Best Pirate Activities

Posted on October 18th, 2017 by pajamapress

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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

Macy McMillan and the Rainbow Goddess Teaching Guide

Posted on October 12th, 2017 by pajamapress

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Adrift at Sea Reading Guide

Posted on October 4th, 2017 by pajamapress

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How Do You Feel Activities

Posted on September 20th, 2017 by pajamapress

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Dragonfly Song Giveaway

Posted on September 12th, 2017 by pajamapress

“As mesmerizing as a mermaid’s kiss, the story dances with emotion, fire, and promise.”—Kirkus **STARRED REVIEW**

Click here to read the full review

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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

Click here to read the full review

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.”

Click here to read the full review

Slug Days Reviews

Posted on July 7th, 2017 by pajamapress

Kirkus Reviews

SlugDays_Website“Lauren’s narrative voice is honest, poignant, and spot-on in describing her often baffled perceptions as she tries but frequently fails to navigate a confusing world….Bender’s pencil-and-digital illustrations appear on nearly every generously leaded spread. Her tender, winsome depictions of Lauren, sometimes endearingly engaged but other times steamy with anger, broaden the tale and make it accessible to even children transitioning to chapter books. This nondidactic effort is a fine, affecting addition to the literature for kids on the spectrum and for those who know those kids—in short, for just about everyone.”

Click here to read the full review

Publishers Weekly

“Lauren, a girl on the autism spectrum, takes readers through a week full of ups and downs in this sensitively told story….Bender’s pencil drawings readily reflect characters’ frustrations and other emotions—feelings that Lauren acknowledges she has trouble recognizing. Leach’s empathetic novel should both open eyes and encourage greater patience and understanding.”

Read the full review on page 106 of the September 25, 2017 issue of Publishers Weekly.

School Library Journal

“There is humor peppered throughout the story as Lauren learns to deal with her slobbery baby sister and tries not to ‘flip her lid.’ There is conflict, as her teacher and classmates learn to accept Lauren’s differences. The frequent illustrations will assist readers in understanding Lauren’s feelings. VERDICT A necessary addition to elementary school libraries and a potential spark for a discussion about autism, Asperger’s, or simply embracing differences.”
—Morgan O’Reilly, Riverdale Country School, NY

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

Quill & Quire

“The middle-grade novel follows the ups and downs of Lauren – a young girl around seven or eight, who has autism spectrum disorder….In creating a nuanced, formidable character, Leach tackles a challenging topic with skill and even some lightness.”
—Helen Kubiw

Read the full review on page 26 in the September 2017 issue of Quill & Quire

CM Magazine

“Sara Leach’s writing is dependable in its craftsmanship, including appropriate word choice for this age group, and Lauren’s first-person voice is clear and direct. In addition, Rebecca Bender’s engaging black-and-white illustrations offer consistent support for reading comprehension….Because this author has taken such care with Lauren’s characterization, however, the book will find an audience in readers who wish to learn about diversity from a trustworthy source.
Bev Brenna

Click here to read the full review

CanLit for LittleCanadians

Slug Days is told in the first-person narrative of a young girl on the Autism Spectrum Disorder….

Sara Leach makes Lauren’s voice young and blatant, focusing on what is important to the child and often ignoring what others deem priorities. Who the girl is, is undisguised. She needs her routines and obsesses about things that others might ignore….

The voice is the most compelling element of Sara Leach’s Slug Days, as it should be. Here is Lauren’s story, up close and personal. Whether readers can empathize is not on Sara Leach but on the readers themselves because the author makes it clear and it is an arresting text spoken true by a child on the spectrum. Regardless, it’s evident that Lauren’s life is full and complex and often wholly unpredictable. But, with an arsenal of strategies, she will hopeful have fewer slug days and expand her days, as well as those around her, to those of butterflies.”

Click here to read the full review

Carla Johnson-Hicks, Goodreads

“This is a story that can be read by anyone of any age….The illustrations are well done and clearly show the emotions of all the characters in the story. This book should be read to students so they can understand that everyone is different, some people have difficulties and what is fair for one is not necessarily fair for all….You may not know anyone with [Autism Spectrum Disorder] yet, but someday you probably will and if you have read this book, it will help you to understand and accept. A must for every school and professional library. Every teacher needs to read this as well. The publisher generously provided me with a copy of this book via netgalley.”

Click here to read the full review

Canadian Bookworm

“This chapter book features Lauren. Lauren has Autism Spectrum Disorder, and she has several tools at her disposal both at home and at school to help her when she begins to feel frustrated or panicky….The illustrations are charming simple black and white drawing, but give a sense of the situations Lauren finds herself in. A great choice.”

Click here to read the full review

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)”

Click here to read the full review

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.”

Click here to read the full review

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!”

Click here to read the full review

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.”

Click here to read the full review

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)”

Click here to read the full review

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.

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? …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

Click here to read the full review

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!!!!!

Click here to read the full review

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.”

Click here to read the full review

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!”

Click here to read the full review

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!”

Click here to read the full review

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!!”

Click here to read the full review

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.”

Click here to read the full review

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.”

Click here to read the full review

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.”

Click here to read the full review

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.”

Click here to read the full review

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.’”

Click here to read the full review

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.”

Click here to read the full review

Macy McMillan and the Rainbow Goddess Interviews

Posted on June 27th, 2017 by pajamapress

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Laura Shovan interview with Shari Green

Deborah Kalb interview with Shari Green

My Beautiful Birds Interviews

Posted on June 27th, 2017 by pajamapress

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Cynsations interview with Suzanne Del Rizzo
Voice of America interview with Suzanne Del Rizzo

Two Times a Traitor Interviews

Posted on June 27th, 2017 by pajamapress

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Interview with the Daily-Herald Tribune

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

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.”

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