Pajama Press

Posts Tagged ‘Review’

“Beauty and sorrow sit side by side” in My Beautiful Birds, says The Horn Book Magazine

Posted on February 1st, 2017 by pajamapress

mybeautifulbirds_website“At the start of the emotional tale My Beautiful Birds by Suzanne Del Rizzo, Sami and his family climb a hill while their Syrian village burns in the background below. They continue walking for a day and two nights until they reach a refugee camp: “Helpful hands welcome us in. We made it. We are safe.” But Sami is still scared, and he is heartbroken over the loss of his beloved pet pigeons, even though his father reassures him that “they escaped, too.” Healing finally comes after a quartet of birds arrive — not his birds, “but it doesn’t matter.” Del Rizzo uses polymer clay and acrylic paint to create vibrant pictures of Sami, his family, the refugee camp, and the swirling pink-and-purple sky. Most of all, she creates birds for which every feather and color looks real. Beauty and sorrow sit side by side in this compassionate and age-appropriate depiction of contemporary refugee life. (Pajama Press, 6–9 years)”

Click here to view The Horn Book Magazine’s post on books about refugee children

Next Round “a sure hit,” says Booklist

Posted on August 25th, 2016 by pajamapress

NextRound_Website “The rise of Arthur Biyarslanov, known as the Chechen Wolf, and his journey from refugee to soccer star to Olympian are chronicled in a narrative biography that is both inspirational and timely. Opening with the Biyarslanov family’s flight from Chechnya in a sequence that could be straight out of a movie, the book draws the reader’s attention almost immediately….Eventually, young Arthur and his family end up in Canada, where he hones his soccer skills, until a broken leg sets him on the path to boxing. Biyarslanov’s sheer grit, determination, and hard work lead him all the way to the Olympics in Brazil. Photographs are scattered throughout and show his transition from Chechnya to Canada, from child to young adult. The story itself moves quickly and descriptively; soccer games and boxing bouts, for example, pop from the page. A sure hit for readers looking for a sports biography or a story of triumphing over difficulties.”

— Erin Linsenmeyer

Elliot “a must-have for public libraries”—Youth Services Book Review

Posted on August 23rd, 2016 by pajamapress

Elliot_WebsiteThis is a book that tries to explain the foster care system to young children. We are introduced to a little rabbit named Elliot and told ‘His mother and father loved him very much.’ But unfortunately, they do not know what to do when Elliot cries or yells or misbehaves….Thomas tells Elliot he will find him a ‘forever, forever family.’ Elliot takes time to adjust but ‘In time, Elliot grew attached to his new family. When he cried or yelled or misbehaved, his new parents would hold him in their arms and tell him they loved him forever, forever.’ His birth parents still visit him, but one day Elliot is officially adopted and ‘…would never have to change families again.’ The collage illustrations in muted tones reflect the gentleness of the story. This is a lovely book to share with a child trying to cope with the intricacies of being a foster child. The book stresses that Elliot is always loved and that everyone wants to do what is best for him. This is a must-have for public libraries.

Click here to read the full review.

The Hill has “broad appeal for teens and tweens,” says School Library Journal

Posted on August 23rd, 2016 by pajamapress

TheHill_WebsiteAfter the private plane Jared is flying in crashes in the wilderness, the first person to reach him is another teen, Kyle, a member of the Cree nation. Desperate to use his cell phone, Jared insists on climbing a hill, though Kyle warns him against it. Kyle ends up going with Jared to protect him. Both boys are thrown into a spirit world; they are pursued by the Wîhtiko, a flesh-eating monster and occasionally helped by the trickster Wolverine as they attempt to find their way back to their own world with Kyle’s grandmother’s prayers as guidance. Along the way, stereotypes are confronted and the boys become tentative buddies in their fight for survival. Told mostly from Jared’s perspective, the narrative shows his personal growth as he follows Kyle’s lead to stay alive. The boys realize that in order to return to their world they must stop the Wîhtiko—or die trying. In the notes, the author explains her use of the Cree language and legends and discusses the individuals with whom she consulted when using them. Kyle often serves as a guide for Jared and helps him realize his own biases, a trope often found in literature. The writing is descriptive and fast-paced, with an impending sense of dread overshadowing everything as the boys try to outrun and outwit the Wîhtiko. VERDICT: A survival and buddy story with broad appeal for tweens and teens.
—Tamara Saarinen, Pierce County Library, WA

CanLit for LittleCanadians praises “intimate beauty” of All the World a Poem

Posted on August 18th, 2016 by pajamapress

AllTheWorldAPoem_Website2“…All the World a Poem is a lyrical odyssey examining the richness of poems in shape and content, place and time, purpose and destination. According to Gilles Tibo’s dreamy text, poetry can be anything and everything, filled with grace and love, both reverent and impassioning.

The translation from Gilles Tibo’s French Poésies pour la vie (Isatis, 2015) is beautifully rendered by Pajama Press’ own Erin Woods, who also capably gave English voice to Elliot (Pajama Press, 2016).  The text is sublime, a celebration of sounds and rhythms and expressive verse.  And Manon Gauthier again creates her distinctive illustrations of paper collage art that gives texture and whimsy a totally unique look.  The luxuriance of the words and the art is almost overwhelming in its intimate beauty…”

Click here to read the full review.

Canadian Children’s Book News praises Root Beer Candy and Other Miracles

Posted on August 16th, 2016 by pajamapress

RootBeerCandyAndOtherMiracles_WebsiteIn Root Beer Candy and Other Miracles by Shari Green, 11-year-old Bailey knows spending her first summer with Nana Marie is just one more sign of many that her parents’ marriage is in trouble. While they go on a retreat to try and salvage their relationship, Bailey and her younger brother, Kevin, are left to deal with the tension and fear of a possibly imminent divorce. Life in Felicity Bay challenges Bailey to look outside herself, however, when the local ice cream man, Jasper, makes a series of startling prophecies. Finding herself drawn into the heart of a town steeped in misery, Bailey keeps her faith in the goodness of others and looks for miracles to help heal the wounds of the past.

Writing in verse, Green aptly captures the journey of a girl faced with her first real heartbreak—the likely dissolution of her family. Bailey’s openness to confronting her reality while still believing in the extraordinary adds to her charm, as does her growing realization that heartache affects many others in her life as well. The colourful and mysterious small town of Felicity Bay and the ocean it borders offer the perfect backdrop for Bailey’s awakening to the larger world around her. With a renewed sense of connectedness and a greater understanding of family, Bailey emerges from her summer of change hopeful for the future.

Canadian Children’s Book News calls The Hill “wonderfully creepy”

Posted on August 16th, 2016 by pajamapress

TheHill_Website“When the private jet that Jared is aboard crashes in Northern Alberta, Jared is “rescued” by a Cree teenager who’s spending the summer with his grandparents and younger brother at their summer camp. The plane’s pilot is badly injured and there seems to be no way for Jared to make contact with the outside world, his computer smashed beyond repair and his cellphone without reception. There’s a big hill nearby, and Jared is sure that if they can just get to the top, he’ll get a signal, but Kyle warns Jared that climbing that hill is dangerous. His Kokum, his grandmother, has warned Kyle to stay away from the hill; it is haunted by evil spirits. But Jared won’t listen and, having mounted the summit, the boys suddenly find themselves in an alternative reality faced with a Windigo, a cannibalistic evil spirit that begins to pursue them through the wilderness. And this is not just any Windigo, but the Wîhtiko.

Karen Bass has created a riveting novel that beautifully blends a fast-paced adventure with a wonderfully creepy horror story, using First Nations’ mythology to tie the two stories together. What is particularly striking is not only the way that Bass weaves the cannibal-hunting Wîhtiko into the story but also the one mythological figure who has defeated this creature, Wesakechak, the Cree trickster, who helps the teens out. Bass not only makes readers see the limitations of settler society’s understanding of First Nations’ cultures and traditions but she also allows her First Nations teenager to learn something from his interaction with Jared. The Hill is a novel about making connections, finding ways to work together and be mutually respectful in terms of interpersonal relationships and different cultures. Bass provides readers with a glimpse into how she approached using Cree mythology in an excellent author’s note.”
—Jeffrey Canton

Going for a Sea Bath “will have kids hooked”—Canadian Children’s Book News

Posted on August 16th, 2016 by pajamapress

GoingForASeaBath_Website“In the whimsical picture book Going for a Sea Bath, Andrée Poulin takes young readers on a trip to the ocean…right in the bathtub! Leanne does not want to take a bath because baths are boring, and there is nothing to play with in the tub. Her father, undaunted by his daughter’s reluctance, has an idea to make bath time more fun. He runs all the way to the sea and returns with one turtle. When the turtle doesn’t do much, Leanne’s father returns to the sea, bringing a succession of expressive sea life for her to enjoy in the tub. From two eels and three clownfish up to nine starfish and ten octopi, Leanne’s bathtub gets so full there is no more room for Leanne! Munsch-esque prose paired with Anne-Claire Delisle’s delightfully playful illustrations will have kids hooked.

What better way to introduce young children to a unit on sea life than to read this book aloud and have students talk about all the animals that live in the sea. Leanne’s father brings ten different creatures home; can students think of other animals that live in the sea? Have any of the students visited an ocean? What sea life did they see? This book would make a perfect segue for a class trip to an aquarium (or the ocean, if you are lucky enough to live on one of Canada’s coasts). There are wonderful opportunities to incorporate math (counting, adding, etc.) and art into a unit on sea life and the oceans—create a classroom mural, with each child drawing or crafting his or her favourite creature from under the sea.”

Quill & Quire reviews Next Round

Posted on June 7th, 2016 by pajamapress

NextRound_Website“John Spray – benefactor of the eponymous award – tells the story of 20-year-old boxer Arthur Biyarslanov, who overcame a turbulent childhood, fleeing war-torn Chechnya when he was three, spending years as a refugee in Azerbaijan before arriving in Canada when he was nine, learning two new languages along the way. Now one of the top amateur boxers in his class in the world, Biyarslanov won gold for Canada at the 2015 Pan Am Games (the first Canadian boxer to do so in 40 years), and earned a place at the 2016 Olympics.”

“All public and elementary school libraries” should have Elephant Journey, says Youth Services Book Review

Posted on May 26th, 2016 by pajamapress

ElephantJourney_Website“In October of 2013 three African elephants, Iringa, Thika and Toka, who had lived at the Toronto Zoo for many years, were given sanctuary at PAWS (Performing Animal Welfare Society) in California. Toka and Iringa had been wild born and stolen from their mothers when very young to be taken to a zoo in the cold clime of Toronto, Canada. Thika was born at the Toronto Zoo. Outrage at the small enclosure for these three elephants living in an unnatural climate finally lead to their being trucked all the way to sanctuary in California. Photographs and illustrations accompany the text.

To whom would you recommend this book? Put this one on display to attract a wider audience and recommend to kids and adults who like elephants and want to learn about their plight in captivity.

Who should buy this book? All public and elementary school libraries”

Click here to read the full review.