Pajama Press

Posts Tagged ‘juvenile-non-fiction’

Midwest Book Review says Adrift at Sea “will prompt young people to be grateful for the good things in their lives”

Posted on December 12th, 2016 by pajamapress

AdriftAtSea_websiteAdrift at Sea is a nonfiction picturebook about a six-year-old Vietnamese boy named Tuan Ho, one of sixty Vietnamese refugees who, in the year 1981, braved a dangerous sea journey in search of a better life. The a two-page spread at the end place Tuan Ho’s journey in historical context, describing the exodus of refugees who fled Vietnam after the end of the Vietnam War in 1975. The final page gives the story of Tuan Ho’s family members, who were separated by their attempts to escape Vietnam. Adrift at Sea is a heartwarming story that will prompt young people to be grateful for the good things in their lives, and highly recommended.”

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Baker & Taylor’s CATS Meow Newsletter featured The Wolves Return: A New Beginning for Yellowstone National Park as a Staff Pick

Posted on November 29th, 2016 by pajamapress

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

The Wolves Return: A New Beginning for Yellowstone National Park

Posted on November 29th, 2016 by pajamapress

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

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

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

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

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

Highly Recommended.
—Willow Moonbeam

Click here to read the full review

Ingram News and Reviews for the Youth Librarian gives a positive review to The Wolves Return: A New Beginning for Yellowstone National Park

Posted on November 29th, 2016 by pajamapress

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

Click here to read the full review

Interview: Going on an Elephant Journey with Rob Laidlaw Part 2

Posted on July 18th, 2016 by pajamapress

This is the second part of our interview with Rob Laidlaw, the author of Elephant Journey. Our discussion about the three Toronto Zoo elephants moves into the dangers currently faced by elephants in the wild, the current projects that Zoocheck, Rob’s not-for-profit, is working on, and a sneak preview at Rob’s next book with Pajama Press. Click here to read Part One.

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ElephantJourney_WebsiteS. It’s not just elephants in zoos that are in trouble. I read a recent New York Times article that said elephants in the wild are in danger of disappearing in the next ten years because of the ivory trade. Can you speak to that?

R. I don’t know if ten years is an accurate prediction, but certainly if things continue to go the way they are now in Africa—because poaching for ivory is mainly centered in Africa—then future prospects for elephants look bleak. And it doesn’t matter whether they’re bush elephants or forest elephants, poaching for ivory is a threat to all of them. I believe the estimate is that 96-100 elephants are killed every day for ivory. One of the big problems is that it’s organized crime and militias in areas of civil conflict that are killing them in order to fund their initiatives. So it’s a very, very challenging thing to deal with. Certainly within ten years, if things continue to go as they are now, we’re going to see drastically fewer elephants in Africa. There’s about 400 thousand estimated to be in Africa today. In the past, there were several million and their populations were connected to each other throughout Africa, but today they’re in fragmented pockets that are separate from each other. I think we’ll soon see many of those fragments devoid of elephants. I doubt they’ll all be gone from the wild in ten years, but they may be restricted to a much smaller number of protected areas.

S. What efforts are in place or being established to help protect wild elephants?

R. There are all kinds of things, at the individual level, non-governmental organizational level, and at every political level from local to international. But it’s a huge, complicated web of problems to deal with. You have organized crime syndicates that see elephant tusks, rhino horn and other wildlife products as extremely lucrative and safer for them to profit from than drugs or weapons. They are extremely challenging to combat. If it were only one-off killings of elephants because of human-elephant conflict or even habitat fragmentation, it’s conceivable you could manage things like that. But organized crime syndicates and militias who obtain ivory and transport it to buyers in consumer nations through sophisticated smuggling networks are tremendously difficult to pin down. There are people, organizations and governments who are trying to address this issue, but it seems clear that far more official time, energy and resources must be allocated for intelligence gathering and for fighting this problem in a more coordinated and aggressive way. We also need additional boots on the ground protecting elephants wherever they live in the wild. And it should go without saying that the import and sale of ivory everywhere should be banned.

Seized_ivory_slated_for_destruction_in_the_crush._(10843354356)

Ivory seized for destruction by U.S. law enforcement. Photo credit: Gavin Shire / USFWS USFWS ivory crush at Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge on November 14, 2013. Sourced via the Creative Commons.

S. That makes sense, and any trade in ivory should absolutely be banned. So, that same NYT article discussed how elephant conservation is the latest hot celebrity cause in Hollywood. Do you think that sort of media attention helps or hinders the push for elephant conservation?

R. I think it helps. Will it solve the problems? I don’t know. We’ve seen lots of celebrity support for all kinds of things, but while it does generate political and public awareness, it doesn’t always result in any resolution of the issue being discussed. But obviously the first step is letting people know. The theory is that with more people knowing about it, there will then be more pressure on governments to address the issue, because more people are bringing it to their attention. In real world politics, that’s not always the case. Sometimes it doesn’t matter what people think or what the facts are. For elephants however, I think a lot of people, including many politicians, are now listening. But even if they weren’t, the alternative is to do nothing, and that’s not acceptable. So even when things seem dire there may be that particular person, group of people, or political official who takes that message to heart and decide to make it their cause. Maybe then they’ll take it to a place where real change can occur.

S. What would you most like people to know about elephants?

R. I have friends who work with and care for a diversity of animal species. One of them operates a chimpanzee sanctuary, with more than a dozen of these enormously intelligent, complex sentient apes. At the sanctuary, they don’t actually call them animals. Instead, they refer to them as, “the people in the sanctuary….” They know them as individuals and understand that in many ways they are very much like us, so they see the chimps very differently than most people would. I think elephants are similar and are far more like us than most people imagine. They have almost the same life-span as humans, and enormous brains. They’re one of the most social animals in the world, possibly even more so than humans or orcas. Females spend their entire lives in the same family group, and they all have their own quirks, personalities, desires and needs. They develop friendships! It’s thought that some elephants will know two or three hundred other elephants during their lifetimes. They may recognize old friends that they haven’t seen in ten or fifteen years, when they get together in big congregations. They appear genuinely excited to see each other again, and no doubt they are. When you look at them on an individual basis, you see they really are very much like us. Except they’re elephants. It may sound silly but I really think more people should see them as elephant-people. If they saw them that way, maybe their perspective would change and, hopefully they’d then want better treatment for all elephants.

S. Before I started my internship here, I was thinking of sponsoring a baby elephant at an orphanage in Kenya. Can you recommend any reliable elephant-focused charities for someone who might want to help out?

R. The one you’re mentioning is the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust and they’re known all around the world. Their program is very successful. They’ve introduced dozens of orphaned elephants back into the wild. They do the same thing with rhinos. If someone were interested in Indian elephants, there’s a group called Wildlife SOS that does fantastic work rescuing street elephants. They’re also trying to protect wild elephants and working elephants in timber camps. The Elephant Nature Park in northern Thailand that also does fantastic work helping elephants in need. And a colleague of mine has just started an elephant sanctuary in Brazil to rescue elephants in captivity there. Really, it’s just a matter of getting on the internet and finding something you’re interested in. There are many wonderful, effective elephant protection organizations.

Sheldrick1

Young orphan elephants at the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust in Kenya are herded by their keepers to the feeding and play area. Credit: Anita Ritenour, 2011, sourced via the Creative Commons.

S. You are also the founder of Zoocheck, a wildlife protection charity that works to protect the interests of wild animals globally. What are some of the initiatives Zoocheck is currently involved in?

R. Zoocheck always has a lot going on. As a campaigning wildlife protection organization, we’re involved in a broad range of investigative and legislative initiatives and litigations. Some of our efforts are focused on issues that affect large numbers of animals, but we also campaign to help individual animals in need as well. We’ve rescued monkeys, lemurs, big cats and, of course, elephants. We’re also trying to help Lucy, a Sri Lankan elephant that has lived at a zoo in Edmonton for almost her entire life. She’s in her early forties and all alone, and the zoo has dug in their heels about moving her. They want to keep her. We’re trying to get her out, but it’s been a long-term effort and we haven’t yet been successful. We’ve also been trying for a number of years to secure the release of a polar bear who has lived for more than two decades in a Mexican zoo, and we’re working to raise awareness about polar bears and other animals in Latin-American zoos. We also have an ongoing initiative to help animals in zoos in Ontario. We’ve worked across the country and internationally and have had tremendous success, but getting a law in place in Ontario has been a real challenge. The number of very poor zoos has dropped dramatically but there are still a number of them out there. Zoocheck also helps wildlife in the wild through a range of activities, such as funding aerial anti-poaching patrols in Africa, fighting organized culling of waterbirds in parks and reserves and campaigning to protect wild horses in western Canada. One initiative that is generating a lot of attention recently is the creation of the first cold-water sea pen sanctuary for belugas and killer whales in the world. We are part of an international collective of scientists, organizations and others who are trying to make that happen.

S. Oh, that’s cool!

R. We’re working on scoping out the possibilities in Canada. There are a number of sanctuaries that can accommodate dolphins from temperate or tropical climates, but nowhere yet for cold water dolphin and whale species. Hopefully, there will be soon.

S. That’s great; I know the documentary Blackfish got a lot of attention.

R. Some of the Blackfish people are involved in this initiative.

S. Whales and other large sea mammals are also animals that don’t do well in captivity. It’s good to know there are initiatives trying to find better ways to keep them safe. Speaking of, I guess it was last week that the story broke about the silverback gorilla….

R. Right. Harambe.

S. Yes. It’s an awful story, but do you have any thoughts on it?

R. Well, you know… it’s hard to second-guess the actions of the zoo staff. I have no doubt they didn’t want to kill Harambe, but felt they had to. Having said that, in the video footage I saw it looked like Harmabe was behaving naturally, like a silverback should. It didn’t look like he was being aggressive. But I understand there were about ten minutes of the incident that were not recorded on video, so I don’t know what happened during that time. Regardless, I think it’s inevitable that the animal will be killed in a situation like that, if it poses an immediate lethal threat, whether real or perceived, to a child. It doesn’t matter if it’s a tapir, elephant, gorilla, whatever… if a child gets into a cage with a potentially dangerous animal, there’s a good chance the animal will die. So Harambe’s killing was not a surprise to me. But what was surprising is that afterward, so many people, including many in the media, were asking, “why was that gorilla there in the first place, what’s the purpose?”

S. Oh!

R. Of course this was a tragedy but, if there’s anything positive about it, it’s the fact that people are now asking and trying to answer some bigger questions: What on earth was a gorilla doing in Cincinnati? What purpose does that serve, and how does being in captivity impact that animal’s life? There are many important discussions going on; all you have to do is search them out on Google. I think Harambe’s death will prove to be one of those watershed moments that help move the agenda for animals in captivity, and perhaps other animals as well, forward to a more progressive place. Ten or fifteen years ago, these kinds of discussions were exceedingly rare. But now they seem to be relatively common. Harambe’s death, the killing and public dissection of Marius the giraffe in Denmark, and the release of documentary films like Blackfish and The Cove—they are all watershed moments that generate discussion and make people rethink their positions. For animals, that is a very good thing.

Harambe1

Memorial in honour of Harambe at the Cincinnati Zoo. Photo credit: Kyle McCarthy on Flickr, 2016, sourced via the Creative Commons.

S. I hadn’t seen that layer growing out of the story, but I’m glad to know it’s happening. It’s the discussion that should be happening.

R. It’s occurring at a level that far exceeds anything I ever thought would happen.

S. That’s good. Last question: Can you give us any hints about your next project with Pajama Press?

R. Well, I’ve always been interested in bats because exploring caves is something I’ve done for the last 15 years or so. When I’m in caves, I encounter bats, and they’re fascinating animals. They’re small, but some of them live 30 or 40 years, making them very different from other creatures of a similar size. Bats are very intelligent and have great memories. One of the things that fascinated me is: I’d often be in the back of a cave, maybe ten or twelve hours from the entrance. To get there would require hundreds of turns and squeezes, but bats fly right to the backs of these caves using their echolocation. I asked a bat biologist, “how on earth do they do that?” and he said: “well, they remember, just like we do.” They’re utterly fascinating, and today bats are facing a lot of threats. The biggest one is disease, but they’re still persecuted in various parts of the world. There’s a need for a book that isn’t just about bat biology and behaviour, but about the realities that bats are facing today. Most of my books are advocacy tools. I’m interested in their potential to educate people and to help the animals. That’s what this one is about too. I want it to help bats.

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If you missed the first part of this interview, you can find it here, or download both parts in .pdf format here. You can learn more about Rob’s efforts to rescue the three Toronto Zoo elephants and get them relocated to the PAWS Sanctuary in Elephant Journey, which can be found at an independent book store near you, or at a major retailer.

Resources Mentioned:
ZoocheckSave LucySave YupiCormorantsWild Horses
David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust  (Africa)
Global Sanctuary for Elephants (Brazil)
Elephant Nature Park (Thailand)
Wildlife SOS (India)

Learn Even More:
How the Elephant Became the Newest Celebrity Cause” (NYT)
The Killer in the Pool” (Blackfish)
Ric O’Barry’s Dolphin Project (The Cove)
Harambe the Silverback Gorilla (Huffington Post) (Toronto Star)
Marius the Giraffe (The Guardian) (NatGeo)
Arturo, the World’s Saddest Animal (The Daily Mail)

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Elephant Journey “…will appeal to young readers…who love animal stories”—The Calgary Herald

Posted on July 14th, 2016 by pajamapress

ElephantJourney_WebsiteThis is the story of Toka, Thika and Iringa, the last three surviving elephants at the Toronto Zoo. Animal protection activists, fearing for their health, appealed to the zoo to have them sent to a sanctuary in California. It follows their journey of 4,100 kilometres. This book will appeal to young readers ages eight to 10 who love animal stories.

School Library Journal’s verdict: Elephant Journey “a great addition for lessons on wildlife and the ethics of zoos.”

Posted on June 17th, 2016 by pajamapress

ElephantJourney_WebsiteGr 2-4–The story of three zoo elephants and their journey to a new home. Toka, Thika, and Iringa were not thriving in the barren, small, and often frozen enclosure at the Toronto Zoo. When the zoo decided to send the unhappy pachyderms to another location, animal advocates spoke up and convinced officials to send the elephants to Performing Animal Welfare Society (PAWS), a California animal sanctuary. Thus began their three-day trek across the continent. On a stormy October night in 2013, the caravan set off. Along the way, the animals encountered a number of difficulties but ultimately reached the safe haven that was their destination. Laidlaw chronicles the trip, combining key facts with absorbing storytelling. His forthright narrative is complemented by Deines’s luminous oil paintings, which expertly use color and light to track the emotional trajectory of the elephants from discomfort and misery to anxiety and fear and then, finally, to delight and contentment. The image of the newcomers being greeted by the waving trunks of the three elephants already residing at PAWS glows with golden light and reflects the joy of the occasion. A supplementary appendix includes background information and photographs of the actual trip. VERDICT A great addition for lessons on wildlife and the ethics of zoos. Pair with Sandra Markle’s The Great Monkey Rescue: Saving the Golden Lion Tamarins or Toni Buzzeo’s A Passion for Elephants: The Real Life Adventure of Field Scientist Cynthia Moss.

Sal’s Fiction Addiction reviews Cat Champions

Posted on November 20th, 2013 by pajamapress

CatChampions“…the best part of the whole book comes when Mr. Laidlaw describes the ‘champions’ in detailed profiles, for the work they do to ensure that cats are safe, well fed and loved…There are ideas galore that can be shared to help improve the lives of the many kittens and cats that are in need of help throughout the world. Just one of them might appeal to you and your family. Check it out!”

Click here to read the full review.

The Vietnamese Orphan Airlift: An Interview with Tuyết Pham

Posted on July 27th, 2012 by pajamapress

TuyetPham_December1975

Tuyet in December, 1975

Last Airlift: A Vietnamese Orphan’s Rescue from War tells the story of one orphan, Tuyet, who was airlifted from Saigon (now Hồ Chí Minh City) at the close of the Vietnam War and adopted into a new family in Canada. Today we are sharing an interview with another orphan, also named Tuyết,who came to Canada in the same dramatic way and who has a story of her own.

How old were you when you left Vietnam?

Although my parents were told, verbally (so they say), that I was born December 7, 1968, unfortunately, none of my paperwork shows that date. In actual fact, all my paperwork had been prepared one year before I left Vietnam, indicating that I was born December 7, 1969.

You must remember that although I was given this birthdate, and I stress “given”, this is not necessarily my birthdate.  During the time of war, many children found in the most awful places you can imagine, left to die, were taken to the orphanages with no paperwork on them.  And those children who were in orphanages, whose lives could not be saved whether through diseases, malnutrition and/or already existing birth defects, who died, their birthdates would have been used for those who were going to be adopted by families around the world.

So, to answer your question, I’m not really sure how old I was when I left Vietnam—possibly 5 or 6 years old.

What do you know about your life before you came to Canada?

There’s not much really that I can recall about my life in Vietnam before coming to Canada.  It was not indicated on my paperwork which orphanage I was at or if I ever was—but obviously I was, because my paperwork was prepared.  I must have been somewhere. There are times when I am doing something and I get flashbacks, like having been piggy-backed either to school or church, or having been given something by one of the soldiers who came to visit at the orphanage.  My mother has said to me at some point (I must have told her at one time) I remember sitting on a soldier’s knee and having a great time—he must have been pretending to give me rides or something—I don’t recall that, but I guess that’s what I told her.

What do you remember about the journey?

Not much. However, I do recall that I was placed beside another girl, either in a van on the way to the airport or on the plane.  I think her name was also Tuyết.  I think she was a little older than me.

You should know that Operation “Baby lift” was coined by the Americans regarding their flights. All Canadian flights were referred to as “Orphan” flights—so I was told by one of the pilots on our flight.”

Did you know these things while you were growing up, or did you have to do research later to discover your history?

I had known as a child that I was adopted and that I had come all the way from Vietnam.  My parents had always been supportive in trying to show me a lot of pictures from Vietnam, or television shows or movies that had anything to do with Vietnam.  They had spoken of the Vietnam War and that I was probably found by someone on the streets, probably left to die, and was taken to an orphanage.  My mother even made my Áo dài (Vietnamese traditional dress), once every two or three years right up until I finished college.  I did do a bit more research later on when I grew older, and when I was more interested and could understand better the history of the Vietnam War.

When did your adoptive parents know that they would be adopting you?

My parents didn’t know they were going to adopt me.  They had at first looked to adopt a boy and a girl from the same orphanage who left before me.  Unfortunately, the plane (C-5A Galaxy) they were taking out of Vietnam on April 4, 1975, crashed within 10 or 15 minutes of being up in the air. The plane lost control and crashed into the rice paddies below.  Everyone in the lower compartment of the plane died, and that included the girl my parents were looking to adopt. The boy, however, survived the plane crash and was sent the next day, on another plane that arrived in Montreal.

My parents were still looking to adopt a girl, at which time they heard about me.

What was it like to travel back to Vietnam?

I made a return trip to Vietnam in March/April of 2010.  I was 39 years old.  I felt I needed to make at least one trip back, in my life, to my homeland to see how much of it has changed and to see if there was anything I could remember of it.

Overall, there were some great highlights to my trip (and some not so great) and I learned so much, but the whole experience was an exercise to see if I could still have fit in with the culture. Everywhere I went, each of my tour guides explained to the curious local people, when they found out that I couldn’t understand their language, let alone a greeting, that I had been adopted into a Canadian family from a very young age. That, I found, in itself, set me apart from the people who were part of my history. I didn’t feel that I had that sense of belonging. There were no memories in any place that I travelled to that I could pinpoint any sense of familiarity. But then again, how would I know?  I was in an orphanage for my whole life there. I had lost that aura of being a Vietnamese.

Are there still unanswered questions that bother you about your past and about the war? What are they?

For the rest of my life, there will always be questions about my past—although it’s always great to tell people, “I don’t know who I really am”.  There will always be questions of, “Who were my parents?” “Are they still alive?” “Where are they now?” “When and where was I born?” “Why was I given up to either be left to die or to be saved and adopted?”  “What were my biological parents’ thoughts during the time of war?” “What is my family background?” “What medical history should I know about?” For now, it would seem that all of these questions will remain buried in the past.

For information about Operation Babylift, a similar initiative in the United States, visit www.vietnambabylift.org.

 

Booklist Review of No Shelter Here

Posted on July 19th, 2012 by pajamapress

Animal advocate [Rob] Laidlaw has a bone to pick with the way some of the world’s 500 million dogs are treated. After identifying what all dogs need, the author takes a hard look at puppy mills, free-ranging dogs, dogs that are constantly chained, and dogs submitted to devocalizing and appearance-altering surgeries. While some dogs have healthy “careers” as dog sniffers, rescue dogs, and therapy dogs, the engaging text explains the perils for greyhound and sled-dog racers, as well as dogs used for scientific research. But not all dogs have it bad. Numerous profiles reveal how “Dog Champions” have initiated grassroots efforts to provide better services and protection to canines. For readers looking for their next best friend, Laidlaw explains how and why to adopt a dog and the various kinds of shelters available. Abundantly stocked with color photographs and supplemented with online resources and a glossary, this book invites children to pause and consider our friends who have paws.
— Angela Leeper, Booklist