Pajama Press

Posts Tagged ‘sals-fiction-addiction’

Arthur Biyarslanov’s story inspires Sally Bender to shock her family and watch Olympic Boxing!

Posted on August 9th, 2016 by pajamapress

NextRound_Website“Arthur looked around the small, two-bedroom apartment in Baku, Azerbaijan, in disbelief. This can’t be our new home, he thought, a lump in his throat. There was no yard to play in. There were no fruit trees to climb. He suddenly missed his home in Chechnya very badly. He closed his eyes and saw his happy bedroom, painted blue like the sky, and his toy trucks … ”

As we look forward to the opening of the Summer Olympics I wanted to share this story of one of our young athletes, whose journey has been a most difficult one.

John Spray writes the story of the Chechen Wolf, a young Muslim refugee from Chechnya, whose grit and determination won him a gold medal in the 2015 Pan Am Games as a member of Canada’s boxing team. It was Canada’s first gold medal in boxing in forty years. In interviews with Arthur Biyarslanov, Mr. Spray heard stories of his early life, their escape from Russia, the family’s life in a refugee camp in Azerbaijan, and finally a new life in Canada … all before he was nine years old.

The years between leaving Chechnya and moving to Canada were very difficult. His father, a dentist, made little money helping other refugees in Azerbaijan and the family was forced to move too many times. When he died, it became even more difficult for Arthur’s mother and her four young children. It led to immigration to Canada, a brand new adventure. Saying goodbye was not easy:

“Arthur knew that he had to leave most of his things behind when this family left for Canada, so he invited all his friends over and gave them his Pokémon cards and all of his toys. His friends were really happy with the unexpected gifts. They shook Arthur’s hand, patted him on the back, and wished him luck in Canada. “When you’re a famous soccer player,” the goalie said, with tears in his eyes, “don’t forget your old mates. You get to the World Cup or something, make sure we get tickets.” Arthur promised he’d never forget his little gang of friends, and with a lump in his throat, said good-bye to all his chums.”

The road from then to now, in 2016, was filled with sports of all kinds including soccer, a badly broken leg and a switch to trying his hand at boxing. His skills improved tremendously when he started working with Danny Santagato, who became coach, family friend, mentor and father figure.

“Arthur continued to fight and win tournaments throughout 2008 and entered grade eight on a real high. He was now an upperclassman in middle school and played in the city finals in basketball, volleyball and soccer. On the track team he made the city finals in the shotput, the 800 m run, and 4 x 100 relay. He helped bring to Winchester Senior School six championship banners – the most in the school’s history.”

In his final year of high school, Arthur made the difficult decision to give up soccer and make boxing his focus. Early on soccer had provided a place to make new friends, to learn new languages, and to advance his enormous athletic talent. A broken leg proved a mixed blessing when he used boxing to keep up his strength. It was a perfect fit for him. With hard work and dogged determination he became a champion amateur boxer. Right now, he is in Rio to take his place on the Canadian boxing team. What a feat!

Not one member of my family or friends will believe me when I say that I am going to keep my eye out for boxing matches during the Olympic coverage, but I will be … and that is the truth!

-

Read more from Sally at Sal’s Fiction Addiction.

Sal’s Fiction Addiction praises “compelling” Elephant Journey

Posted on October 23rd, 2015 by pajamapress

ElephantJourney_Internet“I have long admired the work that Rob Laidlaw does to help protect wild animals from the indignity of being held captive, whether by a circus or a zoo. His books for children have informed, enlightened and encouraged readers to get involved in making a difference in the life of any animal.

In his newest book Rob tells the story of three elephants from the Toronto Zoo who are eventually moved to a healthier place, where they might live their lives as they were meant to be lived. Their story is compelling and caused a lot of anxiety for those who love animals.

…Brian Deines’ fabulous oil paintings chronicle their trip. His paintings were made using footage from the trip, and accurately portray for interested readers the joy and bravery of these magnificent pachyderms as they journeyed across a vast land to a more suitable home.

Back matter includes clear and appealing photographs, captioned with accurate and much appreciated further information. An Acknowledgements section, and an index can also be found there…”
—Sally Bender

Click here to read the full review.

Sal’s Fiction Addiction calls Giraffe Meets Bird “a treat”

Posted on August 11th, 2015 by pajamapress

Giraffe Meets Bird by Rebecca Bender“…As she did in that first book, Rebecca Bender gives us memorable and lovable characters. Her double page spreads provide a close-up look at the developing relationship. Her expressive characters are quite the pair. As you can see from the shared quotes, she uses words that are synonymous to describe their relationship. It allows her young readers to build vocabulary without really knowing that it is happening.

If you haven’t met Giraffe and Bird, you are in for a treat. Your little ones are sure to thank you for introducing them to this charming pair.”

Click here to read the full review.

Marie-Louise Gay charms with Princess Pistachio, says Sal’s Fiction Addiction

Posted on November 3rd, 2014 by pajamapress

PrincessPistachio_HR_RGB“…It’s a great deal of fun to read about Pistachio and her attempts to prove her worth as royalty, despite many parental obstacles…It isn’t until a family emergency fills her with worry and sets her on a course to find her little sister that she realizes what is truly most important in life.

This is a welcome early reader that is sure to earn even more fans for the very popular and charming Marie-Louise Gay. You will find Pistachio to be lovable, energetic and very opinionated.”

Click here to read the full review.

Sal’s Fiction Addiction calls A Brush Full of Colour an “inspiring book”

Posted on August 15th, 2014 by pajamapress

ABrushFullOfColour_HR_RGB“…The table of contents for this lovely new book from Pajama Press entices with the promise of a foreword by the artist himself, and then goes on to let the reader know that soon they will learn about Ted’s childhood, his world travels, his life in the north, and his life as a full-time artist. I couldn’t wait to get started as I have been in awe of his work for many years.

…The bright colors and the dancing lights of the northern skies gave him the inspiration he needed to let his imagination grow and flourish. His family’s life in the Yukon, and the place itself, is depicted in the many wonderful pieces of art that are included in this welcome and inspiring book. His legacy lives on in the books he has written, in his paintings that hang in galleries, and public and personal collections, and in his wisdom shared about the need for art in schools, and in our lives…”
- Sally Bender

Click here to read the full review.

Sal’s Fiction Addiction suggests The Stowaways for long January nights

Posted on December 18th, 2013 by pajamapress

TheStowaways_C_July14.indd“It’s a great read for the family or for the classroom. There is certainly fun involved, and excitement, and even a bit of tension. What more can we ask?   Long winter nights or January afternoons at school just beg for a fitting story to share. This could be it!”
—Sally Bender

Click here to read the full review.

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.

Sal’s Fiction Addiction enjoys Community Soup

Posted on November 14th, 2013 by pajamapress

CommunitySoup_Med“It’s lovely for young readers to catch a glimpse of village life in Kenya. The sentences are short and tell their story with a lively pace. The textural cut paper and collage illustrations add a lovely touch, and will invite close attention to the happenings in the village as the communal soup is prepared. Bright backgrounds match the brilliance of the children’s attire and the soup recipe shared at the back had my mouth watering…it is that time of year for the comfort it brings…”

Click here to read the full review.

Sal’s Fiction Addiction praises Nix Minus One

Posted on February 19th, 2013 by pajamapress

“…In an interview Jill Maclean she said she writes character driven books. She hit the nail on the head with that statement, given the memorable characters she creates here…Nix, Roxy, Bryan, Twig, Chase, Loren and Blue, and Nix’s parents. Set in Newfoundland, this is his story about family, conflict, friendship, death, secrets, a dog and a budding romance. The characters who people the pages are expertly drawn: flawed, remarkable, and redemptive for the most part.

I love them for many reasons…their vulnerability, their strength, their unparalleled concern for others. Well, not Bryan…not at all, but there has to be a villain; or the men who own Twig and treat her so abominably. Sorrow, and an inability to deal with it, tears at the Humboldt family which is stoic, secretive, and who all have reasons for doing what they do…”

Click here to read the full post.

Sal’s Fiction Addiction reviews A Good Trade

Posted on November 20th, 2012 by pajamapress

The author uses clear prose and descriptive language to make the reader aware of the life that Kato lives. We hear the silence of the early morning, see the soldiers as they stand guard, feel the sloshing of the water on Kato’s bare, dusty toes, catch our breath with him as he hauls the water home and must stop to rest, and smile as he and the aid worker make their ‘good trade’.

Karen Patkau creates a setting that allows a glimpse at Kato’s life and his village, the bright and happy colors that the children wear (including their new shoes) and the muted landscape he travels over daily. Each page captures our attention and begs for discussion.

Click here to read the full review.