Posted on February 12th, 2015 by pajamapress
“It is June 1913, when Ali breaks the news to his fiancée Zeynep that he will be leaving their Anatolian village to go to Canada. Once there, he hopes to finally be able to save enough money to pay for her passage, and to build a new life for them there. But the world is on the brink of war and everything soon changes. The two record the events that they both witness in journal entries to each other, even though they both fear that they will never see one another again.
Alternating between these two sets of journal entries, readers learn Zeynep’s story of going to live and work with Christian missionaries. As World War I looms, she witnesses first-hand the horrors of the Armenian genocide at the hands of the Young Turks who now control the government. Conditions for her and the other Alevi Kurds are only marginally better, but that is small consolation as she watches Armenian men, women and children being cruelly treated and marched to their deaths. Meanwhile, in Canada, Ali and the other Alevi Kurds who had tried to settle in Brantford, Ontario, are falsely accused of a crime and sent to an internment camp in northern Ontario. As these two separate stories unfold, a vivid and devastating picture unfolds.
This latest work is an outstanding testament to Skrypuch’s mastery as a writer of historical fiction for young readers. She has created forthright and dramatic accounts of two little-known events from that time period, inviting readers of all ages to try to understand the depth of suffering that these groups have experienced. She has put a profoundly human face on the horrors of war while also creating an insightful portrait of the Alevi Kurds. Zeynep and Ali are both forced to mature very quickly, and their development is convincing. Skrypuch skillfully captures their voices, their longing, their heartbreak and their courage.”
Posted on October 24th, 2014 by pajamapress
“…The inside covers contain maps detailing the geography of both Zeynep and Ali’s stories, and the ‘Author’s Note’ provides considerable background on the Alevi Kurds; both offer a better sense of the journeys undertaken by both main characters and of their cultural context…
Dance of the Banished is definitely a worthwhile acquisition for middle and high school library collections; it will complement other works focusing on the story of young people affected by war-time, including The Diary of Anne Frank, provide a very accessible perspective on life in one of Canada’s First World War Internment Camps, as well as introducing readers to the story of the Armenian genocide, an event with which many young Canadians might not be familiar.
Click here to read the full review.
Posted on October 20th, 2014 by pajamapress
“…Wilm himself is a teen with a profound sense of responsibility. So many things that occur during the story aren’t really his fault, but he is his harshest critic and holds himself accountable even when he doesn’t need to. He also has a well-developed reflective nature which leads to powerful insights into his true nature and the situation of his friends and family. As a result, he’s an excellent choice for a narrator.
There’s a lot to love here and I feel like I’ve only scratched the surface of what I could have written. But when it comes to the story of Wilm what I loved the most was how Bass was able to make each character complicated, hard to completely admire or condemn. They all seem to have complex motivations for their actions which made for an intense and thought-provoking read.
Both an eye-opening piece of historical fiction and a page-turning, suspense-filled story, Graffiti Knight is an enlightening read that’s hard to put down.”
Click here to read the full review.
Posted on September 12th, 2014 by pajamapress
How would YOU take revenge on the fly?
In Sylvia McNicoll’s historical novel, the city of Hamilton joins other urban centres worldwide in fighting disease by staging a fly-catching contest. The city’s children vie for the top prize by smacking, stomping, swatting, and slapping as many of the “winged terrors” as they can.
If YOU would like to be the top fly catcher, head over to Twitter and tell us your best (and most original!) fly-catching technique. Include our handle, @PajamaPress1, and the hashtage #RevengeOnTheFly. We’ll be tweeting all the ways the inventive kids in the book catch and kill flies themselves.
Two winners, drawn from a pool of all the entries, will receive an autographed copy of Revenge on the Fly. This contest runs until Tuesday, September 16th and is open to entrants in Canada and the United States.
U.S. residents can also enter to win a signed copy through the Goodreads giveaway running until October 21st.
Don’t miss Sylvia McNicoll this Sunday at the Telling Tales Festival in Rockton, Ontario!
Posted on September 10th, 2014 by pajamapress
“Although a deftly crafted work of fiction, “Moon At Nine” is based upon true events in Islamic countries where homosexuality is punishable by death. An extraordinary and original novel, “Moon At Nine” is recommended for young readers ages 13 and up and is appropriate for highschool and community library collections.”
Click here to read the full issue.
Posted on September 3rd, 2014 by pajamapress
“…Meticulously researched and sensitively written…In her nineteenth book, Marsha Forchuk Skrypuch again gives a revealing and compassionate voice to an under-represented group of people, and shines a light on little-known events in history. Writing about historical injustices for young adults requires a solid grip of the events, sensitivity, and the ability to juggle multiple perspectives in order to create a compelling story that not only keeps us turning the pages, but also brings forward truths that may have been forgotten or buried. Dance of the Banished enlightens us about the plight of the Alevi Kurds during World War 1, saddens us as we find out about the massacre of the Armenians, and maybe even embarrasses us as we discover how “foreigners” were treated in Ontario. Her characters are human, and multifaceted, and make us think about how we would react in times of great stress if our homeland, families, or loved ones were in danger. The answers are never easy, and Marsha does not shy away from difficult and heart-wrenching choices.”
Click here to read the full review.
Posted on August 25th, 2014 by pajamapress
On Friday, August 22nd at 11 am, one hundred plaques were unveiled across Canada. They commemorated Canada’s enemy alien internment operations in the First World War, a little-known part of our history that saw Canadian citizens imprisoned in camps across the country because they had immigrated here from nations with which the British Empire was now at war.
The vast majority of internees were Ukrainian, targeted because their passports read “Austrian.” Canadian immigration officials did not make a distinction between ethnic Austrians and others who then belonged to—and were even persecuted by—the Austrian empire. Similarly, all immigrants from the Ottoman Empire were labelled “Turks.”
In 1914, one hundred of these “Turks”—really Alevi Kurds—were rounded up in Brantford, Ontario, on the charge of having plotted to destroy the post office. Although the charge was proven to be false, they were sent to the wilderness of Kapuskasing to build and then occupy a prison camp there.
At Friday’s ceremony, hosted by the Ukrainian Catholic Church of St. John, Ukrainians came together with Armenians, Kurds, dignitaries, and supporters of Marsha Forchuk Skrypuch, who put together many pieces of this history while researching her newest novel, Dance of the Banished. This young adult historical novel tells the stories of two Alevi teenagers in the First World War: Ali, who comes to Brantford to work and is interned in Kapuskasing, and his fiancée Zeynep, who is left behind in their homeland of Anatolia where she helps other Alevi Kurds rescue 40,000 of their Armenian neighbours from the Armenian Genocide.
A launch was held for Dance of the Banished following the plaque unveiling. Below, reviewer Helen Kubiw of CanLit for LittleCanadians (left) poses with the author and a signed copy of the book.
For more information about Dance of the Banished, visit the following links.
For more information about the recognition of Canada’s internment operations, visit the links below.
Posted on August 21st, 2014 by pajamapress
“Just as multicultural literature for children and young adults allows readers to understand and appreciate the world around them, international and global books can help them understand the history, languages, and culture of nations around the world…For this week’s book reviews, members of the International Reading Association’s Children’s Literature and Reading Special Interest Group (CL/R SIG) examine some recent international and global favorites that caught their attention.”
Graffiti Knight by Karen Bass
“…The book makes it clear how war and its aftermath touch everyone, even [the protagonist's] sister. Incidents such as the Soviets’ allowing much-needed butter to spoil in the sun due to incompetence or a lack of concern help readers understand Wilm’s anger. The book offers a fresh perspective on life for the Germans after WWII.”
—Barbara A. Ward, Washington State University Pullman
Click here to read the full review and see this week’s full list of multicultural books from the International Reading Association website, Reading Today Online.
Posted on June 7th, 2014 by pajamapress
Pajama Press is proud to once again congratulate Karen Bass for her award-winning novel Graffiti Knight. On June 6th the historical YA novel was awarded the R. Ross Annett Award for Children’s Literature at the Alberta Book Awards Gala in Calgary. Administered by the Writers’ Guild of Alberta, the award recognizes an Alberta author each year for excellence in writing for young audiences.
Graffiti Knight has already won the Canadian Library Association Young Adult Book Award and the CAA Exporting Alberta Award. It has also been an Ontario Library Association Best Bet, a Best Books for Kids & Teens Starred Selection, and a Resources Links “The Year’s Best” selection.
We are humbled by the reception this novel has received and honoured to work with Karen Bass.