Small Things Teaching Guide

Posted on October 6th, 2017 by pajamapress

SmallThings_WebsiteSmall Things Reading Guide_Page_1Click here to download the Small Things Reading Guide

Adrift at Sea: A Vietnamese Boy’s Story of Survival Reading Guide

Posted on October 4th, 2017 by pajamapress

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Click to download the Adrift at Sea Reading Guide

How Do You Feel? Activities

Posted on September 20th, 2017 by pajamapress

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Click here to download the How Do You Feel? colouring sheet

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

Resource Links

“Rating: E…Young children will be eager to try out baking in the kitchen after reading this sweet…book. Baby Cakes is written in simple and accessible language, and delivered in a sturdy format for young hands. Recipes are included as well as lots of admonitions for baking with an adult.

For both children and adults, Renné Benoit’s adroit and totally appealing illustrations of childhood are another treat and she perfectly captures the fleeting nature of these small familiar moments of curious children… and cats!…[T]his is great for a public library or a parent/grandparent who likes to bake.”

Thematic Links: Baking
—Anne Letain

Read the full review on page 6 of the December 2017 issue of Resource Links Magazine

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.”

Click here to read the full review

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.”

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

Resource Links

“Rating: E…

Slug Days is a sensitive, playful, lovingly told chapter book about school, friends, and days both good and bad, drawn from author Sara Leach’s real-life experiences in classrooms. Lauren is charming and frustrating; many readers will recognize her pattern of taking two steps forward and – sometimes – two steps back. Dan, Lauren’s persistent frenemy, is equally recognizable, and the big and small moments of Dan and Lauren’s dynamic are insightfully captured in both prose and illustration.

Although it’s written for readers making the transition to independent reading, Slug Days would make an outstanding read-aloud book for early elementary classrooms, particularly in schools where anti-bullying policies and programs aimed at fostering empathy and respect for others are priorities. This sweet, gentle book is rich with Aha! moments for everyone – including teachers….

Whether she’s making homes for insects, visiting her favourite tree, or playing with her baby sister, Lauren is a lovable character at the centre of a relevant story. I hope Slug Days reaches a wide audience of parents, teachers, librarians, and kids: it’s a winner!”
—Leslie Vermeer

Click here to read the full review

Foreword Reviews

“Without delving into fine detail, the book portrays enough aspects of living with ASD to be familiar to those on the spectrum and those who care for them. From agendas (the Canadian version of IEPs) to a teacher’s lesson on making friends to a father staving off a tantrum during a project by using clever redirection, Slug Days weaves in challenges with ease.

Slug Days wisely presents autism as neither disability nor exceptionalism. It’s a fact that Lauren lives with; it shapes her encounters without necessarily limiting them. At the book’s core lies a wish that anyone can identify with: the need for a friend. This winsome, gentle introduction to differences will be a positive addition to school and home libraries.”
—Karen Rigby

Youth Services Book Review

“Lauren is an endearing narrator, and readers should find it easy to identify with her….This book would be a wonderful discussion starter, and would be helpful both for children who are on the autism spectrum as well as for their classmates and friends. The winsome illustrations on nearly every page should further endear Lauren to readers, and also encourage early chapter book readers.”
—Renée Wheeler, Leominster Public Library, Leominster, MA

Click here to read the full review

Midwest Book Review

“A thoroughly ‘kid friendly’ story that is as entertaining as it is informative, Slug Days is unreservedly recommended as an important and highly valued addition to preschool, elementary school and community library collections for children ages 4 to 8. It should be noted that Slug Days is also available in a paperback edition.”

Click here to read the full review

Blazer Tales

“5 out of 5 stars!!!…Sara Leach does a fantastic job of letting us into the mind of a child with Autism Spectrum Disorder. This is a must read for anyone that works in a school system. This book should teach us patience and understanding. The illustrations are incredible also. They really depict the emotions that Lauren go through throughout her day.”

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

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

Click here to read the full review

Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books

“The narrative style shifts between straightforward, lyrical prose and imagistic free-verse poetry, a technique that infuses the story with a dreamlike atmosphere. Both forms advance the action, but the poetry enhances the sense of intimacy by focusing attention on Aissa’s impressionistic views of the world and her sense of isolation among the people who fear, bully, and reject her. Her ultimate triumph is credibly compromised, making this an unusually thoughtful offering in the middle-school mythology genre.”

Click here to read the full review

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.

Click here to read the full review

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

Resource Links

“Rating: E

Dragonfly Song takes readers on a magical journey back to the Bronze Age when a magnificent civilization called the Minoans prospered on the island of Crete. Legends claim that a half-man, half-bull Minotaur lived in the palace and demanded that surrounding cities send youths each year as tribute for the bull to catch and devour….

This novel is a lyrical account of an ancient civilization. Aissa is a strong and courageous heroine who grows up to become the leader of her small island. Her determination to survive is severely tested throughout the narrative when she is rejected by her family and her community. The novel’s narrative structure is exceptional with sections in poetry revealing Aissa’s thoughts and feelings. The cover graphic is vibrant and innovative showing images which represent the major themes of the novel. Overall, this is simply a beautiful book which will definitely appeal to readers who appreciate a good adventure in a mystical setting!”
—Myra Junyk

Read the full review on page 35 of the December 2017 issue of Resource Links Magazine

Youth Services Book Review

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

What did you like about the book? …This is a fascinating story, well-told. The kingdom is so realistically drawn that it feels more like history than fantasy.

Anything you did not like about this book? Not a thing.

To whom would you recommend this book? Give this to kids who like to root for the underdog, who like fantasy kingdoms and you could also give them The Moor Child by Eloise McGraw….

Should we (librarians) put this on the top of our “to read” piles? Very, very near”
Katrina Yurenka, Moderator, Youth Services Book Review

Click here to read the full review

Kids’ BookBuzz

“We rated this book: [4.5/5]…

Dragonfly Song was definitely a good book….I really like this story, as it was very original and creative. I like the creative story line, as it was intriguing. I also like that the book was partially written in poetry and partially written in prose. Books are usually one or the other, so I like how the author wove them together. I love how this story was very detailed, as I could picture almost everything. Overall, Dragonfly Song was an amazing book.”
—Farrah – Age 11

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

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.”

Click here to read the full review

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.”

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

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.”

Click here to read the full review

Kiss the Book

“At first I was thinking, well, let’s get Aissa to the Bull King’s land and get her into training already, but by the end, I was glad that I was able to connect with Aissa through knowing about her and her struggles – that made the triumph all that sweeter. Aissa’s story will not be the kind of book where students pick it up and share it with each other. Only a few students at this level are emotionally mature enough as readers to appreciate her story. What should happen is teachers need to read this and adopt it to read together as a class. With the poetry of Aissa’s thoughts combined with all of the other elements of story, this would be a rich classroom experience.
—Cindy, Library Teacher

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

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

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

Click here to read the full review

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

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

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

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

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

Resource Links

“Rating: G…This is a great story about doing what one can and not always comparing oneself with others. I found this a satisfying read which could stimulate some interesting discussion about limitations and friendship. The love interest of Alba’s mother which is hinted at I found unnecessary, although it does add to the happy ending.

A glossary of hummingbird facts is included as an epilogue.”

Thematic Links: Disabilities; Families; Friendship; Hummingbirds
—Mavis Holder

Read the full review in the November/December 2017 issue of Resource Links

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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Winnipeg Free Press

“In this book for a middle-grade audience (eight to 12 years), the reader readily identifies with Alba’s efforts. Kadarusman also provides plenty of information on hummingbirds, which have such small feet that they only perch, never walk.”

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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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Booktime

“A beautiful lesson in Michelle Kadarusman’s The Theory of Hummingbirds…

Alba and Levi seem like great characters and true friends – brought together by their differences from their classmates, but friends because of their similarities including their love of all things hummingbirds, which we learn a lot about in this book.

I particularly love the lesson – and the way it’s told – about understanding your differences, embracing them and doing what you can to make life as you want it.”

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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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Kathie M.

“This was a good read, and I actually learned a lot about hummingbirds. The topic is not often covered in middle grade literature, and the author had surgery to repair a clubfoot in elementary school, so I appreciate the perspective she shares. The book is not long, so it’s appealing to a wide variety of readers.”

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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

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

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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

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Hakai Magazine

“Cat person or dog person? Choose your side and hang on for the ride as the Tuna Lubbers and the Frilly Dogs race to find the booty in Best Pirate….When [Augusta Garrick] comes face to face with a pirate kitty, she learns that working together—even if it involves an arch-enemy—is the best way out of a jam and sharing makes us all richer. The richly colored illustrations, dramatic expressions of the characters, and dialogue written on scrolls pull readers into the pirate drama.”

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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!”

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Canadian Bookworm

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

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

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Booktime

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

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When the Rain Comes Teaching Guide

Posted on June 8th, 2017 by pajamapress

WhenRainComes_websiteDownload the When the Rain Comes Teaching Guide

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My Beautiful Birds Book Trailer

Posted on May 11th, 2017 by pajamapress

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