Pajama Press

Archive for the ‘Reviews’ Category

Missing Mike Reviews

Posted on May 4th, 2018 by pajamapress

CM Magazine

Cover: Missing Mike Author: Shari Green Publisher: Pajama Press“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.

Click here to read the full review

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.”

Click here to read the full review

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

Click here to read the full review

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

Click here to read the full review

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.”

Click here to read the full review

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

Click here to read the full review

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

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

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

Click here to read the full review

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.”

Click here to read the full review

Ingram Children’s Advance

“[A]n inspiring book about bats, their importance to a wide range of ecosystems, and the young “bat citizens” who are engaged in conservation efforts around the world.”

Read the full review on page 107 of the March/April 2018 issue of Ingram Children’s Advance

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

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.”

Click here to read the full review

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!

Click here to read the full review

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

Click here to read the full review

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

Click here to read the full review

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)”

Click here to read the full review

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

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.

Click here to read the full review

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

Ingram Children’s Advance

“Baby and his stuffed bunny navigate the bedtime routine…”

Read the full review on page 44 of the March/April 2018 issue of Ingram Children’s Advance

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….”

Click here to read the full review

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.”

Click here to read the full review

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

Click here to read the full review

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

Click here to read the full review

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.”

Click here to read the full review

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

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

Wild One Reviews

Posted on November 7th, 2017 by pajamapress

Booklist

WildOne_Website“Told in well-scanning, rhyming couplets, the child is compared to animals whose movements she imitates…Pen-and-ink illustrations with freely applied watercolors that don’t always stay within the lines are apropos and reflect the vitality of the youngster’s antics….The large font, sturdy pages, and few words per page make this a good selection for beginning readers. Pair this title with Quick as a Cricket (1982) by Audrey Wood and In the Tall, Tall Grass (1991) by Denise Fleming for a lively storytime and a discussion of animal movements easily mimicked.”
—Maryann Owen

Click here to read the full review

Kirkus Reviews

“An exuberant little girl, the titular ‘wild one,’ romps energetically all day before finally collapsing into a well-deserved slumber….The rhyming text flows smoothly and has a jaunty rhythm that lends itself well to reading aloud. The playful watercolors start off saturated with bright colors that become muted as the child’s day comes to a sleepy end. A sweet read-aloud featuring a fearless and athletic girl to share with funny little monkeys.”

Click here to read the full review

School Library Journal

“The turn of a page allows readers to predict the next animal comparison, and ink-and-watercolor illustrations record her play with busy movement….VERDICT A recommended general purchase, this read-aloud choice fosters inference and opportunity for shared reading in home or preschool.”
—Mary Elam, Learning Media Services, Plano ISD, TX

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

CM Magazine

“Jane Whittingham’s story of an animated little girl’s day is bursting with playful energy and joy….The story is fun to read with children as it is written with rhyming couplets which, along with the illustrations, may help children guess what the next animal will be. The delightful illustrations by Noel Tuazon are presented in watercolour and ink. They are as spontaneous and whimsical as the little girl’s character and help tell the story of her very busy day by their expression of energy in colour and movement….Wild One is quite durable as it has a padded cover, rounded corners and extra heavy interior paper. Great for little ones who may not be quite so gentle with books just yet….Highly Recommended.
—Tamara Opar

Click here to read the full review

Resource Links Magazine

“Rating: E…The illustrations elevate the simple rhythmic text by showing the child on each succeeding page as the very animal she is imitating with great charm. The watercolour and ink drawings are delightful, appealing and beautifully done. Thematic Links: Imagination; Play; Bedtime”
—Isobel Lang

Read the full review on page 46 of the February 2018 issue of Resource Links Magazine

Where Vancouver

“This sweet picture book is sure to entertain tiny tots with its gentle rhyming couplets outlining one little girl’s perfect day at the playground and pool.”
—Sheri Radford

Read the full review on page 26 of the March-April 2018 issue of Where Vancouver

Kids’ BookBuzz

“We rated this book: [5/5] Wild One is a rhyming picture book for bedtime….The book is fun to read to yourself, and the words are easy, and it’s probably a good book for a parent to read to a little child because of the rhymes and rhythmic repetition of ‘wild one’ at the beginning of every sentence. The illustrations are cute and colorfully painted with watercolors….Any beginning reader who likes animals and likes to play outside will enjoy this book.”
—Lena, Age 9

Click here to read the full review

CanLit for LittleCanadians

“From morning to bedtime, this little girl is go, go, go! She’s not just a wild thing, she’s the Wild One!…

Wild One is Jane Whittingham’s first picture book and it’s a charming recount of a child’s day filled with play and activity. Kids love pretending that they are animals–how often do they imagine themselves to be bears growling or dogs barking or snakes slithering?–but here Jane Whittingham demonstrates, playfully, that we belong in the animal kingdom, sharing many attributes with animals far and wide….[Noel Tuazon’s] style here is appropriately light, subtle and simple, as complements the story of a preschooler’s life. The detail is unnecessary as the pairing of an activity with an animal is all that is needed, especially for the very young for whom this book is written.”

Click here to read the full review

Kate Olson, KidLit Exchange Partner

“What a sweet, sweet story!…Highly recommended for public and school libraries, as well as a gift for the younger children in your life. I will be using for a read aloud in my 4-year-old kindergarten classes once I can get a copy for my library and will be buying as a gift for many little girls in the future.”

Click here to read the full review

Canadian Bookworm

“This fun picture book shows a young girl going through her day energetically, and compares her escapades with the actions of various animals, from bats to eels….This is a good book for bedtime as well, as it ends with the girl tucked up in bed, ready for sleep….A short, fun read that will likely become a favourite for little ones.”

Click here to read the full review

The Book Wars

Wild One by Jane Whittingham and illustrated by Noel Tuazon is just adorable….

Rhyming stories are notoriously difficult to pull off well without seeming forced; most publishers won’t touch them. Here, they flow – and still manage to surprise….Whittingham’s smooth rhyme and consistent rhythm are beautifully matched with the illustrations. Tuazon catches the expressions of a child on adventure just so, and his animals make this reader smile with every page. (That whale!) The watercolours brighten the page while suggesting the blending of everyday and imagination – watercolours, like Let’s Pretend and other imaginative games, never truly stay within the lines.

The endpages are gorgeous.”

Click here to read the full review

Fab Book Reviews

“Canadian librarian and writer Jane Whittingham and Canadian illustrator Noel Tuazon have teamed up to bring readers the exuberant, fun and all-around winning picture book Wild One. Written in rhyming couplets- a form in picture books I absolutely adore when done fittingly – Wild One tells the story of a young girl’s very busy, very active day, with actions mirroring those of animals. Accompanied by Noel Tuazon’s soft yet sunny and bright illustrations, Wild One is a lovely treat….

Overall, a joyful, fun and charming picture book. Perfect for a preschool age and under crowd, I think Wild One would go over tremendously well as a read aloud with busy, wiggly and active toddlers. It could even be used by a willing reader to facilitate an action/movement read aloud with everyone acting out the animal movements in the story! Wild One is a picture book that begs for reading aloud and having fun with, due its ideal compact length, clarity, perfectly fun rhymes, and complementary (adorable) illustrations.”

Click here to read the full review

Booktime

“[A] cute story by Burnaby, British Columbia, librarian Jane Whittingham…The illustrations look like they have been done in watercolour, which I love, and the little girl, and the animals she turns into, are realistic and cute. I can see how a child would stretch like a cat or hang like a bat.

What I also like about this book, and Pajama Press does it often, is the actual feel and look of the it. It has nice weight to it, padded cover, rounded corners and extra-heavy paper.”

Click here to read the full review

Raising Mom

“The delightful watercolour illustrations draw the reader (or young child) into the story, and the action is enhanced by the simple rhyming couplets. The story is a celebration of childhood and all the uninhibited movement and excitement that being a young child brings….The simple, yet carefully crafted lines are rhythmic and just beg to be read aloud and acted out….

My three youngsters (aged 3, 3, & 4) really loved acting out the animals mentioned in this book. It is a great bedtime round-up book to start our process into settling down for sleep. They were eager to gather to act out and make the sounds of the animals and worked the last of their wiggles (and giggles!) out in preparation for our next (quieter) book before songs, prayers and lights out. The last animal depicted is a bear, snuggling in for the night, and at this point in the story I have the kids jump into bed and mimic the snuggling. In the weeks that we’ve had this new title, they have each asked for it to be read umpteen times – a sure sign of a fave book.”
—Erin

Click here to read the full review