The Wolves Return: A New Beginning for Yellowstone National Park Teaching Guide

Posted on February 8th, 2017 by pajamapress

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Under the Umbrella Reviews

Posted on January 17th, 2017 by pajamapress

Kirkus Reviews **Starred Review**undertheumbrella_website

“A grumpy man fights a rainstorm and other pedestrians but learns a lesson when his umbrella goes flying. Pithy poetry pairs with artful illustrations in this Canadian import, translated from the French….Arbona’s fantastical illustrations play with perspective, shape, and pops of bright color that enliven scenes primarily composed of black, gray, and white. Buquet’s text is translated into well-crafted verse by Woods. Memorable and instructive without a hint of didacticism.”

Click here to read the full review

Quill & Quire **Starred Review**

“…The two strangers form an almost-instant friendship; the man buys the boy a tart, which they share as the weather magically turns from grey rain to bright yellow sunshine, through which the two soar happily.

Buquet’s prose, translated into English by Erin Woods, consists of rhyming couplets, most of which fit together and flow with satisfying precision…..

Under the Umbrella is as sweet and lovingly constructed as the brightest treat in a bakery window.”
Nathan Whitlock

Read the full review on page 29 of the March 2017 issue of Quill & Quire

CM Magazine

“I have always enjoyed reading rhyming text out loud to groups of unsuspecting story time children as the atmosphere of the story unfolds in a rhythmic manner and comes alive when I do. The pace and anticipation of the story is set through the author’s clever ability to create the mood with simple words. The dark mood of the man in the story is felt by the quick and short sentences within the rhyming text, and it seems to become more urgent with every step that he takes through the stormy streets of Paris. When the worst of all things happens and his umbrella is blown from his hands, the man encounters a young boy who transports him to a better place, a place that is bright and warm where the rhythm of the rhymes has changed the atmosphere to illustrate a luxurious longing for the treats in the shop window….

The writing and illustrations in this book complement each other well and work together to highlight the special moment that the two characters share. One could say that they are in the calm of the storm before heading back out to continue their day. This story can be read with a group or shared with one child quite successfully….

Recommended.”
Tamara Opar

Click here to read the full review

Resource Links

“…Originally published in French, Under the Umbrella beautifully celebrates the gentle power of kindness to bring people of different ages together on common ground. The rhyming text is lilting and descriptive, pairing seamlessly with the book’s bold illustrations that are reminiscent of Picasso in the most delightful way. Facial features are stylized and rendered in a mix of bright colours and charcoal grey, lending the illustrations a unique contrast that adds visual interest. Young readers will feast their eyes on the array of sweet treats in the patisserie window, as a rainbow of macaroons, tarts and éclairs float by.

Under the Umbrella is a visually stunning picture book that will warm the hearts of all who read it.”

Thematic Links: Intergenerational Relationships; Generosity; Kindness; Sharing
—Chloe Humphreys

Read the full review on page 4 of the February 2017 issue of Resource Links

Canadian Children’s BookNews

“Through lyrical rhyme, Catherine Buquet writes of a man who, by chance, finds happiness in the unlikeliest of circumstances. Out of the commonplace grows a deeper significance….

Marion Arbona’s sophisticated pencil, ink and gouache illustrations ably contrast the wet and bustling streetscape with the bright, warm colours enveloping the boy and the patisserie, as if they were in a world of their own. By the story’s end, this vibrancy surrounds the man, showing young readers that something wonderful can happen when one least expects it, even on the most melancholy of days.”
—Senta Ross

Read the full review on page 32 in the Summer 2017 issue of Canadian Children’s BookNews

49th Shelf

“Catherine Buquet’s touching debut in lyrical rhyme, accompanied by Marion Arbona’s bold and stylish illustrations, celebrates intergenerational friendship and the magic of sharing. It also reminds children and adults alike that bright moments can be found on even the gloomiest of days.”

Click here to read the full review

Winnipeg Free Press

“Anyone who dislikes rainy days would enjoy Under the Umbrella by French author Catherine Buquet and illustrated by Marion Arbona…

Arbona’s artwork, in gouache and pencil, is the real highlight of this rhyming story. She is a three-time Governor General’s Award finalist, and her unique illustrations evoke the very feeling of a rain-soaked day. For youngest readers (2-4).”
—Helen Norrie

Click here to read the full review

Midwest Book Review

“…Artistic, unusual drawings of this sullen man perfectly capture his dark mood and the dark day, until a little boy changes his perspective in an unexpected way.”

Click here to read the full review

Omnilibros

“Bold, fantastical illustrations that play with perspective, shape, and color accompany the rhyming text which is a delightful read-aloud.”

Click here to read the full review

Book Nerd Mommy

“This has got to be one of my favorite new releases this year! I adore everything about this book….

It is very well written (with beautiful rhyming and rhythm to swoon over) and makes for a positively lovely read aloud.

Along with the story I am obsessed with the illustrations. Marion is very selective about the colors used and in the beginning all is dark with sharp angles and a moody atmosphere. Then when you come to the bakery the light and brightness colored in simply spills out into the morose scene. Finally, when the two friends share the tart, bright, vivid happy colors burst onto the page in a celebration of joy and optimism. The use of color in this book adds a new dimension to the story and displays a visual treat of the effect and power of joy. I am in love!”

Click here to read the full review and Raspberry Rhubarb Tart recipe created by Book Nerd Mommy

Geo Librarian

“…I loved the message of this book, that what we bring to the world is more important than what the world brings to us….I did appreciate the use of color and shape to convey the mood of the characters and the story. The story begins with mostly sharp angles and dark colors until the boy is introduced when light, bright, cheerful colors reign supreme. The contrast between the man’s mood and the boy’s shows brightest in the contrasting light and dark shades. And the way the light spreads into the dark demonstrates the message of the story far beyond the ability of the text to do so.”

Click here to read the full review

CanLit for LittleCanadians

“If Under the Umbrella proves anything, it’s that there’s always a little sunshine associated with the gloominess of rain if you just open your eyes to see beyond the umbrellas….

Under the Umbrella was first published in French as Sous le parapluie (Les 400 coups, 2016) and garnered much attention for its simple but restorative story told with the pencil and gouache illustrations of Marion Arbona…Catherine Buquet’s text suggests a darkness to the man’s trek in the rain, using words like “grumbled”, “growled”, “muttered”, “attacked”, “forced”, and “With striding feet and stormy heart” (pg. 15), making it evident that the man’s mood is as foul as the weather. Yet when she introduces the boy who is “entranced” “at a warm and glowing window”…the atmosphere changes completely, though the rain continues to fall. What a great lesson in word choice for older readers and writers to witness the impact vocabulary has on atmosphere. Marion Arbona’s artwork conforms to that climate, using dusky greys and sharp angles for the dreary scenes while shining bright yellows and reds and pinks within the patisserie and then upon the two as they savour a shared treat. The interaction between the balding older man in the pin-striped suit and the little boy in cap and short pants is fleeting but colossal in its momentary importance. I’m glad the boy was taking the time to enjoy the visual display and that the man took the time to acknowledge the boy. It’s a small thing, but it’s a good thing.”

Click here to read the full review

Sal’s Fiction Addiction

“…March 1 – a ‘birth’ day of sorts for two new books from Pajama Press. The first of two new releases is about a very grumpy man. If you are one of those people who doesn’t much like wind and rain and are often in a hurry, you will know how he is feeling. His surroundings are as grey and moody as he is. His mood is aptly displayed in the rhyming text and in the dreary darkness of the artwork.

That mood is effectively changed for the reader when we note a young boy looking at the warm glow emanating from a patisserie window. Bathed in yellow light, he is standing on tiptoe to get a clear look at the sweetness on display. A turn of the page and the reader is fully aware of the warmth the boy is feeling….

Just as quickly, with the strength of a gusty wind, we are returned to the gloom as the man loses his umbrella. Luckily, the boy is there to grab it, and to bring a welcome change to the man’s day.

The artwork beautifully matches the feel of the rainy day from two clearly different perspectives. Use of color, shape, and varying perspective add to the book’s appeal. The text is filled with an invitation to look at the world from point of view, and the translation to memorable rhyming text is a real plus!”

Click here to read the full review

Pickle Me This

“A beautifully illustrated picture book that celebrates a few of my favourite things, namely light, umbrellas, and baked goods? Yes, please….

As we turn towards the season in which the rain can seem unceasing and the world still a bit too cold and grim, it becomes important to be reminded not to hurry too much, and not to miss those moments in which light and communion is possible.

The book begins with a man who’s doing battle with the wind and rain, barrelling his way along his journey, and furious at the crowds and the weather, and everything that’s offering resistance….The man doesn’t even notice the boy he passes staring into the window of the bakeshop….

When a gust of wind rips the umbrella away from the hurrying man’s clutches, the flyaway object lands at the little boy’s feet. The boy retrieves it and the man offers his thanks, and suddenly notices the world around him, the light at the window, the good things on display inside.”

Click here to read the full review

Orange Marmalade

“What happens when a gust of wind whooshes these two people together? A smile. A kind gesture. A spilling over of sweetness. This dynamic book will gladden you, not to mention precipitating a trip to the local patisserie! Striking illustration work emotes the changing moods of this story with tremendous pizzazz. A joy for ages 2 and up.”

Click here to read the full review

Picture Book Play Date

“[Under the Umbrella] was the second book I won from Pajama Press Books and it’s another rhyming delight. If you liked RAIN! by Linda Ashman/Christian Robinson then you should add this one to your reading list….Great read that we will treasure, particularly on rainy days.”

Click here to read the full review

My Beautiful Birds Teaching Guides

Posted on January 10th, 2017 by pajamapress

mybeautifulbirds_websiteDownload the My Beautiful Birds classroom reading guide

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Don’t Laugh at Giraffe Extra Content

Posted on January 9th, 2017 by pajamapress

DontLaughAtGiraffe_WebsiteDownload the Author-Illustrator Information Sheet

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Giraffe and Bird Extra Content

Posted on January 9th, 2017 by pajamapress

giraffeandbird_websiteAuthor-Illustrator Information Sheet

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Good Morning Grumple Reviews

Posted on January 6th, 2017 by pajamapress

School Library Journalgoodmorninggrumple_website

“Toddler-PreS–What to do with tots who don’t like to wake up in the morning? Do you tiptoe carefully around them, or do you wake them up with a tickle and a song? Allenby and Gauthier address this very issue with a patient mother fox who knows just how to coax her own little ‘grumple’ out of bed….Gauthier’s mixed-media and paper collage illustrations are quiet in tone, emphasizing that this is one fox who just wants to sleep. Tinges of taupe, cream, brown, and heather gray are shaded across the pages. The small size, soft padded cover, and sturdy card stock pages make this suitable for lap sharing. VERDICT Consider for medium to large picture book collections that serve a heavy toddler and preschool population.”
—Lisa Kropp, Lindenhurst Memorial Library, NY

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

Publishers Weekly

“This padded storybook with sturdy cardstock pages follows a mother’s persistent efforts to get her sleepy ‘grumple’ out of bed in the morning. Allenby’s intermittently rhyming text traces the mother’s escalating actions, which involve singing ever-louder…Gauthier’s naif collages sweetly emphasize the warmth between parent and child (they resemble a cross between a panda and a squirrel), even when the little one’s eyes are squeezed tight in a desperate attempt to hang onto sleep a little longer.”

Read the full review in the January 30 issue of Publishers Weekly

Booklist Online

“Allenby and Gauthier’s picture book opens on a scene likely familiar in many households…The grumple, a cranky bearlike creature, doesn’t want to get out of bed to greet the day…Allenby’s lilting lines encourage singing progressively louder, tickling toes, and kissing foreheads to get little grumples out of bed, but it’s the music that’s the most affirming and powerful method for urging kiddos out from under their covers and off to enjoy the great outdoors and play with friends. Gauthier’s naive-style collage illustrations, rendered in rough-cut shapes covered in thick paint and freewheeling scribbles, nicely complement Allenby’s bouncy rhymes, particularly when contrasting the mother’s singsongy cheerfulness with the grumple’s rumpled, bleary-eyed appearance….”
—Anita Lock

Click here to read the full review

Quill & Quire

“…Good Morning, Grumple is a sweet story about a sleepy fox-like creature ­­- who does not want to get up in the morning – and the patient mother who knows exactly what to do.

Author Victoria Allenby – whose debut picture books, Nat the Cat Can Sleep Like That, won the 2014 Preschool Reads Award – succeeds once again in crafting a charming tale befitting the kindie set. Just as the mother in Good Morning, Grumple tries different tactics to awaken her sleepy-headed child, Allenby incorporates different narrative styles, moving deftly from rhyming couplets to sing-song lyrics to abrupt variances in rhythm that allow for recalibration and reflection….

The mixed media and paper-collage illustrations by four-time Governor General’s Literary Award nominee Manon Gauthier are rustic in appearance, but convey great depths of emotion….The child-like quality of Gauthier’s work matches the story’s sweet and tender tone, while the gradual increase in text size as the book progresses is a great representation of the experience of waking up and embracing the morning….”
—Sarah Sorensen

Read the full review on page 37 of the May 2017 issue of Quill & Quire

Resource Links

“This book is a wonderful invitation to celebrate morning and waking up routines….

Manon Gauthier’s illustrations are very unique and appear to be photographs of drawings on paper cut out and assembled/pasted in a collage-like style. They are reminiscent of the art of childhood, without being too childish. Children will relate to them as to something they could have created and in fact, this style would be a great one to have children try as an extension to the book. This is a unique and endearing title that will be a toddler favourite, especially for the ‘Grumples’!”

Thematic Links: Daily Routines/Time of Day; Emotions; Feelings
—Erin Hansen

Read the full review on page 1 of the February 2017 issue of Resource Links

CM Magazine

“Victoria Allenby’s sweet, lyrical text is rhythmic and loving, and it includes plenty of opportunities for interaction between toddlers and their caregivers….Sweet, simple and loving, Good Morning, Grumple would be a lovely addition to a toddler’s morning wake-up routine and is sure to help start the day off with a smile.
—Jane Whittingham is a librarian in Vancouver, BC.

Click here to read the full review

Canadian Children’s BookNews

“In rhyming verse, Allenby describes just how hard it can be to wake a sleeping grumple and offers up a gentle song to soften a sometimes-tricky transition….

Manon Gauthier’s simple collage illustrations give this book a handmade feel. She has made charming use of crayon, pencil, paint and scissors. Gauthier has cast the two main characters—mother and child—as black-and-white foxes, and she has successfully (and most amusingly) captured Grumple’s resistance to waking up….

Taking time in the morning to read together in bed is a fantastic idea—grumples may even look forward to it! It might also offer the adult grumples out there a chance to slow down and reconnect before rushing out the door.”

Read the full review on page 28 in the Summer 2017 issue of Canadian Children’s BookNews

Midwest Book Review

“Thoroughly ‘kid friendly’ in tone and presentation, Good Morning, Grumple combines author Victoria Alleby’s imaginative flair for original storytelling with Manon Gautheir’s charming illustrations….Simply stated, Good Morning, Grumple is unreservedly and enthusiastically recommended for family, preschool, and community library collections.”

Click here to read the full review

Midwest Book Review

“[A] story which is gently told with some fun drawings to enhance the waking-up experience.”

Click here to read the full review

Montreal Review of Books

“Not everyone is a morning person, and Good Morning, Grumple is a story in rhyme that offers a solution to those grumpy feelings that overtake many of us when forced to greet another new day. Written by Victoria Allenby and illustrated using a combination of mixed media and collage by Manon Gauthier, this picture book introduces us to Grumple at his worst….

Good Morning, Grumple is a sweet spin on what can be a stressful morning routine that is sure to please both pre-school kids and their parents.”

Click here to read the full review

CanLit for LittleCanadians

“…In Good Morning, Grumple, a mother fox, who has obviously endured many a morning struggling to get a grumpy young one in rumpled bed clothes out of bed, attempts the near impossible feat with an established process of rhyming song and accompanying actions….

Every household must have one or two grumples, and Victoria Allenby has contrived a playful way of rousing them to waking….[L]ittle ones will delight in the role they get to play, even if it means ultimately getting out of bed.

Victoria Allenby has proven that she can write light and refreshing books for pre-readers and early readers…but now she’s bringing that novelty to helping parents parent, all without preaching about how to do it right….

Manon Gauthier lends her trademark cut paper collage…to Good Morning, Grumple, establishing evocative scenes with her artistry. Colour is limited but effective, with the neutrality of a grumple atmosphere evident throughout. No grumple would ever see much in the way of colour before deigning to open his/her eyes completely, and Manon Gauthier supports this premise wholeheartedly. But Manon Gauthier refuses to keep things stark and uninspiring. All indoor and outdoor scenes, before and after waking, are freckled with birds, flowers, and household furnishings and decorations that invite readers in. Collage art has never been so expressive and atmospheric.

Enjoy the smaller and inviting format of Good Morning, Grumple with Pajama Press’ unique padded cover, rounded corners and heavy-duty paper that make it a pleasure to hold….”

Click here to read the full review

Raising Mom

DESCRIPTION:

This book is a delightful invitation to celebrate waking-up routines. The gentle rhyming text is engaging without being too wordy, and there is opportunity for the reader to create their own short melody to sing the mother’s songs as a way to personalize the story. Manon Gauthier’s illustrations are very unique and appear to be photographs of hand-done drawings on paper cut out and pasted in a paper collage. This is a unique and endearing title that will be a toddler favourite, especially for the ‘Grumples’!

MY EXPERIENCE:

My 3-year old was fascinated with the illustrations in this book and with the creature being called ‘Grumple’. It took her two readings to connect ‘grumple’ to grumpy and she was thrilled with herself for making the connection. She helped me make up a tune to put the mother’s songs to music, which was fun for us both. The 23-month old twins have enjoyed listening to this, too, and have excitedly pointed at the engaging illustrations – they have evoked a reaction for sure! They noticed the point in the story when Grumple’s frown turned into a smile and enjoy hearing the short songs that their sister and I set to our own tune(s). My kids most often wake up happy, but on the rare days when they don’t, I’ve coaxed smiles from them each time I’ve read them this title!…”

Click here to read the full review

My Beautiful Birds Reviews

Posted on December 27th, 2016 by pajamapress

The New York Times

“If you’ve been wondering how to mybeautifulbirds_websitepresent the refugee crisis to children without losing faith in humanity, take a look at this graceful, even uplifting book. Del Rizzo’s stunning dimensional art, made mostly of clay, can’t help feeling playful, and the story brims with hope.”

Click here to read the full review

Quill & Quire **Starred Review**

“These skillful and imaginative illustrations – created with Plasticine, polymer clay, and other media – give a sense of dimension, which is enhanced by striking and unusual perspectives. My Beautiful Birds is a lovely, timely book.
Gwyneth Evans

Read the full review on page 43 of the January/February 2017 issue of Quill & Quire

The Horn Book Magazine

Beauty and sorrow sit side by side in this compassionate and age-appropriate depiction of contemporary refugee life.

Click here to view The Horn Book Magazine’s post on books about refugee children

School Library Journal

“Exquisite dimensional illustrations using Plasticine, polymer clay, and other media bring a unique, lifelike quality to the page, enriching Sami’s story to its fullest potential when paired with the often lyrical prose. VERDICT A stunning offering for libraries wishing to add to their collection of hopeful yet realistic refugee tales.”
—Brittany Drehobl, Eisenhower Public Library District, IL

Read the full review in the March 2017 issue of School Library Journal or click here to read it in the School Library Journal Spotlight “9 Refugee Stories for Kids and Teens”

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

“Suzanne Del Rizzo’s My Beautiful Birds articulately conveys the experiences of a child displaced by war in Syria….Intricately detailed and lifelike, the polymer clay and mixed-media illustrations combine with the understated first-person narrative to communicate Sami’s circumstances, heartbreak, and healing process. Through this emotionally accessible story…readers begin to understand Sami’s plight, and to gain awareness and insight into the lives of the many children facing calamity across the globe. An author’s note provides background and a link to resources about the Syrian conflict and the refugee crisis.”
—Joy Fleishhacker

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

Kirkus Reviews

Del Rizzo uses her considerable talent with paint, Plasticine, and polymer clay to create the colorful, highly textured illustrations for this book, which she conceived while searching for a way to explain the Syrian civil war to her young children. Based on a real refugee child who keeps birds, this story isn’t about war but its effect on those who experience it and survive. This story of one frightened little boy who finds strength in caring for animals and uses that strength to comfort other kids is an excellent means of explaining a difficult subject to young children. (author’s note) (Picture book. 4-10)

Click here to read the full review

Booklist

“Using intricate sculpted-clay artwork, Canadian author-illustrator Del Rizzo tells the story of a fictional family’s escape from war-torn Syria. While war isn’t mentioned specifically in the text, readers will get an immediate sense of danger as they observe the family fleeing from a burning city…[T]his story draws attention to an important world issue without subjecting young readers to its harshest realities.”
Julia Smith

Read the full review on page 102 of the January 2017 issue of Booklist

ILA Literacy Daily, “Stories of Young Immigrants and Refugees”

“These refugee and immigrant narratives teach readers about language, culture, history, geography, and politics while providing insight into the human experience. The books reviewed in this column follow the journeys of young people and their families as they leave different parts of the world in pursuit of happiness and security.…

Illustrations in polymer clay and acrylic paint show Sami’s slow transition into in his new life. The author’s note provides context about the Syrian war and information about the refugee camps.”

Click here to read the full review and roundup

Resource Links

“…With its elegant prose and beautiful clay illustrations, this book tells a timely story through the voice of a Syrian refugee. It is important to provide readers with perspectives different than their own, and this book may be particularly relevant for Canadian readers due to the influx of Syrian refugees into Canada. My Beautiful Birds is a very well-executed book that provides a window into the life of a refugee while also being a pleasure to read.”
—Alice Albarda

Read the full review on page 5 of the February 2017 issue of Resource Links

Canadian Children’s BookNews

“The images are multi-dimensional and seem to almost jump off the page. They are extremely captivating and add even more depth to the already engaging story that accompanies them. In addition to all of its many amazing aspects, My Beautiful Birds is a stunning tool to teach children about what goes on in the world outside their own backyards.”

Read the full review on page 29 of the Spring 2017 issue of Canadian Children’s BookNews

49th Shelf

“A gentle yet moving story of refugees of the Syrian civil war, My Beautiful Birds illuminates the ongoing crisis as it affects its children. It shows the reality of the refugee camps, where people attempt to pick up their lives and carry on. And it reveals the hope of generations of people as they struggle to redefine home.”

Click here to read the full review

Youth Services Book Review

What did you like about the book? Sami, a recent Syrian refugee, explores his very powerful, personal perspective of the pain, healing and hope of his resettlement ordeal. Suzanne Del Rizzo’s incredible attention to each detail in the story line, dialogue and exceptionally detailed polymer clay and acrylic art work of the landscape and living conditions, beautifully combines to allow the reader to absorb the profound emotional loss that Sami has experienced and continues daily. The hopeful symbolism of reconnecting with his beloved birds begins his self-healing process that takes flight in the community and spreads as he welcomes his newest refugee friend. I appreciated that the book did not explain, blame or discuss any political themes, leaving these questions outside Sami’s innocent mind, allowing him to focus on reality, humanity and survival. I hope this book inspires others to realize the daily plight of refugees. I appreciated the “Author’s Note” on the last page that simply outlined facts about the refugee crisis, sadly noting that half of those displaced are innocent children like Sami.

Anything you didn’t like about it? NO, it was well thought out and executed beautifully.

To whom would you recommend this book? Everyone that works in any small way for social justice and peace, parents that want to expose and inspire young children to social justice issues, ministers, religious education teachers., community organizers.”
—Diane Neylon

Click here to read the full review

Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast

“Coming to shelves in March is Suzanne Del Rizzo’s My Beautiful Birds (Pajama Press), a new book specifically about Syrian refugees. Rendered in bright and textured polymer clay and acrylic, it’s the story of a boy named Sami, leaving his Syrian home (with a sky full of smoke) to escape war…. Del Rizzo writes in an arresting first-person, present-tense voice, the story coming straight from the boy’s point of view and giving us a glimpse into his inner turmoil….In a closing author’s note, she summarizes the plight of Syrian refugees, singling out the work of the United Nations Refugee Agency. In her bio, she notes what prompted this story — reading about a boy who “took solace in a connection with wild birds at the Za’atari refugee camp” in Jordan and being struck by “the universality of a child’s relationship to animals.”

Click here to read the full review

Let’s Talk Picture Books

My Beautiful Birds, written and illustrated by Suzanne Del Rizzo, sheds a light on the ongoing Syrian Refugee crisis and its effects on its children. The narrative follows a boy named Sami who is uprooted from home, leaving behind all of the birds he’d grown to love and care for. My Beautiful Birds shows the reality of refugee camps and ultimately provides hope for people in search of a new place in life….As beautiful as the story is, the illustrations are even more so. Del Rizzo creates her illustrations from acrylic paint and polymer clay, so the texture is out of this world. With each page flip it feels like we can reach out and touch the illustrations. We can even see Del Rizzo’s fingerprints! But of course she doesn’t stop there: each illustration also features rich colors, thoughtful composition, and a keen sense of light. I would love to talk about each and every spread (and I would love to show you more of them!) but this is a book worth seeing for yourself.”

Click here to read the full review

Geo Librarian

“I think my favorite thing about this book…are the gorgeous illustrations. Using…polymer clay, and other mixed media Del Rizzo has created illustrations that really pop out at you. The story itself really touched my heart…here we have a young boy who has lost his home, his pets, pretty much his whole world, and he grieves the loss, but when new birds fly into his life, he finds a reason to rejoice despite his humble circumstances.”

Click here to read the full review

Omnilibros

“Rich, textured illustrations fashioned from Plasticene, polymer clay, and other mixed media complement this moving story of one young refugee’s experience in the Syrian civil war. An author’s note gives information about refugee camps and the Syrian conflict.”

Click here to read the full review

A Kids Book A Day

“A personal story about a contemporary crisis that gives readers a child narrator they can relate to. The illustrations, created from polymer clay, are unique and eye-catching. This would make a great introduction to a discussion of Syria and refugees.”

Click here to read the full review

Oregon Coast Youth Book Preview Center

“This is a gorgeous book that had me in tears- it captures the fear and grief felt by a Syrian child refugee living in the Za’atari refugee camp in Jordan…. There is an author’s note giving some background on the war in Syria and the particular refugee camp, and a website with further information. This link shows what the camp looks like: http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-23801200. VERDICT: This is a must for all public and school libraries. The refugee situation will only get worse with time, and we need to educate ourselves and our kids about it.”
—Carol Schramm

Click here to read the full review

CanLit for LittleCanadians

“In My Beautiful Birds, author-illustrator Suzanne Del Rizzo offers a poignant story of a Syrian child refugee traumatized by leaving his cherished pigeons behind. It is a tale of sorrow and suffering and promise, and beautifully rendered in Suzanne Del Rizzo’s distinctive art….The sadness and trauma in this little boy’s life is so palpable, from the family’s departure to their adjustment to the refugee camp and to the despondency that permeates Sami’s new life. Through use of colour and the texture of her art–here polymer clay with acrylics–Suzanne Del Rizzo balances the shadows of war and trauma with the bright colours of youthful exuberance and pastels of hope for a future. There’s the tumultuous skies and the ordinary days, and the anger of loss with the chirpiness of birds and children at play. I know the excellence of her art, complex in the depth of detail and its ability to evoke emotions. But Suzanne Del Rizzo has demonstrated a new depth to her writing. Perhaps it’s the tragic circumstances of the story but Suzanne Del Rizzo has put heart and hope into her words, giving breath to a staggering situation, suffusing it with some degree of optimism where there is so little. My Beautiful Birds provides a promise that all the darkness from that Syrian skyline of smoke is behind Sami and remains open to a bright sky of birds and lightness, the landscape of his future.”

Click here to read the full review

Pickle Me This

“In Suzanne Del Rizzo’s picture book, My Beautiful Birds, a young Syrian boy is forced to leave his wartorn home and make the long journey to the relative safety of a refugee camp. The story is enlivened by Del Rizzo’s plasticine illustrations with their rich purple and golden hues. Of all the things that Sami has left behind, it’s his pigeons he misses the most, the birds he fed and kept and as pets….Where he finds solace, though, is in the sky, one thing that is familiar to him, ‘wait[ing] like a loyal friend for me to remember.’ In the clouds, he sees the shapes of his birds: ‘Spiralling. Soaring. Sharing the sky.’”

Click here to read the full review

Library of Clean Reads

“My son and I both loved this story and the dimensional illustrations that the author created through Plasticine, polymer clay and other mixed media. The birds especially are so detailed, they come alive and seem to pop out of the pages. Every page was a delight to explore. Truly a work of art….

Although this is a story about war, it is hopeful and uplifting. It helps young ones to understand what is happening in our world and how we all have the same needs. A variety of emotions are explored in this book: sadness, fear, anger, hope and compassion. It’s a book that can open up dialogue between parent and child.

My Beautiful Birds should be included in all school libraries. It’s a keeper in our home. And has made it on our list of Best Reads of 2017.”

Click here to read Laura Fabiani’s full review

“My heart was so touched by this poignant story…It’s a gentle, moving book that parents can use to help their own children to understand the world in which they live.

This talented Canadian author has produced a sensitive, moving account of what life is like in traumatic, emotionally-wrenching events experienced by so many people.

I highly recommend My Beautiful Birds.”

Click here to read Sandra Olshaski’s full review

Sal’s Fiction Addiction

“…As books can do, this second release from Pajama Press today helps those who read it to see through a window into others’ experiences and to begin to understand and empathize with their journey to a new life. Suzanne Del Rizzo imagines what it might have been like for Sami’s family. War sends them scrambling on a long trek to a refugee camp. The realities of life there are grim, especially for Sami who had to travel without his much loved pigeons…. A closing author’s note provides information for her readers concerning work being done to help refugees by the United Nations Refugee Agency. The original art was created with polymer clay and acrylic, and also includes children’s paintings on the endpapers. The inside images are colorful, textured and appealing. I found myself particularly attracted to the striking and unexpected variety in perspective. There are the dark shadows of war; there is also light-filled promise for a better future. Books like this are needed to help our students and children begin to understand the plight of refugees around the world. Heartfelt and timely, this book deserves to be shared.”

Click here to read the full review

All Booked Up Now

My Beautiful Birds written and illustrated by @suzannedelrizzo and published by @pajamapressbooks. This is a beautiful story about Sami and his family fleeing home and headed to a refugee camp….This is such a beautifully illustrated book with such a heartwarming story….Stories like these remind me how blessed I am that my children have food, clothing and shelter and don’t have to worry about adult responsibilities at such young ages. Suzanne was inspired to write this story after reading an article about a little boy who found peace with wild birds at a refugee camp in Syria….”

Read the full review on the @allbookedupnow Instagram account

Getting Kids Reading

My Beautiful Birds, written and illustrated by Suzanne Del Rizzo, is a beautiful book that will help get your child reading….This is a good book to read to your child as a bedtime story. The way language is used in the book is beautifully poetic, and even soothing….[The language use] will get your child hooked on reading, as they realize that a vivid image can be painted in their head from just a simple line or paragraph. The child won’t be able to wait until the next plot advancement or change in scenery….Also, this story tells a tale that could have taken hundreds of pages, and beautifully condenses it into 32 pages. Which brings us to the stunning clay art pictures….The emotions conveyed in just the pictures alone will further strengthen the picture in your child’s mind that has been depicted by the strong descriptive vocabulary.”­
—Bennett Duncan

Click here to read the full review

Orange Marmalade

“Based on the experiences of a young boy in the Za’atari refugee camp in Jordan, this glimpse of the overarching as well as deeply personal, individual losses for refugee children is poignant but not too heavy. Colorful, clay-sculpted illustrations create friendly, engaging visuals as well.”

Click here to read the full review

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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.”

Click here to read the full post

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

Click here to read the full blog post

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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“[M]any will relate to Timo’s very human worries about his party skills. A recipe for apple banana cake appears on the final page. This warmhearted animal tale is a good choice for settings where longer stories for newly independent readers are needed.”

Click here to read the full review

Resource Links

“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

Youth Services Book Review

Rating: 1-5 (5 is an excellent or a Starred review) 4

What did you like about the book? …This is one in the series on Timo the Rabbit. All are charming, enhanced by the wonderfully colorful and detailed illustrations by Dean Griffiths.

Anything you did not like about this book? Not a thing.”
—Katrina Yurenka, Moderator, Youth Services Book Review

Click here to read the full review

CanLit for LittleCanadians

“…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: A New Beginning for Yellowstone National Park 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

Canadian Children’s BookNews

“This could be complicated subject matter for younger audiences to assimilate, but Celia Godkin, acclaimed environmental writer and illustrator for children, has presented the material persuasively in clear, direct language. From the initial release of the wolves, it is systematically shown how one change in the ecosystem leads to the next, leaving readers in awe of the fascinating chain of life and fragile balance of nature.

The text is enhanced by compelling, vivid illustrations. Thirteen double-page spreads reveal different habitats within the park, such as woodland and ponds, each populated by various new species of wildlife….There is also a two-page summary explaining the wolves’ extinction in the United States and a brief explanation of the project.

Aimed at young children, adults and older children will also find wonder and a salutary message in this handsome book that prompts much thought on the complexity and resilience of nature.”
—Aileen Wortley

Read the full review on page 23 in the Summer 2017 issue of Canadian Children’s BookNews

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

Sals Fiction Addiction

“Celia Godkin does a truly admirable job of presenting the [Yellowstone Park] project in terms children will understand. The language is clear, the telling is positive and brings awareness for the remarkable results….

Those changes are portrayed in detailed mixed media artwork. The double page spreads clearly show the park and its dramatic change – all through the introduction of the gray wolf. The settings beautifully display the grandeur of the park, and the interdependence of the species living there. Don’t miss having a close look at the endpapers. The illustrations there may result in further research for interested children.

Written for a younger audience, it will have impact for older readers as well. While much is learned about biodiversity and the environment, it is presented in a most appealing format. Never did I feel that it was written to teach me something. It is simply a story of life in a very special environment.”

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.”

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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.”

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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.”

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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

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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.”

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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.”

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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