Pajama Press

Posts Tagged ‘picture-books’

Small Things “offers a significant potential gift: understanding, and the possibility of recovery” says The Times Literary Supplement

Posted on May 11th, 2018 by pajamapress

Cover: Small Things Author: Mel Tregonning Publisher: Pajama Press“When giving children books, well-meaning adults may feel impelled to offer challenge, too – opting for text-dense vocabulary boosters at the reader’s diagnosed level, with the difficulty ramped up a little for luck. However gentle, though, this sort of nudge is not an unalloyed blessing. It may pluck children out of storylines in which they were ecstatically resident; deny them the elegant plotting of a well-turned mystery, the satisfying structure of a pony story or the terseness of a comic adventure….

A frequent casualty of the utilitarian focus on advancement and sheer length is illustration, and the reader’s respect for it. The children told “You’re too old for picture books” are not only banished abruptly from an enchanted kingdom. They are also held back from winkling out images’ stored secrets of detail, and from learning the artist’s language of window-frame, colour, light, shade, emphasis, the single line that communicates mood, or loss, or season – everything we mean by “visual literacy”. Sophisticated, demanding concepts may also be com­municated, via illustration, to readers unable or unwilling as yet to parse the complex language required.

Small Things, a wordless graphic novel by Mel Tregonning, and finished, after her death, by Shaun Tan (Allen & Unwin), is an extra­ordinary example: an illustrated book that communicates difficult, painful ideas solely via intricate monochrome graphite drawings….[T]o the ten- or twelve-year-old besieged by incipient anxiety or depression it offers a ­significant potential gift: understanding, and the possibility of recovery….The image of a small, vulnerable body breaking down by degrees, while deeply discomfiting, honours the weight of what it conveys; and the book as a whole celebrates the helpfulness of uncon­ditional love, while successfully avoiding a superficial, unduly swift resolution….”

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School Library Journal calls Ben and the Scaredy-Dog “compassionate” and “warmhearted”

Posted on May 3rd, 2018 by pajamapress

Cover: Ben and the Scaredy-Dog Author: Sarah Ellis Illustrator: Kim La Fave Publisher: Pajama Press“Emphasized in thick, crayonlike outlines, the soft, cartoon illustrations add comfort and charm to this encouraging, gentle narrative about a common childhood fear. VERDICT This compassionate story may ease some anxiety in young children who are nervous or fearful around dogs. A warmhearted addition to Ellis and LaFave’s books about Ben.”

Read the full review in the May 2018 issue of School Library Journal

Canadian Bookworm calls Wash On! “lovely” and “fun”

Posted on April 29th, 2018 by pajamapress

Cover: Wash On! Author: Michèle Marineau Illustrator: Manon Gauthier Translator: Erin Woods Publisher: Pajama Press“This lovely tale of a young girl who finds the magical power of words while taking a bath, will delight all young readers….The fun of imagining [coloritis] happening is enhanced by the illustrations showing color moving to other objects and the confusion it causes. A fun book.”

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Wash On! “focuses on the joie de vivre of a world filled with colour” says CanLit for LittleCanadians

Posted on April 26th, 2018 by pajamapress

Cover: Wash On! Author: Michèle Marineau Illustrator: Manon Gauthier Translator: Erin Woods Publisher: Pajama Press“Though most of us wash off any dirt and colours that stain our skin, a little twist of words and fate have colour splotches washing onto little Petronilla in Quebec author and translator Michèle Marineau’s newest picture book Wash On!…

Wash On! may be based on a silly situation in which colours are transferred rather than cleaned off but the story actually has several powerful messages hidden in that imaginative scenario. First, Wash On! focuses on the joie de vivre of a world filled with colour. We all need a little colour in our lives…But like anything, it is possible to have too much of a good thing, as everyone learns, including Petronilla. Once the colours explode and there is no contrast and no way to differentiate objects, that joy is lost, like the dog, in an overabundance of stain. Splashes of colour are wonderfully invigorating and therapeutic but excesses are debilitating and even harmful. Second, Governor General award-winning author Michèle Marineau recognizes the power of children in defining the world and their need to manage their own circumstances. Her family may think of Petronilla as chaotic but she seems to just want a hand in determining the life she will lead.

Michèle Marineau tells powerful stories in her native French language and this translation by Pajama Press’s Erin Woods highlights that poignancy with merriment and spirit. That same boldness is depicted with daring by Manon Gauthier’s mixed media illustrations. Manon Gauthier…continues to do amazing things with gouache, pencil and paper collage, ever different and totally wonderful.

Wash On! may say a lot about living a life in colour but it also reminds us about moderation and having control over the lives we lead. Young readers will laugh at the silliness of the family’s situation but we can all learn a lesson or two from Petronilla and her splashy world.”
—Helen K

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Bat Citizens: Defending the Ninjas of the Night is an “excellent information-packed book” says Resource Links Magazine

Posted on April 24th, 2018 by pajamapress

Cover: Bat Citizens: Defending the Ninjas of the Night Author: Rob Laidlaw“Rating: E…Readers of any of award winning Rob Laidlaw’s previous books will agree with the description on the jacket cover of Bat Citizens: Defending the Ninjas of the Night “Rob Laidlaw has devoted his life to protecting animals and empowering others to do the same.” One of the ways that Rob protects animals and empowers others is by producing excellent information-packed books.

Bat Citizens combines an impressive amount of research about bats with snapshots of many ‘bat citizens’, children and young adults, helping bats world-wide. Rob states in his introduction “Bats are disappearing because of threats like habitat destruction, roost disturbance, disease, and wind turbines.” The purpose of the book is to inform readers, to think good things about bats, and to provide inspiration and advice to help bats….

This book is highly recommended for both school and public libraries. Each ‘Bat Citizen’ article could be a starting point for individual or group projects, such as learning mapping software to study local bat ranges, conducting experiments to understand echolocation, building bat-houses in shop class for the school, and community. Students could host a bat festival educating and encouraging others to understand bats. The world needs bats.

Thematic Links: Bats; Bat Conservation; Animal Activists; Animal Welfare”
—Laura Reilly

Read the full review on page 22 of the April 2018 issue of Resource Links Magazine

Small Things is “a must-have, one-of-a-kind addition to every school library and home collection” says CM Magazine

Posted on April 20th, 2018 by pajamapress

SmallThings_Website“Every once in a while, we are privileged with the gift of holding in our hands truly unique and emotionally riveting books which have the capacity to leave permanent footprints etched in the heart. Mel Tregonning’s Small Things is, undeniably, one of those books. While Tregonning’s untimely passing in 2014 has resulted in her being unable to physically witness the impact that her work has had on so many lives, it is safe to say that the legacy she has left behind in Small Things will continue to inspire and promote awareness for years to come….

Sadly, Tregonning was unable to see her project to its entirety, and, therefore, the final illustrations of the book were completed by renowned illustrator Shaun Tan who has forever redefined the genre of children’s literature with his creative, wordless vision and masterful life-like illustrations through such influential books as The Arrival. The similarities between Tregonning’s and Tan’s work are uncanny, and their mutual use of black and white and intricate shading techniques results in an extraordinarily realistic and haunting visual depiction of the actions and emotions of their characters. While evidently unforeseen, this chance merger of two such prolific illustrators of our time has resulted in a wordless masterpiece that, like The Arrival, effortlessly taps into the rawness of the human experience.

In Small Things, the author seems to speak to us from beyond the pages with a poignant reminder that no one is ever truly alone in their internal battles. Furthermore, Tregonning’s young protagonist acts as an example of the newfound hope and healing that can progressively emerge from confiding in others during life’s more challenging phases. Perhaps what makes this book most appealing is its relatability. Readers of all ages will be able to associate with the examples of daily stresses and worries that make us vulnerable and, at times, chip away at the soul, leaving temporary cracks for the light to escape. This beautifully depicted textless narrative which effectively honours not only the life of Tregonning, herself, but also the lives of all those who have been impacted by struggles with mental health, is a must-have, one-of-a-kind addition to every school library and home collection.

Highly Recommended.
—Christina Quintiliani is an Ontario Certified Teacher and Ph.D. Candidate at the Faculty of Education, Brock University, St. Catharines, ON., where she is researching children’s literature.

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CM Magazine says “Be swept away in the magic of colour” in Wash On!

Posted on April 18th, 2018 by pajamapress

WashOn_Website“Be swept away in the magic of colour as Petronilla and her family paint their home and town with every touch! Wash On! brings colour and life to a world in which Petronilla feels is too dull and boring at times….

Michèle Marineau shines the light on Petronilla who has been living in the limelight of her perfect sister. Petronilla has never felt so important – realising the power she holds to ‘wash on’ colours from one object to another. Marineau’s use of dialogue provides a voice for each character. The characters’ emotion, tone, and volume are heard and experienced through Marineau’s use of descriptive dialogue…

Manon Gauthier’s mixed-media illustrations are captivating and inventive. Her use of gouache, pencils, and paper collage provides depth and layers to each setting….

Wash On! (originally published in French as Barbouillette) will leave readers wanting to experience the remarkable transfer of colour from one object to another and paint their world with colour! Highly Recommended.
—Kelsey Sukich is a French-immersion kindergarten teacher at École Rivière-Rouge in Winnipeg, MB. She loves exploring the power and expression of colour with her kindergarteners!

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Wild One‘s “delightful illustrations…are as spontaneous and whimsical as the little girl’s character” says CM Magazine

Posted on April 13th, 2018 by pajamapress

WildOne_Website“Jane Whittingham’s story of an animated little girl’s day is bursting with playful energy and joy….The story is fun to read with children as it is written with rhyming couplets which, along with the illustrations, may help children guess what the next animal will be. The delightful illustrations by Noel Tuazon are presented in watercolour and ink. They are as spontaneous and whimsical as the little girl’s character and help tell the story of her very busy day by their expression of energy in colour and movement….Wild One is quite durable as it has a padded cover, rounded corners and extra heavy interior paper. Great for little ones who may not be quite so gentle with books just yet….Highly Recommended.
—Tamara Opar

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CM Magazine calls Sun Dog “poetic…dreamy…interesting and unique…”

Posted on April 10th, 2018 by pajamapress

SunDog_Website“Kerbel’s poetic detail places the reader in a calm town on top of the world at a time before anyone else is awake and where the wind is lighter than a whisper….Del Rizzo’s textured illustrations in polymer clay pair incredibly well with the acrylic wash of the sky, creating a dreamy image of the midnight sun. Each illustration adds a new dimension to the story, encouraging readers to find hidden meaning in the illustration’s detail….This interesting and unique story could lead to scientific conversations with younger children about life in the Arctic, diverse tundra animals, and the sun cycles in a fun and engaging way, as well as the take-home message of displaying true bravery. In addition to the text, which depicts the romantic landscapes of the tundra and the magical feeling of being on top of the world, Kerbel also includes information on the endpapers about the majestic midnight sun and the atmospheric optical phenomenon called sun dog, both being her inspiration for Sun DogHighly Recommended.
—Mallory Dawson is the Teen Advocate Librarian at Vaughan Public Libraries

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Ben and the Scaredy-Dog is “Highly Recommended” by CM Magazine for “provid[ing] a great example of overcoming a fear”

Posted on April 8th, 2018 by pajamapress

BenScaredyDog_Shadow_Website“When new neighbours move in across the street, Ben is interested in meeting what could possibly be a new friend. But one thing is stopping him: his fear of dogs….Kim LaFave is an illustrator with a focus of paint, pencil and digital media. His images in Ben and the Scaredy-Dog are beautiful. The feelings of fear and uneasiness are clearly depicted on Ben’s face. The illustrations, by also showing body language, add another element to the story.

Apprehension, fear and anxiety are normal feelings. A fear of dogs is common, but learning to cope with this fear is very important. Ben’s bravery is to be commended, and he provides a great example of overcoming a fear.

Every child has a fear, but how they learn to cope and deal with it is the important thing. Ben and the Scaredy-Dog will contribute greatly to story times in the library, classroom or at home. Highly Recommended.
—Courtney Crocker, Regional Librarian for Central Division with Newfoundland and Labrador Public Libraries

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