Posted on January 30th, 2017 by pajamapress
“This padded storybook with sturdy cardstock pages follows a mother’s persistent efforts to get her sleepy ‘grumple’ out of bed in the morning. Allenby’s intermittently rhyming text traces the mother’s escalating actions, which involve singing ever-louder…Gauthier’s naif collages sweetly emphasize the warmth between parent and child (they resemble a cross between a panda and a squirrel), even when the little one’s eyes are squeezed tight in a desperate attempt to hang onto sleep a little longer.”
Read the full review in the January 30 issue of Publishers Weekly
Posted on November 14th, 2016 by pajamapress
“Fullerton’s (In a Cloud of Dust) tale starts out as a thoughtful account of a child’s daily life in Sri Lanka: ‘[Malini] watches the load of rice seedlings swish back and forth on the cart as it bumps over the road toward her. Today she will learn to plant those seedlings…. But what if she does it wrong?’ The story takes a dramatic turn as a sudden squall floods the road and cuts Malini and the oxcart off from the adults. LaFave’s (Ben Says Goodbye) spreads, too, switch from quiet landscapes to urgent action, dashing lines tracing sheets of rain. Malini must lead the ox and cart into the barn to get the rice seedlings under cover. She overcomes paralyzing fear and tugs ox and cart inside, but her troubles aren’t over: the ox is agitated.
Bold lines emphasize the animal’s intimidating bulk, but Malina screws up her courage: ‘She leans close to him, stroking whispering calming. They wait slowly, breathing together.’ It’s a gratifying portrait of a child discovering her own strength: Malini, so nervous about learning to plant rice, is capable of far greater feats. Ages 4–8.”
Find this review on page 56 of the November 14, 2016 issue of Publishers Weekly
Posted on August 10th, 2016 by pajamapress
“Pigs and flying are the stuff of idiomatic legend, but a porker named Ollie is determined to make it happen in this offbeat story from Coates (Rocket Man) and Del Rizzo (Gerbil, Uncurled). With help from a young human friend, Jack, Ollie tries several methods of getting airborne, such as strapping branches to his body like wings and creating a parachute/kite hybrid. Every attempt ends with an “oooooomph!” and a “plop!” Del Rizzo stages the action in three-dimensional mixed-media scenes made from plasticine, clay, and other materials, capturing the imaginative energy Jack and Ollie bring to the task (one impressive set of wings features steampunk-style gears and straps) and the stinging defeats Ollie suffers. By the fourth time readers see the pig banged up from a fall, though, they’ll probably be ready for the story to move on, which it does with the arrival of a hot-air balloon.”
Click here to read the entire review.
Posted on March 21st, 2016 by pajamapress
“Born in southern Africa, elephants Toka and Iringa were later captured and brought to a Toronto zoo; a third elephant, Thika, was born in captivity. When the zoo’s cramped conditions and cold climate began to impair the elephants’ heath, public outcry resulted in their 2013 relocation to a California sanctuary. In subdued oil paintings, Deines focuses on the elephants’ long, difficult journey, riding in crates on flatbed truck trailers through dangerous weather conditions. Seeing Toka, Iringa, and Thika finally free to explore their new home—80 acres of glowing grasslands—will likely bring relief to sensitive readers. Photographs and additional rescue details round out a sensitive account of animal activism and rehabilitation. Ages 6–9.”
Posted on November 12th, 2015 by pajamapress
“Allenby (Nat the Cat Can Sleep Like That) and Griffiths (Bad Pirate) explore the perils of perfectionism, following a rabbit named Timo through a week’s worth of gardening, as he tries to make it perfect for an upcoming garden tour. Allenby laces her story with alliteration and wordplay (“Gently, he planted some ginger. Gingerly, he planted some gentians”), and Griffiths’s color illustrations further add to the cozy atmosphere—there’s a whiff of The Wind in the Willows in the dapper outfits he gives the animal characters. It’s impossible to miss the message (“I could have tended my friends instead of my garden,” Timo realizes, after a rainstorm ruins a week’s worth of work), but the easy camaraderie and old-fashioned gentility among these friends exert plenty of charm.”
Posted on October 30th, 2015 by pajamapress
Couëlle and Laplante celebrate kisses, be they big or small, quick or “slurpy.” Both the writing and artwork have a sweetly haphazard quality—Laplante’s scraggly illustrations look authentically kid-drawn, the meter of Couëlle’s verse varies wildly, and she sneaks in a few extemporaneous unrhymed moments. “Some kisses make noises: big ones like… smooch! And little ones like… peck!” she writes as a startled dog’s ear raises in alarm while a doting grandmother kisses her granddaughter’s forehead. Whether kisses are meant to mitigate soccer injuries or signal hello or goodbye, Couëlle and Laplante make it clear that “a shower of kisses never misses.”
Click here to read this review on the PW website
Posted on September 8th, 2015 by pajamapress
“Twelve-year-old Evie’s mother has died, giving custody of Evie to an uncle she barely knows in New York City. Evie is loathe to leave her home in Dublin, so she and Uncle Scott strike a bargain that Evie will spend the summer in New York and then decide if she wants to stay or return to Ireland to live with her godmother. This hook, along with a prologue that finds Evie stuck in a building’s trash chute after escaping a security guard, lend structure to an otherwise delightfully anecdotal plot that shifts between Evie’s adjustment to Manhattan (including her helping out at her uncle’s veterinary practice and her crush on an older boy) and flashbacks to her life in Ireland.
Newcomer Agnew gives Evie an engaging balance of sarcasm, vulnerability, and humour, and the story’s secondary characters are equally well-developed and entertaining….The cliffhanger ends the story on a gripping note, but readers would be clamoring for another Evie book even without one.”
Posted on July 23rd, 2015 by pajamapress
“German sailor Erich is not a Nazi, despite being part of the Third Reich’s military. Max, a Canadian boy from a German family, does not support Hitler, but peers in rural Alberta subject him to vicious torment anyway. When Erich is taken prisoner, he crosses paths with Max at a logging camp where several of the POWs are sent as labor. The two find support in each other as they face a world that views them as trespassers. Not only does Erich suffer as an enemy alien, his fellow German prisoners suspect him of being an Allied sympathizer, because he speaks English. Can he prove his worth in a risky effort to uncover who has been sabotaging the Germans with dangerous logging accidents? Can both boys ever find peace and acceptance in a world where war-driven fear and resentment overshadow people’s humanity? …readers will likely find the two main characters’ journeys to safety and justice in a cruel world compelling.”
Posted on June 30th, 2015 by pajamapress
“Through the fictional story of a Tanzanian girl named Anna, Fullerton (Community Soup) and Deines (Bear on the Homefront) reveal how bicycles can change the lives of children whose families lack access to motorized transportation. Opening on “a little schoolhouse [that] sits at the end of a dusty road,” Deines shows Anna working indoors at a desk. “There will be no daylight for schoolwork by the time she reaches home,” writes Fullerton. A truck from a “Bicycle Library” unloads several bikes, but none are left for Anna; undeterred, she helps her friends learn how to ride their bikes (“She directs Samwel around the obstacles/ Left/ Right/ Stop!”) and shares one of them with another student so both of them can get home quickly. Soaked in warm golds and oranges, Deines’s oil paintings glow with a sense of promise as the children race around the schoolyard on their bikes. Fullerton says quite a bit with few words in her verselike prose, and a detailed author’s note discusses the vital role bicycles play in communities across Africa and supplies information about bicycle donation organizations. Ages 4–up. (Sept.)”
Posted on May 26th, 2015 by pajamapress
Despite the title, a boy named Ben is feeling anything but big—his older, school-age siblings get report cards, can swim, and have no trouble using chopsticks when the family goes out for dinner. Luckily, siblings Robin and Joe sense the preschooler’s unhappiness, and they create a report card just for Ben. His subjects include feeding the cat, shoe tying, and “making us laugh,” and he gets A-pluses across the board. Loosely defined by rough, crayonlike lines, LaFave’s images have a swoopy, gestural quality; like Ellis’s text, they take a minimalist approach to the range of emotions Ben is feeling, from jealousy to disappointment and pride. Ages 2–up.