Woodrow at Sea Reviews

Posted on December 1st, 2017 by pajamapress

Kirkus ★ Starred Review

WoodrowAtSea_Website“Edwards’ watercolor-and-ink illustrations are deceptively simple without fancy visual angles or digital effects—but it is this simplicity that creates and supports the story’s authentic, heartfelt ingenuousness. A lively, intelligent variation of full-page illustrations, double-page spreads, and spot vignettes keeps the pace active….A story of adventure and friendship without the boundaries of words, which becomes more personal and satisfying as a consequence.”

Click here to read the full review

Quill & Quire

Woodrow at Sea is another ocean-faring adventure story, this time about an elephant and mouse on separate but strikingly similar journeys…The characters are likeable in their animation and the ‘plot’ finds just the right mix of silly and scary….With this book, [Wallace] Edwards is moving in a different direction, forgoing his rich, deep-coloured palette for one much brighter, and embracing simplicity in his drawings rather than detail and subtext….[T]aken on its own, Woodrow at Sea is a delight.”

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Resource Links Magazine

“Rating: G…This wordless book could also be called a beginning graphic novel….

This book represents a positive message of friendship, peace and harmony, which are common themes in Edwards’ work….[A] good exemplar to show children how to create a wordless book (using illustrations to tell a story) as well as a fantastic example of a book that allows for elaboration and multiple interpretations by each reader (as it has no text to direct the full narrative) and each reading and reader will see different nuances and make different connections based on their own imaginations and lived experiences. This book will be a strong addition to any library. Thematic Links: Sea Journeys; Friendship; Wordless Book”
—Erin Hansen

Read the full review on page 3 of the February 2018 issue of Resource Links Magazine

CM Magazine

“Unquestionably, there is something quite refreshing in this excitingly new creative direction which Edwards has fully embraced in this latest publication. Although almost entirely unrecognizable from his previous drawings, the illustrations in Woodrow at Sea are masterpieces in and of themselves. Through the introduction of softer hues and unembellished characters, Edwards creates a dynamic contrast between visual simplicity and a powerful, adventurous narrative….

Edwards’ exclusively visual narrative unfolds effortlessly through the clever arrangement of illustrative content on each page. The imaginative depiction of action through a combination of single, whole page drawings and unframed montage sequences smoothly guides the eye, allowing for easy comprehension and seamless transitions between events….

Woodrow at Sea is a fun-filled tale that offers something new with each reread. The wordless nature of the book will enable pre-readers to assume an active role in the storytelling process. Edwards’ journey into textless format is truly a treat for new and old fans alike. A beautiful reminder of the joy of a newfound friendship rooted in kindness, Woodrow at Sea is sure to become an instant favourite.

Highly Recommended.
—Christina Quintiliani

Click here to read the full review

Hakai Magazine

“The elephant and the mouse went to sea … and the rest of the story Woodrow at Sea is up to your interpretation of the cute and colorful watercolor illustrations in this wordless book….If you’re looking for a more interactive reading experience, try taking turns telling the story with your young reading buddy.”

Click here to read the full review

CanLit for LittleCanadians

“Not since an owl and a pussycat set off to sea have two wholly unlikely friends shared a boat on the open water. But the story of Woodrow at Sea is less love story than story of friendship and a far more poignant one than Edward Lear’s nonsense poem….

Because Woodrow at Sea is a wordless book, author-illustrator Wallace Edwards allows his illustrations to carry the story. But it really isn’t just one story. Everyone will read something different into his touching and considerate artwork….For a story told with no words, Woodrow at Sea has much to tell. And a lesson in creative thinking and visual literacy would not go amiss here.

Woodrow at Sea is truly a story about the importance of friendship and the good fortune of having a friend who has your back when seas get a little rough. It may not always be an angry ocean or a purple monster, but there’s always something that is eased with the support of a friend.”

Click here to read the full review

The Night Lion Teaching Guides

Posted on November 20th, 2017 by pajamapress

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Timo Goes Camping Teaching Guides

Posted on November 20th, 2017 by pajamapress

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Wild One Reviews

Posted on November 7th, 2017 by pajamapress

Booklist

WildOne_Website“Told in well-scanning, rhyming couplets, the child is compared to animals whose movements she imitates…Pen-and-ink illustrations with freely applied watercolors that don’t always stay within the lines are apropos and reflect the vitality of the youngster’s antics….The large font, sturdy pages, and few words per page make this a good selection for beginning readers. Pair this title with Quick as a Cricket (1982) by Audrey Wood and In the Tall, Tall Grass (1991) by Denise Fleming for a lively storytime and a discussion of animal movements easily mimicked.”
—Maryann Owen

Click here to read the full review

Kirkus Reviews

“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.”

Click here to read the full review

School Library Journal

“The turn of a page allows readers to predict the next animal comparison, and ink-and-watercolor illustrations record her play with busy movement….VERDICT A recommended general purchase, this read-aloud choice fosters inference and opportunity for shared reading in home or preschool.”
—Mary Elam, Learning Media Services, Plano ISD, TX

Read the full review in the February 2018 issue of School Library Journal

CM Magazine

“Jane Whittingham’s story of an animated little girl’s day is bursting with playful energy and joy….The story is fun to read with children as it is written with rhyming couplets which, along with the illustrations, may help children guess what the next animal will be. The delightful illustrations by Noel Tuazon are presented in watercolour and ink. They are as spontaneous and whimsical as the little girl’s character and help tell the story of her very busy day by their expression of energy in colour and movement….Wild One is quite durable as it has a padded cover, rounded corners and extra heavy interior paper. Great for little ones who may not be quite so gentle with books just yet….Highly Recommended.
—Tamara Opar

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Resource Links Magazine

“Rating: E…The illustrations elevate the simple rhythmic text by showing the child on each succeeding page as the very animal she is imitating with great charm. The watercolour and ink drawings are delightful, appealing and beautifully done. Thematic Links: Imagination; Play; Bedtime”
—Isobel Lang

Read the full review on page 46 of the February 2018 issue of Resource Links Magazine

Where Vancouver

“This sweet picture book is sure to entertain tiny tots with its gentle rhyming couplets outlining one little girl’s perfect day at the playground and pool.”
—Sheri Radford

Read the full review on page 26 of the March-April 2018 issue of Where Vancouver

Kids’ BookBuzz

“We rated this book: [5/5] Wild One is a rhyming picture book for bedtime….The book is fun to read to yourself, and the words are easy, and it’s probably a good book for a parent to read to a little child because of the rhymes and rhythmic repetition of ‘wild one’ at the beginning of every sentence. The illustrations are cute and colorfully painted with watercolors….Any beginning reader who likes animals and likes to play outside will enjoy this book.”
—Lena, Age 9

Click here to read the full review

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.”

Click here to read the full review

Kate Olson, KidLit Exchange Partner

“What a sweet, sweet story!…Highly recommended for public and school libraries, as well as a gift for the younger children in your life. I will be using for a read aloud in my 4-year-old kindergarten classes once I can get a copy for my library and will be buying as a gift for many little girls in the future.”

Click here to read the full review

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.”

Click here to read the full review

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.”

Click here to read the full review

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.”

Click here to read the full review

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.”

Click here to read the full review

Raising Mom

“The delightful watercolour illustrations draw the reader (or young child) into the story, and the action is enhanced by the simple rhyming couplets. The story is a celebration of childhood and all the uninhibited movement and excitement that being a young child brings….The simple, yet carefully crafted lines are rhythmic and just beg to be read aloud and acted out….

My three youngsters (aged 3, 3, & 4) really loved acting out the animals mentioned in this book. It is a great bedtime round-up book to start our process into settling down for sleep. They were eager to gather to act out and make the sounds of the animals and worked the last of their wiggles (and giggles!) out in preparation for our next (quieter) book before songs, prayers and lights out. The last animal depicted is a bear, snuggling in for the night, and at this point in the story I have the kids jump into bed and mimic the snuggling. In the weeks that we’ve had this new title, they have each asked for it to be read umpteen times – a sure sign of a fave book.”
—Erin

Click here to read the full review

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

Foreword Reviews ★ STARRED REVIEW

TheNightLion_Website“…Morgan loves seeking adventure in the woods until a nightmare leaves him feeling scared and unsure….Creative illustrations use light and shadow to explore tumultuous emotions as the lion chases fears away alongside Morgan…”
—Pallas Gates McCorquodale

Click here to read the full review

Booklist

“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

Click here to read the full review

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.”

Click here to read the full review

School Library Journal

“The watercolor and pencil drawings are beautiful and comforting in calming blue and gray hues with small dabs of bright color to draw the readers’ eyes. VERDICT A first purchase for any parenting collection that includes books about sleep issues…”
—Hillary Perelyubskiy, Los Angeles Public Library

Read the full review in the February 2018 issue of School Library Journal

School Library Connection

“In brief, straightforward sentences and soft pastel illustrations, Dufft depicts strategies that young Morgan uses to face his nighttime fears….The soft hazy amber tones of the illustrations perfectly enhance Morgan’s playful antics and night-flight fantasy. Morgan and his storyline are both reminiscent of Sendak’s infamous Max. A wonderful selection for children suffering from nighttime fears. Recommended.
Dr. Christie Kaaland, School Library Instructor, Antioch University Seattle, Seattle, Washington

Read the full review in the May/June 2018 issue of School Library Connection

Resource Links Magazine

“Rating: E…The clever illustrations are beautifully rendered in water colour and enhance the dreamlike intrepid tone of the story. The picture of Morgan asleep with the full grown lion is especially irresistible. The comforting story encourages young children suffering from nightmares to conquer their fears. Thematic Links: Nightmares; Dreams; Lions; Self-esteem; Grandmothers”
—Isobel Lang

Read the full review on page 3 of the February 2018 issue of Resource Links Magazine

CM Magazine

“The soothing repetition of the text’s beginning and end and the charming warmth of Dufft’s watercolour and pencil illustrations should make this a storytime staple within the home. In fact, I can’t emphasize how lovely Dufft’s artwork is bringing to mind the styles of Tomie dePaola, Maurice Sendak, Janet Ahlberg, and Shirley Hughes, but with a sensibility and sweetness that’s all her own. The book as a physical object is also comforting, with padded covers, and endpapers featuring a star-studded sky, all thoughtful elements that create a perfect lap book for bedtime….

Hopefully, The Night Lion will be the first of many picture books to come from Dufft. Pair The Night Lion with another bedtime read aloud, Jane Whittingham’s Wild One (featuring a female protagonist)…and you’ll have a wonderful bedtime routine down for the under-threes age group.

Highly Recommended.
—Ellen Wu

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? Morgan has a tall Robin Hood hat and a wooden sword. He is ‘wild and fierce and frightening.’ But at night Morgan is still afraid of robbers until his Nana brings him a stuffed lion. And, as with Calvin with his Hobbes, Morgan dreams of the adventures he and his lion experience in the woods where he is always brave and fearless. Beautiful full-page watercolor illustrations perfectly accompany this tale of a child conquering his/her fears….

To whom would you recommend this book? This is a good tale for children having problems with bad dreams and might be shared with the classic Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak.”
Katrina Yurenka, Moderator, Youth Services Book Review

Click here to read the full review

Winnipeg Free Press

The Night Lion by German author and artist Sanne Dufft (Pajama Press, 32 pages, $18, hardcover) should make any child who has problems sleeping at night feel easier.”

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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.”

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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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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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

Midwest Book Review

“Told in simple text by Theo Heras, charmingly illustrated on every page by Renne Benoit, and delivered in a sturdy, padded cover with stronger pages that are perfect for little hands, Baby Cakes…is especially recommended for children ages 1 to 3, making it appropriate for family, daycare center, preschool, and community library collections.”

Click here to read the full review

Youth Services Book Review

Rating: 1-5 (5 is an excellent or a Starred review) 4.5

What did you like about the book? It’s time to bake! A little girl is going to show her little brother how. Aprons, big bowl, measuring cups, spoons and ingredients. Very expressive digitally created watercolor illustrations accompanied by very large bold typeface create a very endearing story….

To whom would you recommend this book? It would be really fun if a child were baking with a parent to read it while the cupcakes are baking.”
Katrina Yurenka, Moderator, Youth Services Book Review

Click here to read the full review

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

The Horn Book Magazine

“The first-person narration makes Lauren’s logic clear…Frequent clear pencil and digital illustrations break up the sometimes-long paragraphs and should help young readers understand Lauren’s emotions and others’ reactions.”
—Shoshana Flax

Read the full review in the March/April 2018 issue of The Horn Book Magazine

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

A Mighty Girl, “A Different Way of Thinking: 20 Books About Autistic Mighty Girls”

“Author Sara Leach’s experience teaching kids with ASD allows her to create a realistic portrayal of life through their eyes. This empathetic chapter book, filled with black and white illustrations on nearly every page, is perfect for sparking conversation with elementary school children about understanding and embracing differences.”

Click here to read the full review

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

Red Canoe Reader

“We all need to feel that we’re not alone; that there are others in the world who feel the same way and experience life as we do. This amazing book offers just that mirror to kids with ASD. It offers the comforting truth that other kids with ASD have slug days when nothing goes the way it should, as well as butterfly days when everything is in its place, nothing’s changed and you feel safe and secure….Slug Days is an easy to read story for children in late first, early second and older. The charming illustrations add so much to the story and will keep even a reluctant reader reading. This book is one that needs to be in every public and elementary collection and is a book that not only children need to read, but also every parent and teacher.”

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.”

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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.”

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Sal’s Fiction Addiction

“Using Lauren’s voice to tell her story gives it an immediacy and honesty that make it easier for readers to feel the frustrations she sees in her world. Those slug days are hampered by outbursts, confusion, and a lack of patience all around. Lauren also experiences butterfly days when many things go right – her teachers, the kids at school, and her family enjoy her humor, her growing ability to communicate and find joy in some activities….This perceptive and sensitive tale chronicles a week in the life of a young, determined girl who thinks differently than many others. She is learning and we are learning with her.”

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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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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.”

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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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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

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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

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Oregon Coast Youth Preview Center

Verdict: Australian author Wendy Orr, author of Nim’s Island, uses her formidable writing skills, poetic prose and narrative poetry to bring this historical fiction to life, juxtaposing the old ways of Crete with the changes brought by the invading Minoans. Highly recommended for middle, high school, and public library collections.”
—Jane Cothron

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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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YA Books Central

“Part fantasy, part fairy tale, and part myth, DRAGONFLY SONG is completely gorgeous….Aissa is a heroine to be admired….

Aissa is wonderfully resilient, and although my heart broke for her constantly as I read, I never doubted that this fierce, smart, loving girl would triumph despite the many forces working against her.

I cannot recommend DRAGONFLY SONG enough. I was sad to turn the final page and leave Aissa behind, but I suspect she’ll stay with me for a long while.”
—Kristie Lowry

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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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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

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Reading by the Pond

“This is one of those books that I can’t believe we almost missed. Fortunately a former MSBA member reviewed this and I decided to request it and read it. Wow – this is really something….The book was part prose and part poetic narrative and was beautifully done.”

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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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