Pajama Press

Archive for September, 2012

Brantford Expositor interviews Marsha and Tuyet

Posted on September 11th, 2012 by pajamapress

Marsha Forchuk Skrypuch and Tuyet Yurczyszyn (born Son Thi Anh Tuyet, later Tuyet Morris), met with Brantford Expositor journalist Michelle Ruby this week to talk about One Step at a Time: A Vietnamese Child Finds Her Way. The book, written by Marsha about Tuyet’s experiences as a young refugee in Canada, is the sequel to Last Airlift: A Vietnamese Orphan’s Rescue from War, which tells of Tuyet’s rescue from Vietnam and adoption into the Morris family in Canada.

Click here to read the interview.

CanLit for LittleCanadians reviewsOne Step at a Time: A Vietnamese Child Finds Her Way

Posted on September 10th, 2012 by pajamapress

“Just as she so eloquently did in Last Airlift, Marsha Skrypuch gently takes the reader by the hand to observe the young girl’s new life from Tuyet’s viewpoint…  Not the princess dreams and perfect endings of fairy tales, Tuyet’s story is all the more satisfying when her anxieties and confusions are resolved fittingly, just as her shoes are, though not perfectly, and provide the hope necessary to help her take her next steps.  A wonderful tale of making things fit, whether they be people or shoes.”
Helen Kubiw

Click here to read the full review.

Ten Reasons Children should not “Graduate” from Picture Books

Posted on September 10th, 2012 by pajamapress

More and more parents are encouraging their kids to move on from picture books, to graduate to early readers and chapter books. They feel that the pictures are a crutch, that the medium is too childish. We disagree. Vehemently.

1. Reading at the highest level possible sounds good, but it’s exhausting. To really enjoy books, kids need to read things that are “too easy” some of the time.

2. Many picture books are not “too easy” at all; they’re written for adults to read aloud to kids. Since they are so comfortable with the picture book medium, kids often pick up these books and practise reading advanced vocabulary without feeling intimidated by it.

3. Pictures help kids make advanced inferences about the text – which lets picture book authors use more advanced sentences and ideas than junior novel writers usually can.

4.The illustrations of a picture book often tell a slightly different story than the text does, which introduces the opportunity for critical thinking, high-level conversations about the book, and good, old-fashioned appreciation for a great story told in an interesting way.

5. Illustrations are often a child’s first introduction to fine art.

6. School children once learned pure information by rote, but now there is just too much information out there. Instead, schools teach kids the skills they need to keep learning on their own. Picture books are specially crafted to foster imagination and critical thinking, which are both essential for this style of learning.

7. Picture books are perfect for shared reading. Everyone knows they are great for giving children and caregivers the chance to cuddle up and share an experience, but the benefits go farther than simple bonding. When you read together, you talk about what you read. When you talk about what you read, you encourage your child’s comprehension skills. So often, kids can read at a much higher level than they can actually comprehend, which makes the entire process simply mechanical. Sharing a book, and talking about it, ensures they are not just reading the words and tuning out the story.

8. Picture books often use rhyme, rhythm, and word play that are great for developing language skills.

9. Picture books are great teaching tools! Visit a classroom and watch how a teacher introduces a new topic, whether it’s frogs, or pioneers, or poverty, or war. He or she will probably gather the students (even older ones), open a picture book, and start to read.

10. People get passionate about picture books! Our favourite stories and characters stay with us all of our lives and make us want to share them with the next generation. Don’t stifle that urge, and don’t limit it to the first few years of life. Picture books are powerful things, so share and share and share!

Plan a Giraffe and Bird Party Part 5: Giraffe Snacks

Posted on September 7th, 2012 by pajamapress

What would a party be without snacks? We’ve already shared our recipe for Muddy Puddle Slushies; now it’s time to make something fun and healthy that kids can really chew on.

Giraffe Snacks

Materials:

One carrot per three giraffe snacks

One carrot per three giraffe snacks

One plum tomato per Giraffe Snack

One plum tomato per Giraffe Snack

Two dried rosemary leaves per Giraffe Snack

Two dried rosemary leaves per Giraffe Snack

Five toothpicks per Giraffe Snack

Five toothpicks per Giraffe Snack

Directions:

1. Peel your carrot and slice it in two-inch segments

1. Peel your carrot and slice it in two-inch segments

2. Press toothpicks into segment for legs

2. Press toothpicks into segment for legs

3. Gently press another toothpick into the top of the body and the bottom of the head

3. Gently press another toothpick into the top of the body and the bottom of the head

4. Press two rosemary leaves very carefully into the top of the head for horns

4. Press two rosemary leaves very carefully into the top of the head for horns

5. Play with your food!

5. Play with your food!

 

Redeemed Reader calls Last Airlift “alternately gripping and touching”

Posted on September 5th, 2012 by pajamapress

“[Tuyet’s] degree of deprivation can be eye-opening for the children of prosperous America, as well as an accessible introduction to this part of American history.  (As somebody who was draft age at the time, it’s still hard for me to think of the Vietnam War as “history”!)”
–Janie, Redeemed Reader

Click here to read the full review

Upcoming Book Launch for One Step at a Time: A Vietnamese Child Finds Her Way

Posted on September 5th, 2012 by pajamapress

Download the Poster

A Hopeful New Image for Dog Issue Book

Posted on September 4th, 2012 by pajamapress

No Shelter Here: Making the World a Kinder Place for Dogs has been released in new a Canadian paperback edition. The dog welfare book, which talks about issues facing dogs worldwide as well as the inspiring people who are working to help them, is sporting a brand new cover image. Why switch up cover images between editions? Author Rob Laidlaw is here to share some background information about the change.

The new cover

The new cover

The original cover

The original cover

“While many of the wonderful images in No Shelter Here: Making the World a Kinder Place for Dogs are my own, taken during my travels to various regions of the world, I can’t take credit for the remarkable photo gracing the cover of the book’s paperback edition. That image was captured by my friend Jo-Anne McArthur during a visit she made to a dog shelter just outside of Nairobi, Kenya. I expect the two dogs in the photo didn’t have a pleasant past and that’s why they were in the shelter, but they’re obviously still friendly, curious, and full of enthusiasm for life. I think their photo represents the core idea behind No Shelter Here. The book deals with the issues and challenges that dogs around the world have experienced in the past and continue to experience today, but it’s also an enthusiast, optimistic, hopeful book that should inspire young readers to take action. I hope the cover photo is as meaningful to kids and adults and strikes a chord with them as much as it did with me.”

R.LaidlawRob Laidlaw is the author of several animal welfare books for kids. He is also a chartered biologist and the founder of Zoocheck Canada, a wildlife protection agency.

Interview with Connie Brummel Crook

Posted on September 3rd, 2012 by pajamapress

C.B.CrookConnie Brummel Crook is a historian, a former teacher, and the author of fifteen works of historical fiction for young people. She shared some insights with us about writing in her genre, and especially writing her most recent novel, Acts of Courage: Laura Secord and the War of 1812.

Acts of Courage contains a lot of historical figures, and a lot of characters based on  real people, but Red—James FitzGibbon’s childhood persona—is your own invention. What led you to introduce this character?

As a novelist and former teacher of English, I saw the need for the entrance of a boy in the story to attract male as well as female students to read my book. When I investigated Laura’s younger years (about which little had been written) and I found out about her father’s part in subduing Shay’s rebellion, I could see the way to work a teenage boy into the story. Since FitzGibbon would play such an important part later in the story, I thought of bringing him into the story sooner. After all, I am writing a novel—not a biography—and must adhere to some characteristics of novels, which I taught my classes for many years.

A lot of texts about the War of 1812 gloss over the hardships and injustices faced by the Native peoples who were involved, but you clearly made a deliberate choice to highlight the Mohawks’ struggles for survival. Why was that so important to you?

When I first researched for this story, I became fascinated by the writings of Joseph Brant. In fact, in the first book I wrote about Laura he became so prominent that, when I sent it to the editor, she told me that I could not change main characters in the middle of the book. As a novelist I knew that, but I had become captivated by Joseph Brant. He wrote not only about the injustices faced by his people, but also about the white man’s lack of justice to their own. For example, when the British poor could not pay their debts, they were put in debtors’ prisons. Whole jails were filled with these prisoners. Joseph Brant pointed out in the most eloquent language that among his people, destitute widows and others in need were taken in and helped by the rest of the tribe. He said that his people were known as savages and yet the white men who did such things to their own in need thought themselves to be civilized.  Who were the real savages, he asked.

Also, as a descendent of Loyalists, I recognize the great help of the native peoples who were on the side of the British in the American Revolutionary War. They had great farms across the northern part of the present state of New York, and they were burned out by the American rebels when they took the part of the British in the war. After the war, the British should have given them the same as the white Loyalists, for they gave up just as much. Joseph Brant and his sister Molly Brant, wife of Sir William Johnston, were great leaders of their people who influenced them to side with the British.

What is your favourite part about writing historical fiction? What is the hardest part?

One hard part is pulling myself away from the research to start writing. But that is a favourite part, too, because the research gives me more details about real people, who lived real and productive lives.

Another challenge is that one is confined to the main facts. I have been praised for historical authenticity, but that has come to have its limitations too. Reviewers forget that I’m a novelist and when I introduce a scrap of fiction to embellish a story, they can be critical about my addition. That is a hard part especially since all my main facts are accurate. If I do change anything, I account for it in my Historical Note at the end of each novel.

Sometimes, I wonder if it is a good idea to change anything, for the historian named Coffin introduced the part about Laura leading a cow through a wood to pass the sentries, and readers believed that for years, even though it was denied by all of Laura’s descendants. Still, I will continue as I have. It’s suited to me because I don’t have a wild imagination like many writers do—but I do have a purpose. I hope that my books may bring to life more Canadian heroes for students to admire. Americans praise their heroes and so should we Canadians. There are many who are so worthy.

In your research, have you ever come across a story or person you would like to write about, but haven’t had the chance?

Yes, all the time. I would have liked to write about Joseph Brant and also his sister Molly Brant, who married the Englishman Sir William Johnston of Fort Johnston of Amsterdam, New York. She exercized great influence with the Six Nations and her brother Joseph and helped greatly to keep them with the British during the American Revolutionary War. Mohawk women had a much greater influence over their tribe’s plans and voted in their meetings. Also, I was so impressed by Joseph Brant’s own writings.

Tommy Douglas is another about whom I’d like to write, or Edgerton Ryerson, who started public education in Ontario. After my Nellie McClung trilogy’s success, I’d like to write about others of the Famous Five who had women declared persons in Canadian law in 1929.

Casey’s True Blue Insect Guide

Posted on September 1st, 2012 by pajamapress

Casey, one of the central characters in Deborah Ellis‘ murder mystery True Blue, has always known she will be an entomologist. In fact, her classmates nickname her “Praying Mantis.” True Blue is full of insects and insect information, but did you ever wonder what all those creepy crawlies really look like? If so, then you need…

Casey’s True Blue 

Insect Guide

 

Praying Mantis

Photo by John

Photo by John

Dragonfly

Photo by MONGO

Photo by MONGO

Anthomyiid Fly

Photo by Quark 67

Photo by Quark 67

Whirligig Beetle

Photo by Erin Hayes Pontius

Photo by Erin Hayes Pontius

Pond Skaters

Photo by Anne Burgess

Photo by Anne Burgess

Leech

Photo by Mike E. Talbot

Photo by Mike E. Talbot

Grasshopper

Photo by R.S.

Photo by R.S.

Black Swallowtail

Photo  by Kretven

Photo by Kretven

Spring Field Cricket

Photo by Vespula Vulgaris

Photo by Vespula Vulgaris

Pavement Ants

Image Source: Encyclopedia Britannica 11th Ed.

Image Source: Encyclopedia Britannica 11th Ed.

True Blue Cockroach

Actually, this endangered insect is so rare that we were not able to locate an image of it.  If you have one, let us know!

American Cockroach

Photo by Eran Finkle

Photo by Eran Finkle