment to the refugee camp and to the despondency that permeates Sami’s new life. Through use of colour and the texture of her art–here polymer clay with acrylics–Suzanne Del Rizzo balances the shadows of war and trauma with the bright colours of youthful exuberance and pastels of hope for a future. There’s the tumultuous skies and the ordinary days, and the anger of loss with the chirpiness of birds and children at play. I know the excellence of her art, complex in the depth of detail and its ability to evoke emotions. But Suzanne Del Rizzo has demonstrated a new depth to her writing. Perhaps it’s the tragic circumstances of the story but Suzanne Del Rizzo has put heart and hope into her words, giving breath to a staggering situation, suffusing it with some degree of optimism where there is so little. My Beautiful Birds provides a promise that all the darkness from that Syrian skyline of smoke is behind Sami and remains open to a bright sky of birds and lightness, the landscape of his future.”

Click here to read the full review

Pickle Me This

“In Suzanne Del Rizzo’s picture book, My Beautiful Birds, a young Syrian boy is forced to leave his wartorn home and make the long journey to the relative safety of a refugee camp. The story is enlivened by Del Rizzo’s plasticine illustrations with their rich purple and golden hues. Of all the things that Sami has left behind, it’s his pigeons he misses the most, the birds he fed and kept and as pets….Where he finds solace, though, is in the sky, one thing that is familiar to him, ‘wait[ing] like a loyal friend for me to remember.’ In the clouds, he sees the shapes of his birds: ‘Spiralling. Soaring. Sharing the sky.’”

Click here to read the full review

Library of Clean Reads

“My son and I both loved this story and the dimensional illustrations that the author created through Plasticine, polymer clay and other mixed media. The birds especially are so detailed, they come alive and seem to pop out of the pages. Every page was a delight to explore. Truly a work of art….

Although this is a story about war, it is hopeful and uplifting. It helps young ones to understand what is happening in our world and how we all have the same needs. A variety of emotions are explored in this book: sadness, fear, anger, hope and compassion. It’s a book that can open up dialogue between parent and child.

My Beautiful Birds should be included in all school libraries. It’s a keeper in our home. And has made it on our list of Best Reads of 2017.”

Click here to read Laura Fabiani’s full review

“My heart was so touched by this poignant story…It’s a gentle, moving book that parents can use to help their own children to understand the world in which they live.

This talented Canadian author has produced a sensitive, moving account of what life is like in traumatic, emotionally-wrenching events experienced by so many people.

I highly recommend My Beautiful Birds.”

Click here to read Sandra Olshaski’s full review

Sal’s Fiction Addiction

“…As books can do, this second release from Pajama Press today helps those who read it to see through a window into others’ experiences and to begin to understand and empathize with their journey to a new life. Suzanne Del Rizzo imagines what it might have been like for Sami’s family. War sends them scrambling on a long trek to a refugee camp. The realities of life there are grim, especially for Sami who had to travel without his much loved pigeons…. A closing author’s note provides information for her readers concerning work being done to help refugees by the United Nations Refugee Agency. The original art was created with polymer clay and acrylic, and also includes children’s paintings on the endpapers. The inside images are colorful, textured and appealing. I found myself particularly attracted to the striking and unexpected variety in perspective. There are the dark shadows of war; there is also light-filled promise for a better future. Books like this are needed to help our students and children begin to understand the plight of refugees around the world. Heartfelt and timely, this book deserves to be shared.”

Click here to read the full review

All Booked Up Now

My Beautiful Birds written and illustrated by @suzannedelrizzo and published by @pajamapressbooks. This is a beautiful story about Sami and his family fleeing home and headed to a refugee camp….This is such a beautifully illustrated book with such a heartwarming story….Stories like these remind me how blessed I am that my children have food, clothing and shelter and don’t have to worry about adult responsibilities at such young ages. Suzanne was inspired to write this story after reading an article about a little boy who found peace with wild birds at a refugee camp in Syria….”

Read the full review on the @allbookedupnow Instagram account

Getting Kids Reading

My Beautiful Birds, written and illustrated by Suzanne Del Rizzo, is a beautiful book that will help get your child reading…. This is a good book to read to your child as a bedtime story. The way language is used in the book is beautifully poetic, and even soothing….[The language use] will get your child hooked on reading, as they realize that a vivid image can be painted in their head from just a simple line or paragraph. The child won’t be able to wait until the next plot advancement or change in scenery. …Also, this story tells a tale that could have taken hundreds of pages, and beautifully condenses it into 32 pages. Which brings us to the stunning clay art pictures….The emotions conveyed in just the pictures alone will further strengthen the picture in your child’s mind that has been depicted by the strong descriptive vocabulary.”­—Bennett Duncan

Click here to read the full review Save

How Do You Feel Reviews

Posted on November 9th, 2016 by pajamapress

Kirkus Reviews

A hedgehog sets out to ask how its fellow animals feel; alongHowDoYouFeel_website the way, readers will learn there is more than one meaning to the word feel. A puffy, cheery cover framed in soft purple opens onto endpapers depicting a fresh green meadow in early summer. The tone is set for this toddler-friendly book that introduces a few animals and how they feel. On clean, uncluttered, sturdy pages with plenty of white, and using children’s acrylics and colored pencil, Bender depicts in a realistic style—though slightly anthropomorphized—a hedgehog, a toad, a snake, a duckling, a rabbit, a snail, and a kitten. The hedgehog asks the same question of each animal it encounters: Toad [or Snake, Duckling, etc.], how do you feel? It is in the animals vocabulary-rich answers that this book really shines….At the end, when all the animals ask hedgehog how it feels, readers will have a little surprise, as its answer is not one of the tactile kind: Hedgehog feels happy! A charming, smart, and attractive book. (Picture book. 2-4)

Click here to read the full review

Midwest Book Review

“…Award-winning author/illustrator Rebecca Bender’s How Do You Feel? will utterly charm children ages 2 to 5 with its lyrical text, endearing animals, and surprise ending. The small trim size and padded hardcover format make it perfect for little ones, who may even be inspired to find new ways of expressing how they feel in every sense of the phrase. Thoroughly ‘kid friendly’ in presentation, How Do You Feel? is very highly recommended for family, preschool, elementary school, and community library collections.”

Click here to read the full post

CM Magazine

“…The illustrations, done with acrylics and coloured pencils, are quite detailed and realistic, and children will have fun identifying the animals on each page – particularly those few that they may not have seen before, such as snails or hedgehogs.

The ending of the book is a nice surprise – switching from a focus on physical feelings (e.g., soft, gnarly) to emotional feelings. This may allow parents an opportunity to discuss the differences in what or how a child might be ‘feeling’ and that both types of feeling are important. It can often be difficult to tease out how a young child is feeling emotionally, and so having a book act as an entry point can be helpful….

Recommended.
—Mę-Linh Lę

Click here to read the full review

Resource Links

“…The uncomplicated poetic descriptive text is paired with charming colourful and whimsical illustrations rendered with acrylics and coloured pencil. An added feature for babies is padded covers.

Thematic Links: Hedgehogs; Baby Animals; Friendship; Textures; Senses; Emotions; Concepts; Happiness
—Isobel Lang

Read the full review on page 3 of the February 2017 issue of Resource Links

Canadian Children’s BookNews

“A little hedgehog sets off on a voyage of sensory discovery in the picture book, How Do You Feel?, by Rebecca Bender….

Through an elegant simplicity, the author is able to use richer language, which becomes accessible to even the youngest of readers.

This is a lovely story for young children, as it explores the complexities of the world in a simple format. Few will have experienced physically touching all the varieties of animals in the story, and Bender creates an opportunity for children to use the natural world around them to build richer experiences to add to their imaginary worlds.”

Read the full review on page 31 of the Spring 2017 issue of Canadian Children’s BookNews

CanLit for LittleCanadians

“Little ones often have difficulty differentiating between feeling, the emotion, and feeling, the sense of touch, and Rebecca Bender, creator of the award-winning Giraffe and Bird books…has some fun word play with that to compare textures of a variety of animals….

Pajama Press has started putting out these lovely padded-cover books for preschoolers that are so much more inviting to hold than ordinary board books. With its soft, cushioned cover, the parade of animals within and the repetitive text, How Do You Feel? will become a popular read-aloud book for parents and teachers of preschoolers and kindergarteners. The rhythm and predictability of the text offers great opportunities for little ones to suggest answers to each question. It’s a great teaching tool. I can just imagine parents and teachers asking, just as they often play that game asking what a dog or cat says, how a snake or a kitten feels.

But, kids will see beyond the content of the book and fall in love with Rebecca Bender’s adorable creatures. Every one of them has darling eyes–all bright, some laughing, several inquisitive–and bodies of evocative textures that will delight little ones who will want to reach out and touch. They’ll be surprised to only stroke paper but Rebecca Bender’s illustrations will still give readers starting points for further discussions. It could be about the sense of touch–and the other senses as well– or about synonyms and the thesaurus or about similes and metaphors. How Do You Feel? may be targeted for the pre-reader who will be charmed by the whole package of art and text, but teachers should look beyond the cuteness and see the book as having applications far beyond the very youngest. That’s how I feel. How do you feel?”
­—Helen K

Pickle Me This

“Harriet remains a hedgehog fanatic, and therefore we have all become fond of the book, How Do You Feel?, by Rebecca Bender. I love the double meaning of the question (because anything that teaches that a single thing can have two realities is important), and that the answers to the questions are all about words and similes. The whole book is about connection, and it’s sweet and lovely, and also powerfully subversive in the most important way.”
—Kerry Clare

Click here to read the full blog post

Youth Services Book Review

Format: Hardcover

Rating: (1-5 5 is a starred review) 4

Genre: Picture book

What did you like about the book? This book is about an adorable hedgehog who asks animals how they feel. The answers speak to their physical nature. A duckling feels fuzzy like tall grass reaching for the sun. Each animal responds with an answer that also includes a simile. The cute ending is when the animals ask the hedgehog how he feels, and only negative adjectives come to mind. Finally they all tickle him and he says he feels happy.

Anything you didn’t like about it? I love everything about this book.

To Whom Would You Recommend this book? This is great for very young children and especially good for students learning English. There are lots of new adjectives and similes that students will enjoy learning.

Who should buy this book? all libraries

Where would you shelve it ? Children’s Books

Should we (librarians/readers) put this on the top of our “to read” piles?  Yes

Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City and State: Sandra Pacheco, ESL teacher, Washington, D.C.”

Click here to read the full review

Picture Book Play Date

“Oh this book is so perfect for Little Miss (closing in on her second birthday in a few months)….The text is also rhyming which is so great for this age. The illustrations are delightfully soft – a perfect compliment to the text.”

Click here to read the full review

Timo’s Party Reviews

Posted on November 7th, 2016 by pajamapress

Resource Linkstimosparty_website

“In this follow-up to 2015’s Timo’s Garden, Allenby again recounts a heartwarming story of friendship…

The story reads like an encyclopaedia of friendship with each good act from a friend provoking another. The warm, detailed illustrations evoke a comfortable small-town charm, sure to entice readers to visit Toadstool Corners again and again. The book also does a nice job of highlighting everyday texts within the narrative, including lists, invitations, and newspaper articles, which could prompt discussion about the importance of reading and writing in daily life. A simple apple recipe at the end of the book should inspire many readers to host apple festivals of their own.

Depicting acts of courage, selflessness, and kindness, Timo’s Party is wholly designed to support its readers’ character development. While certainly not flashy, this latest iteration of Timo and friends offers another gentle and useful tale about the power of friendship.

Thematic links: Kindness; Responsibility; Perseverance; Courage; Cooking; Friendship; Mindfulness; Social Anxiety”
Natalie Colaiacovo

Read the full review on page 1 of the December 2016 issue of Resource Links

CM Magazine

“There is a lot to love about Timo’s Party. The premise and its attentive execution are particularly noteworthy. Timo is honestly anxious about hosting a party but decides to do it anyway. The story provides tools for dealing with intimidating situations (e.g., make a list of tasks) and gives tips on dealing with mild social anxiety as well as navigating social situations (e.g., ask people questions as they like to talk about themselves!). Not only does the book have some good advice, but it embeds that advice in a story that children will want to read….

The illustrations are charming and expressive. The inclusion of news articles and the party invitation are neat additions that not only add visual interest, but help to keep the reader’s attention on the story using environmental text. The presentation of gender was also refreshingly neutral for most of the book (although female characters did noticeably veer towards more traditionally feminine attire when attending the apple festival). The illustrations are placed strategically, complementing the story but not drawing attention away from it. As the reader becomes increasingly engaged with the narrative, the frequency of pictures goes down, subtly increasing the amount of text on each spread.

Timo’s Party is a thoughtful story with emotionally authentic characters….[T]his is a sweet chapter book with an empowering message. Highly Recommended.
—Sadie Tucker is a children’s librarian with the Vancouver Public Library.

Click here to read the full review

CanLit for LittleCanadians

“Bunny rabbit Timo Vega learned in last year’s Timo’s Garden (Pajama Press, 2015) that he needed to spend a little bit more time tending to his friendships rather than obsessing about his garden and he’s learned that lesson well.  With food critic Madame LaPointe coming to Toadstool Corners as part of her search for the best small towns to visit, Timo agrees to host an apple festival in his orchard so that his friend Hedgewick Stump, the hedgehog, can show off his culinary skills.  But as soon as he’s made the offer, the crowd-averse rabbit is regretting his decision.

Organizing his tasks into a list of three things–invitations, decorations and games–Timo begins to feel that the Toadstsool Corners Apple Festival might be manageable after all. Though Hedgewick sees the attributes that will make Timo a great host–he is organized, generous and thoughtful–Timo’s other friends, knowing how much he hates big parties, advise him how to be confident and comfortable around lots of people.

With the help of his many friends, Timo is able to pull off a great party, and Hedgewick, with only a small cooking mishap, caters an impressive apple festival.  Like the very different apples and bananas in the recipe at the conclusion of Timo’s Party, Timo and Hedgewick come together spectacularly. Each brings their own strengths to their endeavour and are successful in supporting the other when needed.

Timo’s Party is an exceptional early reader for imparting an engaging life lesson. But author Victoria Allenby never preaches or instructs the reader how to live life well, or be a good friend or be brave. Instead, she swathes that message in Timo’s daily experiences, taking advantage of a true story-telling opportunity. It’s easy to see beyond the anthropomorphized animals–with their clothes, speech, and human endeavours–as just a bunch of friends whose lives the reader is pleased to share. Though not a fully-illustrated book, Dean Griffiths’s artwork helps take the reader into the friendly world of Toadstool Corners. From the plaid jacketed Timo with his subtle smile and relaxed ears, to the rose-toqued badger Rae and the bustling Hedgewick, Dean Griffiths gives life to the animals in Timo’s Party, taking them from characters to neighbours. And, let me say, we are all pleased to have been invited to this party, and look forward to more good times in Timo’s neighbourhood.”
—Helen K

Click here to read more reviews by CanLit for LittleCanadians

Book Time

“What a fun little book about a friend who looks out for his friends. Lovely illustrations, and we hope to make the included recipe – Hedgewick’s Happy Apple-Banana Cake.”

Click here to read the full blog post by Book Time

The Wolves Return Reviews

Posted on November 1st, 2016 by pajamapress

thewolvesreturn_website

Baker & Taylor’s CATS Meow Newsletter Staff Pick

“The Wolves Return is both a beautifully and a realistically illustrated picture book. It offers young readers just the right amount of text and back story to give them a complete picture of the purposeful reintroduction of gray wolves in 1995-1996 to Yellowstone National Park without getting too fact-heavy. Publishing 20 years after this historic return, the effects of the wolves return on other species and plant life throughout the park are laid out spread by spread in full scenes featuring various habitats throughout the park. Take note of author and illustrator Godkin’s attention to detail in the bird illustrations found throughout; all species are native (or migrate) to Yellowstone, and she includes trumpeter swans, a mountain bluebird, a robin, mallards, a pair of yellowheaded blackbirds, yellow warblers, black-billed magpies, and many more. Other species of animals are just as well represented. Keep your eye on Pajama Press; now wrapping up their 5th year, they continue to expand their list of high-quality offerings for young readers. A highly recommended title for future conservationists ages 5-8.”
—Erica Sommer, CATS-Paw Prints Manager

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Ingram News and Reviews for the Youth Librarian

“The last sentence of The Wolves Return perfectly sums up the message of this lovely nonfiction picture book: “Who would have thought that the return of a few wolves could have benefitted so many other animals?” Godkin succinctly outlines the species that have enjoyed success as a result of the return of the wolf to Yellowstone: the wolves keep the elk population in check -> more tree seedlings and berry bushes grow -> birds and bears now have food and shelter and beavers have trees to build dams-> dammed water creates ponds -> ponds harbor fish and insects that feed herons, otters, and osprey -> and so on. Young readers will enjoy seeing all the animals and plants that now flourish as a result of one change in an ecosystem. Godkin’s illustrations, created with pencil crayon and watercolor, are all two-page spreads and just beautiful. Recommended for ages 5 to 8….”
—Becky Walton, MLIS, Collection Development

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School Library Journal

“For many decades, wolves were absent from Yellowstone National Park. About 20 years ago, captured wolves from Canada were reintroduced into the park by environmentalists….Beautifully illustrated by the author in watercolor and color pencil, each spread brims with the diversity of animals, plants, and insects presently thriving in Yellowstone. Young ones will enjoy the positive takeaway, and the picture book format makes a complex story accessible and usable in a wide range of early education classes. VERDICT Valuable for children for its affirming environmental message and to counteract the ‘big bad wolf’ image of these necessary predators.”
–Eva Elisabeth VonAncken, formerly at Trinity-Pawling School, Pawling, NY

Read the full review in the February 2017 issue of School Library Journal

Publishers Weekly

Godkin eloquently examines how the reintroduction of wolves to Yellowstone National Park led to dramatic changes both in the landscape of the park and in the lives of the creatures that make their home there.Godkin’s text focuses on the interconnectedness of the animals’ environment and how one ostensibly small change can have dramatic effects over time. Although the author emphasizes the necessary role that predators play, her mixed-media artwork avoids goriness, instead focusing on delicate textures of fur, feather, leaf, and grass. The hunts that removed wolves from the landscape in the first place (and their 1995 reintroduction) are covered in thorough back matter. Ages 6–9. (Jan.)”

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Booklist Online

“…Tranquil wildlife scenes in soft, naturalistic colors are full of meticulous details and capture the majestic beauty of the iconic park, which teems with life. The clear, matter-of-fact text is a lovely complement to the warm scenes, which include vistas, underwater habitats, and close-ups. Additional information about the history of the park and the importance of the wolves to the ecosystem closes this lovingly illustrated, educational volume.”
—Anita Lock

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CM Magazine FOUR STAR Review

“…The Wolves Return is another book by the environmental writer/illustrator Celia Godkin. Her previous book, Skydiver: Saving the Fastest Bird in the World, also addressed the recovery of an endangered species. Thirteen Canadian wolves were released into Yellowstone National Park in 1995 and a further ten the following year. Enough time has now passed to fully appreciate the positive effects that the re-introduction of this one species has had on the entire ecological system. This has been a triumph of environmental science and a perfect example to cover in a book for children.

The story is written in uncomplicated language and is overwhelmingly positive in both tone and presentation. The first page describes the reaction of the animals as the wolves arrive, placing this event within the normal course of life. Then the consequences are given one at a time, including the increase of biodiversity due to the return of many plants and animals that had disappeared after the wolves were extirpated many years ago. This is not a scientific description, rather an inspiring look at the results.

The final pages of the book give the historical and scientific background of the story. There is enough information here that older children can embrace the story while even young children interested in the topic of wolves and conservation can go further and learn more. Together with the story, the addition of this material gives a complete portrayal of the issue.

The illustrations are beautifully rendered, moving and evocative. They increase the emotional impact of the words, showing many creatures against the natural backgrounds of the park. Pictures make the connections more clear: trees have allowed birds to nest and reproduce, water plants have given insects and frogs places to live and hide. The interdependence of species is made explicit throughout the book adding depth and scope.

The Wolves Return is a handsome book with an uplifting environmental message, one that avoids sounding like a textbook. The book will be great addition to any personal, classroom or school library. It will appeal to anyone already interested in conservation and could appeal to many others with the reference to the highly dramatic wolves on the cover. While intended for those in the early grades, there is enough here to interest older readers.

Highly Recommended.
—Willow Moonbeam

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Resource Links

“Celia Godkin relays the awe-inspiring true story of the release of 23 Canadian gray wolves into Yellowstone National Park in 1995 and 1996….

Since the time of the release, the wolves thrived and the process created beneficial changes to the park’s ecosystem….

The illustrations are beautifully done in pencil crayon and watercolour….[Godkin’s] telling of this true environmental success story is well told and inspirational. It is important to relay such stories. The end of the book has the fascinating history of the wolf in North America with a map.

Thematic Links: Wolves; Yellowstone National Park; Yellowstone Wolf Project; Gray Wolves; Ecosystem”
Isobel Lang

Read the full review on page 20 of the April 2017 issue of Resource Links

Midwest Book Review

The Wolves Return is the true story of the successful release of twenty-three Canadian gray wolves in Yellowstone National Park in 1995-96….The Wolves Return explains in picture and in narrative how the reintroduction of the wolves, a natural predator of the elk, impacted positively on the whole environment….The Wolves Return ends with a map of North America with wolf ranges, both current and pre-European habitat patterns. It is clear that wolves play a vital role in maintaining the health, variety, and balance of many life systems and plant and animal species in nature. The mixed media art work in The Wolves Return is especially sensitively done and greatly enhances the exciting environmental health restoration true story.”

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Midwest Book Review

The Wolves Return: A New Beginning for Yellowstone National Park is a children’s nonfiction picturebook about the wildlife of the Yellowstone National Park in America….A beautifully illustrated book about the interconnected web of natural life, The Wolves Return is highly recommended for personal, school, and public library collections.”

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CanLit for LittleCanadians

“I know a science teacher whose go-to book to introduce interrelationships of living things and the balance of natural ecosystems is Celia Godkin’s award-winning book Wolf Island (Fitzhenry & Whiteside, 1989/2006). I encourage a new generation of science teachers to look to her new book The Wolves Return to demonstrate those same concepts as they relate to the wolves of Yellowstone National Park and spark a new appreciation for the natural world with an aim to stewardship and not manipulation.

The Wolves Return documents in prose and detailed illustrations the impacts of the Yellowstone Wolf Project on the local habitats and wildlife, celebrating the success of reintroducing the wolves here.

But the way Celia Godkin tells the story is not to just lay out that bare facts as many unseasoned writers might but instead to provide visual commentary, in words and pictures, of what would have been happening….

Celia Godkin illustrates the complex and sophisticated food webs–not just food chains–and evolving landscape of habitats but punctuates the story with the science of the return of the wolves in her appendices.

The scientist in Celia Godkin–she has a Master’s degree in zoology–comes through in the precision of her illustrations but her coloured pencil and watercolour fine art is more expressive than just a record of the living ecosystem. She gives life to the organisms and places within The Wolves Return, though I know that young readers will be amazed by her detailed and accurate depictions of the animals.

Just like Wolf IslandThe Wolves Return should become a teacher’s primary picture book for introducing discussions about habitats and communities, the diversity of living things and interactions with ecosystems. With The Wolves Return, Celia Godkin is able to inform, fascinate and initiate dialogue about the world we impact in both negative and positive ways and how it can gloriously amend itself sometimes with just a tiny bit of help.”

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Youth Services Book Review

“…What did you like about the book? This book illustrates the effect that the reintroduction of wolves to Yellowstone National Park has had on the ecosystem. The book demonstrates that predators at the top of the food chain have a profound impact.…The illustrations of the wildlife are beautifully rendered in lush colors. The book contains more information on “The Wolf in North America,” including a map, at the back. The end pages are filled with illustrations and the names of the plants and animals that are mentioned in the book. This is a great introduction for younger children to the impacts of animals on our world.

Anything you didn’t like about it? No

To whom would you recommend this book? This is a nice way to introduce ecosystems to young children. It could be used for school reports for lower elementary school children….
—Catherine Coyne

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The Reading Castle

“…The wolves return by Celia Godkin, biologist and associate professor at the University of Toronto as well as award-winning author and illustrator, explains the journey of reintroducing wild wolves to Yellowstone and the consecutive changes in the environments of the park in kid-friendly words….

Ecology is a complex topic, but Celia Godkin does a great job with explaining biological correlations to children from preschool to middle school age. Her texts are easy to understand, without complicated technical terms or terminology. What wakes the love for nature are her artwork: True-to-life pencil and watercolor illustrations capture the attention of children and adults from the first page on. It’s hard for an expert to explain scientific topics in easy words and almost impossible to find the right words suitable and plausible for children. Celia Godkin does an expert job! The appendix of the book gives a short overview of the history of wolves in the US and is a great add on for older children, teacher and parents.

Our daughter loved The wolves return. She is interested in nature in general and loves wolves…It was really enjoyable to teach her about one of her favorite animals and the development of an ecosystem within a short time span….I can just guess what a great resource this book is for homeschooling parents or teachers! The publisher also provides a teaching guide, which was unfortunately not online yet at time of this review.

Long story short: The wolves return is a great non-fiction book with an environmental message for children every age. It’s a great way to raise children who love nature and are sensible to the ecological problems. The wolves return is another wonderful children’s book by Pajama Press, an independent publisher from Canada.”

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Geo Librarian

“…Due to the hard work and dedication of various scientists and organizations, wolves have returned to Yellowstone National Park. Godkin documents the changes that have come about because of that act….My favorite aspect of the book though are the beautiful illustrations that give the reader a peek into the natural world of the wolf. The additional information and photographs at the end of the book are certainly a great boon for teachers and other users who want to know more about the topic.”

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Orange Marmalade Books

“[T]he complex, interactive webs which rely on biodiversity are critical to a healthy planet and to our health as humans….

By hunting [grey] wolves to the point of near-extinction settlers unwittingly disturbed the timeworn balance that had allowed all sorts of plants, animals and waterways to flourish. This lovely book shows how each piece began to be renewed as wolves were re-introduced to Yellowstone beginning in 1995.

Each turn of the page shows another glory of nature able to perform again its vivid song, as the positive, un-domino effect takes place. What a hopeful, gladsome journey! Share this with children ages 4 and up.”

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Library of Clean Reads

“We are always amazed at how much we learn from children’s non-fiction books. This one is an educational and excellent portrayal of the value of wolves in maintaining a healthy wildlife and ecosystem.

Our Review:

Reviewed by Sandra Olshaski

Who couldn’t love this book about the value of wolves? From the pencil crayon and watercolour illustrations to the beautiful text, it’s an amazing book for both adults and children. It highlights how very important are all creatures and how one animal alone contributes to a thriving natural world….

The colourful illustrations will certainly appeal to children, especially those who are already animal lovers. I appreciate the information pages regarding the history of wolves in North America. I can’t say enough about this beautiful book that contains such important life lessons. I highly recommend it.

Reviewed by Laura Fabiani and Son

It’s a sad reality that most city children have never seen live wild animals (except perhaps at the zoo) or know much about them. Both my son and I were surprised by how much we enjoyed and learned from reading this book. With clear informative text and beautiful illustrations, the author has succeeded in teaching us that large predators play a vital role in the health of the ecosystems where they live….

Children who are animal lovers will especially enjoy the depictions of the various animals…My son and I enjoyed this book and we especially liked that on the front and back inside covers are the names and illustrations of all the plants and animals in the book.

This book should be included in all school libraries and can be used when teaching science and nature in elementary schools. An excellent addition to a home library too.”

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BookTime

The Wolves Return, A New Beginning for Yellowstone National Park by Celia Godkin is a beautiful book…It was fascinating to read about how much the area changed, both in diversity of the creatures…to the health of the animals that always lived there.”

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