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Archive for the ‘Reviews’ Category

Wild One Reviews

Posted on November 7th, 2017 by pajamapress

Kirkus Reviews

WildOne_Website“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.”

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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.”

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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.”

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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.”

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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.”

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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.”

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The Night Lion Reviews

Posted on October 13th, 2017 by pajamapress

Booklist

TheNightLion_Website“First published in Germany, this picture book tells a story with universal appeal, particularly for children with night fears. The text reads aloud well, while the handsome watercolor artwork transforms elements of Morgan’s daytime experiences within the dream sequences. The most dramatic shift is the simplest: one double-page illustration shows Morgan in bed, ready for sleep, and holding the little button-eyed lion in his arms. In the next scene, they are both sleeping, and the stuffed animal has become the full-size, living lion, ready to bolster the little knight’s courage. A reassuring picture book.”
—Carolyn Phelan

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Kirkus Reviews

“Following a scary nightmare, a little boy receives a toy lion, and that makes all the difference…The final spread of Morgan confidently raising his sword echoes Sendak’s Max as king of the wild things. A comforting, enabling, picture-perfect bedtime read.”

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Booktime

The 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.”

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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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Pickle Me This

“…when I’d recently read Iris Baby Cakes, by Theo Heras and Renne Benoit, she’d declared, ‘That’s such a good book, Mommy.’ Mostly because she’s obsessed with cupcakes, but still. Plus there was a recipe for cupcakes in the endpapers; I said, ‘We’ve got to make these.’ And so on Saturday night, we did.

This book would make a great Christmas gift from 3-5-year-olds. With simple vocabulary, a brother and sister work together to make cupcakes (with the unhelpful assistance of their pet cat). The story lists the equipment necessary—‘Here are a big bowl and measuring cups and spoons.’—and goes through the recipe, ‘Sprinkle salt, but not too much.’ And ‘Creaming the butter is hard work.’ And is it ever! The recipe inside makes for a nice extension of the book, bringing the story to life and inspiring the reader to try something new. That the brother and sister in the story bake together without the help of grown-ups (except for with the oven) inspires independence. Plus, the cupcakes were delicious.”

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Canadian Bookworm

“This picture book shows a young child and the family cat helping mom make cupcakes….The illustrations are cute and everyone looks like they are having fun. It’s a nice idea for kids who like to help in the kitchen….[T]here has been much discussion of late of more children’s books where the children can see themselves in the books they read, requiring more diverse characters in kids’ books, especially where the characters are just themselves without commentary on race or ethnicity and I was pleased to see this book as a great example of filling that need.”

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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

Booklist

“A retelling of the legend of the Minotaur, Orr (Nim’s Island, 2008) tells Aissa’s tale in a lyrical mix of narrative poetry and prose, using lush, vivid language to create an unparalleled fantasy world full of life and lively characters. While young readers with a special interest in history will immediately be drawn into this meticulously researched, literary story, its fast-paced, adventurous, epic feel will undoubtedly appeal to all readers.”
Rebecca Kuss

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CM Magazine

[4/4 stars]…Wendy Orr’s Dragonfly Song is a work of beauty. From the stunning cover to the mythological imagery and lyrical prose, readers are drawn in and carried along on an intense ride. Since Aissa is mute for much of the story, her thoughts and observations are inserted in the form of short poetic phrases. This change in format does not remove the reader from the story in any way, and these pieces could, in fact, stand alone as beautiful poetry. Those with no knowledge of Greek mythology will benefit from the opening author’s note, but prior knowledge is definitely not a requirement to enjoy this book. Orr’s language is gripping and enchanting, and Dragonfly Song would make a perfect read-aloud chapter book for middle grade teachers. While the academic cross curricular subject areas are obvious, including history, mythology, religion, spirituality, even bullying, I enjoyed this story simply as a pleasure read. Readers will find that Dragonfly Song and its fearless heroine will stick with them long after the final chapter.

Highly Recommended.
Cate Carlyle is a librarian at Mount Saint Vincent University in Halifax, NS.

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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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Blue Stocking Thinking

“I love the gentleness and the vulnerability in this story. I also love the hope, the knowing that there is more in store for Aissa. And I love Aissa’s sense of good and her perseverance. My goodness, she certainly perseveres.

This is a book to give readers that love being absorbed in another world. Readers that don’t need flashy events on every page, readers that can wait. It is so worth the wait.”

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Log Cabin Library

Why I wanted to read this: Wendy Orr is the author of Nim’s Island, which I’ve read and enjoyed and once I read the premise of Dragonfly Song I was intrigued by how it is based on the legend of King Minos of Crete. and the Minoan civilization….

Dragonfly Song is written in both free verse and prose, which I thought was an interesting choice at first, yet Orr’s transitions come together smoothly, developing Aissa’s character and giving insights into her inner thoughts. Aissa was so resilient and even a bit silently rebellious, which I really appreciated about her character….[D]espite everything she grows into this strong girl determined to win her freedom and show everyone what she is capable of.”

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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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Jill Jemmett

Rating: ★★★★…I really enjoyed this story….[A] great introduction to the Ancient Greek style for young readers, if they also have some guidance from an adult.”

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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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Resource Links

“For the primary crowd, this story would likely work best as a read-aloud…Alternatively, it would be a good fit for slightly more developed readers transitioning to chapters. The text is quite humorous, and the silliness in the character’s names and antics will delight the young crowd. Whimsical drawings in Gay’s signature style are on each page, and the layout of text and illustrations will be very appealing for the targeted age.”
Nicole Rowlinson

Read the full review on page 19 of the October 2017 issue of Resource Links

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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Through the Looking Glass Children’s Book Reviews

“This delightful Princess Pistachio chapter book adventure is deliciously funny and thoroughly satisfying. Pistachio is not daunted when she is presented with a problem, and her optimism is refreshing and inspiring.”
—Marya Jansen-Gruber

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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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Manhattan Book Review

“We rated this book: [5/5 stars]…Author Michelle Kadarusman has written a gentle but powerful story of dealing with differences and problems in friendships within a coming-of-age story. The writing is lyrical, the characters believable and well-rounded, and the metaphor of Alba as a hummingbird is heartbreakingly perfect.”
—Rosi Hollinbeck

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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

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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

Youth Services Book Review

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

Everything works out in the end, but in a way that feels natural and realistic. A glossary of hummingbird facts and an author’s note add dimension to the story. This is a sweet, gentle novel about friendship….Recommend to readers who are moving beyond early chapter books into middle-grade fiction. Also recommend White Fur Flying by Patricia MacLachlan and Because of Winn Dixie by Kate DiCamillo.”
—Renée Wheeler, Leominster Public Library, Leominster, MA

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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!”

Click here to read the full review

CM Magazine

“Kari-Lynn Winters follows the format of the first two pirate books, with playful, pirate language scattered throughout the story and with much of the dynamic text appearing on floating pieces of sail….And the end pages once again feature a glossary of pirate lingo and nautical talk….The buoyant text is mirrored in the dazzling artwork by Dean Griffiths. The wildly colourful and detailed drawings are expressive, action-packed and filled with humour. Griffiths’ charming illustrations have depth and pull the reader right into the story.

Using these three imaginative titles produced by this talented duo, an enterprising teacher could treat her students to a fun, pirate-themed unit. The fact that each title features an important lesson or moral, with a refreshing heroine, should make this idea even more motivating.

Highly Recommended.
Reesa Cohen

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Resource Links

“Rated: E…[Best Pirate] is full of pirate language that begs to be read aloud in your best pirate voice. In his illustrations, Griffiths has managed to create a whole collection of funny, diverse, detailed, and expressive dog and cat characters. Amid the lush setting, detailed characters, and funny language lies an adventure story with a heartwarming message. Even though Augusta is a dog and a pirate, her bravery, kindness, and desire to please her family is something that every kid can relate to and aspire to.”

Alice Albarda

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

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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Pirates and Privateers

“[5 stars]…Best Pirate is a wonderful, amusing tale that shows sometimes it takes smarts, rather than fighting, to get out of a sticky situation. And sometimes an enemy may really be a friend…if you’re willing to work together. The story is beautifully illustrated with expressive characters that capture the imagination of those reading or listening to this pirate tale. To get readers and listeners into a proper frame of mind for the story, the inside front cover features examples of Pirate Talk and the inside back cover has Nautical Talk, as well as a diagram showing the parts of a ship. This is the third tale featuring Augusta Barnacle and it’s the best one yet!”

Click here to read the full review

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.”

Click here to read the full review

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…”

Click here to read the full review

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.”

Click here to read the full review

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

Click here to read the full review

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.”

Click here to read the full review

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.”

Click here to read the full review

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.”

Click here to read the full review

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.”

Click here to read the full review

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

Becky’s Book Reviews

“My thoughts: I loved this one. I really liked Macy. But I loved, loved, loved Iris. Together these two make for a GREAT read. I also enjoyed the other characters in the book. (Her best friend, Olivia, her mother, her step-father-to-be, Alan, her step-sisters-to-be, Kaitlin and Bethany.) Macy is a flawed heroine–my favorite kind. So in terms of characterization, this one was wonderful.

The language–the writing–was great….I would say the writing was lyrical and poetic in places.”

Click here to read the full review

Two Times a Traitor Reviews

Posted on March 3rd, 2017 by pajamapress

Kirkus ReviewsTwoTimesATraitor_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

Canadian Children’s BookNews

“Two-time winner of the Geoffrey Bilson Award for Historical Fiction for Young People, author Karen Bass follows up Graffiti Knight and Uncertain Soldier with Two Times a Traitor, weaving an exciting tale of adventure, time travel and war, all within a historical perspective.

Bass’ writing provides a visceral experience of the events leading up to the Siege of Louisbourg, thrusting Laz into a life completely unknown to him, without technology, clean drinking water or regular bathing. Armed with his parkour skills and a certain knack for getting people to trust him, Laz manages to get by and even thrive under such harsh conditions….

Resurfacing after being immersed in Bass’ highly charged, patriotic and engrossing portrayal of 1745 is certainly a challenge, not just for Laz but for the reader as well.”
—Amy Mathers

Read the full review on page 26 of the Winter 2017 issue of Canadian Children’s BookNews

Kids’ Book Buzz

“We rated this book: [4.5/5]

I never thought I’d like a character who betrays his family and friends, but 12-year-old Laz is a character you are going to root for….

My favorite parts are full of action as Laz becomes a pirate, spy, and messenger and returns home to be an older brother and son. If you could travel through time through a medallion, then the rest is a pretty believable story. I like a lot of historical fiction, so this book really interested me, but I didn’t know a lot about Halifax or this particular war.”
—Neela, Age 9

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

Resource Links

“To utilize a thirteen year old and place him directly in harm’s way proves to be quite a zany approach to tackling historical fiction, and a young reader will certainly relate to the main character…At the beginning of his other-worldly experience, Laz will try to conceptualize it through electronic texts he wants to send to a friend, but eventually those texts are dismissed for a more genuine attachment to the past, one where Laz will befriend the French defenders in Louisbourg and feel himself conflicted by his initial promise to betray them.

Two Times a Traitoris well researched and although Bass does shift some of the events around to further her plot she does the honourable thing to mention those inconsistencies in an historical note at the end of the book….[P]erhaps the real worth in this book is in its attention to historical detail and for that it should be regarded as an excellent educational resource.”
Zachary Chauvin

Read the full review on page 34 of the October 2017 issue of Resource Links

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

Click here to read the full review

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.”

Click here to read the full review

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