Pajama Press

Posts Tagged ‘canadian-childrens-book-news’

Canadian Children’s Book News praises Root Beer Candy and Other Miracles

Posted on August 16th, 2016 by pajamapress

RootBeerCandyAndOtherMiracles_WebsiteIn Root Beer Candy and Other Miracles by Shari Green, 11-year-old Bailey knows spending her first summer with Nana Marie is just one more sign of many that her parents’ marriage is in trouble. While they go on a retreat to try and salvage their relationship, Bailey and her younger brother, Kevin, are left to deal with the tension and fear of a possibly imminent divorce. Life in Felicity Bay challenges Bailey to look outside herself, however, when the local ice cream man, Jasper, makes a series of startling prophecies. Finding herself drawn into the heart of a town steeped in misery, Bailey keeps her faith in the goodness of others and looks for miracles to help heal the wounds of the past.

Writing in verse, Green aptly captures the journey of a girl faced with her first real heartbreak—the likely dissolution of her family. Bailey’s openness to confronting her reality while still believing in the extraordinary adds to her charm, as does her growing realization that heartache affects many others in her life as well. The colourful and mysterious small town of Felicity Bay and the ocean it borders offer the perfect backdrop for Bailey’s awakening to the larger world around her. With a renewed sense of connectedness and a greater understanding of family, Bailey emerges from her summer of change hopeful for the future.

Canadian Children’s Book News calls The Hill “wonderfully creepy”

Posted on August 16th, 2016 by pajamapress

TheHill_Website“When the private jet that Jared is aboard crashes in Northern Alberta, Jared is “rescued” by a Cree teenager who’s spending the summer with his grandparents and younger brother at their summer camp. The plane’s pilot is badly injured and there seems to be no way for Jared to make contact with the outside world, his computer smashed beyond repair and his cellphone without reception. There’s a big hill nearby, and Jared is sure that if they can just get to the top, he’ll get a signal, but Kyle warns Jared that climbing that hill is dangerous. His Kokum, his grandmother, has warned Kyle to stay away from the hill; it is haunted by evil spirits. But Jared won’t listen and, having mounted the summit, the boys suddenly find themselves in an alternative reality faced with a Windigo, a cannibalistic evil spirit that begins to pursue them through the wilderness. And this is not just any Windigo, but the Wîhtiko.

Karen Bass has created a riveting novel that beautifully blends a fast-paced adventure with a wonderfully creepy horror story, using First Nations’ mythology to tie the two stories together. What is particularly striking is not only the way that Bass weaves the cannibal-hunting Wîhtiko into the story but also the one mythological figure who has defeated this creature, Wesakechak, the Cree trickster, who helps the teens out. Bass not only makes readers see the limitations of settler society’s understanding of First Nations’ cultures and traditions but she also allows her First Nations teenager to learn something from his interaction with Jared. The Hill is a novel about making connections, finding ways to work together and be mutually respectful in terms of interpersonal relationships and different cultures. Bass provides readers with a glimpse into how she approached using Cree mythology in an excellent author’s note.”
—Jeffrey Canton

Going for a Sea Bath “will have kids hooked”—Canadian Children’s Book News

Posted on August 16th, 2016 by pajamapress

GoingForASeaBath_Website“In the whimsical picture book Going for a Sea Bath, Andrée Poulin takes young readers on a trip to the ocean…right in the bathtub! Leanne does not want to take a bath because baths are boring, and there is nothing to play with in the tub. Her father, undaunted by his daughter’s reluctance, has an idea to make bath time more fun. He runs all the way to the sea and returns with one turtle. When the turtle doesn’t do much, Leanne’s father returns to the sea, bringing a succession of expressive sea life for her to enjoy in the tub. From two eels and three clownfish up to nine starfish and ten octopi, Leanne’s bathtub gets so full there is no more room for Leanne! Munsch-esque prose paired with Anne-Claire Delisle’s delightfully playful illustrations will have kids hooked.

What better way to introduce young children to a unit on sea life than to read this book aloud and have students talk about all the animals that live in the sea. Leanne’s father brings ten different creatures home; can students think of other animals that live in the sea? Have any of the students visited an ocean? What sea life did they see? This book would make a perfect segue for a class trip to an aquarium (or the ocean, if you are lucky enough to live on one of Canada’s coasts). There are wonderful opportunities to incorporate math (counting, adding, etc.) and art into a unit on sea life and the oceans—create a classroom mural, with each child drawing or crafting his or her favourite creature from under the sea.”

Canadian Children’s BookNews recommends A Year of Borrowed Men

Posted on May 10th, 2016 by pajamapress

A Year of Borrowed Men | Michelle Barker & Renné Benoit | Pajama Press“Because German Men were conscripted to fight during World War II, the families left behind were obligated to by the Nazi government to take in French prisoners of war to perform needed work. This is why three captives came to stay with seven-year-old Gerda, her mother and siblings at their farm. The rules were stringent: the French were to assist with the operation of the farm, sleep in the out-buildings and be treated as enemies. Anyone showing kindness to these “borrowed men” could be imprisoned. It was, however, challenging for Gerda to be so hard-hearted. On one particularly cold day, she invited them to share dinner with her family inside their warm home. For this act, her mother received a stern reprimand from the local police. From then on, compassion was demonstrated in more subtle ways, ensuring that the captives were well fed and treated with dignity. When the war ended, they parted as friends.

Based on her mother’s childhood memories of Germany during World War II, Michelle Barker’s book is a poignant account of one family’s brave acts of kindness in an atmosphere thick with fear and distrust. The story is told from little Gerda’s perspective, and we witness how a prohibited relationship grew from Feinde (enemies) to Freunde (friends). “The borrowed men knew some German words but we did not speak French. We had to use our hands to show them what we meant. Sometimes I drew pictures for them.” An Author’s Note and family photographs provide further context regarding Gerda’s experiences.

Renné Benoit’s watercolour, coloured pencil and pastel illustrations convey a pastoral environment imbued with the bleakness of war. In the midst of fear and strife, we see comforting moments in one family’s life. The simple acts of preparing meals, gathering around a candle-lit Christmas tree to sing carols and sharing conversation and scarce resources with strangers offer hope that goodness can sometimes triumph over evil.”

 

This review originally appeared in the Spring 2016 edition of Canadian Children’s BookNews.

Canadian Children’s Book News: “Wallace Edwards has done it again!”

Posted on May 10th, 2016 by pajamapress

OnceUponALine-COVER-FAKE-FOIL_RGB_1000px“Wallace Edwards has done it again! The introduction to Once Upon a Line lets us know that the fantastical paintings in this book were created by Great-Uncle George using an enchanted pen from the East. He only had to draw a single curving line, and it would turn into a painting. Each page has an illustration incorporating that line and a start to a story, beginning with ‘Once upon a line,’ an obvious and intriguing reference to ‘Once upon a time.’ As with his other books, Edwards creates many levels of meaning by combining all that you see on the page in unexpected ways.

This is a great book for anyone with a wild imagination. On each page Wallace draws the reader into both the illustration and the words. Readers are challenged to find the “magic line” in each picture. In most cases, the story is different, not always exactly what is shown in the picture. For example, we get a dandy rat who loves his “brand new ultra-modern house,” a gleaming white toilet sitting among flowers. The words continue, “‘I have never had such a beautiful home before,’ he said. Just then, a little bird said…” This sentence could lead anywhere, and is an invitation to go somewhere new each time you read it.

Although each page has its own theme, there are a few where connections are made to the previous illustration. At the back of the book is a guide showing where the magical line is in each of the pictures, and a reminder that the enchanted pen is also in each one, too.

Once Upon a Line has all the marks of a Wallace Edwards gem: his distinctive style of illustration, humour, appealing characters and just enough information to get you started on your own story.”

 

This review originally appeared in the Spring 2016 edition of Canadian Children’s BookNews.

Canadian Children’s Book News recommends Ben Says Goodbye

Posted on October 30th, 2015 by pajamapress

Ben Says Goodbye | Sarah Ellis & Kim La Fave | Pajama Press“During the preschool years, children often forge their first friendships and these relationships can be very intense. Here, Sarah Ellis explores how a young boy handles his sadness when his best friend moves away.

Ben is distraught because his best friend is leaving the neighbourhood. He opts to move, too, and seeks refuge in a cave (the space under the kitchen table) where his sole companion is a tamed (stuffed) lion. Adopting the persona of a cave boy, Ben resorts to grunting the sole sound of “guh” when his family speak to him.

While camped out in his makeshift dwelling, Ben finds solace in his two imagined stories about friendship. Using a pointed stick (pencil), he sketches his tales as a series of drawings on the walls of his cave. One tale tells of two boys who are best friends and of their fun and heroic antics. The other tale tells of two friends, living on different sides of the world, who dig their way to reunite in the centre of the Earth for a short visit.

When Ben smells butter in the air, he emerges from his cave and rejoins his family to share some popcorn. When he hears a moving truck’s beeping from across the street, he heads to the window to investigate the sound. From his post on the couch, Ben spies a neon-blue Scorcher Scooter—just the perfect size for a new pal.

The author offers a charming and delightful story in which a preschooler’s feelings and thoughts ring true. La Fave’s endearing softly-hued illustrations, accentuated by black outlines, accompany this gentle tale. Ben’s cave drawings, rendered in black on an ochre background, populate the book’s endpapers. This is a clever touch that offers readers an additional visual level on which to extend and enjoy the story.

Readers who wish to read more about Ben and his adventures will also enjoy A+ for Big Ben (a recent board-book version of Ellis and La Fave’s 2001 title, Big Ben).”

—Carol-Ann Hoyte

Canadian Children’s Book News reviews “inspirational” A Brush Full of Colour

Posted on July 23rd, 2015 by pajamapress

ABrushFullOfColour“Ted Harrison, one of Canada’s most recognized and celebrated artists, died in January, 2015. Using a distinctive style that particularly resonates with children, he portrayed the Canadian west coast and Yukon landscapes in vibrant, non-traditional colours. A Brush Full of Colour follows the life and career of Harrison, from his youth in a coal-mining town in northeast England.

…This inspirational and informative biography includes many stunning examples of Harrison’s luminous artwork as well as resources, sources and a foreword written by the artist himself: “I urge you to keep on reading, writing, and painting. Develop your own style and keep it honest and true to who you are. Find inspiration in the world around you, and you will make the world a happier and more creative place.”

—Senta Ross

Uncertain Soldier “a taut, adrenaline-fuelled novel”—Canadian Children’s Book News

Posted on July 23rd, 2015 by pajamapress

UncertainSoldierUncertain Soldier, by the award-winning author of Graffiti Knight, is a taut, adrenaline-fuelled novel of enmity and loyalty set in rural Alberta in the years 1943 and 1944. The conflicts and prejudices of World War II play out with violent consequences in Canada as well as overseas…. Bass writes with a visceral power. As she skillfully ratchets up the tension, both Erich and Max find the courage to stand up for their friends, and themselves, and to break the circles of bullying and prejudice that have held them (and their tormenters) prisoner. Wrestling with complex issues of friendship, loyalty, politics and violence, Uncertain Soldier would be an excellent choice for a teen boys’ book club.”

Canadian Children’s Book News Recommends Bear on the Homefront

Posted on October 14th, 2014 by pajamapress

BearOnHomefront_cover_rgb_hi-res“This is the second picture book about a teddy bear’s adventure created by the team of Stephanie Innes, Harry Endrulat and Brian Deines. The first book, A Bear in War, follows the adventures of a teddy bear on the front lines during World War I. In this second book, Bear on the Homefront, the reader follows this same teddy bear’s adventures, except the story takes place on the homefront during World War II.

During the second World War, as a result of the heavy bombings, many English children were shipped to allied countries to keep them safe. In Bear on the Homefront, Grace and William Chambers are sent to Canada to live with a family on their farm in Winnipeg. In Halifax, they are met by a nurse named Aileen Rogers, who accompanies them on their journey. To help alleviate the fear and stress the children are feeling, Aileen gives them her beloved teddy bear to comfort them while they’re in Canada. The teddy bear recounts the events that happen during his time with the children until he is returned to Aileen once again.

The story is created using events from Aileen Rogers’ diary and making her real-life teddy bear the narrator. Giving the teddy bear a voice and telling the story from his perspective makes the book more appealing to young readers and enables parents and educators to introduce history in an interesting way. The book can also be used with older readers as a means of introducing some of the events that occurred in World War II and providing further opportunities for children to research the events and facts for the time period presented in the text.

The beautiful and calming illustrations by Brian Deines enhance the text and hold the reader’s attention. Bear on the Homefront is a wonderful way to introduce children to history. It can be used to generate discussions about feelings that accompany life changes and to encourage children to seek out further information about world history.”
—Delia Cipollone Antonacci is a Professor in the Library and Information Technician Program, Seneca College

Revenge on the Fly featured in Canadian Children’s Book News’ “All Kinds of Friendship”

Posted on July 23rd, 2014 by pajamapress

RevengeFly_C_Dec5.indd“The world of 1912 may seem completely different but is equally captivating in Sylvia McNicoll’s Revenge on the Fly. It is late spring when young Will Alton and his father arrive in Hamilton. Poor immigrants, Will and his father have journeyed from Ireland where mother and baby sister were taken by disease. Will is heartsick and struggles against the discrimination he and his father face as poor Irish newcomers. Not long after his arrival, his school is visited by Dr. Roberts, Hamilton’s public health officer. The lowly fly, he tells his students, is responsible for spreading germs that cause disease and so much death. The local paper is sponsoring a fly-catching contest with a top prize of $50. Kill flies and stop the spread of disease, he exhorts Will’s class. It is a message that Will latches onto with deadly seriousness, and he is galvanized into action. Perhaps it was the dreaded fly that was responsible for the deaths of his mother and sister. He is determined to win the competition to avenge them and so he can give the money to his father to better their situation.

The contest pits Will against Fred Leckie, a particularly nasty and privileged classmate. Fred will do anything to win, including paying off peers with orange segments (a juicy detail) to bring him their flies. Will struggles to beat Fred on his own, but it is when two unlikely girls befriend him that Will actually starts to have a fighting chance. Wealthy and kind Rebecca has no time for the likes of Fred Leckie and believes in Will, seeing beyond their socio-economic differences. She forces Will to question his motives for entering the contest and gently pushed him to consider some of his actions. Ginny is poor and belligerent, a prickly friend who decides to help Will win the contest. Ignoring her rough exterior, Will likes her spunk and devotion to her younger siblings. “And Ginny…seemed as tough as a horseshoe, her loyalty made her gentle and kind, just in a different way than Rebecca.” The friendship of both girls helps Will to understand that winning is not everything, and that true friends are far better than friends bought and paid for.

Vividly narrating the story in Will’s voice, McNicoll brings this intriguing bit of Canadian history to life, deftly weaving rich historical detail into the tale, immersing young readers in the sights, sounds and smells of early 20th century Hamilton. Will’s struggles with friendship and against bullies is timeless, and young readers will be cheering for him all the way.”

– Tracey Schindler

Learn more about Canadian Children’s Book News here.