Nat the Cat Can Sleep Like That Activities

Posted on December 27th, 2016 by pajamapress

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Download Nat’s Preposition Worksheet

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Download Nat’s Rhyming Worksheet

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Giraffe and Bird Activities

Posted on December 21st, 2016 by pajamapress

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Download the Giraffe and Bird Holiday Colouring Sheet

 

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My Beautiful Birds Extra Content

Posted on November 24th, 2016 by pajamapress

My Beautiful Birds Extended Author’s Note

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How Do You Feel Reviews

Posted on November 9th, 2016 by pajamapress

Kirkus Reviews

A hedgehog sets out to ask how its fellow animals feel; alongHowDoYouFeel_website the way, readers will learn there is more than one meaning to the word feel. A puffy, cheery cover framed in soft purple opens onto endpapers depicting a fresh green meadow in early summer. The tone is set for this toddler-friendly book that introduces a few animals and how they feel. On clean, uncluttered, sturdy pages with plenty of white, and using children’s acrylics and colored pencil, Bender depicts in a realistic style—though slightly anthropomorphized—a hedgehog, a toad, a snake, a duckling, a rabbit, a snail, and a kitten. The hedgehog asks the same question of each animal it encounters: Toad [or Snake, Duckling, etc.], how do you feel? It is in the animals vocabulary-rich answers that this book really shines….At the end, when all the animals ask hedgehog how it feels, readers will have a little surprise, as its answer is not one of the tactile kind: Hedgehog feels happy! A charming, smart, and attractive book. (Picture book. 2-4)

Click here to read the full review

Midwest Book Review

“…Award-winning author/illustrator Rebecca Bender’s How Do You Feel? will utterly charm children ages 2 to 5 with its lyrical text, endearing animals, and surprise ending. The small trim size and padded hardcover format make it perfect for little ones, who may even be inspired to find new ways of expressing how they feel in every sense of the phrase. Thoroughly ‘kid friendly’ in presentation, How Do You Feel? is very highly recommended for family, preschool, elementary school, and community library collections.”

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CM Magazine

“…The illustrations, done with acrylics and coloured pencils, are quite detailed and realistic, and children will have fun identifying the animals on each page – particularly those few that they may not have seen before, such as snails or hedgehogs.

The ending of the book is a nice surprise – switching from a focus on physical feelings (e.g., soft, gnarly) to emotional feelings. This may allow parents an opportunity to discuss the differences in what or how a child might be ‘feeling’ and that both types of feeling are important. It can often be difficult to tease out how a young child is feeling emotionally, and so having a book act as an entry point can be helpful….

Recommended.
—Mę-Linh Lę

Click here to read the full review

Resource Links

“…The uncomplicated poetic descriptive text is paired with charming colourful and whimsical illustrations rendered with acrylics and coloured pencil. An added feature for babies is padded covers.

Thematic Links: Hedgehogs; Baby Animals; Friendship; Textures; Senses; Emotions; Concepts; Happiness
—Isobel Lang

Read the full review on page 3 of the February 2017 issue of Resource Links

Canadian Children’s BookNews

“A little hedgehog sets off on a voyage of sensory discovery in the picture book, How Do You Feel?, by Rebecca Bender….

Through an elegant simplicity, the author is able to use richer language, which becomes accessible to even the youngest of readers.

This is a lovely story for young children, as it explores the complexities of the world in a simple format. Few will have experienced physically touching all the varieties of animals in the story, and Bender creates an opportunity for children to use the natural world around them to build richer experiences to add to their imaginary worlds.”

Read the full review on page 31 of the Spring 2017 issue of Canadian Children’s BookNews

CanLit for LittleCanadians

“Little ones often have difficulty differentiating between feeling, the emotion, and feeling, the sense of touch, and Rebecca Bender, creator of the award-winning Giraffe and Bird books…has some fun word play with that to compare textures of a variety of animals….

Pajama Press has started putting out these lovely padded-cover books for preschoolers that are so much more inviting to hold than ordinary board books. With its soft, cushioned cover, the parade of animals within and the repetitive text, How Do You Feel? will become a popular read-aloud book for parents and teachers of preschoolers and kindergarteners. The rhythm and predictability of the text offers great opportunities for little ones to suggest answers to each question. It’s a great teaching tool. I can just imagine parents and teachers asking, just as they often play that game asking what a dog or cat says, how a snake or a kitten feels.

But, kids will see beyond the content of the book and fall in love with Rebecca Bender’s adorable creatures. Every one of them has darling eyes–all bright, some laughing, several inquisitive–and bodies of evocative textures that will delight little ones who will want to reach out and touch. They’ll be surprised to only stroke paper but Rebecca Bender’s illustrations will still give readers starting points for further discussions. It could be about the sense of touch–and the other senses as well– or about synonyms and the thesaurus or about similes and metaphors. How Do You Feel? may be targeted for the pre-reader who will be charmed by the whole package of art and text, but teachers should look beyond the cuteness and see the book as having applications far beyond the very youngest. That’s how I feel. How do you feel?”
­—Helen K

Pickle Me This

“Harriet remains a hedgehog fanatic, and therefore we have all become fond of the book, How Do You Feel?, by Rebecca Bender. I love the double meaning of the question (because anything that teaches that a single thing can have two realities is important), and that the answers to the questions are all about words and similes. The whole book is about connection, and it’s sweet and lovely, and also powerfully subversive in the most important way.”
—Kerry Clare

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Youth Services Book Review

Format: Hardcover

Rating: (1-5 5 is a starred review) 4

Genre: Picture book

What did you like about the book? This book is about an adorable hedgehog who asks animals how they feel. The answers speak to their physical nature. A duckling feels fuzzy like tall grass reaching for the sun. Each animal responds with an answer that also includes a simile. The cute ending is when the animals ask the hedgehog how he feels, and only negative adjectives come to mind. Finally they all tickle him and he says he feels happy.

Anything you didn’t like about it? I love everything about this book.

To Whom Would You Recommend this book? This is great for very young children and especially good for students learning English. There are lots of new adjectives and similes that students will enjoy learning.

Who should buy this book? all libraries

Where would you shelve it ? Children’s Books

Should we (librarians/readers) put this on the top of our “to read” piles?  Yes

Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City and State: Sandra Pacheco, ESL teacher, Washington, D.C.”

Click here to read the full review

Imagination Soup

“This is a literal (tactile) feelings book with lots of beautiful similes. Toad feels bumpy like the trunk of a gnarly tree. Duckling feels fuzzy like tall grass reaching for the sun. Rabbit feels silky like a web carefully spun. Use this captivating book to inspire your own metaphorical statements.”

Click here to read the full list of “Picture Books You Can Use for Writing Prompts”

Picture Book Play Date

“Oh this book is so perfect for Little Miss (closing in on her second birthday in a few months)….The text is also rhyming which is so great for this age. The illustrations are delightfully soft – a perfect compliment to the text.”

Click here to read the full review

Timo’s Party Reviews

Posted on November 7th, 2016 by pajamapress

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“In this follow-up to 2015’s Timo’s Garden, Allenby again recounts a heartwarming story of friendship…

The story reads like an encyclopaedia of friendship with each good act from a friend provoking another. The warm, detailed illustrations evoke a comfortable small-town charm, sure to entice readers to visit Toadstool Corners again and again. The book also does a nice job of highlighting everyday texts within the narrative, including lists, invitations, and newspaper articles, which could prompt discussion about the importance of reading and writing in daily life. A simple apple recipe at the end of the book should inspire many readers to host apple festivals of their own.

Depicting acts of courage, selflessness, and kindness, Timo’s Party is wholly designed to support its readers’ character development. While certainly not flashy, this latest iteration of Timo and friends offers another gentle and useful tale about the power of friendship.

Thematic links: Kindness; Responsibility; Perseverance; Courage; Cooking; Friendship; Mindfulness; Social Anxiety”
Natalie Colaiacovo

Read the full review on page 1 of the December 2016 issue of Resource Links

CM Magazine

“There is a lot to love about Timo’s Party. The premise and its attentive execution are particularly noteworthy. Timo is honestly anxious about hosting a party but decides to do it anyway. The story provides tools for dealing with intimidating situations (e.g., make a list of tasks) and gives tips on dealing with mild social anxiety as well as navigating social situations (e.g., ask people questions as they like to talk about themselves!). Not only does the book have some good advice, but it embeds that advice in a story that children will want to read….

The illustrations are charming and expressive. The inclusion of news articles and the party invitation are neat additions that not only add visual interest, but help to keep the reader’s attention on the story using environmental text. The presentation of gender was also refreshingly neutral for most of the book (although female characters did noticeably veer towards more traditionally feminine attire when attending the apple festival). The illustrations are placed strategically, complementing the story but not drawing attention away from it. As the reader becomes increasingly engaged with the narrative, the frequency of pictures goes down, subtly increasing the amount of text on each spread.

Timo’s Party is a thoughtful story with emotionally authentic characters….[T]his is a sweet chapter book with an empowering message. Highly Recommended.
—Sadie Tucker is a children’s librarian with the Vancouver Public Library.

Click here to read the full review

CanLit for LittleCanadians

“Bunny rabbit Timo Vega learned in last year’s Timo’s Garden (Pajama Press, 2015) that he needed to spend a little bit more time tending to his friendships rather than obsessing about his garden and he’s learned that lesson well.  With food critic Madame LaPointe coming to Toadstool Corners as part of her search for the best small towns to visit, Timo agrees to host an apple festival in his orchard so that his friend Hedgewick Stump, the hedgehog, can show off his culinary skills.  But as soon as he’s made the offer, the crowd-averse rabbit is regretting his decision.

Organizing his tasks into a list of three things–invitations, decorations and games–Timo begins to feel that the Toadstsool Corners Apple Festival might be manageable after all. Though Hedgewick sees the attributes that will make Timo a great host–he is organized, generous and thoughtful–Timo’s other friends, knowing how much he hates big parties, advise him how to be confident and comfortable around lots of people.

With the help of his many friends, Timo is able to pull off a great party, and Hedgewick, with only a small cooking mishap, caters an impressive apple festival.  Like the very different apples and bananas in the recipe at the conclusion of Timo’s Party, Timo and Hedgewick come together spectacularly. Each brings their own strengths to their endeavour and are successful in supporting the other when needed.

Timo’s Party is an exceptional early reader for imparting an engaging life lesson. But author Victoria Allenby never preaches or instructs the reader how to live life well, or be a good friend or be brave. Instead, she swathes that message in Timo’s daily experiences, taking advantage of a true story-telling opportunity. It’s easy to see beyond the anthropomorphized animals–with their clothes, speech, and human endeavours–as just a bunch of friends whose lives the reader is pleased to share. Though not a fully-illustrated book, Dean Griffiths’s artwork helps take the reader into the friendly world of Toadstool Corners. From the plaid jacketed Timo with his subtle smile and relaxed ears, to the rose-toqued badger Rae and the bustling Hedgewick, Dean Griffiths gives life to the animals in Timo’s Party, taking them from characters to neighbours. And, let me say, we are all pleased to have been invited to this party, and look forward to more good times in Timo’s neighbourhood.”
—Helen K

Click here to read more reviews by CanLit for LittleCanadians

Book Time

“What a fun little book about a friend who looks out for his friends. Lovely illustrations, and we hope to make the included recipe – Hedgewick’s Happy Apple-Banana Cake.”

Click here to read the full blog post by Book Time

The Wolves Return Reviews

Posted on November 1st, 2016 by pajamapress

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Baker & Taylor’s CATS Meow Newsletter Staff Pick

“The Wolves Return is both a beautifully and a realistically illustrated picture book. It offers young readers just the right amount of text and back story to give them a complete picture of the purposeful reintroduction of gray wolves in 1995-1996 to Yellowstone National Park without getting too fact-heavy. Publishing 20 years after this historic return, the effects of the wolves return on other species and plant life throughout the park are laid out spread by spread in full scenes featuring various habitats throughout the park. Take note of author and illustrator Godkin’s attention to detail in the bird illustrations found throughout; all species are native (or migrate) to Yellowstone, and she includes trumpeter swans, a mountain bluebird, a robin, mallards, a pair of yellowheaded blackbirds, yellow warblers, black-billed magpies, and many more. Other species of animals are just as well represented. Keep your eye on Pajama Press; now wrapping up their 5th year, they continue to expand their list of high-quality offerings for young readers. A highly recommended title for future conservationists ages 5-8.”
—Erica Sommer, CATS-Paw Prints Manager

Click here to see the full review

Ingram News and Reviews for the Youth Librarian

“The last sentence of The Wolves Return perfectly sums up the message of this lovely nonfiction picture book: “Who would have thought that the return of a few wolves could have benefitted so many other animals?” Godkin succinctly outlines the species that have enjoyed success as a result of the return of the wolf to Yellowstone: the wolves keep the elk population in check -> more tree seedlings and berry bushes grow -> birds and bears now have food and shelter and beavers have trees to build dams-> dammed water creates ponds -> ponds harbor fish and insects that feed herons, otters, and osprey -> and so on. Young readers will enjoy seeing all the animals and plants that now flourish as a result of one change in an ecosystem. Godkin’s illustrations, created with pencil crayon and watercolor, are all two-page spreads and just beautiful. Recommended for ages 5 to 8….”
—Becky Walton, MLIS, Collection Development

Click here to read the full review

School Library Journal

“For many decades, wolves were absent from Yellowstone National Park. About 20 years ago, captured wolves from Canada were reintroduced into the park by environmentalists….Beautifully illustrated by the author in watercolor and color pencil, each spread brims with the diversity of animals, plants, and insects presently thriving in Yellowstone. Young ones will enjoy the positive takeaway, and the picture book format makes a complex story accessible and usable in a wide range of early education classes. VERDICT Valuable for children for its affirming environmental message and to counteract the ‘big bad wolf’ image of these necessary predators.”
–Eva Elisabeth VonAncken, formerly at Trinity-Pawling School, Pawling, NY

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

Publishers Weekly

Godkin eloquently examines how the reintroduction of wolves to Yellowstone National Park led to dramatic changes both in the landscape of the park and in the lives of the creatures that make their home there.Godkin’s text focuses on the interconnectedness of the animals’ environment and how one ostensibly small change can have dramatic effects over time. Although the author emphasizes the necessary role that predators play, her mixed-media artwork avoids goriness, instead focusing on delicate textures of fur, feather, leaf, and grass. The hunts that removed wolves from the landscape in the first place (and their 1995 reintroduction) are covered in thorough back matter. Ages 6–9. (Jan.)”

Click here to read the full review

Booklist Online

“…Tranquil wildlife scenes in soft, naturalistic colors are full of meticulous details and capture the majestic beauty of the iconic park, which teems with life. The clear, matter-of-fact text is a lovely complement to the warm scenes, which include vistas, underwater habitats, and close-ups. Additional information about the history of the park and the importance of the wolves to the ecosystem closes this lovingly illustrated, educational volume.”
—Anita Lock

Click here to read the full review

CM Magazine FOUR STAR Review

“…The Wolves Return is another book by the environmental writer/illustrator Celia Godkin. Her previous book, Skydiver: Saving the Fastest Bird in the World, also addressed the recovery of an endangered species. Thirteen Canadian wolves were released into Yellowstone National Park in 1995 and a further ten the following year. Enough time has now passed to fully appreciate the positive effects that the re-introduction of this one species has had on the entire ecological system. This has been a triumph of environmental science and a perfect example to cover in a book for children.

The story is written in uncomplicated language and is overwhelmingly positive in both tone and presentation. The first page describes the reaction of the animals as the wolves arrive, placing this event within the normal course of life. Then the consequences are given one at a time, including the increase of biodiversity due to the return of many plants and animals that had disappeared after the wolves were extirpated many years ago. This is not a scientific description, rather an inspiring look at the results.

The final pages of the book give the historical and scientific background of the story. There is enough information here that older children can embrace the story while even young children interested in the topic of wolves and conservation can go further and learn more. Together with the story, the addition of this material gives a complete portrayal of the issue.

The illustrations are beautifully rendered, moving and evocative. They increase the emotional impact of the words, showing many creatures against the natural backgrounds of the park. Pictures make the connections more clear: trees have allowed birds to nest and reproduce, water plants have given insects and frogs places to live and hide. The interdependence of species is made explicit throughout the book adding depth and scope.

The Wolves Return is a handsome book with an uplifting environmental message, one that avoids sounding like a textbook. The book will be great addition to any personal, classroom or school library. It will appeal to anyone already interested in conservation and could appeal to many others with the reference to the highly dramatic wolves on the cover. While intended for those in the early grades, there is enough here to interest older readers.

Highly Recommended.
—Willow Moonbeam

Click here to read the full review

Resource Links

“Celia Godkin relays the awe-inspiring true story of the release of 23 Canadian gray wolves into Yellowstone National Park in 1995 and 1996….

Since the time of the release, the wolves thrived and the process created beneficial changes to the park’s ecosystem….

The illustrations are beautifully done in pencil crayon and watercolour….[Godkin’s] telling of this true environmental success story is well told and inspirational. It is important to relay such stories. The end of the book has the fascinating history of the wolf in North America with a map.

Thematic Links: Wolves; Yellowstone National Park; Yellowstone Wolf Project; Gray Wolves; Ecosystem”
Isobel Lang

Read the full review on page 20 of the April 2017 issue of Resource Links

ILA Literacy Daily, “STEM Stories”

“With an engaging, accessible text and expressive mixed-media illustrations, Godkin tells the environmental success story of the reintroduction of the grey wolf to Yellowstone National Park….An endnote, ‘The Wolf in North America,’ provides history of the wolf and a map of the pre-European and current North American wolf range.”

Click here to read the full list of “STEM Stories” from ILA Literacy Daily

Midwest Book Review

The Wolves Return is the true story of the successful release of twenty-three Canadian gray wolves in Yellowstone National Park in 1995-96….The Wolves Return explains in picture and in narrative how the reintroduction of the wolves, a natural predator of the elk, impacted positively on the whole environment….The Wolves Return ends with a map of North America with wolf ranges, both current and pre-European habitat patterns. It is clear that wolves play a vital role in maintaining the health, variety, and balance of many life systems and plant and animal species in nature. The mixed media art work in The Wolves Return is especially sensitively done and greatly enhances the exciting environmental health restoration true story.”

Click here to read the full review

Midwest Book Review

The Wolves Return: A New Beginning for Yellowstone National Park is a children’s nonfiction picturebook about the wildlife of the Yellowstone National Park in America….A beautifully illustrated book about the interconnected web of natural life, The Wolves Return is highly recommended for personal, school, and public library collections.”

Click here to read the full review

Kids’ BookBuzz

“We rated this book: [4.5/5]…

I loved The Wolves Return. I visited Yellowstone a few years ago and got to see all different kinds wildlife: black bears, grizzlies, bison, eagles, foxes, and elk. I think it was a good idea for Canada to give some wolves to Yellowstone or they wouldn’t have wolves to balance the elk herds. I loved the illustrations because they looked so real and had a lot of details. The author is also the illustrator. I would like to read other books by this author.”
—Jewel – Age 9

Click here to read the full review

CanLit for LittleCanadians

“I know a science teacher whose go-to book to introduce interrelationships of living things and the balance of natural ecosystems is Celia Godkin’s award-winning book Wolf Island (Fitzhenry & Whiteside, 1989/2006). I encourage a new generation of science teachers to look to her new book The Wolves Return to demonstrate those same concepts as they relate to the wolves of Yellowstone National Park and spark a new appreciation for the natural world with an aim to stewardship and not manipulation.

The Wolves Return documents in prose and detailed illustrations the impacts of the Yellowstone Wolf Project on the local habitats and wildlife, celebrating the success of reintroducing the wolves here.

But the way Celia Godkin tells the story is not to just lay out that bare facts as many unseasoned writers might but instead to provide visual commentary, in words and pictures, of what would have been happening….

Celia Godkin illustrates the complex and sophisticated food webs–not just food chains–and evolving landscape of habitats but punctuates the story with the science of the return of the wolves in her appendices.

The scientist in Celia Godkin–she has a Master’s degree in zoology–comes through in the precision of her illustrations but her coloured pencil and watercolour fine art is more expressive than just a record of the living ecosystem. She gives life to the organisms and places within The Wolves Return, though I know that young readers will be amazed by her detailed and accurate depictions of the animals.

Just like Wolf IslandThe Wolves Return should become a teacher’s primary picture book for introducing discussions about habitats and communities, the diversity of living things and interactions with ecosystems. With The Wolves Return, Celia Godkin is able to inform, fascinate and initiate dialogue about the world we impact in both negative and positive ways and how it can gloriously amend itself sometimes with just a tiny bit of help.”

Click here to read the full review

Youth Services Book Review

“…What did you like about the book? This book illustrates the effect that the reintroduction of wolves to Yellowstone National Park has had on the ecosystem. The book demonstrates that predators at the top of the food chain have a profound impact.…The illustrations of the wildlife are beautifully rendered in lush colors. The book contains more information on “The Wolf in North America,” including a map, at the back. The end pages are filled with illustrations and the names of the plants and animals that are mentioned in the book. This is a great introduction for younger children to the impacts of animals on our world.

Anything you didn’t like about it? No

To whom would you recommend this book? This is a nice way to introduce ecosystems to young children. It could be used for school reports for lower elementary school children….
—Catherine Coyne

Click here to read the full review

The Reading Castle

“…The wolves return by Celia Godkin, biologist and associate professor at the University of Toronto as well as award-winning author and illustrator, explains the journey of reintroducing wild wolves to Yellowstone and the consecutive changes in the environments of the park in kid-friendly words….

Ecology is a complex topic, but Celia Godkin does a great job with explaining biological correlations to children from preschool to middle school age. Her texts are easy to understand, without complicated technical terms or terminology. What wakes the love for nature are her artwork: True-to-life pencil and watercolor illustrations capture the attention of children and adults from the first page on. It’s hard for an expert to explain scientific topics in easy words and almost impossible to find the right words suitable and plausible for children. Celia Godkin does an expert job! The appendix of the book gives a short overview of the history of wolves in the US and is a great add on for older children, teacher and parents.

Our daughter loved The wolves return. She is interested in nature in general and loves wolves…It was really enjoyable to teach her about one of her favorite animals and the development of an ecosystem within a short time span….I can just guess what a great resource this book is for homeschooling parents or teachers! The publisher also provides a teaching guide, which was unfortunately not online yet at time of this review.

Long story short: The wolves return is a great non-fiction book with an environmental message for children every age. It’s a great way to raise children who love nature and are sensible to the ecological problems. The wolves return is another wonderful children’s book by Pajama Press, an independent publisher from Canada.”

Click here to read the full review

Geo Librarian

“…Due to the hard work and dedication of various scientists and organizations, wolves have returned to Yellowstone National Park. Godkin documents the changes that have come about because of that act….My favorite aspect of the book though are the beautiful illustrations that give the reader a peek into the natural world of the wolf. The additional information and photographs at the end of the book are certainly a great boon for teachers and other users who want to know more about the topic.”

Click here to read the full review

Orange Marmalade Books

“[T]he complex, interactive webs which rely on biodiversity are critical to a healthy planet and to our health as humans….

By hunting [grey] wolves to the point of near-extinction settlers unwittingly disturbed the timeworn balance that had allowed all sorts of plants, animals and waterways to flourish. This lovely book shows how each piece began to be renewed as wolves were re-introduced to Yellowstone beginning in 1995.

Each turn of the page shows another glory of nature able to perform again its vivid song, as the positive, un-domino effect takes place. What a hopeful, gladsome journey! Share this with children ages 4 and up.”

Click here to read the full review

Library of Clean Reads

“We are always amazed at how much we learn from children’s non-fiction books. This one is an educational and excellent portrayal of the value of wolves in maintaining a healthy wildlife and ecosystem.

Our Review:

Reviewed by Sandra Olshaski

Who couldn’t love this book about the value of wolves? From the pencil crayon and watercolour illustrations to the beautiful text, it’s an amazing book for both adults and children. It highlights how very important are all creatures and how one animal alone contributes to a thriving natural world….

The colourful illustrations will certainly appeal to children, especially those who are already animal lovers. I appreciate the information pages regarding the history of wolves in North America. I can’t say enough about this beautiful book that contains such important life lessons. I highly recommend it.

Reviewed by Laura Fabiani and Son

It’s a sad reality that most city children have never seen live wild animals (except perhaps at the zoo) or know much about them. Both my son and I were surprised by how much we enjoyed and learned from reading this book. With clear informative text and beautiful illustrations, the author has succeeded in teaching us that large predators play a vital role in the health of the ecosystems where they live….

Children who are animal lovers will especially enjoy the depictions of the various animals…My son and I enjoyed this book and we especially liked that on the front and back inside covers are the names and illustrations of all the plants and animals in the book.

This book should be included in all school libraries and can be used when teaching science and nature in elementary schools. An excellent addition to a home library too.”

Click here to read the full review

BookTime

The Wolves Return, A New Beginning for Yellowstone National Park by Celia Godkin is a beautiful book…It was fascinating to read about how much the area changed, both in diversity of the creatures…to the health of the animals that always lived there.”

Click here to read the full review

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French Toast Reviews

Posted on October 14th, 2016 by pajamapress

Quill and Quire **Starred Review**

FrenchToast_WebsiteFrench Toast looks as delectable as its title, thanks to François Thisdale’s dreamlike illustrations: the landscapes seem to float in the background as giant loaves of banana bread and juicy peaches appear in the foreground.…Winters obviously knows how to write for children. In this effective picture book, she engages her readers’ imaginations – and their stomachs. She also doesn’t dwell on negativity, but spins the story into one of self-affirmation…Simply told and cleverly imagined, French Toast is a great starting point for talking to young children about race, diversity, and respect.”

Click here to read the full review

The International Educator

“When you are blind, you don’t see skin color and you truly know that everyone is the same. Phoebe doesn’t like it when kids from school call ‘Hey, French Toast!’ or tease her for her accent. Her Nan-ma is blind and asks Phoebe to describe the colors of family and friends. Their talk helps Phoebe to look at things in a different light. …Phoebe discovers that Nan-ma doesn’t even know her own skin color until she tells her it is like maple syrup. Suddenly being called French Toast isn’t so bad anymore…”

Resource Links

“…A gentle loving explanation of how everyone has different skin tones expressed in warm delicious ways. Bullying is part of the story but Phoebe’s approach of not letting her bullies know that their nickname bothers her helps to defuse any power they have over her.

The illustrations are beautiful and the illustrator does beautiful portraits of his characters using digital media and acrylic….The author explains the concept of diversity in a positive life affirming way that children and adults will appreciate.”

Thematic Links: Grandmothers; Self-esteem; Bullying; Racially Mixed People; Identity; Diversity; Immigration; Blindness
—Isobel Lang

Read the full review on page 12 of the February 2017 issue of Resource Links

Library of Clean Reads

“Content: G

Even though Nan-ma’s blind, she sees things others do not.’

And so begins this book whose message to be proud of one’s culture and nationality shines through. Phoebe has a good relationship with her grandmother who is blind. On weekends she is her neighborhood guide. As a mother, I liked that this story included a grandma and her wisdom. When Phoebe has to explain why the boys from school yelled out, ‘Hey, French Toast!’ to her, she is embarrassed because she knows it’s because of the color of her skin.

Since her grandmother has never known the colors of skin, she asks Phoebe what color her skin is. So Phoebe describes it like tea after milk is added. And so the story continues….

Living in Quebec, we are very familiar with the French-Canadian culture and mixed marriages among the very diverse ethnic groups that live here. My son and I enjoyed this story…It’s a book that should resonate well with children living in Quebec and perfect to introduce others to a culture that embraces mixed marriages. Children need to feel proud of who they are and where they come from. Using food to bring out the beautiful qualities of a culture works well. My son and I were getting hungry reading this book!

The illustrations use earth-tone colors and are soft. They are a mix of digital media and acrylic. What this means is that they are a mix of real-life photos with the drawings. So, the faces of the characters, for example, are actual real photos but blended in with the drawings. My son noticed it right from the first page…I had to look more closely. In the end, we agreed that the way the illustrator blended the two worked well and also the way he highlighted the food and brought it out in the illustrations was unique.

This book would make a great addition to a home or school library. It is an excellent way to introduce new cultures and to open the discussion of how to embrace who we are.”
—Laura Fabiani & Son

Click here to read the full review

Getting Kids Reading

French Toast is a delicious treat of a picture book that lets you explore a sophisticated topic in a way that is helpful and positive, but not simplistic….

This is a slow unravelling of racism and bullying and how we see ourselves. A slow unravelling, as only the best picture books can do. French Toast is a meal you will want to go back to, and savour with your child, again and again. You will get something different from it each time you share it.

The illustrations, by François Thisdale, are warm and, while they seem perfectly normal on first glance, are surprisingly, deliciously, quirky (often, for instance, the sizes of things are just a bit — or sometimes a lot — out of scale). Stunning. And the text flows like warm maple syrup. French Toast will warm you up. (Okay, I’m done with the extended food metaphor — plus, now I’m hungry.)…

Disclaimer: I know Kari-Lynn personally. (But that’s definitely not why I wrote this, and I believe it didn’t affect my review. This is a truly stunning picture book that I highly recommend.)”
—Joyce Grant

Click here to read the full review

Kids’ BookBuzz

“We rated this book: 4.5/5

At school, people make fun of Phoebe for her skin color, which is medium brown, and they call her ‘French toast.’ When she and her grandmother are taking a walk in the park, they walk past her school and the kids yell at her and laugh. Her grandmother doesn’t know why they’re laughing. She is blind, so she can’t understand skin colors. She asks Phoebe to describe her skin color and her family’s. Phoebe finally uses foods to describe the colors. She says her skin is like ‘tea after you’ve added the milk’ and her grandmother’s is like ‘maple syrup poured over…French toast.’ She ends up feeling better in the end because talking about it helps.

When Nan-ma says she has been told her mom is white, Phoebe laughs because white people aren’t really white. All people are just different shades of brown. I like the illustrations because they are mainly different colors of brown, too, and warm colors. The story is set at either sunrise or sunset in winter, which makes it even browner. This book is great for all ages and all colors.”
—Kilian – Age 8

Click here to read more Kids’ BookBuzz reviews

Winnipeg Free Press

“This is a delightful picture book from an Ontario writer that celebrates the joys of diversity….Montreal artist François Tisdale’s illustrations, in warm brown colours of honey and maple syrup, help make this little book delicious.”

Click here to read the full review

CanLit for LittleCanadians

“…French Toast starts out as less about the food and more about labelling but Kari-Lynn Winters, with illustrator François Thisdale, turns the story around to be about the goodness of food and relationships that nourish us. Kari-Lynn Winters…impresses with her splendid foray into understanding and acceptance of skin colour, diversity and multiculturalism (Phoebe’s family is Haitian) and one that warms the heart and fills the belly with virtue and affection.

…François Thisdale, whose artwork is a magical blend of drawing and painting with digital imagery, balances the reality of Phoebe and her grandmother’s relationship and emotional situations with a dream-like landscape. His colours and textures fuse so many elements that the book becomes more art than merely a child’s picture book. And then there are the images of glorious food that cultivate nourishment for the soul, inspiring Phoebe and her grandmother, and anyone who reads the book, to see family and skin colour from a fresh perspective.

French toast may not be part of your holiday buffet but French Toast should definitely be on everyone’s bookshelf and story-telling list for the holidays and every day of the year when acceptance is vital i.e., always. It feeds the spirit and bakes up multiple servings of compassion and open-mindedness, helpings we should all scoop out enthusiastically.”

Click here to read the full review

The International Educator

“When you are blind, you don’t see skin color and you truly know that everyone is the same. Phoebe doesn’t like it when kids from school call ‘Hey, French Toast!’ or tease her for her accent. Her Nan-ma is blind and asks Phoebe to describe the colors of family and friends. Their talk helps Phoebe to look at things in a different light. …Phoebe discovers that Nan-ma doesn’t even know her own skin color until she tells her it is like maple syrup. Suddenly being called French Toast isn’t so bad anymore…”

Read the full review on page 40 of the February 2017 issue of The International Educator

Youth Services Book Review

Rating: (1-5, 5 is an excellent or starred review) 4

What did you like about the book? This is a beautiful book about a little girl who is half Jamaican and half French Canadian….The illustrations are wonderful and the descriptions of the food are perfect.

Anything you didn’t like about it? I liked everything about this book.

To Whom Would You Recommend this book? This is recommended for children ages 4-7. It would be a good addition to a multi-cultural library. Kindergarten children will also enjoy the story read aloud to them. It will stimulate discussion on race.

Who should buy this book? This would be good for elementary school libraries and public libraries that have a children’s section….

Should we (librarians/readers) put this on the top of our “to read” piles?  Yes”
Sandra Pacheco ESL teacher, Washington, D.C.

Click here to read the full review

Omnilibros

“Phoebe, who is half Jamaican and half French-Canadian, hates when her classmates call her ‘French Toast.’…The imaginative artwork blends traditional drawing and painting with digital imagery using collage, acrylic, watercolor, and computer manipulation.”

Click here to read the full review

Imagination Soup

“Phoebe’s grandmother, Nan-Ma, helps her talk out why the kids call her ‘French Toast’ then helps Phoebe celebrate her own skin tone as well as the variety of skin tones in her Jamaican, French-Canadian family using with beautiful food metaphors. Use this book to talk about differences, similarities, and kindness.”

Click here to read the full list “New Stories for the Readers on Your Lap”

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A Year of Borrowed Men Extra Content

Posted on October 12th, 2016 by pajamapress

AYearOfBorrowedMen_Website “How I Wrote It” feature by Michelle Barker with CBC Books

When the Rain Comes Reviews

Posted on October 6th, 2016 by pajamapress

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Kirkus Reviews **Starred Review**

“Although set in faraway Sri Lanka, Fullerton’s rhythmic tale holds a universal message: that even the smallest and youngest among us can summon up the courage to face, and overcome, the most gargantuan challenges….Fullerton’s free verse dances across the page, urging readers forward through the narrative. ‘Her heart pounds / as loud as the rain / as it comes, / a waterfall / straight from the sky.’ And LaFave’s mood-appropriate colors, which range from the joyful sorbet hues of Malini’s village to the brooding blues and grays of the monsoon, complete the package. A beautiful introduction to life and culture on a little-known island nation—and a delightful read whether for the first or the 100th time.”

Click here to read the full review

The Hornbook

“A perilous flash flood threatens a young Sri Lankan girl’s life and her village’s livelihood in this compelling picture book. Fullerton’s spare and lyrical text opens with Malini waking up, excited to learn how to plant rice seedlings and contribute to her community’s well-being….Endnotes explain the realities of child labor, poverty, and a dependence on rice as a staple crop in Sri Lanka, and the book as a whole offers a powerful portrait of a child’s bravery and perseverance.”
—Megan Dowd Lambert

Read the full review in the May 2017 issue of The Hornbook

Publishers Weekly

“Fullerton’s (In a Cloud of Dust) tale starts out as a thoughtful account of a child’s daily life in Sri Lanka: ‘[Malini] watches the load of rice seedlings swish back and forth on the cart as it bumps over the road toward her. Today she will learn to plant those seedlings…. But what if she does it wrong?’ The story takes a dramatic turn as a sudden squall floods the road and cuts Malini and the oxcart off from the adults. LaFave’s (Ben Says Goodbye) spreads, too, switch from quiet landscapes to urgent action, dashing lines tracing sheets of rain. Malini must lead the ox and cart into the barn to get the rice seedlings under cover. She overcomes paralyzing fear and tugs ox and cart inside, but her troubles aren’t over: the ox is agitated.

Bold lines emphasize the animal’s intimidating bulk, but Malina screws up her courage: ‘She leans close to him, stroking whispering calming. They wait slowly, breathing together.’ It’s a gratifying portrait of a child discovering her own strength: Malini, so nervous about learning to plant rice, is capable of far greater feats. Ages 4–8.”

Find this review on page 56 of the November 14, 2016 issue. Click here to learn more about Publishers Weekly.

Booklist

“An oxcart arrives in Malini’s small Sri Lanka village, loaded with rice seedlings, enough to sustain her community for a year….but a sudden storm floods the road, threatening Malini, the ox, and the precious cargo. The storm’s violence is conveyed by onomatopoeic language…Words that may be unfamiliar to American readers, such as bullock driver and spurfowls, further provide a sense of the setting. Large-scale illustrations highlight the sudden change from sunshine to rain, with first vertical and then diagonal streaks through the colors demonstrating the rain’s ferocity. Malini’s anxiety about helping with the planting and the sense of accomplishment she feels in saving the rice come through clearly in her facial expressions. An author’s note includes helpful background about Sri Lanka and family life there.”
—Lucinda Whitehurst

Click here to read the full review

School Library Journal “Reading Around The World | Picture Books”

“…Filled with ear-pleasing rhythms and onomatopoeia, Alma Fullerton’s vivacious free verse paints Malini’s character with deft strokes, and stirringly describes the action. Kim La Fave’s color-splashed illustrations set the scene and create a strong sense of motion, as the ox looms large above the girl, the monsoon unleashes, or Maili returns to the arms of her worried family. When the Rain Comes provides a vivid glimpse at life on an island country in Asia, as well as a satisfying look at a child who discovers the inner fortitude needed to overcome difficult circumstances.”

Click here to read the full review and the rest of the article

ForeWord Reviews

“The dramatic sights and sounds of a Sri Lankan monsoon surround Malini and her formidable ox as they struggle to higher ground, in Alma Fullerton’s When The Rain Comes. A fascinating slice of Southeast Asian life…Creative lines and saturated coloring from Kim La Fave’s paints and pencils capture the exotic riot and relentless rains of Malini’s village.”

Click here to read the full review

Resource Links

“Malini, a young Sri Lankan girl, is tasked with protecting a bullock cart carrying a load of rice seedlings that will feed her entire village for a year. Malini is eager to accept this responsibility, but when it starts to pour rain, she must make a difficult decision: protect the rice crops or save herself.

This moving story of courage from award-winning author Alma Fullerton is told in lyrical free-verse and the sounds of the impending storm and Malini’s narrow escape with the rice cart come alive through onomatopoeic description. Kim La Fave’s dream-like illustrations imbue Sri Lankan life with a sense of magic, bringing Malini’s seemingly impossible heroic task within the realm of possibility. An explanation of the harsh realities faced by many Sri Lankan citizens at the story’s end highlights that life in Sri Lanka is often far from magical.

When the Rain Comes could serve as a useful point of comparison in many social studies classes, prompting students to weigh Malini’s responsibilities to herself, her family, and her village against their own. An inspiring story beautifully told, When the Rain Comes would be an enriching addition to most school library collections.”
Natalie Colaiacovo

Read the review on page 4 of the December 2016 issue of Resource Links

CM Magazine

“…With When the Rain Comes, Fullerton introduces children to a culture different from their own in a way that is engaging and full of relatable emotions. Malini is Sri Lankan, and, although her experience is in many ways very different from that of a Canadian child, some feelings and encounters transcend borders. Here, readers witness a child explore her own capacity for bravery when faced with a challenge. Fear, uncertainty, loyalty, and pride are all things to which children everywhere can relate. The rising intensity of the story creates a connection to the character as readers strive and hope alongside her that she reaches the barn and calms the beast. Guided conversation after the book would be rich, delving deeper into the child’s personal experience with challenges and successes. What was at stake? What did it feel like to overcome the obstacle?

The true highlight of When the Rain Comes, however, is the artwork – big, luscious illustrations that own each page. LaFave demonstrates a mastery of colour, choosing a rich palate of purples and blues to depict the storm and creating depth with interesting colour blocking. From the brightly coloured spurfowl taking flight to the violent rain feverishly falling down, the images are unique and beautiful.

Click here to read the full review

Recommended.
—Amber Allen

Click here to read the full review

Canadian Children’s BookNews

“A little hedgehog sets off on a voyage of sensory discovery in the picture book, How Do You Feel?, by Rebecca Bender….

Through an elegant simplicity, the author is able to use richer language, which becomes accessible to even the youngest of readers.

This is a lovely story for young children, as it explores the complexities of the world in a simple format. Few will have experienced physically touching all the varieties of animals in the story, and Bender creates an opportunity for children to use the natural world around them to build richer experiences to add to their imaginary worlds.”

Read the full review on page 31 of the Spring 2017 issue of Canadian Children’s BookNews

CanLit for LittleCanadians

“…Alma Fullerton’s rhythmic lines and sound scape of life and weather…carr[y] the story, along with Kim La Fave’s stirring illustrations. From the brightly-coloured warmth of Malini’s home life to the tumultuous gloominess of the storm of flashing water, wind and sound, Kim La Fave contrasts the two realities, echoing Alma Fullerton’s cheerful and fearful situations….When the Rain Comes is a resoundingly effective addition to our diverse young CanLit collections…”
—Helen Kubiw

Click here to read the full review

Sal’s Fiction Addiction

“A much anticipated sound awakens Malini! The ox cart driver is finally here with his very important load of rice seedlings. The rice is ready to plant; Malini is ready to help with that planting. The driver asks the young girl to ‘keep an eye’ on his ox while he takes a needed break. Malini is a bit frightened by its size and strength, but she takes the responsibility to heart and watches carefully….

Although she is frightened herself, she realizes that she must provide calm for the frantic animal. What a brave girl!

Readers will relate to Malini’s emotions, and feel great relief when her bravery ensures safety and success. Kids will happily accept an invitation to share their own stories of being afraid, and of acts of bravery.

Kim LaFave masterfully captures every nuance of the story through use of color and motion. They fully support the mood created by Ms. Fullerton’s telling free verse text. An author’s note places the story in Sri Lanka and provides plenty of interesting information about the island nation and the people who live there. Knowing more about the children of the world, their culture and the lives they live is cause for celebration.”

Click here to read the full review

Youth Services Book Reviews

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

…What did you like about the book? This is a story of a young girl who lives in Sri Lanka….The blustery wind and the driving wind, along with the cries of Malini’s family urging her to leave the ox and come to safety show the drama of the choice Malini must make. I especially liked at the end of the book when the author explained just how important rice was to the poor people of Sri Lanka and it put Malini’s actions into a context.

Anything you didn’t like about it? I liked everything about this book.

To whom would you recommend this book? This is a great book to have in a library that fosters multi-culturalism. The story is engaging and children will learn about the culture of Sri Lanka through this book….

Should we (librarians/readers) put this on the top of our “to read” piles? Yes”
—Sandra Pacheco, ESL teacher, Washington, D.C.

Click here to read the full review

OmniLibros

“The free verse text provides a suspenseful slice of South Asian life. Paint and pencil impressionistic illustrations depict the rain’s ferocity. Back matter gives additional information about Sri Lanka, its geography, and the importance of rice to the culture.”

Click here to read the full review

Midwest Book Review

When the Rain Comes features lovely color drawings by Kim La Fave, is set in a Sri Lankan community…Free verse captures the sounds, sights, and experiences of Malini’s first job.”

Click here to read the full review

Library of Clean Reads

“I love books that expose children to another culture, especially when it is in the form of an exciting story with a heroine character. When the Rain Comes is such a book, set in Sri Lanka in a small agricultural village where rice is the main income and food source….

My son and I really liked this story. Malini’s excitement and later her terror and fear are very palpable without being too scary for young children who read the book. The story highlights that even young children are courageous and their actions can make a huge difference in their family. The illustrations beautifully depict the colorful village and later the strength and fierceness of the storm. Through color and sketches, the illustrator captured the culture of the Sri Lankan people and the monsoon season. My son and I loved these unique illustrations.

This is a beautiful book with an exciting plot and a heroine any little child can look up to. It’s a great way to introduce one of the many Asian cultures to our children so as to build in them respect and admiration for other nationalities and ways of life. I don’t think my son has ever seen an ox before. Not one up close as Malini was with the ox she had to move to higher ground. This opened up a conversation about ox and how prevalent they are in some countries for agriculture. So although fiction, this book can be used as an educational tool as well. An excellent addition to any home and school library.”

Click here to read the full review

Musings of a YA Reader

“…I liked When the Rain Comes even more. The illustrations and text in this book work really well together to highlight Malini’s feelings and show the importance of rice to her village and the dangers of a monsoon. The back of the book tells a little bit more about Sri Lanka and how reliant the country’s population is on rice.”

Click here to read the full review

Book Time

“What a beautiful book. The illustrations are different, both from anything else I have seen to within its pages. Sometimes it’s fast and swirling, other times Malini and the other characters in the book are smooth and more lifelike. It’s a cool effect. The story was also pretty amazing. My heart started racing and I could feel Malini, and the ox’s, anxiety rise and settle down. A beautiful book.”
—Lisa Day

Click here to read the full blog post by Book Time

The Hill Teaching Guides

Posted on October 4th, 2016 by pajamapress

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A Year of Borrowed Men Teaching Guides

Posted on September 30th, 2016 by pajamapress

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A Year of Borrowed Men Activities

Posted on September 29th, 2016 by pajamapress

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Rhino Rumpus Activities

Posted on September 29th, 2016 by pajamapress

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Adrift at Sea Reviews

Posted on September 23rd, 2016 by pajamapress

Publishers Weekly

AdriftAtSea_website “Skrypuch uses one child’s story to give moving insight into the experience of the many children who escaped war-ravaged Vietnam to start new lives….Deines’s hazy oil paintings poignantly capture the family’s physical ordeal and anguish during their perilous journey.”

Click here to read the full review

School Library Journal

“Gr 1-4–A personal account of one family’s escape from Vietnam following the fall of Saigon. Ho, only six years old at the time, tells a remarkable tale of perseverance that involved attacks from soldiers, a broken boat at sea, and a trip that was intended to last four days but went horribly awry. Amazingly, throughout the harrowing journey, his family remained intact. “It’s hard to find a place to sit, but finally we huddle together, clutching hands and falling asleep to the lullaby of slapping waves and the growl of the motor.” Back matter includes family photographs, maps, and a historical note about the Vietnam War and the resulting refugee crisis, which makes this title helpful for discussing the topics of relocation and the history of refugee placement. The narrative, while gripping, includes vocabulary words like skiff, bailing, adrift, and tethers that young children unfamiliar with sailing are unlikely to recognize. Deines’s illustrations, created with oil paint on canvas, provide some contextual background but have a muted palette and tend to minimize the story’s emotion and sense of urgency. VERDICT This is a solid informational resource that can be used for introducing a refugee’s experience.”
–Megan Egbert, Meridian Library District, ID

School Library Connection

“Tuan Ho relates, in brief and easy to read passages, the true story of his dramatic escape from Vietnam…The beautiful, full-page oil paintings effectively convey the dangerous escape, the blistering heat, and the loneliness of being adrift on the ocean. Photographs, maps, and historical background on the Vietnamese refugee crisis provide historical context and form an emotional connection with the story. This is an especially useful book to help students understand why refugees are still crowding into boats and risking everything for a better life even today. Highly Recommended.
—MaryAnn Karre, Retired Librarian, Vestal, New York

Booklist Online

“In this picture book for somewhat older readers, Ho narrates the story of his perilous escape from postwar Vietnam, in 1981, describing his pain at leaving behind loved ones and relief upon being rescued by an American aircraft carrier after six days adrift on the ocean. The text is terse and unembellished, leaving the rich images to capture the emotional events. Photographs of the family bookend the story and remind readers of the events’ reality.”

Midwest Book Review

“…Adrift at Sea is a heartwarming story that will prompt young people to be grateful for the good things in their lives, and highly recommended.”

Click here to read the full review

Tuan Ho was only six years old when his family embarked on a dangerous voyage to escape Vietnam and became part of the ‘boat people’ fleeing their homeland: his story is told in a non-fiction narrative that captures the experience for young readers. Highly recommended.”

Click here to read the full review

The International Educator

Adrift at Sea: A Vietnamese Boy’s Story of Survival by Marsha Forchuk Skrypuch with Tuan Ho, Illustrated by Brian Deines. What are Vietnamese boat people? Where did they go, and why? This beautifully illustrated nonfiction picture book introduces the reader to a real family: two parents and their five children. Told in the voice of six-year-old Tuan, it explains how thousands were forced to flee communist South Vietnam after the Vietnam war….Tuan was among the lucky ones rescued by a U.S. naval ship….An interesting read that explains why and how people are sometimes forced to flee and find a new homeland.”

Read the full review in the December 2016 issue of The International Educator

Smithsonian Book Dragon

“Prodigious Canadian author Marsha Forchuk Skrypuch has built an admirable, award-winning reputation by writing about difficult subjects for younger readers, including the Armenian genocide, world wars, and Canadian internment….

In her latest picture book, Skrypuch presents then-6-year-old Tuan Ho who, with his mother and two older sisters, leave their Ho Chi Minh City home in the darkness of night, and dodge gunshots to board a fishing boat….With a rich palette of deep, vibrant colors, artist Brian Deines adds swirling desperation and swift motion across every detailed spread.

…Filled with urgency, fear, and ultimately hope, Tuan’s real-life odyssey proves to be an illuminating inspiration for all readers.”

Click here to read the full review

Quill & Quire

“A new picture book from multiple-award-winning author Marsha Skrypuch and renowned illustrator Brian Deines tells the story of a young boy’s remarkable escape from Vietnam in the early 1980s….

This is not the first time Skrypuch has dealt with Vietnam. Her 2011 non-fiction title Last Airlift: A Vietnamese Orphan’s Rescue from War won the Red Cedar Book Award. The author’s familiarity with her subject is evident here, and Tuan’s dramatic story of survival comes alive in Skrypuch’s capable hands. The heart-pounding action alone is enough to captivate readers, but Skrypuch also incorporates moments of great poignancy that add depth and emotion. As little Tuan watches a nearby boat filled with people erupt in flames and slowly sink, he reflects that there is nothing he can do to help and wonders if the same thing will happen to his boat. This is just one of many scenes with the potential to inspire empathy and discussion about the plight of refugees.

Deines’s accompanying artwork is achingly beautiful. Rich, warm colours make readers feel they are experiencing Vietnam for themselves. That danger can exist amid such beauty is an important lesson to learn. That the human spirit can triumph under the most trying of conditions is even more important.”
Sarah Sorensen

Read the full review in the December 2016 issue of Quill & Quire on page 49

Resource Links

“What a powerful book! Marsha Forchuk Skrypuch and Tuan Ho tell the story of Tuan and his family’s escape from Vietnam in an overcrowded fishing boat in 1981. The story is a true one recounted by Tuan of how he (when he was six years old), his mother, his two sisters and his aunt and cousins made their escape…

Brian Deines’ subtle double-page oil paintings add greatly to the mood and text of this story. There is also an historical and biographical section at the end of the book which explains the conditions in Vietnam in 1981 and what happened to Tuan Ho’s family as they made a new life for themselves in Canada. Tuan has become a very successful physiotherapist and now has a family of his own.

This book is very timely as we have so many refugees from war torn countries in the Middle East now attempting to make their way to a better life under the same kind of conditions that the Vietnamese people experienced back in 1981. With so many refugee children attending schools in Canada now, books like this one can help young children appreciate what some of these children have experienced and develop an empathy for them as they integrate into Canadian society.

I would highly recommend this book for all school and public libraries.”
Victoria Pennell

Read the full review on page 26 of the December 2016 issue of Resource Links

Canadian Children’s BookNews

“…Adrift at Sea tells this difficult tale with a direct honesty that creates an opportunity for accompanied discussion, especially for some younger readers. Skrypuch maintains a strong sense of hope throughout, demonstrating the true strength of young Tuan. It is also a powerful story for all readers in light of the Syrian refugee crisis, providing an accessible way to build empathy toward newcomers to Canada.

The illustrations by Brian Deines are detailed, giving the story a canvas-like texture, and they add depth and richness to the imagery created by the words. This balances with the black-and-white photographs included of Tuan. The final pages of the book give the historical context, which may help it to reach an even broader audience of readers interested in the historical significance and the real-life outcome of the story.”
Ashley Pamenter

Read the full review on page 26 of the Winter 2016 issue of Canadian Children’s BookNews

Booklist

“The text is terse and unembellished, leaving the images to capture the emotions through color and perspective—and they do so with compelling immediacy.”

Kirkus Reviews

“…detailed authors’ notes include history, photographs, and maps. The warm undertones in Deines’ oil paintings evoke tropical Vietnam.”

Click here to read the full review

CM Magazine

“Brian Deines…created beautiful oil on canvas illustrations for the book. The colours of the illustrations are bight and vibrant. Other highlights of the book are the personal photographs, biography of Tuan’s family, map, and historical note which bookend the narrative of the story…. Adrift at Sea is an important addition to Canadian picture book market….Recommended.”

Click here to read the full review

The Children’s War

Adrift at Sea is told from Tuan’s point of view, and aimed at readers about the same age as he was when he escaped Vietnam. Such a young narrator may not capture the truly difficult and risky trip in the kind of detail a book for older readers might, but he still very clearly depicts the fear, the hot sun, lack of water, and relief at being rescued at an age appropriate level that any young reader will be able understand.

Skrypuch has included a number photos of the Ho family, both in Vietnam and in Canada. She has also included a brief history of the ‘boat people’ as the refugees came to be called. The refugees faced not only the kinds of problems that the Ho family dealt with, but there were storms, pirates and always the threat of dying of thirst and hunger, and sometimes, they found that they were not welcomed everywhere.

Using a color palette mainly of oranges, yellows and blues, Deines’s highly textured oil on canvas illustrations capture all the secrecy, fear, and perils, all wrapped up in the dangerously hazy, hot, and humid weather that these refugees faced in their desire for freedom and a better life.

Adrift at Sea is a powerful historical nonfiction story that can certainly help shed light on events of the past that share a similarity to those that are happening in the world today.

This book is recommended for readers age 6+”

Click here to read the full review

CanLit for LittleCanadians

“From the illustration of a lone boat adrift in a wash of dry heat that graces the cover of Adrift at Sea, to the dark and engrossing images of Tuan’s steps along the journey, Brian Deines’ art is evocative and integrative, resplendent in complementary colours of orange and golds and blues and purples.”

Click here to read the full review

Library of Clean Reads

Our Review:
Reviewed by Laura Fabiani and Son

My 12 year-old son read this story too and felt saddened by Tuan[’s] harrowing escape. He picked up on the fact that another boat caught fire and those in it did not escape. This opened up a great discussion on world events and how in some countries people are still trying to escape by boat….

The illustrations are simply beautiful and the style perfect for this dramatic story. The last illustration in particular when the American soldier gives Tuan a glass of milk is a perfect way to end this nonfiction book. I also enjoyed the photographs of Tuan and his family when they were young in Vietnam to those of him today as a man with his wife and children. More factual information is accompanied with these photos.

I highly recommend this book as a teaching tool and feel that it should be in every library. It’s books like this that will make history come alive for our next generation of children.

My Review:
Reviewed by Sandra Olshaski

I was deeply touched by this beautiful true story of a family’s survival in the face of overwhelming odds as they leave Vietnam in search of a new life in the West….

The soft-focus artwork done by Brian Deines that illustrates each page is amazing. A shout-out to him! The author has produced a very readable book that both parents and children should read together.

I highly recommend this beautiful book.”

Click here to read the full review

Literacy Daily

“The evocative text and powerful illustrations, painted with oils, enable readers to feel as though they, too, are refugees adrift at sea during this risky journey to freedom.”

Click here to read the full review

Sals Fiction Addiction

“Brian Deines (as he always does) has created truly beautiful artwork using oils on canvas to bring Tuan’s story to this book’s readers. From the lush, tropical street in Ho Chi Minh City, the dark seashore, the blistering heat of a sun-filled sky, the clear blue beauty of the sea beneath them where dolphins play, to the almost overpowering arrival of the aircraft carrier, we journey with the family as they make their courageous way to a new life.”

Click here to read more from Sal’s Fiction Addiction

Orange Marmalade

“This stunning book tells the story of Tuan Ho, who at age 6 was forced to flee Vietnam with his mother and sisters….

His flight would be traumatic: terror, grief, gunfire, strangers, and perilous days adrift at sea. This taut account conveys exceptionally well just what refugee children endure, enlarging our compassion and will to be among those who welcome, comfort, and receive them today.

Deines’ brilliant paintings easily carry the weight of this story and knit our hearts to Tuan’s family. An afterword, accompanied by some personal photographs from Tuan, provides background to the exodus of the ‘boat people’ from Vietnam and tells more about Tuan’s family’s journey.”

Click here to read the full review

Semicolon

“…The illustrations in this book, full color paintings, are absolutely stunning. Canadian illustrator, Brian Deines, has outdone himself in two-page spreads that bring this refugee story to life.

The story itself, a slice of life, begins abruptly without any explanation as to why the family must leave Vietnam. Nor does the main part of the text explain what happens to Tuan Ho and family after they are rescued at sea. However, there are some explanatory pages with both photographs and text at the end of the book that tell readers about the history of the Vietnam War and about the entire history of Tuan Ho’s family and their emigration from Vietnam and eventual reunification in Canada. It’s a good introduction to the subject of the Vietnamese boat people for both older students and middle grade readers. Even primary age children could appreciate Tuan Ho’s story with a little bit of explanation from a parent or teacher about the war and the Communist persecution that they were fleeing….”

Click here to read the full review

Kids BookBuzz

“We rated this book: 5/5

…This book is true, and it is really sad. It was really scary for Tuan to try to escape, and the worst thing was that his family couldn’t be together for a long time. The pictures really help you understand how it would have felt. This is a good book to help you understand how people feel and the things they have to do if they feel like they need to run away from bad things that are happening where they live.”
—Rachel, Age 9

Click here to read the full review

Book Dreaming

This is one of the most beautiful and powerful picture books Ive seen in a long time. I wasblown away by the emotional impact of both the story and the illustrations. It would make a perfect edition to any middle or high school history classroom. I STRONGLY recommend this one!

Click here to read the full review

Bulletin of the Center for Childrens Books

“[A] powerful story, and it doesn’t shy away from the dangers experienced—sometimes fatally—by the refugees. Deines’…scenes of escape are dramatic, and creative perspectives occasionally add dimension to the visuals. While this will be useful in a curriculum about immigration, it’s also a way to contextualize current refugee crises that haven’t yet hit the literature. A concluding note gives more information about the Vietnamese ‘boat people,’ and pictures of Tuan Ho and his family are included alongside the summary of the Ho family’s subsequent life.”

Click here to read the full review

readingpowergear.wordpress.com

“This is the beautiful true story of a family’s survival in the face of overwhelming odds as they leave Vietnam in search of a new life….The amazing life-like illustrations and large format makes it an engaging read-aloud. I appreciated the historical facts and real photos of Tuan in his family included at the back of the book.”

Click here to read the full review

Jana the Teacher

“This beautiful nonfiction picture book tells a powerful story of survival and the harrowing experience of a group of Vietnamese refugees….Tuan Ho’s account of his family’s perilous trip, along with beautiful oil paintings to illustrate this narrative, make this a terrific resource for anyone who wants to learn more about Vietnamese refugees (sometimes referred to as ‘boat people’). It could also be used as a way to draw parallels to the experiences of refugee families of today.”

Click here to read the full review

Nerdy Book Club

“Adrift At Sea: A Vietnamese Boys Story of Survival by Marsha Forchuk Skyrpuch with Tuan Ho is likely the first picture book written by and about the refugees or boat people as they became known, fleeing Vietnam after the takeover of Saigon in 1975….End pages include photographs and information that round out the story and tell of Tuan’s life in with his family in Toronto.”

Click here to read the full review

Teacher Dance

“Tuan’s story is co-written by him and Marsha Forchuk Skrypuch. There is further explanation of the war and the family, and photographs in the backmatter. All the family has survived, the children have grown up and now have families of their own. Illustrations by Brian Deines are gorgeous paintings, mostly double-page spreads. They show the action and challenge, most of all the happiness of being rescued. It’s an amazing story. The blurb on the inside cover states this is the first picture book that describes the plight of the Vietnam ‘boat people’ refugees. It seems important in light of the recent tragedies of refugees fleeing their homes in Syria and other countries.”

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? …Three end pages provide historical context for Tuan’s story….Their story is timely as floods of refugees in horrendous situations risk everything to flee current conflicts.

Anything you didn’t like about it?  No.

To whom would you recommend this book?  Recommend to teachers to supplement studies about the Vietnam War or current events with an example of how non-combatants can be affected by the outcome of wars.

Who should buy this book? Elementary school libraries and public libraries.”
—Mary Melaugh, Marshall Middle School Library, Billerica, MA

Click here to read the full review

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Elephant Journey: The True Story of Three Zoo Elephants and their Rescue from Captivity Teaching Guide

Posted on September 19th, 2016 by pajamapress

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Click here to download the Elephant Journey reading guide