Posted on April 5th, 2017 by pajamapress
Pajama Press is thrilled to announce that three of our titles have been nominated for the 2017 Willow Awards.
In this picture book, Phoebe, the daughter of a white French-Canadian mother and a Jamaican English-speaking father, dislikes her school nickname of “French Toast.” Gently prompted by her blind grandmother, she uses descriptions of familiar foods from both cultures to explain the family’s varied skin colors—and realizes she can take ownership of the nickname proudly. Quill & Quire says it is “simply told and cleverly imagined” in their starred review.
Sky Pig, written by Jan L. Coates and illustrated by Suzanne Del Rizzo, is also a finalist for the Shining Willow Award.
In Sky Pig, Jan L. Coates weaves a story of sweetness and whimsy, ingenuity and empathy. Plasticine artist Suzanne Del Rizzo brings dimension and energy to the tale of a pig who wants—against all popular truisms—to fly. He may never reach the sky on homemade clockwork wings, but Ollie still dreams as hard as ever a pig can dream. And Jack, a true friend, realizes that just because a pig can’t fly in the ways they have tried doesn’t mean he can never soar. An uplifting picture book for anyone who has tried and tried again. Sky Pig is also a 2016 Best Books for Kids and Teens selection.
The Hill by Karen Bass is a finalist for the Snow Willow Award.
Jared’s plane has crashed in the Alberta wilderness, and Kyle is first on the scene. After a night spent on the hilltop the teens discover something odd: the plane has disappeared. And worst of all, something is hunting them. Karen Bass, the multi-award-winning author of Graffiti Knight and Uncertain Soldier, brings her signature action packed style to a chilling new subject: the Cree Wîhtiko legend. Inspired by the real story of a remote plane crash and by the legends of her Cree friends and neighbours, Karen brings eerie life—or perhaps something other than life—to the northern Alberta landscape. The Hill was also a White Ravens 2016 selection, and a 2016 Best Books for Kids and Teens selection.
From the Willow Awards website:
“The mission of The Willow Awards is to promote reading by granting a “Willow Award” to the Canadian and/or Saskatchewan book(s) voted by Saskatchewan students to be the best of those nominated in designated categories for a specific year.”
For more information about these awards, please visit the Willow Awards website.
See the full list of 2017 Willow Awards finalists here.
Posted on January 20th, 2017 by pajamapress
Elliot by Julie Pearson, illustrated by Manon Gauthier
“Elliot’s parents love him, but they don’t know how to take care of him. When a social worker name Thomas comes, Elliot’s world turns upside down….”
Going for a Sea Bath by Andrée Poulin, illustrated by Anne-Claire Delisle
“When Leanne complains that bath time is boring, her father has some excellent, terrific and spectacular ideas…This title is also available in French as Un bain trop plein!”
Sky Pig by Jan L. Coates, illustrated by Suzanne Del Rizzo
“Ollie the pig wants to fly. Jack would do anything to make Ollie happy.”
The Hill by Karen Bass
“After a night on the hilltop, the teens find everything in the forest has subtly changed… and the plane has disappeared. Even worse, something is hunting them.”
Posted on January 10th, 2017 by pajamapress
“…There are some horror story qualities to this novel. Some of the Cree culture is explained, especially in terms of their beliefs about the spirit world and legends. This is an engaging adventure story about two boys on the verge of manhood. Recommended.”
Read the full review in the January/February 2017 issue of School Library Connection
Posted on January 9th, 2017 by pajamapress
“Rating: (5 is an excellent or a Starred review) 5
…What did you like about the book? Rich, city kid Jared Frederickson’s private jet crashes in the marshes of Northern Alberta, Canada. He’s rescued by a young Cree, Kyle Badger. What could have been a run of the mill survival story is turned on its head when the two unknowingly enter another world inhabited by a Cree legend called a Wihtiko and it’s hunting them.
Kyle and Jared encounter the creature as well as a shapeshifter, and face some facts about themselves and each other along the way.
The excitement builds throughout the story and leaves the reader breathless.
The inclusion of Cree language and legends makes this story even more substantial and worth reading.
Mild language and bodily functions are mentioned.
Anything you didn’t like about it? No
To whom would you recommend this book? (Read-alikes if you can think of them) Fans of Hatchet, Spirit Bear and My Side of the Mountain will really like this story, as will readers of Native legends….”
Click here to read the full review
Posted on December 28th, 2016 by pajamapress
“There are many reasons why Jared and Kyle should never be friends: different backgrounds (affluent white urban single child vs Indigenous youngster living at a camp) and different values (fashion and coolness vs family bonding and respect for the elders). But since a plane crash left Jared stranded in the bush, he has to rely on Kyle’s survival skills. The worst part: Jared’s trusty mobile phone isn’t any help. So he ignores Kyle’s warnings and climbs a sacred hill to get reception. That infuriates Wîhtiko, a terrifying monster from Cree legend. It will take more than bush wisdom to survive. Mutual respect is the only power that can save the teenagers. Award-winning author Karen Bass skillfully combines survival drama, mystery, thriller, and Cree mythology to craft a fast-paced fantasy novel well anchored in the real world. At once a gripping read and an ethnographic study, The Hill successfully transcends didacticism. (Age: 12+)”
Read the review on page 22 of the 2016 White Ravens Catalogue
Posted on November 2nd, 2016 by pajamapress
“The crash landing of his father’s private jet in the Canadian wilderness leaves rich white kid Jared stunned and the pilot badly injured, but it soon becomes clear that those are the very least of the 15-year-old’s problems. Kyle, a Cree boy of the same age, comes to Jared’s aid but isn’t able to stop him from climbing up a tall hill that’s forbidden for the Cree to visit in hopes of getting a cell signal. Going up there literally opens a world of trouble. That world they unwittingly step into is inhabited by Wîhtiko, a legendary Cree creature that is large, strong, terrifying-looking, and determined to eat the two boys. Thus begins a four-day chase through the deep woods, with little food and growing peril. Wesakechak, a shape-shifting Cree trickster, provides occasional help, but mostly the boys are dependent upon Kyle’s well-honed woodland skills, as Jared finds that his modern tools have little to offer away from the grid. The cultural tension between the two boys is prolonged, but eventually, after Jared uses one of his few skills to save them, they make a lasting peace. The pace is relentless, the amply creepy threat is believable, and the setting is fully realized. There is enough Native American culture to add welcome flavor and depth; Bass, not Cree herself, explains her cultural and linguistic research in an author’s note. Suspenseful, fast-paced, and hard to put down. (Adventure. 11-18)”
Click here to see more from Kirkus Reviews
Posted on October 25th, 2016 by pajamapress
…The Hill isn’t a typical story of survival in the wilderness. The boys do need to fend for themselves, but there’s something far more sinister than wild animals and the elements in the forest – Jared and Kyle are being pursued by a Wihtiko, a Cree legend come to terrifying life. The pair need to learn to work together and overcome their differences in order to survive. The dynamics between the two were really interesting – they’re complete opposites and have nothing in common, but in a very short time and under extreme circumstances, they forge a strong bond. Jared especially learns a lot about himself through Kyle, which was interesting to see.
The Hill was different from anything I’ve ever read. I loved that it was written by a Canadian author, set in Canada, and used a real Cree legend. I was also really happy to see a main character who was Native. This is so (unfortunately) rare that it actually made me ridiculously excited! The Hill is a creepy, paranormal twist on a survival story. It has great messages about privilege, stereotypes, and friendship. I’d particularly recommend it to fans of the TV show Supernatural – the Wihtiko is similar to the Wendigo, which Sam and Dean fought in season one.
Click here to read the full review
Posted on October 14th, 2016 by pajamapress
Pajama Press is excited to announce that four of our titles have been nominated for the 2017 Ontario Library Association Forest of Reading Awards.
The Hill, written by Karen Bass, is nominated for the Red Maple Award. Click here to view the The Hill classroom discussion guide.
Elephant Journey, written by Rob Laidlaw and illustrated by Brian Deines, is nominated for the Silver Birch Express Award. Click here to view the Elephant Journey classroom reading guide.
A Year of Borrowed Men, written by Michelle Barker and illustrated by Renné Benoit, is nominated for the Golden Oak Award. Click here to view the A Year of Borrowed Men reading guide.
Next Round, written by John Spray, is nominated for the Golden Oak Award.
The Forest of Reading is an initiative of the Ontario Library Association (OLA) that helps celebrate Canadian books, publishers, authors and illustrators. Every year, over 250,000 participants read a shortlist of books in their age category and vote for their favourites.
Pajama Press extends our congratulations to Karen Bass, Rob Laidlaw, Brian Deines, Michelle Barker, Renné Benoit, and John Spray. Our sincerest thanks go to the Ontario Library Association for promoting reading and Canadian books through this outstanding program.
Posted on August 23rd, 2016 by pajamapress
After the private plane Jared is flying in crashes in the wilderness, the first person to reach him is another teen, Kyle, a member of the Cree nation. Desperate to use his cell phone, Jared insists on climbing a hill, though Kyle warns him against it. Kyle ends up going with Jared to protect him. Both boys are thrown into a spirit world; they are pursued by the Wîhtiko, a flesh-eating monster and occasionally helped by the trickster Wolverine as they attempt to find their way back to their own world with Kyle’s grandmother’s prayers as guidance. Along the way, stereotypes are confronted and the boys become tentative buddies in their fight for survival. Told mostly from Jared’s perspective, the narrative shows his personal growth as he follows Kyle’s lead to stay alive. The boys realize that in order to return to their world they must stop the Wîhtiko—or die trying. In the notes, the author explains her use of the Cree language and legends and discusses the individuals with whom she consulted when using them. Kyle often serves as a guide for Jared and helps him realize his own biases, a trope often found in literature. The writing is descriptive and fast-paced, with an impending sense of dread overshadowing everything as the boys try to outrun and outwit the Wîhtiko. VERDICT: A survival and buddy story with broad appeal for tweens and teens.
—Tamara Saarinen, Pierce County Library, WA
Posted on August 16th, 2016 by pajamapress
“When the private jet that Jared is aboard crashes in Northern Alberta, Jared is “rescued” by a Cree teenager who’s spending the summer with his grandparents and younger brother at their summer camp. The plane’s pilot is badly injured and there seems to be no way for Jared to make contact with the outside world, his computer smashed beyond repair and his cellphone without reception. There’s a big hill nearby, and Jared is sure that if they can just get to the top, he’ll get a signal, but Kyle warns Jared that climbing that hill is dangerous. His Kokum, his grandmother, has warned Kyle to stay away from the hill; it is haunted by evil spirits. But Jared won’t listen and, having mounted the summit, the boys suddenly find themselves in an alternative reality faced with a Windigo, a cannibalistic evil spirit that begins to pursue them through the wilderness. And this is not just any Windigo, but the Wîhtiko.
Karen Bass has created a riveting novel that beautifully blends a fast-paced adventure with a wonderfully creepy horror story, using First Nations’ mythology to tie the two stories together. What is particularly striking is not only the way that Bass weaves the cannibal-hunting Wîhtiko into the story but also the one mythological figure who has defeated this creature, Wesakechak, the Cree trickster, who helps the teens out. Bass not only makes readers see the limitations of settler society’s understanding of First Nations’ cultures and traditions but she also allows her First Nations teenager to learn something from his interaction with Jared. The Hill is a novel about making connections, finding ways to work together and be mutually respectful in terms of interpersonal relationships and different cultures. Bass provides readers with a glimpse into how she approached using Cree mythology in an excellent author’s note.”