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Archive for the ‘Reviews’ Category

The Night Lion Reviews

Posted on October 13th, 2017 by pajamapress

Booktime

TheNightLion_WebsiteThe Night Lion by Sanne Dufft is another beautiful book with wonderful illustrations….I hope to read this story over and over, and add it to my picture book buying list.”

Click here to read the full review

Baby Cakes Reviews

Posted on September 11th, 2017 by pajamapress

Booklist

BabyCakes_Website“The little boy’s expressive face fills many spreads, looking content while licking sugar from his fingers, or inquisitive while big sister creams butter in a bowl. This pleasant book makes baking look like so much fun that kiddos are likely to be inspired to try to help out in the kitchen.”
—Sarah Hunter

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School Library Journal

“PreS-Gr 1–The toddlers who starred in Hat On, Hat Off are now preparing cupcakes in the kitchen….Benoit offers a wide variety of perspectives so readers can see the way the batter looks in a big bowl, while on another page, the younger boy’s eyes barely peek over the top of the baking tin. Recipes for chocolate cupcakes and vanilla frosting appear on the endpapers. VERDICT This brief story will go over well in a storytime with a cooking theme. A sweet treat that’s sure to please.”
—Blair Christolon, Prince William Public Library System, Manassas, VA

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

Kirkus Reviews

“The declarative, sometimes imperative text is as straightforward as a recipe…The children have straight black hair and brown skin; Mommy, visible only as a pair of hands lifting Kitty away from the flour, also has brown skin. Although she is in the kitchen, the focus is on the children’s activities, and the use of low-tech tools—they cream the butter by hand, hence the ‘hard work’—ensures that they can be active participants rather than bystanders….Benoit’s art features distinct outlines, rounded figures, and soft colors—the mutual affection is apparent on every page. A recipe for success.”

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Dragonfly Song Reviews

Posted on July 6th, 2017 by pajamapress

Kirkus ★ Starred Review

DragonflySong_Website“Orr tells her tale in both narrative poetry and prose for an effect that is both fanciful and urgent, drawing a rich fantasy landscape filled with people and creatures worthy of knowing. An introductory note describes Orr’s inspiration in the legend of the Minotaur, but her story is no retelling but a meditation on rejection and acceptance, on determination and self-determination. The shifts between poetry and prose build tension just as surely as the bull dances do. As mesmerizing as a mermaid’s kiss, the story dances with emotion, fire, and promise. (Fantasy. 10-14)”

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School Library Journal

“The Bronze Age setting makes for a unique backdrop, and Aissa is a sympathetic character. Her struggles are heartrending, and made more so by the lyrical storytelling style. The descriptions of the dances are especially vivid. VERDICT Hand-sell this unusual tale to fans of Shannon Hale’s historical fantasies.”
Mandy Laferriere, Fowler Middle School, Frisco, TX

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

Quill & Quire

Dragonfly Song is an impressive work of middle-grade historical fiction. Aissa is a brave, tenacious girl, who rebels against the constraints of her life without appearing anachronistic. There isn’t a lot of young people’s fiction set in the Bronze Age, and the details here are lovingly researched, creating a transportive world. Especially noteworthy is the representation of religion in a pre-Christian setting, as the book explores both its beauty and brutality.”

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The Reading Castle

“From the first glimpse of the magnificent cover I knew that Dragonfly Song would be a glorious read. A fantasy story embedded in history? A strong heroine? Sign me up!

Long story short: Dragonfly Song was all that I expected it to be – and, at the same time, completely different. Is that a good thing? Definitely! Dragonfly Song is a magnificent, magical book for teens and young adults. During a sleepless night, I couldn’t put the book down. I suffered, laughed and, yes, cried. And although I live and die with books, I don’t cry often….

Dragonfly Song is more than just a good read. It’s a saga, not just a retelling of the legend of the Minotaur, but a tale of fighting for one’s identity. It’s the story of a strong girl taking her life in her own hands, finding her way against all odds….

Wendy Orr slows down significantly. She incorporates rhyme, which makes Dragonfly Song lyrical and interesting to read. Orr’s poetry might be challenging for the average midgrade reader. The sections are not bothersome, though. Embedded in Aissa’s story, at the right time and in the right place, they intensify the feeling of Dragonfly Song being a saga. Orr’s writing makes the book really special and a wonderful read – even for mid-graders!

Dragonfly Song – an outstanding book for young (and old) adults! Read it! Now!”

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David Stringer, NetGalley

“I must admit, I enjoyed this book, it is about a young girl who doesn’t have a lot of luck growing up back thousands of years ago in Crete….a well written, interesting read and one that has introduced me to a good author I will keep an eye on.”

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Princess Pistachio and Maurice the Magnificent Reviews

Posted on June 29th, 2017 by pajamapress

Kirkus ★ STARRED REVIEWPPMM_Website

“Irrepressible Princess Pistachio is back in all her enthusiastic glory….Gay’s easy, breezy syntax is wonderfully descriptive even as it skillfully addresses life lessons about friendship, self-involvement, and forgiveness. The cast of characters is eccentric and diverse, and teacher Mr. Grumblebrain’s name is wonderfully inventive. Ink, watercolor, and colored pencil illustrations are full of life and humor, perfectly complementing the action. Breathless, laugh-out-loud fun. (Early reader. 4-8)”

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School Library Journal

“Gr 1-3–This lighthearted story about a young girl and her lazy dog will entice young readers who are venturing into chapter books….Illustrations depicting Pistachio’s classmates’ laughter during show and tell and the series of dogs trying out for the Doggone Theater’s lead role (from trumpeting Chihuahuas to a beagle balancing a teacup on her nose) all fit perfectly with the text’s silly and sweet tone. VERDICT The child appeal of this tale will keep independent readers chuckling and wanting more; a strongly recommended purchase.”
—Jennifer Gibson, SUNY Cortland

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

CM Magazine

“Young readers making the transition to chapter books will once again be thrilled to read about the adventures of intrepid Pistachio and her bored dog, Maurice the Magnificent. The text is easy to read but challenging enough to engage young readers who will definitely be able to relate to the action in the story. Gay’s narration is full of dynamic descriptions: “Princess Pistachio’s dog is sleeping belly-up on his favorite plaid cushion. He is snoring like a frog with a cold.” (p. 7) Gay’s illustrations also provide a great deal of interesting information for readers. Princess Pistachio’s facial expressions are very evocative as are the various poses of Maurice the Magnificent….

This book can definitely be used as a read-aloud for early emergent readers while fluent readers can read it themselves. There are many themes to explore in Princess Pistachio and Maurice the Magnificent, including caring for pets, theatre productions, jealousy, kidnapping, friendship, and loyalty.

Highly Recommended.
Myra Junyk, who lives in Toronto, ON, is a literacy advocate and author.

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Youth Services Book Review

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

What did you like about the book? …I am a major Marie-Louise Gay fan so the illustrations done in India ink, watercolor, ink and colored pencils won me over immediately. Maurice is a very cute, lovable, lazy dog and the story is wonderful.

Anything you did not like about this book? I liked everything.

To whom would you recommend this book? Give this one to those who read the first book, Princess Pistachio, but also to those who have loved the Stella books also my Marie-Louise Gay.”
—Katrina Yurenka, Moderator, Youth Services Book Review

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Kids’ BookBuzz

“We rated this book: [4.5/5]…

I like this book because the dog ends up playing Sleeping Beauty, and that’s funny. I also like it when Dog is performing a show for dogs and it says ‘Poodles faint’ because he’s so handsome….This book is good for little kids, but they might need other people to read it to them because it has some big words. It is a short chapter book with four chapters. If you like dogs and shows, you’ll like this book!”
—Clementine – Age 6

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Story Wraps

“This is the third book in the Princess Pistachio series. It is a wonderful little chapter book with very endearing illustrations starring the Princess and her dog, Dog. Yep, you heard me right, her dog’s name is Dog….

I truly loved the illustrations, especially adorable Princess Pistachio. Gay’s watercolour, and coloured-pencil work bring the text alive and is full of humour, detail and action. The story is very well-written and has a plot that kids can identify with and enjoy tremendously. I highly, highly recommend this book.

Storywraps Rating – 5 +++ HUGS!!!!!

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Montreal Review of Books

“Princess Pistachio and Maurice the Magnificent is Marie-Louise Gay’s third tale about a scheming little red-haired nutter named Pistachio Shoelace. An ode to children’s devotion to their pets and their ensuing adventures…With striking details (Dog snores like a frog with a cold), Gay captures the best and worst of pets…Gay’s charming pen, ink, and watercolour drawings are scattered throughout the text, and include especially adorable drawings of all kinds of dogs.”

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CanLit for LittleCanadians

“…I’d join others in applauding Maurice the Magnificent’s performance but I think we should extend those accolades to Marie-Louise Gay who can do no wrong in her storytelling or illustrating. Her Stella and Sam books have garnered her many an award and nomination but her Princess Pistachio [collection] (this is Book 3) takes us from the world of imaginative play into the realm of young school children trying to figure out how to get along with others.

Pistachio loves her Dog and just wants him to have a good life, and she’s willing to help make that happen….And doesn’t Marie-Louise Gay make him adorable! With his patch around the eye, short tail and legs splayed out behind him when he flops down, Dog is every dog that is loved.

Princess Pistachio and Maurice the Magnificent is a worthy addition to this absolutely marvelously magnificent [collection] that is ever entertaining and endearing!”

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Sal’s Fiction Addiction

“For fans who have been waiting for a new adventure with Princess Pistachio, your wait is over! She is as feisty and positive as ever…[R]ead this new book from the incomparable Marie-Louise Gay. You won’t be disappointed!”

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Canadian Bookworm

“I liked the way the book showed that everybody has undiscovered talents, despite first impressions. I also liked the way the situation led to new understanding for both Pistachio and Madeline, and modeled a good way to deal with issues between friends. My only difficulty with the plot was when Dog ate an eraser at school….Unfortunately, I had a cat who took it upon himself to eat an eraser, which proved to be life-threatening to him and very expensive to me. So I’d like to emphasize to NEVER DO THAT!!”

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The Theory of Hummingbirds Reviews

Posted on June 28th, 2017 by pajamapress

School Library Journal

TheTheoryOfHummingbirds_Website“Fascinating hummingbird facts flit throughout this contemporary realistic story and a glossary helps readers know more about the birds. An author’s note states that Kadarusman, like Alba, was born with talipes equinovarus. Kadarusman’s writing has a light touch, and the story will resonate with a wide audience. VERDICT Readers learn that a group of hummingbirds is called a ‘charm’—and are sure to be charmed by this heartfelt tale.”

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Kirkus Reviews

“[Alba’s] goals occur in small steps, easing her into the difference between her dream and the reality without diminishing her accomplishments. Alba’s relationship with her single mother is touching…Alba’s narration is dotted with hummingbird facts, which Kadarusman—who had a club foot herself—explains in a glossary. A quick, sweet read.”

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CM Magazine

“…Like Alba, author Michelle Kadarusman experienced juvenile surgeries for clubfoot, as described in her ‘Author’s Note’, and Alba’s perspective here is delightfully authentic….

Indeed, it is these facts that will keep readers intrigued over and above the more common theme of friendship that binds this story, elevating this novel to a rich and thought-provoking read. A glossary of Alba’s Hummingbird Facts appears at the end of the book….

The total design of the book, including its various fonts and hummingbird images, is captivating.

In a couple of places, aspects of the story make for excellent critical literacy discussions. Alba’s single mother takes a shine to Alba’s medical specialist; is a personal relationship between them appropriate? And Alba constantly longs to be ‘normal’ until the ending when she decides that her bad foot ‘didn’t have to be normal, because it wasn’t normal that mattered.’ Is Alba really abnormal, or is diversity, and the way we think today about difference, the new normal? Important discussions for classrooms and beyond.

Highly Recommended.
Bev Brenna

Click here to read the full review

Quill & Quire

“…The Theory of Hummingbirds is a gentle, hopeful, and wholly innocent portrayal of a sixth-grade girl dealing with being different….

Alba uses several coping techniques to deal with her physical challenges. She is deeply invested in hummingbirds and sees them as a metaphor for her own life. ‘Hummingbirds don’t sit around moaning about their tiny feet and the fact that they can’t walk,’ she says.  Alba calls her clubfoot Cleo, viewing it with compassion and kindness rather than resentment and self-pity. Support comes from her best friend Levi, who spends recess indoors with her because of his serious asthma.

…In the mode of Jeanne Birdsall and Natalie Lloyd, Kadarusman makes some narrative choices that favour poeticism and poignancy over realism….

The negativity is fleeting and the trajectory of Alba’s journey is onward and upward….”

Read the full review on page 47 of the July/August 2017 issue of Quill & Quire

CanLit for LittleCanadians

“Alba is like the hummingbirds of the title. Most people would see them as delicate creatures, perhaps fragile and vulnerable. But Alba and Levi, hummingbird aficionados, know that the little birds are not always what they seem. They can be intense, even ferocious, not unlike Alba herself….

The Theory of Hummingbirds is Michelle Kadarusman’s first middle-grade novel (Her first book, Out of It (Lorimer, 2014), was written for young adults) and she’s made it reader friendly in more than just vocabulary and content. Her characters are both sensitive and gritty, as the need requires, and neither goody-goody nor reprehensible. In other words, they are real children with strengths and challenges. Because she underwent a series of surgical procedures to correct her own congenital talipes equinovarus, Michelle Kadarusman writes from experience. Hence Alba’s determination and drive for normalcy is written with authenticity and reads the same. If there’s a lesson to learn, it’s that seeing the hummingbirds and Alba and Levi and others only one way does a disservice to them and anyone. We are all far more than our greatest challenge or weakness or even strength. For that, on this day, we should all be ever thankful.”

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Amy Shaw

“[5/5 stars]…It was easy to fall in league with these two characters, as different and challenged as they each were as the story unfolds. Alba was remarkable for her perseverance and her drive, and Levi equally solid in his knowledge and conviction that space-time continuum and scientific discovery need not be left to the adults and titled scientists. This is a great book to share with students in discussion of friendship, resilience, perseverance, and goal-setting.”

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Sarah Pickles

“[4/5 stars] A story about best friends, hummingbirds and wormholes makes for a great story….Above all I love the message of this story, ‘Love who you are and LOVE what you can do.’”

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Vicki Ziegler

“[4 1/2 stars]…

I am giving this book as a gift to an eager middle grade reader, but I decided to read it myself before passing it along. I’m so glad I did. Michelle Kadarusman draws on personal experience to craft well a story about learning to see past the surfaces of people and situations to go deeper and achieve understanding and empathy….These messages and the intertwined insights into hummingbirds – beautiful, resilient, fiesty, all in a tiny, exquisite package – are all conveyed with a light but resonant touch.”

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Best Pirate Reviews

Posted on June 14th, 2017 by pajamapress

Kirkus ReviewsBestPirate_Website

“A pirate lassie decides merely going from a Bad Pirate (2015) to a Good Pirate (2016) isn’t enough….Following the format she set forth in the book’s two predecessors, Winters once again fills her text with piratical lingo while highlighting three adjectives (in this case, “crafty,” “nimble,” and “fearless”), allowing her heroine to embody them in her own way. Augusta is proactive, takes charge, and even has a thing or two to say about generosity when the moment is right. Griffiths’ illustrations are in fine form here, by turns beautiful in their evocative backgrounds while also displaying an array of impressively expressive kits and pups. Best be filling yer ditty bag with more of this sort—Tuna Lubbers and Frilly Dogs ahoy!”

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Youth Services Book Review

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

The illustrations are fabulous, full of color, realistic, expressive – and cute….

To whom would you recommend this book? This would be a fun addition to a pirate-themed storytime.

Who should buy this book? Public and lower elementary school libraries and day-care centers”
—Katrina Yurenka, Moderator, Youth Services Book Review

Click here to read the full review

CanLit for LittleCanadians

“First she was a Bad Pirate (2015) and then she was a Good Pirate (2016) but now Augusta, daughter of Captain Barnacle Garrick, is on her way to becoming an even better pirate….

Readers will certainly learn a lesson from Augusta and Kari-Lynn Winters about determination and fulfilment that comes from success without the need for accolades. She may be a dog but she’s a gutsy lassy.

Dean Griffiths, who illustrated Kari-Lynn Winters’ earlier Pirate books, continues to endow the story with colour richness and opulent textures from another time…Of course, young readers will love the dogs and cats of all species with their distinguishing features of fur and shape as well as the wide array of their expressions: friendliness, fear, surprise, dismay, anger.

Aye, blow me down but Best Pirate is a treasure of a fine tale for pirate lovers on both sea and land.”

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Canadian Bookworm

“There is lots of lovely pirate language, and the end papers help define a lot of these for enchanted readers. The illustrations are wonderful, showing emotions and lovely details. The dogs are a variety of breeds, easily identifiable, and the cats range in type while still being entirely cats. And I love that the story shows how working together pays off.

Both author and illustrator are Canadian and known internationally for their great work. I’d already read and loved Kari-Lynn’s Hungry for Math poetry book, and loved Dean’s illustrations in the children’s novel The Stowaways. It’s great to see them come together in this series.”

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Booktime

“This is the second book about Augusta Garrick, a gentle, helpful pirate who has proven her worth among the more traditional pirate pups….The illustrations are beautiful in the book…”

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Road Signs That Say West Reviews

Posted on April 27th, 2017 by pajamapress

CM Magazine

roadsignsthatsaywest_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

Resource Links

“What starts out as a daring cross-Canada romp evolves into an important journey of discovery, personal and philosophical, with important and realistic results….

Author Sylvia Gunnery has portrayed this trip as a portrait of Canada’s better self; the onethat sees youth as something to be treasured and travel as something with purpose rather than a simple means to a destination. The people the three sisters meet on their journey are believable and real and that added dimension gives the narrative much more depth than initially expected.”

Thematic Links: Travel; Canada; Sisterhood; Conduct of Life; Adolescence; Sexual Politics
Lesley Little

Read the full review on page 24 of the June 2017 issue of Resource Links

Canadian Children’s BookNews

“…Sylvia Gunnery is able to show that the path through life has many bumps and turns along the way. She illustrates that, with good travel companions, the journey to healing and self-discovery can be very rewarding. Gunnery is sensitive, empathetic and insightful with these characters as they explore their paths.

Young teens will easily identify with the characters as they enjoy a youthful summer trip. They may also relate to the secrets the characters disclose, navigating who to trust, and the bonds of siblings and true friendship. It is an engaging story about what it means to let go of the past and align yourself with the path to your own journey in life.”
—Christie O’Sullivan

Read the full review on page 37 of the Fall 2017 issue of Canadian Children’s BookNews

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

Writing YA

“This is a quiet book, a literary book, and a difficult story to cram between two plain paper covers. A sisterly Bildungsroman is both vast and deep; it covers the happenings over a summer, but also the tendencies of a lifetime thus far, in a way. The narrative is more a series of observations from inside the mind of each girl, and isn’t always seamless. The ‘head-hopping’ can be frustrating for a reader seeking a typical narrative with a rising narrative arc, and this book might be more appropriate to an older reader. I think it crosses over well into being an adult read.

Things happen in this novel, and yet, not much does. It’s a road trip; there are long silences, periods of silent anger, spontaneous, giddy parties with strangers, and a lot of examining internal thoughts….

The novel ends with trailing threads, and for some, the end will seem jarring. But, a road is a constant, just as the narrative of sisterhood and the process of growing, maturing, and separating is a common experience, in many ways. This constantly shifting narrative means that some things aren’t resolved in this novel – bitterness remains bitter ‘til the end, losses still pain, good times are ephemeral. The road goes on, but the one thing that remains is sisterhood. Despite everything, these girls will always be related.

Conclusion: Definitely not for the common crowd, this novel is made up of the pauses between growing pains, and will find its audience among those who have wished to draw closer to their families and see them as complex and enigmatic human beings, instead of the familiar souls they’ve always known. Perfect for people transitioning through stages of life, and wondering what more is out there.”

Click here to read the full review

CanLit for LittleCanadians

“The road trip scenario is an irresistible plot line, forcing the three sisters to interact (haven’t we all been trapped in cars with those we may or may not like?) while they experience life and meet new people of all backgrounds and take in the diversity of places that make up Canada. Road Signs That Say West could be a travel commentary of places east to west (I found myself looking up information about Glooscap, Weyburn, and more) but it’s really a story of family, a real family, of siblings with secrets, weaknesses, strengths and ambitions that they may or may not share. The baggage that the girls take with them is far greater than their back stories and drives them to behave in complex and justifiable ways….young adult readers will appreciate the three different personalities Sylvia Gunnery has created as well as her story which takes the three to new places in their relationships within a colourful national landscape.”

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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

Canadian Bookworm

“This teen novel has three sisters at the center….As the girls journey across the country, they encounter other young people, some they like, others they don’t. They get invited to a wedding and find themselves offering to help paint a house. They have fights, and get scared. They get hurt, and share secrets and fears.

This is a tale of sisters, with all the messiness that relationship brings. A tale of love despite differences, as they all prepare for what the future may bring them.”

Click here to read the full review

Macy McMillan and the Rainbow Goddess Reviews

Posted on March 29th, 2017 by pajamapress

The Horn Book Magazine

MacyMacMillan_Website“Green’s free verse makes this a quick, accessible read, focusing on Macy’s realistic reluctance to share her mother and her gradual acceptance of the changes in her life (“Babysitting was actually okay / but I can’t imagine / a lifetime of it,” she comments feelingly). Macy’s deafness is a feature but not the focus of this…sympathetic rendering of a twelve-year-old’s angst.”
—Deirdre F. Baker

Read the full review in the September/October 2017 issue of The Horn Book Magazine

Kirkus Reviews

“Macy, a deaf sixth-grader who attends a mainstream school with an interpreter, faces enormous challenges, as her mother will soon marry, necessitating a move to her new stepdad’s house….The verse trails down the pages in narrow bands leaving plenty of white space. Even characters that are barely sketched emerge fully realized through the spare yet poignant narrative….When one twin endearingly makes the sign ‘sister’ to Macy, it’s an affecting moment of deep promise. Macy’s life lessons are realistic and illuminating; that she is deaf adds yet another dimension to an already powerful tale. (Fiction. 9-12)”

Click here to read the full review

School Library Journal

“The novel-in-verse structure is clever, engaging, and accessible. Macy’s deafness is skillfully woven into the story, adding depth and complexity to her characterization and relationships with others….With candor and angst, Macy shares her sorrow over an argument with her best friend, her desire to stop her mother from getting married, her determination not to like her stepfather, and her affection for aging Iris. VERDICT Macy’s coming-of-age anxieties, observations, and insights will resonate with middle grade readers. A strong purchase for public and school libraries.”
—Gerry Larson, formerly at Durham School of the Arts, NC

Click here to read the full review

Booklist

“This touching novel in verse makes clever use of space on each page, not only visually acknowledging Macy’s deafness, but inviting all readers to understand and process language in multiple ways. Green’s story confronts life’s challenges with depth and realism, creating a narrative that is sparse yet impactful, with characters that are bursting with life.”
—Rebecca Kuss

Read the full review in the June 1, 2017 issue of Booklist

CM Magazine

“…One of the striking things about the characterization of Macy is that she is profoundly deaf, communicating primarily through sign language. Green’s portrayal is highly authentic, and the various interactions Macy experiences are seamlessly introduced.

Both Macy and Ms. Gillan love books, and this connection offers a chance for intergenerational reading. Ms. Gillan responds to Macy’s favourite title, The Tale of Despereaux, just as Macy finds solace in a book of Ms. Gillan’s, Anne of Green Gables….

Told as a verse-novel, in a light yet poignant style similar to Green’s previous title, Root Beer Candy and Other Miracles, there is much to admire here including a clear plot line, rich character development, and sudden, incisive humour. In addition, it’s clear that Macy is a young girl living in contemporary times rather than a projection of the author’s own childhood, and the book’s details, including its school and community settings, feel modern and accurate….Choices in formatting enhance readability, extending this book to a wide age and ability range….

Highly Recommended.

Bev Brenna, a literacy professor at the University of Saskatchewan, has 10 published books for young people.

Click here to read the full review

Resource Links

“This deceptively simple novel-in-verse is a beautifully emotional, poetic treasure. Shari Green’s writing is captivating and she has created, in Macy McMillan, a complex, true-to-life, sensitive preteen girl….

This is the type of book readers will find themselves reading cover to cover in a single sitting, and since it is written in verse, that is entirely possible. Green’s writing is superbly lyrical, touching, and likely to stick with readers for a long time….

More than once, I found myself thinking of Eleanor Estes’ classic The Hundred Dresses. While the gut-wrenchingly sad undertones of that novel are quite different from this one, both invoked strong emotions in me, and both feature similar themes of a young girl coping with extreme challenges – Macy with her disability, and the other novel’s protagonist with unbearable poverty. This novel, however, is emotionally powerful without being morose. It is simply real, and its message of accepting true happiness and living life to the fullest is beautiful and inspiring.

Highly recommended for all children’s libraries.”

Thematic Links: Deaf Children; Stepfamilies; Friendship; Elderly People; Novels in Verse; Realistic Fiction; Grief; Fitting In
Nicole Rowlinson

Read the full review on page 12 of the June 2017 issue of Resource Links

Canadian Children’s BookNews

“Shari Green’s beautifully crafted and affecting novel-in-verse provides a sensitive depiction of a young girl wrestling with change and learning some important life lessons in the process. The unlikely friendship that develops between Macy and her neighbour Iris (who is facing some major life changes of her own) as they bond over books and fresh-baked cookies, is heartwarming and inspiring. Even once Macy and Olivia reconcile, both girls are increasingly struck by the need to help Iris and her friend Marjorie to remember and to tell their stories. This book is a thoughtful reflection on what makes a family, the power of friendship and the sacredness of stories (our own and others).”
—Lisa Doucet

Read the full review on page 23 of the Fall 2017 issue of Canadian Children’s BookNews

BookPage

“Shari Green brings readers a touching follow-up to her well-loved middle grade debut, Root Beer Candy and Other Miracles….

Macy McMillan and the Rainbow Goddess is brimming with charm and plenty of references to other great books to appeal to the story lover in all of us. Written in verse—a format that serves to heighten the emotional potency of the novel—this heartfelt story shines with genuine hope and the promise that, no matter what challenges lie ahead of us, there is always a bright destination if we keep ourselves open to the unexpected people and opportunities that can help us get there.”

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Kids’ BookBuzz

“I loved this book because it was written in free-verse poetry, which made it a more interesting and fun read. I felt that this book had the wonderful message that you can always find something good in life, no matter what happens! I would recommend it for kids ten and up!”

—Hannah, Age 9

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The Loud Library Lady

“⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ / 5…Perfect middle grade free verse! I am so excited to share this with my elementary and middle school students, as I am always talking up free verse, but can’t find enough excellent examples to share with them. Macy’s story is heartwarming and thought-provoking…I especially loved the book references throughout the story, like to the books El Deafo and The Tale of Despereaux – books that kids today will know and be able to relate to….I can’t wait to read this author’s other middle grade novel Root Beer Candy and Other Miracles and order both of these titles for my libraries.”

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Winnipeg Free Press

“Written in blank verse, this pre-teen novel is easy to read with an almost poetic rhythm. Good for ages eight to 12.”

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CanLit for LittleCanadians

“Shari Green, author of Root Beer Candy and Other Miracles, has found her story as a writer of extraordinary middle grade novels in verse. Though I suspect she can write just about anything–middle grade, young adult, speculative fiction, non-free verse–her talent is definitely in writing insightfully poignant tales in the impassioned and crisp free verse style. As in her earlier book, Shari Green uses few words, but the right ones, to grow a story of such sensitivity for and awareness of her characters and readers that all will leave the story fulfilled. Her characters’ stories connect with us in ways we cannot put into words. I was astounded that a little girl could gain so much wisdom, courtesy of Iris and Shari Green of course, about life’s stories that she has a middle-aged woman such as myself in tears and heeding her advice.

Hearts are waiting, worrying, hurting
–in need of a message
you can send.
 (pg. 226)

Macy McMillan and the Rainbow Goddess is a message from the writing goddesses that everyone’s life is just a story or series of stories that need to be told to be fully appreciated but no worries here because one of their scribes, Shari Green, has taken on that task capably and, like Iris, with wholehearted extravagance.”

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Sal’s Fiction Addiction

“This verse novel is admirable. Its wonderful characters, memorable plot, perfectly chosen language and form, familiar settings, unwelcome changes and humor offer readers a very personal look at a young girl struggling to find her way. She does it with the help of family and friends. The stories, notes and cookies that Macy shares with her ‘rainbow goddess’ leads to a very unexpected friendship - and the heart of this very special book.”

Click here to read the full review

Middle Grade Minded

“Shari Green is first and foremost a fantastic writer. This story is told in verse and it is awe-inspiring the way the words and images roll through the story. And this story, about a young deaf girl whose life is changing thanks to her mother’s decision to marry, is heartwarming and heartbreaking all at once. There were so many scenes where I wanted to shout “No, Macy, No!” to save her from herself, which is always the sign of a good book to me!…

Macy McMillan and the Rainbow Goddess would be a welcome addition to every school library and school curriculum. Besides being a master class in verse writing, it is also a master class in telling stories about how relationships, and looking beyond the exterior, can change the way we look at the world.”

Click here to read the full review

Library Thing

“Oh my goodness, my heart is so full after reading this book (for the second time)! Yes, it is that good. I’m trying to define all my emotions but they are jumbled up together. Please read!

Format:
The book is written in a free poem style. Do not let the format put you off from reading this fantastic book. The words are few but the story is rich and complex….

In conclusion:
Please read this book! It’s ideal for young people but adults will love it too. Age 11 and up will find the themes very relatable.. I suspect too that kids will find the book’s conclusion to be comforting. We can’t keep change from happening (as Macy attempts) but we can find a way to be a part of the change.”

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The Mystical Skeptic

“I recently got my hands on a review copy of Macy McMillan and the Rainbow Goddess by Shari Green. I adored her last verse novel: Root Beer Candy and Other Miracles, so reading this one was a no-brainer.

I fell for Macy instantly….

[I]t’s no secret I adore relationships between kids/teens and the elderly. I love to read and write them. I had plenty of them when I was a kid. My favorite church small group as an adult has included women ages 26 (that was me) to 80. People of different ages learn from one another, and I love love love love that.

Everything about this book was wonderful. It’s a novel to share with your child, to read while eating warm cookies with cold milk, to pass onto a friend…”

Click here to read the full review

Booktime

“I love books about people who love books. In the words of Anne Shirley (Anne of Green Gables  by Lucy Maud Montgomery), the characters are kindred spirits, who understand the happiness books bring, and that the stories within its page give readers exactly what they need.

Canadian author Shari Green must be a true book lover because her characters in Macy McMillan and the Rainbow Goddess certainly are….

The book is written in free prose, which makes it a quick read.

Macy is a wonderful character, and it’s amazing to watch her grow and come to terms with a life that is being forced on her.

Iris is also fabulous. Not only is she a book lover, she is also the believer in the power of cookies, and in her younger days delivered messages with cookies, each type telling the recipient something different – chocolate chunk cookies, Iris says, tells people everything will be OK; sugar and spice cookies (with a recipe at the end of the book) says you are loved, that you belong.

An important message in this book, and in life.”

Click here to read the full review

Bookish Notions

Macy McMillan and the Rainbow Goddess by Shari Green is a heartwarming middle-grade novel told in free verse….There is so much to love about this story. The cast of characters are vibrant and interesting. The free-verse feels very fluid and natural, with well-placed metaphors that build on Macy’s voice and character….

I really appreciated that Macy’s deafness is not the focus of this book; it’s a part of her story but not her whole story. While her hearing loss creates obstacles that hearing children might not have considered or ever had to deal with, Macy never felt ‘other’ to me and I think it’s important for both readers with hearing and those without to see Macy as a kid first, dealing with fear, loneliness, and new experiences….

As sweet as one of Iris’s cookies, Macy McMillan and the Rainbow Goddess is an absolutely charming story from start to finish that encourages cross-generation friendships and getting to know someone before making judgements. I highly recommend.

♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ (5/5 hearts)

Bonus: Macy McMillan and the Rainbow Goddess includes a recipe for Iris’s Sugar and Spice Cookies! So of course I had to try them out. I’m always a bit skeptical of recipes in the back of novels, as so often they’re more gimmicky than good, but these are delicious! The batter didn’t spread as much as I thought it would when baking so you can go for the extravagant-sized cookies without fear of them running together. And the batter works great for freezing. I baked half and put the rest in the freezer. Just let the batter thaw a bit and it’s once again perfect for scooping and rolling in the sugar coating. The cookies tasted just as wonderful done this way. But don’t take my word for it—whip up a batch yourself!”

Click here to read the full review

The One and Only Marfalfa

“Some stories are just made for the verse novel format. This is one of them. Pacing is tight and word choice is solid. Some verse novels get so caught up in artistry that the reader isn’t clear on what is actually happening. That isn’t the case here. I also appreciated that while Macy is deaf, its not the sum total of her character. She’s your average middle grade girl who just happens to be deaf.”

Click here to read the full review

StoryWraps

“This heartwarming story unfolds a beautiful bond between the elder ‘rainbow goddess’ and the younger ‘seeker of comfort’….The book is written beautifully in free verse and the characters are well developed….I highly recommend this book. The author’s previous book, Root Beer Candy and Other Miracles is worthy of checking out also. Storywraps Rating… 5 +++ HUGS!!!!!

Click here to read the full review

The Librarian is on the Loose

“I loved that Green has chosen a deaf girl for a heroine, and the story is not about being deaf. Deafness is just part of who Macy is, like having red hair….I appreciated the reminder that, while change may be unwelcome, it can also bring wonderful things. Give this to anyone who enjoys books about intergenerational relationships, or who needs help with some unwelcome change. Recommended for grades 3-5.”
—Awnali Mills

Click here to read the full review

Two Times a Traitor Reviews

Posted on March 3rd, 2017 by pajamapress

KirkusTwoTimesATraitor_Website

“The past is accurately and engagingly depicted, and Laz’s reactions to the harsh conditions, especially bad food and filth, are totally believable….[T]ime travel is a thrilling concept, and the tale overflows with compelling action…”

Click here to read the full review

ILA Today, “War and Conflicts”

“Violent conflicts occur around the globe every day. History shows how small disagreements often erupt into larger conflicts that can morph into wars. Wars have long-lasting effects on the environment as well as civilians and the troops who fight in them. This week’s column features books that explore some of those wars and conflicts….

[Karen Bass] provides enough details to allow [readers] to draw their own conclusions about the battles between the French and the English and Laz’s own personal dilemma.

Ages 15+

Click here to read the full review

CM Magazine

Two Times a Traitor is a coming-of-age novel about a boy who inadvertently time-travels back to 1745 where he finds himself in a war. He also finds a father-figure and grows as a person….

The plot of Two Times a Traitor is carefully woven and tension-filled….

Richness of detail, the result of the author’s careful research, helps the reader suspend disbelief and be caught up in the story….

Young readers will identify with likeable Laz and will enjoy the drama and fast pace of Two Times a Traitor.

Recommended.”
Ruth Latta

Click here to read the full review

Winnipeg Free Press

“Combining time travel with swash-buckling adventure, Alberta author Karen Bass has written a sure-to-be favourite with middle readers, Two Times a Traitor….

This novel has enough action to suit the most demanding reader….

Highly recommended for ages 9-12.”

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? Laz’s growth in the book is evident. Hard times often force maturity and Laz dealt with his situation well considering. The connections Laz made to those around him were especially poignant….

To whom would you recommend this book? Any child looking for regional historic fiction like Forbes’ Johnny Tremain.”
—Sadina Shawver, Robbins Library, Arlington, MA

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CanLit for LittleCanadians

“…Karen Bass knows how to seamlessly weave a bit of the unexpected into her fiction, as she did in her suspenseful The Hill (Pajama Press, 2016), and as she does in Two Times a Traitor which blends a contemporary setting with Canada’s past in Louisbourg 1745 through the use of time slip….

While taking the reader into both sides of the 1745 siege of Louisbourg, Karen Bass makes sure that Two Times a Traitor is about Laz recognizing what home is to him….Readers will adore the action adventure story of Two Times a Traitor but its story of historical events is extraordinary and not to be relegated to second place. Karen Bass does comprehensive research, providing astounding detail to setting and characters, plunging readers into the fray that was war. By allowing Laz to be part of both sides and emphasizing his confusion about which side to favour, Karen Bass allows readers to see the conflict from different perspectives and takes history away from the one-sidedness of most textbooks. Moreover, she allows us to see that conflict, whether personal or historical, always has two sides that need to be seen. Resolution may be amicable or there may be victors and those defeated, but how it plays out is all about point of view.”

Click here to read the full review

Recently Read

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

Canadian Bookworm

“This story is of a boy, moving from a rebellious pre-teen to an assured young man as he is forced to deal with his situation on his own. A wonderful read incorporating Canadian history and a great character.”

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Jill Jemmett

“This is a great story. The historical aspects are really good for middle-grade students. Canadian history isn’t taught as much as it should be in school, so this story would be a great supplement for kids.

Though Canada’s 150th anniversary is being celebrated this year, this story demonstrates how Canada’s history goes far beyond 150 years….

This is a great story for middle grade readers!”

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

Midwest Book Review

“Accompanied by the glowing illustrations of Gerard Frischeteau, Water’s Children by Angele Delaunois (and ably translated into English by Erin Woods) is a celebration of our world’s most precious resource and will encourage thoughtful discussion among young readers and listeners. A unique and memorable picture book…Unreservedly and enthusiastically recommended for children ages 4 to 8, Water’s Children will prove to be an enduringly popular and appreciated addition to family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library picture book collections.”

Click here to read the full review

Hakai Magazine

“Responsible stewardship is written between the lines of Water’s Children, a picture book that offers a snapshot of what water means to different children around the world….Translated from French, the simple text is beautifully illustrated by Gérard Frischeteau. The author and illustrator seamlessly show that water is, indeed, life.”

Click here to read the full review

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….”

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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

Youth Services Book Review

Rating: 4…

What did you like about the book? Each page of this book features a child or children in a different part of the world expressing what water means to him or her. There are warm climate settings, cold climate settings, town, farm, forest and desert settings. There is a balance of boys and girls depicted. Most are interacting with the water (or its products). Each page also shows how to write ‘water is life’ in the language the child would speak in that region….[A] perfect set-up for a discussion during story time, a writing activity for older elementary students, a thoughtful art activity for children of any age.

The text itself is poetic and dreamy. On repeated readings, it is almost a lullaby and could become a bedtime story.

There are different colors and moods on every page. On some, the children look happy. Some are playing and some are working. Some pages are gloomy. Young readers will understand, through the text and illustrations, that some children struggle to get the water they need to drink and produce food….

Should we (librarians/readers) put this on the top of our “to read” piles? Due to this year’s summer reading theme and the fact that drought, fracking, water access and water rights are so much in the news, yes.”
—Robin Shtulman, Athol Public Library, Athol, MA

Click here to read the full review

The Pirate Tree

Water’s Children…is a luscious picture book that celebrates the many ways water is universal to us all. Water is life – and play – and food – and beauty:

“… child of water … tell me about the water your see, the water you drink, the water that bathes you.”

Water’s Children does just that in rich colors and cerulean images of earth, sky, and sea, children from a diversity of countries around the world show us the unique importance and the joy of water in their lives….”

Click here to read the full review