Pajama Press

Posts Tagged ‘kirkus’

Kirkus Reviews praises Ben Says Goodbye

Posted on December 17th, 2015 by pajamapress

Ben Says Goodbye | Sarah Ellis & Kim La Fave | Pajama Press“Little Ben’s best friend, Peter, is moving away, and Ben is heartbroken. The only way he can deal with his sadness is by moving himself—not away, however, but to an imaginary cave under the table. Caveboy Ben eats with his fingers, plays with rocks, and protects himself with a club and a stick. He communicates mostly nonverbally, using “Guh” for everything. In the safety of his cave, he expresses his loss in an imaginative series of drawings depicting the two best buddies having fun and doing all kinds of boy stuff. The drawings become increasingly complex, showing the two friends tunneling toward each other through an underground world of subways, ancient cities, and buried treasure. The center of the Earth is, of course, the perfect place for a barbecue, so the boys roast chili dogs and hang out in Ben’s cave drawings. The spell is broken when Ben smells popcorn, returning somewhat grudgingly to his long-suffering family. In a reversal of the opening scene, movers arrive at Peter’s old house, bringing boxes and a scooter that clearly belongs to someone Ben’s age, perhaps a new friend. The upbeat, cartoon-style drawings, thickly outlined with an effect that looks like charcoal, neatly complement the simple, declarative text. Any young child who has experienced the loss of a close friend will find this story resonant.”

Kirkus Reviews praises Kiss, Kiss

Posted on November 4th, 2015 by pajamapress

Kiss, Kiss | Jennifer Couelle & Jacques Laplante |Pajama Press“A rhyming celebration of kisses of all kinds. Kisses can do so much: from sending love and healing boo-boos to saying hello and goodbye and good morning and good night. And then there are the kinds of kisses: wet ones, big ones, pecks, slurpy ones, and the ones that leave lipstick marks behind. ‘When grownups kiss it may look sappy. / Well, they’re in love—and very happy.’ While Couëlle’s verse changes rhythm and rhyming pattern on a whim (and not all of it rhymes), this matches the flighty topic of love and kisses (and also may reflect the fact that this is a translation of Le bisou from the French). And Laplante’s simple illustrations, which appear to be digital, are similarly whimsical, more rough sketches with color that often extends beyond its lines. A full range of relationships are represented here—parents, grandparents, couples, friends are all happily smooching. And people are not the only kissers in these pictures: fish and birds kiss, and a baby shares kisses with a dog. ‘Because a day without kissing / has something missing.’”

Timo’s Garden “a fine title for growing readers”—Kirkus Reviews

Posted on October 16th, 2015 by pajamapress

Timo's Garden | Victoria Allenby & Dean Griffiths | Pajama PressTimo the rabbit is eager to make his garden “great.” Timo loves his garden, with its many flowers (an illustrated index names all those mentioned in the text) and “herbs for cooking, a lawn for visiting, and a bench for sitting and daydreaming.” Suddenly, though, it doesn’t seem special enough when he decides to participate in the upcoming garden tour. From one short chapter to the next, instead of spending time with friends, he frets and gardens, gardens and frets. Ultimately, Timo not only misses out on fun with friends, he’s also thwarted by poor weather when a rainstorm leaves the garden “a mess.” His friends rally to him help clean things up, but…the garden tour is cancelled due to yet more (offstage) rain, and so Timo and his friends instead have a picnic and make plans for more gardening. A closing image of garden-tour judges at Timo’s gate suggests that all’s well in the end. Throughout, Griffiths’ richly colored illustrations depict anthropomorphic animals in a pastoral setting and include Timo’s lists of tasks on pages made to look like notebook paper. While the text isn’t controlled enough for brand new readers to decode, the brief chapters make the story accessible on a structural level. A fine title for growing readers. (Early reader. 7-9)

Wallace Edwards’ Once Upon a Line is “captivating”—Kirkus Reviews

Posted on June 29th, 2015 by pajamapress

OnceUponALine“Great-Uncle George was a magician whose “enchanted pen” has created an array of fancifully surreal illustrations, each begun with the same-shaped pen stroke and each accompanied by a brief story starter. Great-Uncle George’s mustachioed portrait appears next to a succinct history of the fictional magician and his special pen: “With this pen he would draw an ordinary line. That line turned into a painting. He drew the line many times and painted hundreds of paintings, but all that remains are the ones that you see in this book.” Readers are then invited to find that line—duplicated on the first page—and to “finish each story.” The colorful, absurd, detailed illustrations feature a fantastical array of characters—many of them anthropomorphic animals—in an intriguing style that defies easy classification. Each absorbing illustration includes a sentence or two, always beginning with the titular “Once upon a line” and ending with ellipses….The artwork is captivating, finding the pen stroke is challenging, and the text will spark some animated conversation. (Picture book. 4-9)”

“Sincerely Sweet”—Kirkus reviews Giraffe Meets Bird by Rebecca Bender

Posted on June 29th, 2015 by pajamapress

Giraffe Meets Bird by Rebecca Bender“The unlikeliest of friendships grows, baby step by baby step. As Bird emerges from his shell, Giraffe’s head looms nearby. Giraffe is “surprised,” and Bird is “amazed.” Each double-page spread of Bender’s story focuses on a small development in the duo’s relationship, using crunchy vocabulary in large, emphatic type to explain it. Giraffe is “fascinated” by Bird’s growth. It’s not all smooth sailing. If Giraffe wants Bird to give him a scratch, he has to be “polite.” Bird wants to be alone in his tree, but Giraffe was there first: “sharing is hard” and “tough.” The standoff reaches a kind of solution when Bird falls into the tall grass. Giraffe scoops him up just as a young lion seems ready to pounce, jumping so high that he lands in the tree, the safety of which Bird and Giraffe don’t mind sharing this night. Next morning, there’s no sign of the lion, and they know that it’s time to leave. But who should stay at the tree and who should go? The final double-page spread depicts a line of three walking elephants (baby elephant in the middle), with Giraffe sitting on the back of the lead elephant and Bird perched in his small nest on top of Giraffe’s head. Attractive, bright acrylics give Bender’s animal characters personality, especially fuzzy, cantankerous Bird, and her friendship story is nicely modulated, with vocabulary lessons neatly tucked in. Sincerely sweet. (Picture book. 3-5)”

A Kirkus Star for Bad Pirate!

Posted on June 10th, 2015 by pajamapress

Bad Pirate by Kari-Lynn Winters and Dean Griffiths“Wicked smart pacing and playful art tell the tale of a pirate too doggone loyal for her own good. Capt. Barnacle Garrick may be the scurviest cur (literally—he’s a springer spaniel) to sail the seven seas, but his blue-eyed daughter Augusta is kind, considerate, and caring. In short, she’s a very bad pirate indeed. Disgusted—she’s more inclined to tuck her bunkmates in than to commit basic forms of piracy—her father admonishes her to “be saucy…bold….But most important, me sea pup, yez gots to be SELFISH!” Augusta tries by purloining a fellow shipmate’s peg leg, but when a squall and a torn mainsail mean almost certain sinking, the feisty sea pup teaches her father and his crew that sometimes it pays to be saucy, bold, and selfless. In a story so packed with piratical jargon and growls that even the most staid and sorry landlubbers will become salty dogs while reading it, it’s Griffiths’ art that takes the wave-swept narrative to another level. Augusta’s charm goes far, and each breed of canine is rendered with a loving hand. Even more delightful are the tiny details. From Augusta’s surreptitious carving of a new peg leg to Garrick’s battles with uniformed mice in an early vignette, young readers will see something new with each turn of the page. Arrrrguably the best piratical dogfight you’ll ever sink your teeth into. (Picture book. 4-6)”

A Kirkus Star for Princess Pistachio and the Pest!

Posted on June 6th, 2015 by pajamapress

Princess Pistachio and the Pest by Marie-Louise Gay, translated by Jacob HomelPrincess Pistachio Shoelace’s summer vacation is not starting out on a high note. She has big plans to meet with her friends to search for treasure. But her mother insists that she must take her little sister, Penny, to the park. Penny is delighted, but Pistachio is definitely feeling put-upon. Penny, dressed in a bunny hat and a cape and perched in a wagon filled with toys and the dog, exhorts Pistachio to “giddy up.” The day goes from bad to worse, as Penny manages to cause a great deal of trouble, especially when Pistachio has momentary lapses of attention. Penny sneaks fruit from the grocer, Mr. Pomodoro, and Pistachio is blamed. Penny climbs a wall and falls off, into the garden of Mrs. Oldtooth, the neighborhood witch. When Penny swims in the park fountain and pulls out some coins, Pistachio is blamed again. It has been a decidedly unroyal day, and her frustration is compounded by their mother’s clueless reaction. In four breathless, fast-paced chapters, Gay once again weaves a frantically funny tale with deliciously named characters, while subtly recognizing some underlying concerns regarding sibling responsibility and difficulties with adult-child communication. Descriptive and age-appropriate language flows naturally and is in perfect tandem with the brightly hued illustrations that depict redheaded, freckle-faced Pistachio’s every changing emotion. Young readers will cheer for her. Long live Princess Pistachio. (Early reader. 4-8)

Dance of the Banished an “eye-opening exposé”—Kirkus Reviews

Posted on January 10th, 2015 by pajamapress

Dance of the Banished, a WWI novel by Marsha Forchuk Skrypuch“World War I separates a betrothed Anatolian couple—leaving one to witness the Armenian genocide and sending the other to a prison camp…in Canada. Cast as letters and journal entries, the double narrative records the experiences of Zeynep, a villager transplanted to the “mighty city of Harput,” and Ali, who is swept up with other supposed enemy aliens and shipped to a remote camp in central Ontario before he can send for Zeynep. Neither is of Turkish descent: They are Kurds practicing the ancient, indigenous Alevi faith. These distinctions make no difference to Canadian authorities in Ali’s case, but they do give Zeynep some protection as she records a rising tide of atrocities committed against her Armenian (Christian) friends and neighbors…An eye-opening exposé of historical outrages committed in two countries, with intriguing glimpses of a minority group that is not well-known in the Americas”

A Brush Full of Colour “lively” and “accessible” introduction to Ted Harrison—Kirkus Reviews

Posted on December 10th, 2014 by pajamapress

ABrushFullOfColour_HR_RGB“… Abundantly illustrated, the generally lively text is accessible and well-paced, and (thankfully) the didactic asides and discussion prompts are relegated to the paintings’ captions. Backmatter includes a helpful index and related books, websites and films. A child-friendly introduction to an iconic, wonderfully accessible and quintessentially Canadian artist. (Picture book/biography. 5-8)”

Click here to read the full review.

Princess Pistachio Receives Kirkus Star

Posted on November 11th, 2014 by pajamapress

PrincessPistachio_Internet“…The skillful combination of text and illustrations addresses many serious concerns of early childhood—and even of parenthood—without straying from the book’s tone of fun and frivolity. (Among the issues so adeptly addressed are adoption, sibling relationships, classmate rejection and a missing child.) The characters are pen-and-ink creations tinted with bright watercolors; Pistachio’s russet braid and freckled face are reminiscent of Pippi Longstocking and the author’s own Stella. Playful names (Pistachio’s teacher is Mrs. Trumpethead) add to the fun. A playful and entertaining take on children’s perennial questions surrounding ideas of personhood, family and community. (Early reader. 4-8)”

Click here to read the full review.