Pajama Press

Archive for April, 2014

Everead shares why One Step at a Time was a CYBILS longlist favourite

Posted on April 14th, 2014 by pajamapress

“…In general, the book is great for showing us a new perspective: look through the eyes of someone who was adopted as an older child. Look through the eyes of someone with a physical handicap. Look through the eyes of someone who doesn’t speak English.

OneStepAtATimeI’ve told you now why the story is remarkable. Let me add the icing on the cake: the writing is so simple and clean it doesn’t distract from the story at all. Because of that, this book would make an excellent read-aloud. There is no extra material. In a story like this it would be easy for the author to make the book sappy, like “My new life is all so magical!” It doesn’t happen. It would be easy to smudge the story with dirt, “My life before was horrible and this is bad, too!” Skrypuch also avoids this. She writes in the perfect middle where matter-of-fact events meet with honest emotion. The writing style really gets out of the way of the story and hides so well that, unless you’re looking closely, you don’t even notice how well it is done…”

Click here to read the full post.

Hoogie in the Middle a SCBWI Crystal Kite Finalist

Posted on April 14th, 2014 by pajamapress

HoogieInTheMiddle_LRPajama Press is proud to announce that Hoogie in the Middle by Stephanie McLellan, illustrated by Dean Griffiths, is a finalist for the 2014 SCBWI Crystal Kite Member Choice Award.

The annual Crystal Kite Award is a peer-given award to recognize great books from the 15 regions of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators.

Congratulations to Stephanie McLellan, Dean Griffiths and the whole Monster family. And thanks to the members who voted!

Graffiti Knight nominated for R. Ross Annett Award

Posted on April 11th, 2014 by pajamapress

GraffitiKnight_MedPajama Press is proud to announce that Graffiti Knight by Karen Bass has been nominated for the R. Ross Annett Award for Children’s Literature.

Administered by the Writer’s Guild of Alberta, the R. Ross Annett Award was established in 1982 in honour of the author of the popular Babe & Joe series.

A historical novel about a young man struggling to find his voice in Soviet-occupied East Germany in the years after World War II, Graffiti Knight is the winner of the 2014 CLA Young Adult Book of the Year Award. It was also chosen as a 2013 Ontario Library Association Best Bet and a 2013 Resource Links “The Year’s Best” selection.

Two Pajama Press books nominated for the Ann Connor Brimer Award

Posted on April 3rd, 2014 by pajamapress

Stowaways_C NixMinusOneThe Stowaways by Meghan Marentette and Nix Minus One by Jill MacLean have both been selected for a 3-title shortlist for the Ann Connor Brimer Award.

The Ann Connor Brimer Award is part of the Atlantic Book Awards Festival, which will be celebrated at events across the four Atlantic provinces the week of May 14. Winners will be announced at a Charlottetown gala on May 21. Both authors will participate in a series of events leading up to the gala.

Congratulations Meghan and Jill!

Featured Book – Moon At Nine

Posted on April 1st, 2014 by pajamapress

MoonAtNine_C_Oct5.inddD.Ellis-2014Young Adult Fiction Ages 13+
978-1-927485-57-6 (HC)
978-1-927485-59-0 (PB)
224 Pages
$19.95 (HC with dust jacket)
$16.95 (PB with French flaps)
13.97 x 21.59 cm / 5.5 x 8.5 inches
Includes Book Club Guide and Author’s Note
Promotional Postcards Available
Publication Date: April 1, 2014
On Sale Date: March 17, 2014

In the summer of 2013, a young woman came to the Pajama Press office to meet with publisher Gail Winskill and author Deborah Ellis. She came to tell the story of her adolescence in Iran in the 1980s, of falling in love with a female classmate, and of that love’s consequences under a regime that considers homosexuality to be abhorrent. The young woman’s story became Moon at Nine, a powerful novel that exposes the social injustice faced by so-called deviants in post-revolutionary Iran, and yet also celebrates much that is beautiful and strong in that country.

Deborah Ellis answered some questions about the privilege and challenge of writing Moon at Nine.

How did you learn about the two young women who inspired Moon At Nine?

The real-life Farrin now lives in Canada, and I met her through my publisher. We spent time together and she told me what her life was like growing up in post-revolutionary Iran. She told me about falling in love with the real-life Sadira and what happened to them both as a result of that love

Farrin and Sadira’s tale is, sadly, not unique – not in Iran and not in many parts of the world. It varies by degree, and in some places it is getting hugely better. But it still goes on.

Moon at Nine is fiction but based on true events. Is it harder to write stories based on reality? What aspects of the story changed between fact and fiction?

Most of my books are based on real-life situations of war or other forms of injustice, so I am used to working hard to make the stories as realistic and factual as possible. One of the differences with this book is that I was basing the story on the experiences of real individuals who did not want to share their identity. I had to honor the essential truth of their story while creating enough fiction around it to preserve their anonymity. Also, the real-life Farrin and Sadira story is much more brutal than the one I felt competent enough to relate in a book for young people. Plus, I wanted to leave the reader with a sense of respect for the strength, beauty, compassion and diversity of the Iranian people. Putting all the brutality these young women went through into the story might leave the reader with the impression that the whole country is brutal.

Farrin writes fantastical stories about a demon slayer, and Sadira imagines her past as if it were a story that happened to someone else. What do you think makes storytelling so important, especially in a situation like this?

Telling stories allows us to see ourselves as heroes. Whether we are slaying vampires, opposing dictators, escaping religious oppression or standing up to family, we can get strength from picturing ourselves as braver than we think we are. Stories help us feel connected to others. They can give us a sense of community, even when all around are hostile, and they can remind us that our sorrows are not original – others in history have shared the same pain.

How have LGBT rights changed or advanced in Iran since l988?

Homosexuality is illegal in nearly 80 countries. In seven countries, including Iran, gays and lesbians can be put to death. According to the Iranian Railroad for Queer Refugees (IRQR), lesbians in Iran are also forced into marriage, are victims of extortion, are raped and tortured. It is still very dangerous to be lesbian or gay in Iran. Having said that, Iran is also a nation with a wide diversity of opinion, as reflected in their film industry. A female film-maker, Maryan Keshavarz, recently made a film about women falling in love with each other in Iran.

With this and all your books, you are known for your extensive research. What is the most surprising thing that you discovered regarding Iranian life/history/culture?

Iran is a nation that values education and has a highly educated population. It is a nation of strong women who hold and exercise power in a multitude of ways. A rich body of literature stretching back thousands of years, extensive artistic traditions and a huge diversity of cultures combine into a country that is complex and fascinating. I hope to be able to travel all over Iran some day.

All of your books focus on hard-hitting social justice issues. Do you approach these topics differently for younger readers than you would for adults?

Younger people often deal with the fallout of adult decisions without really understanding those decisions. When writing stories for young people, I have to try to see the situation through the young character’s eyes. What would they see, what would they feel, what would they understand and what would their choices be? The stories also need to end with at least a little bit of hope. Even if the situation is still bleak, the character has a bit more wisdom and a bit more strength to be able to face the next challenge with at least the hope of success.

What advice would you give readers who are facing prejudice themselves?

First off, survive. Stay alive. Look after yourself. Eat healthy, study hard, stay away from drugs and booze. Find things you enjoy. The adults around you who have created or tolerated the environment of prejudice might never let go of their ignorance. They might not change, so you may have to stop wanting them to change, for your own sanity. You might have to learn how to thrive and succeed without their approval, which will feel very lonely at times – but you can get through it. There are allies out there for you. Keep looking until you find them. Build a healthy supportive community around you and learn to give that support to someone else. Volunteer in your community to keep yourself busy and feeling good about your contributions. Get strong. Achieve. Find joy. Stay alive. Build a new world over the stupidity of the old.

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