Two Times a Traitor Reviews

Posted on March 3rd, 2017 by pajamapress

KirkusTwoTimesATraitor_Website

“The past is accurately and engagingly depicted, and Laz’s reactions to the harsh conditions, especially bad food and filth, are totally believable….[T]ime travel is a thrilling concept, and the tale overflows with compelling action…”

Click here to read the full review

CM Magazine

Two Times a Traitor is a coming-of-age novel about a boy who inadvertently time-travels back to 1745 where he finds himself in a war. He also finds a father-figure and grows as a person….

The plot of Two Times a Traitor is carefully woven and tension-filled….

Richness of detail, the result of the author’s careful research, helps the reader suspend disbelief and be caught up in the story….

Young readers will identify with likeable Laz and will enjoy the drama and fast pace of Two Times a Traitor.

Recommended.”
Ruth Latta

Click here to read the full review

Winnipeg Free Press

“Combining time travel with swash-buckling adventure, Alberta author Karen Bass has written a sure-to-be favourite with middle readers, Two Times a Traitor….

This novel has enough action to suit the most demanding reader….

Highly recommended for ages 9-12.”

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? Laz’s growth in the book is evident. Hard times often force maturity and Laz dealt with his situation well considering. The connections Laz made to those around him were especially poignant….

To whom would you recommend this book? Any child looking for regional historic fiction like Forbes’ Johnny Tremain.”
—Sadina Shawver, Robbins Library, Arlington, MA

Click here to read the full review

CanLit for LittleCanadians

“…Karen Bass knows how to seamlessly weave a bit of the unexpected into her fiction, as she did in her suspenseful The Hill (Pajama Press, 2016), and as she does in Two Times a Traitor which blends a contemporary setting with Canada’s past in Louisbourg 1745 through the use of time slip….

While taking the reader into both sides of the 1745 siege of Louisbourg, Karen Bass makes sure that Two Times a Traitor is about Laz recognizing what home is to him….Readers will adore the action adventure story of Two Times a Traitor but its story of historical events is extraordinary and not to be relegated to second place. Karen Bass does comprehensive research, providing astounding detail to setting and characters, plunging readers into the fray that was war. By allowing Laz to be part of both sides and emphasizing his confusion about which side to favour, Karen Bass allows readers to see the conflict from different perspectives and takes history away from the one-sidedness of most textbooks. Moreover, she allows us to see that conflict, whether personal or historical, always has two sides that need to be seen. Resolution may be amicable or there may be victors and those defeated, but how it plays out is all about point of view.”

Click here to read the full review

Recently Read

Two Times a Traitor is the newest endeavor by multi-nominated and celebrated Canadian author, Karen Bass.

Two Times a Traitor is a surprising departure from what YA readers have come to expect from this dynamic author….Readers will be swept up and away in this riveting middle-grade historical/time travel nail biting adventure, and into the pages of an exciting part of Canadian history!

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!!! [for Junior and Intermediate readers!]

FIVE STARS!!”

Click here to read the full review

Canadian Bookworm

“This story is of a boy, moving from a rebellious pre-teen to an assured young man as he is forced to deal with his situation on his own. A wonderful read incorporating Canadian history and a great character.”

Click here to read the full review

Jill Jemmett

“This is a great story. The historical aspects are really good for middle-grade students. Canadian history isn’t taught as much as it should be in school, so this story would be a great supplement for kids.

Though Canada’s 150th anniversary is being celebrated this year, this story demonstrates how Canada’s history goes far beyond 150 years….

This is a great story for middle grade readers!”

Click here to read the full review

Water’s Children Reviews

Posted on February 21st, 2017 by pajamapress

Kirkus Reviewswaterschildren_website

“Twelve children from different areas of the world offer lyrical reflections on what water means to them. To Delaunois’ fictive cast water invariably sparks positive feelings…Though the specific locale of each young speaker is keyed only by a watermarked version of ‘Water is life’ embedded in the illustration that is translated into his or her script and language (identified in a list at the end), Frischeteau varies the skin color and, albeit in an idealized way, facial features of his human figures. He also often adds characteristic wildlife, national dress, or other cues to each locale.…A tribute to the essential substance, washed free of preachiness or even faintly cautionary messages.”

Click here to read the full review

CM Magazine

“…Because the book is beautifully illustrated in vibrant colours, readers can vividly see how children live around the world. Gérard Frischeteau, a well-known animator, commercial artist and illustrator from Montreal, QC, is billed as a perfectionist, and it shows in the authenticity of the children and their environments on each double-page spread….Both the text and the illustrations serve to unify the world in a common theme, something that isn’t often done well in children’s books, but is done in both a matter of fact and sensitive way by Delaunois and Frischeteau.

The text is poetic and would be wonderful read-aloud with, by and for children to demonstrate that water doesn’t just flow out of a tap. Water is often taken for granted, and Water’s Children is a unique way to introduce the importance of water throughout the world. Set to be published on Earth Day 2017, it is destined to become a new classic…

The final page of Water’s Children teaches the reader the languages and regions covered in the book, and the endpapers are swirling blues, mauves and whites of water, reminding the reader of the beauty, necessity and power of water in our world.

Highly Recommended.

—Jill Griffith is the Youth Services Manager at Red Deer Public Library in Red Deer, AB.

Click here to read the full review

Resource Links

“[A] unique title that explores the vital importance of water…Written in poetic form, each two-page spread features a child from a different country who was invited by the author to share what water means to them in their life and surroundings. Each does so in their own language, and their (translated) answers are inspiring….The illustrations are gorgeous and tailored to represent a familiar depiction of each of the twelve narrators’ homeland….

This title is suitable for older toddlers through to primary school students and would be a wonderful addition to a personal, school, or public library collection. It reads like a crossover between a picture book, poetry, and a non-fiction title. Highly recommended.”

Thematic Links: Water; Conservation; Cultural Diversity
Erin Hansen

Read the full review on page 14 of the April 2017 issue of Resource Links

Midwest Book Review

“Accompanied by the glowing illustrations of Gerard Frischeteau, Water’s Children by Angele Delaunois (and ably translated into English by Erin Woods) is a celebration of our world’s most precious resource and will encourage thoughtful discussion among young readers and listeners. A unique and memorable picture book…Unreservedly and enthusiastically recommended for children ages 4 to 8, Water’s Children will prove to be an enduringly popular and appreciated addition to family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library picture book collections.”

Click here to read the full review

Hakai Magazine

“Responsible stewardship is written between the lines of Water’s Children, a picture book that offers a snapshot of what water means to different children around the world….Translated from French, the simple text is beautifully illustrated by Gérard Frischeteau. The author and illustrator seamlessly show that water is, indeed, life.”

Click here to read the full review

CanLit for LittleCanadians

“…Quebec author, visual artist and publisher Angèle Delaunois takes the reader across the world to witness the importance of water to the children of different countries….Canada is represented by two spreads, one from Quebec and one from Nunavut, both which speak in terms of what is most familiar to young Canadian readers….

While other texts and illustrations will be familiar or at least obvious such as the Russian child of a fishing village and the rain experienced by an urban child in Germany, many spreads will rouse thoughtful discussions of unfamiliar depictions of water….

The artwork of Montreal animator, graphic artist and illustrator Gérard Frischeteau rings with authenticity, depicting each global child in both personal and expansive landscapes, often providing details about daily life and family….

In fact, ‘Water is Life’ is a special touch in Water’s Children. On watermarks adorning each spread, the term ‘water is life’ is translated into a corresponding language, including French, Inuktitut, Catalan, German, Portuguese, Tamil, Arabic and Wolof with a final listing of all regions and languages represented in the book.

I know I’ve listed the reading audience as 4 to 8 years of age but don’t follow that. Water’s Children’s audience should read “All ages” or “Everyone” because it is an extraordinarily inspirational examination of the importance of water throughout the world. You can save it for World Water Day (March 22) but I recommend it for this weekend’s Earth Day (April 22) and anytime meaningful attention be paid to a global resource i.e., always.”

Click here to read the full review

Sal’s Fiction Addiction

“…In this book about water in its many forms, we are introduced to twelve children of the world, quick to share what it means to them. They have been invited by the author to share their thoughts. They do so in their own language, and their answers will inspire those children who share it to voice their own thoughts and may lead to valuable discussion about its importance to every one of us.

Written in poetic form, and accompanied by light-infused illustrations that are full of life and detail, it is a book that will be appreciated in classrooms and at home. Water is our most precious resource, and each speaker honors that….”

Click here to read the full review

Raising Mom

“…DESCRIPTION: This unique title reads like a crossover between a picture book, poem(s), and a non-fiction title. The necessity of water is focused through the lens of its vital importance to twelve children from different countries….The ultimate goal of the book is to spark discussion (and hopefully a plan for conservancy) about the vital role that water plays to each of us. The illustrations are vivid and each showcases a snapshot of each of the twelve ‘narrator’s’ homelands….

MY EXPERIENCE:

My 3-yo and I spent a lot of time pouring over this title. Our eyes were drawn to the first names of the twelve narrators that are listed in the dedication at the front of the book – as I read them, she recognized that some sounded different to her ears and we explored the concept that there are a wide variety of names and pronunciations for children from around the world. My daughter was able to recognize that each two-page spread was depicting a specific locale and we discussed things that were similar and different to our surroundings in each different depiction of a homeland. What a great discussion about diversity. She easily grasped the idea that water exists all over the world and is of vital importance to everyone. We ended our reading by brainstorming ways that we can help conserve the water around us and in our household, specifically.

LIKES:

  • vibrant and eye-catching illustrations
  • lyrical and poetic text that is vocabulary-rich (a great chance to learn new words!)
  • strong conservation message without being too heavy-handed. The message is clearly sent, but beautifully conveyed
  • effective hybrid of fiction/poem/non-fiction…”

Click here to read the full review

Kids’ BookBuzz

“We rated this book: [5/5]

Water’s Children: Celebrating the Resource that Unites us All is a fantastic book that shows how children around the world see water….

I really liked Water’s Children. It made me think about how lucky I am to have water whenever I want. A few years ago in Texas, we were in a drought and couldn’t water our lawns and the lake was really low, but it was not as hard to get water as in other places in the world. I loved flipping to the back of the book and seeing where each child was from and what language ‘Water is Life’ was translated into. This was my favorite thing about the book. The illustrations were fantastic and gave me a good idea what it was like for the children living in the different parts of the world. I think Water’s Children would be a great book to read on Earth Day.”
—Jewel – Age 9

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? Water is essential to life. This book travels around the world illustrating the different uses of water: bathing, drinking swimming, watering the plants. Sometimes it appears as snow or frost or ice. Water is the ocean where there is so much life, above which gulls soar. Water is essential to life – around the world beautifully illustrated here by Gerard Frischeteau.

Anything you did not like about this book? No.

To whom would you recommend this book? This book would work well as a storytime for kindergarteners through 2nd grade followed by discussion. It could be used as a stepping-off point for essays.”
Katrina Yurenka, Moderator, Youth Services Book Review

Click here to read the full review

Youth Services Book Review

Rating: 4…

What did you like about the book? Each page of this book features a child or children in a different part of the world expressing what water means to him or her. There are warm climate settings, cold climate settings, town, farm, forest and desert settings. There is a balance of boys and girls depicted. Most are interacting with the water (or its products). Each page also shows how to write ‘water is life’ in the language the child would speak in that region….[A] perfect set-up for a discussion during story time, a writing activity for older elementary students, a thoughtful art activity for children of any age.

The text itself is poetic and dreamy. On repeated readings, it is almost a lullaby and could become a bedtime story.

There are different colors and moods on every page. On some, the children look happy. Some are playing and some are working. Some pages are gloomy. Young readers will understand, through the text and illustrations, that some children struggle to get the water they need to drink and produce food….

Should we (librarians/readers) put this on the top of our “to read” piles? Due to this year’s summer reading theme and the fact that drought, fracking, water access and water rights are so much in the news, yes.”
—Robin Shtulman, Athol Public Library, Athol, MA

Click here to read the full review

Waiting for Sophie Reviews

Posted on February 17th, 2017 by pajamapress

Kirkus Reviewswaitingforsophie_website

“Waiting for a little sister to be born and then waiting for her to grow up can be trying, but it eventually has its rewards….Nana-Downstairs sets the tone for this down-to-earth, sweet but never mushy story. The accompanying illustrations have a simple, gentle quality that neatly matches the story. The hand-printing-style type used for the text also complements the story and is easy for readers entering the world of early chapter books to decode. Warmth and quiet humor capture the realities of a new baby in the house.”

Click here to read the full review

School Library Journal

“This early chapter book offers a relatable story for intermediate readers, who will empathize with the frustrations of waiting for a younger sibling to become old enough to be a playmate. Cartoonish character illustrations on most pages enhance the text. VERDICT A sweet and tender addition for libraries looking for more new sibling materials or titles about patience.”

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

Publishers Weekly

“The arrival of a new baby sibling conjures mixed emotions for a boy named Liam in this sweet and relatable story from [Sarah] Ellis…[Carmen] Mok’s warm digital illustrations tenderly depict Liam’s moments of adjustment…”

Click here to read the full review

CM Magazine

“Sarah Ellis is one of Canada’s most successful writer of children’s books (Back of BeyondBen Overnight, and several volumes in the “I, Canada” series). She is also a critic, a teacher and a librarian.

Utilizing the trope of “new baby – concerned older brother – problem with new baby – happy ending”, Ellis begins her story with Liam, who looks about six, being woken up by Nana-Downstairs, a hip lady in pants and designer specs. Mom and Dad have gone to the hospital because new sister Sophie is on the way.

Ellis’ trademark wry humour comes into play almost immediately…

Carmen Mok, who has many picturebook and magazine credits to her name, has graced the pages with some charming digitally-created art with the look of watercolours, mostly images of the characters in the story. The font chosen is a large, clear one, and the layout beckons new readers of ‘chapter books’ to give it a try. The book would also be appropriate for a slighter younger audience for reading aloud.

Waiting for Sophie is a fine addition to library collections, especially those requiring more easy novels with contemporary themes.

Highly Recommended.
Ellen Heaney

Click here to read the full review

Resource Links

“…Liam loves to play with little Sophie, and everyone says that he is her favourite person. However, even after three weeks, Sophie is still just lying in her crib. It is taking much too long for little Sophie to grow up and to be able to play with him….How will Liam learn to cope?

This is a beautifully written chapter book about the relationship between Liam and his new baby sister Sophie….Young Liam is an appealing character who loves his little sister, but definitely wants her to grow up quickly so that she will not break his toys, and will be able to play with him. Throughout the story, Liam learns how to love his sister, but more importantly, learns how to be more patient with her. The illustrations are colourful and filled with lots of detail which adds to the narrative….This is a gentle story which will definitely appeal to young readers with siblings, as well as the adults who care for them!

Thematic Links: Sibling Relationships; Babies; Family Relationships; Grandparents; Building; Playing With Young Children; Patience”
—Myra Junyk

Read the full review on page 9-10 of the April 2017 issue of Resource Links

City Book Reviews

“Author Sarah Ellis has written a sweet story that will help youngsters understand the process of becoming an older sibling and how much patience is needed. This is not a typical picture book but is more like an early reader with quite a bit of text.

The soft, charming illustrations by Carmen Mok complete the story and will keep youngsters engaged. This will probably work best as a read-aloud for four- to six-year-olds, but older kids will be able to read it on their own.”

Click here to read the full review

Midwest Book Review

Waiting for Sophie is an original and heartwarming story for children ages 5 to 8. Nicely enhanced with the colorful artwork of Carmen Mok, and especially appropriate for young readers making the transition from picture books to chapter books, Waiting for Sophie is very highly recommended for family, elementary school and community library Children’s Fiction collections.”

Click here to read the full review

The Bookshelf Corner

“A cute story that teaches children about patience. It’s especially perfect for parents to read to their small (only) child when there’s another on the way.

Carmen Mok does a wonderful job with the illustrations and I love the color palette she chose….

Sarah Ellis has a way with words; I would read more books by her.”

Click here to read the full review

CanLit for LittleCanadians

“Waiting can be so hard for little ones, especially when it’s for a baby sister who is taking her time being born and growing up so you can play with her. And this waiting is just about killing little Liam….

Sarah Ellis gives Liam a voice that is so filled with hope about his new sister and the promise of having a familial playmate that even his frustrations are natural and unfeigned. He speaks with his heart, never with meanness or anger, though he acknowledges the annoyance of biding his time. Sophie has a great big brother. And, although Waiting for Sophie is an early reader, rather than a picture book, the illustrations by Carmen Mok augment Sarah Ellis’ story with the innocence and family that the author’s words already convey.

Young children being challenged to read their first chapter books will appreciate this early reader as it will undoubtedly speak to them. So many know the anguish of waiting, whether for a new sibling to be born or some other significant life event, and will easily put themselves in Liam’s shoes. Maybe they’ll undertake their own DIY project, with a little help from an adult, or maybe they’ll find their own coping strategies but you can be sure that they’ll appreciate Liam’s story of Waiting for Sophie and the fun that can be had with it.”

Click here to read the full review

Sal’s Fiction Addiction

“[Sarah Ellis] constantly writes strong stories that have lasting impact for her audience. Many remain on my ‘keepers’ shelf to now be shared with my granddaughters….

In this early chapter book, she introduces us to Liam and his family. Upon meeting him we learn that his parents have gone to the hospital in hopes that baby Sophie will soon arrive. Liam is super excited, but wants everything to happen now!…

Sarah Ellis tells another timeless story with beautifully chosen text and Carmen Mok matches the tone of the story perfectly with gentle images and soft colors….”

Click here to read the full review

Mom Read It

“…Waiting for Sophie is a great older sibling book for younger school-age kids. Sarah Ellis not only captures the excitement of waiting for a new baby brother or sister, but also gives voice to the little frustrations kids can experience when dealing with a new baby in the house, and the desire to have a playmate their age. Sarah Ellis shows readers the fun side of being an older brother, like being the one to make the baby giggle. The gently colored illustrations make this a cozy reading choice for parents and kids, or educators discussing caregiving, to gather together and enjoy. This is a good book for any expectant sibling…”

Click here to read the full review

Canadian Bookworm

“This book for early readers is charming….

I liked the big brother, big sister story here. Liam is a good big brother, patient and caring. I also liked how the adults didn’t fit stereotypes.

The drawings are simple, but engaging, and show the emotions of the different characters vividly. I also liked how the sometimes offered a different perspective on a scene, and used enough details to make it interesting. I also thought the endpapers were a neat touch, covered with pictures of hand tools.”

Click here to read the full review

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

Posted on February 8th, 2017 by pajamapress

thewolvesreturn_websiteClick here to download The Wolves Return teaching guide

TheWolvesReturn_ReadingGuide_2017-07-31pdf TheWolvesReturn_ReadingGuide_2017-07-31pdf2 TheWolvesReturn_ReadingGuide_2017-07-31pdf3 TheWolvesReturn_ReadingGuide_2017-07-31pdf4 TheWolvesReturn_ReadingGuide_2017-07-31pdf5

 

 

Save

Save

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

mybeautifulbirds_readingguide_page_1

Don’t Laugh at Giraffe Extra Content

Posted on January 9th, 2017 by pajamapress

DontLaughAtGiraffe_WebsiteDownload the Author-Illustrator Information Sheet

rebeccabender_infosheet_2016_12_16_page_1

Giraffe and Bird Extra Content

Posted on January 9th, 2017 by pajamapress

giraffeandbird_websiteAuthor-Illustrator Information Sheet

rebeccabender_infosheet_2016_12_16_page_1

Save

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

Worlds of Words

“Art is a key element in the telling of this story, both in the beautiful images created from plasticine, polymer clay, and paint as well as the use of art within the story. Suzanne Del Rizzo tells this refugee story with scenes that have texture, are vibrant though realistic shades of color, and occupy varying placement and perspectives on the pages. This rich illustrative setting contextualizes the role of art in the story as a means of disclosing the inward struggles of the child as he draws images of his birds only to cover them with black paint. He imagines his birds with somewhat of an artist’s eye in the clouds of the brilliant sky above him, soaring and swirling. Eventually, as he begins to find peace within his heart and bravely faces the challenges before him, readers see a brilliant artistic display of kites made by school children from scraps and bright paints.”
—Janelle Mathis, University of North Texas, Denton, TX

Click here to read the full review

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

Midwest Book Review

“It’s unusual to find stories about the Syrian civil war geared to picture book readers; but young audiences with adult assistance will find this an excellent introduction of the experience of refugees through the eyes of a young boy who dreams for something better.”

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

Children’s Books Heal

“…Del Rizzo’s exquisite polymer clay illustrations add depth and a life-like dimension to Sami’s story….I appreciated that the author focused on the refugee crisis that is affecting the most innocent and vulnerable, children. She doesn’t address political themes in the book, but focuses on the humanity of the situation for children displaced from their homes in Syria….My Beautiful Birds is an excellent addition to any school library. It is age-appropriate and an introductory story about children who are displaced because of war or natural disasters.”
—Patricia Tilton

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

Ponder, Wander, Write

My Beautiful Birds is a beautifully written and gorgeously illustrated book about a young boy coping with the loss of pets and home and adapting to life in a refugee camp….Del Rizzo’s illustrations are the perfect compliments to the story. While they are detailed enough to convey emotion well, because they appear as theatrical vignettes, they provide some distance for the reader from a story which tackles a difficult subject.”
—Patricia Nozell

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

Save

Nat the Cat Can Sleep Like That Activities

Posted on December 27th, 2016 by pajamapress

NatTheCat_C

Download Nat’s Preposition Worksheet

NatTheCat_PrepositionWorksheet
Download Nat’s Rhyming Worksheet

NatTheCat_RhymingWorksheet

Giraffe and Bird Activities

Posted on December 21st, 2016 by pajamapress

giraffeandbird_website

 

gandb_holiday_colouringsheet

Download the Giraffe and Bird Holiday Colouring Sheet

 

GandB_ColouringSheet

Download the Giraffe and Bird Colouring Sheet

Save

Save

My Beautiful Birds Extra Content

Posted on November 24th, 2016 by pajamapress

My Beautiful Birds Extended Author’s Note

9781772780109_fcSave

Save

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

Kirkus Reviewstimosparty_website

“[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

New York Botanical Gardens

Timo’s Garden and Timo’s Party are wonderful options for young readers who are transitioning into chapter books. Each chapter is accompanied by colorful and detailed illustrations helping readers follow character and plot. Both of these titles provide just the right amount of excitement and suspense to keep readers engaged. Timo and his friends are sure to become favorites!”

Click here to read the full review