Pajama Press

Archive for February, 2013

Last Airlift Takes Manhattan

Posted on February 11th, 2013 by pajamapress

Bookworm Buddies, the blog of the Manhattan Public Library, recently posted this review of Last Airlift:

“When this book came in, I started flipping through it at my desk because the topic reminded me of a Laotian refugee who was in my class when I was in 2nd grade.  I had to give up my lunch hour to keep reading because I couldn’t put the book down once I started.  Tuyet’s story is so amazing. It beings in a crowded Saigon orphanage in April 1975, where Tuyet was one of the older children who had lived at the orphanage her entire life. She helped care for the little ones and put up with bullies and got along as well as she could despite her leg that was damaged by polio.  On April 11, something scary and amazing happened. The babies from the orphanage were placed in cardboard boxes and put in a car, and Tuyet was called to go along with them. She did not know where she was going or why.  American soldiers then packed all the babies into a huge airplane. Tuyet did not think she would be going in, too, but then a woman carried her to the plane that she said would take her away from the war to safety.  Significantly, this Hercules plane was the last Canadian “babylift” to leave Saigon with refugees.  And this is just the beginning of Tuyet’s adventure, full of frightening new things and sounds, language she did not understand, and little to comfort her.  Luckily, Tuyet was adopted into a loving family and given a new chance in life…”—Jennifer

Click here to read the full review.

Ten Things You Might Not Know About Newfoundland

Posted on February 8th, 2013 by pajamapress

Jill MacLean, whose YA novel Nix Minus One is set in small-town Newfoundland, has always passion for that province. Today she shares with us:


If you choose to canoe in Newfoundland in June, July, or August, you’d better be wearing a bug jacket and you’d better be prepared to view the lake through a mesh of small squares crawling with several hundred black flies thirsty for your blood.

The Tableland - picture by Windnerdpix

The Tableland – picture by Windnerdpix


If you climb Gros Morne Mountain in the national park on the west coast, you’re not just climbing up (and, believe me, it’s steep), you’re also, metaphorically, travelling northon the plateau on top of the mountain, Arctic flowers bloom and Arctic hares roam (and the view makes every drop of sweat worthwhile).

The Tableland, also in the park, is your chance to see a part of the earth’s mantle that was thrust to the surface. The orange-hued rocks of the gulch look like they belong in Utah, not Newfoundland.


Newfoundland didn’t become part of Canada until 1949, and to this day, perhaps because of its isolation, has always maintained its distinct culture.


Burnt Cape, on the Strait of Belle Isle, is made of limestone, has the shortest growing season in all of Newfoundland, and is home to a host of arctic-alpine plants, one of which grows nowhere else in the world. The plants nestle among polygons of rock shattered by fierce freeze-thaw cycles, characteristic of conditions much further north.


The “Northern Ranger” is the passenger-freight boat which travels the Labrador coast from Goose Bay to Nain, via Black Tickle, Rigolet, Makkovick, and Natuashish. Small boats appear from the little communities along the shore; babies, washing machines, flour, snowmobiles, flats of plants, are transferred back and forth. Along the way, you get “screeched-in”—a ceremony that involves, among other things, kissing a dead codfish.


You can watch thousands of gannets nesting on the cliffs of Cape St. Mary’s Ecological reserve, and from a boat, see puffins with their wildly striped bills at Bay Bulls and Witless Bay.

Check whether this is a year for icebergs, and if it is, head for a boat tour out of St. Anthony at the tip of the northern peninsula. At the end of June, if you’re lucky (as I was, once), you’ll not only see huge white and turquoise bergs, you’ll see humpbacks in a feeding frenzy against the rocky shoreline. 

Visit the restaurant at Lighthouse Point, where you’re almost guaranteed a whale sighting in summer.

Want to sleep next door to a light

house? Go to Quirpon Island (rhymes with “harpoon”)whales and icebergs there, too.

St. Anthony - picture by David P. Lewis

St. Anthony – picture by David P. Lewis


The Royal Newfoundland Regiment was the only North American regiment to fight at Gallipoli in 1915; and at Beaumont-Hamel, on July 1, 1916, the first day of the Battle of the Somme, ninety percent of the regiment was killed in twenty minutes when the men advanced across No Man’s Land toward the German dugouts.

You can read about it in David MacFarlane’s The Danger Tree.

Since that day, July 1 has been named Memorial Day in Newfoundland and Labrador.


The moratorium on the cod fishery, imposed in 1992 by the Canadian government for an indefinite period of time, ended almost five centuries of fishing off the coasts of Newfoundland and Labrador, and put 30,000 people out of work. It changed a way of life irrevocably.

Picture by Jill MacLean

Picture by Jill MacLean


In the abandoned outport of Parsons Harbour, on the south coast of Newfoundland, I remember old planks that once were houses and a church; a door with flaked blue paint; and white, wind-scoured gravestones. Sea-glass had washed up on the beach, along with fragments of china patterned with blue willow leaves and dark pink roses.


For hospitality, humour, and a heritage of physical and spiritual toughness, you can’t beat the Newfoundland people. And if you’re lucky enough to be invited to a kitchen party – enjoy!

Maria’s Mudpuddle loves Nix Minus One

Posted on February 7th, 2013 by pajamapress

“Another powerful novel by the author of The Nine Lives of Travis Keating, Home Truths and The Present Tense of Prinny Murphy.   Jill Maclean’s new novel is written in verse, and like her other novels, deals with some heavy issues.  I couldn’t put this book down, and I read it in one night.  Nix, the main character, was an easy person to relate to. I found myself frustrated with him, and at the same time I could totally understand his worry, and his reluctance in challenging his older sister.   It’s common for siblings to cover for each other, when one of them is breaking the rules.  But that doesn’t mean the other person doesn’t worry.  And as long as no one gets hurt, these secrets can remain a secret.  But unfortunately, that’s not what happens for Nix and his sister…

…I loved the point of view.  I loved the characters.  I loved this book.”

Click here to read the full review.—Maria Martella

Alma Fullerton writes about shoes at The 4:00 Book Hook

Posted on February 6th, 2013 by pajamapress

The 4:00 Book Hook is a newsletter released bimonthly by a group of seven children’s book authors. In the current issue, author Alma Fullerton talks about her most recent book, A Good Trade, and why a new pair of shoes is so important to its protagonist—and to kids around the world.

“…I think it’s important for [children] to learn that even in North America, where children are expected to have two pairs of shoes for school every year, we have families that have to choose between groceries or shoes for their children.

It’s estimated that over 300 million children in developing nations don’t have shoes, and in many of those countries children cannot attend school without them. Could you imagine not being able to afford even a pair of flip flops for your child to go to school? Or if you could only afford one pair, imagine having to choose which child to send to school? For these families a pair of shoes can change the life and futures of their children

In places like Uganda, where A GOOD TRADE is set, shoes can not only change a life, they can save one…”—Alma Fullerton

To read the full article—and to get lots of other great book news—click here for a free e-subscription to The 4:00 Book Hook.

Apples with Many Seeds reviews Last Airlift

Posted on February 4th, 2013 by pajamapress

“The author conveys the desperate, rushed and tense atmosphere.  We too feel claustrophobic as the door of the airplane shuts and the heat and smell closes in around us and Tuyet.  Everyone seems kind to Tuyet but she has no understanding of why things are happening to her.  Was she selected to help with the babies like she did at the orphanage or because she has one weak ankle and foot, the result of polio?  Where is she going?  What will happen to her once she arrives?

… the story is fascinating.  Being Canadian, I think of the Vietnam War as an American war.  Growing up during the 70s, even in small town Alberta, there were many ‘boat people’ settling into our schools and communities but I didn’t really know specific stories.  Film, TV, and media usually depicted the American situation.  I’ve seen footage of Vietnamese people desperately trying to get onto to aircraft as they were leaving Saigon.  I hadn’t realized that Canada had much involvement.”—Tammy Flanders

Click here to read the full review.

Kirkus gives A Good Trade a Starred Review

Posted on February 1st, 2013 by pajamapress

AGoodTrade_Jacket_Aug28.indd“…On each spread, a few lines of spare text carry the story in a predictable pattern, a pleasure to read aloud. Page by page, verbs describe Kato’s experience as he wakes, skips, races, treks, fills, hauls, dawdles, hurries, runs, kneels, weaves, gives and dances.

Expertly crafted, Fullerton’s first picture book reminds readers of the pleasure of small things. (Picture book. 5-9)”

Click here to read the full review.

Are you ready for Nix Minus One?

Posted on February 1st, 2013 by pajamapress

Jill MacLean’s new novel is coming in 15 days. To whet your appetite in the meantime, check out the teaser trailer.

You can also visit Jill’s website or “Like” her on Facebook.

We’re counting down the days. Are you?