Pajama Press

Archive for July, 2014

Resource Links highly recommends Revenge on the Fly

Posted on July 3rd, 2014 by pajamapress

RevengeOnTheFly_C“Will Alton and his father are new immigrants to Canada. They are learning that Ontario in 1912 is not a welcoming place for immigrants and that the grand life they dream of is elusive. Will sees a chance to better their circumstances when he enters a fly-catching problem. The question is, how far is he willing to go to catch enough flies to win?

I enjoyed this book tremendously. The story moves quickly, and Will is an immensely appealing narrator. Will is intelligent but also crafty; honest, but not above bending the rules to his own interests. He’s also sensitive, having lost his younger sister and then his mother, and it is this aspect of his personality that makes Will’s ultimate revenge on the fly so complex and so satisfying. The idea of fly-collecting contest – as disgusting as it might seem to us today – was inspired by real events and real historical figures. This inspiration offers a unique and unexpected way to explore Will’s larger story.

Beyond the main plot, readers will find many absorbing themes, such as issues of poverty and class, bias and discrimination, sickness and loss. The story identifies emerging urban tensions (such as cars displacing horses, the luxury of indoor plumbing, which only some possess, and the need for government-mandated public health policy), but does so within the context of Will’s telling, so that the text never feel didactic, dry of stuffy. This is a book that will reward follow-up conversations, and it could be well used in the classroom.

One feature I particularly appreciated about this book was its intense focus on Will’s physical world. Sensory details are brilliantly captured, enriching our sense of history and the immediacy of the story. We smell with Will the awful garbage and rotting manure he digs through in pursuit of flies, see the ragtag boarding-house he and his father inhabit, taste the sweet and tart Christmas memory an orange evokes, feel the sting of the strap he receives for disobeying the principal and its throb for hours afterward. And of course we see and hear and feel the thousands of flies Will kills – an ick factor that adds a delicious frisson to the story. Certainly part of the enjoyment of the book comes from its physical presentation. The copy I read has a gigantic, highly detailed fly laminated on the back cover (as well as numerous smaller laminated flies on the front cover), so that as I read, I was constantly touching the raised graphic and reminded of the fly and the evil it represents to Will – a very effective design decision!

Revenge on the Fly is an excellent book, one I expect to see nominated for awards in the coming months. It will make readers laugh, cringe, shudder – and think. I recommend it highly.

Thematic links: Insects; Health; Canadian History”

– Leslie Vermeer

Moon at Nine is an important story” – More than Just Magic

Posted on July 2nd, 2014 by pajamapress

MoonAtNine_C_Oct5.indd“Moon at Nine is the touching story of two people trying to find love in a dangerous place…Their story is beautiful and their love for one another intense…Moon at Nine is an important story. Diverse books like this are important because they educate us about other cultures and they’re an opportunity for people to share their stories when others want to silence them. Previous to reading I had no idea things were so bad in Iran for the LGBTQ community but now I know about organizations like Rainbow Railroad and want to do what I can to support them. I recommend Moon at Nine for those who enjoyed The Tyrant’s Daughter by J C Carleson and If You Could Be Mine by Sara Farizan.”

Click here to read the full review.

Skydiver “will be welcomed by nature lovers” – Kirkus Reviews

Posted on July 2nd, 2014 by pajamapress

Skydiver_C“Threatened with extinction across North America, peregrine falcons were bred in captivity and provided with new territories until their populations rebounded.

Godkin begins her account of this environmental good news by introducing a peregrine pair who return from migration, court and lay eggs, only to have their first eggs taken by a rock-climbing human being…Dramatic oil paintings show falcons in various activities—soaring, diving, hunting and feeding their chicks—and chicks being fed in captivity…this success story will be welcomed by nature lovers. (Informational picture book. 4-7)”

Click here to read the full review.

School Library Journal reviews “engaging” Skydiver

Posted on July 2nd, 2014 by pajamapress

Skydiver_C“K-Gr 2–A look at the peregrine falcon, whose population was almost decimated as a result of the extensive use of the pesticide DDT. In clear and engaging language, Godkin frames this informative book around the story of a pair of falcons and their offspring. The dramatic mating display of the male and the courtship dance between the two are beautifully illustrated. Occasionally, the birds are anthropomorphized (for instance, the female “joyfully” rises up to join her mate in flight). The author discusses the idea of the food chain, explaining that while DDT didn’t kill falcons outright, it caused their eggs to become so brittle that most broke before hatching. She explains how environmentalists were successful in having DDT banned but says that brittle eggs remain a problem many years later and that continuing human intervention is necessary to help restore the population. Godkin follows the fate of four eggs taken from the pair of falcons introduced in the beginning pages, and readers learn how some hatchlings are taken to sanctuaries to be incubated. Of the original four eggs, one hatchling is taken to a sanctuary, two survive after being moved from a cliffside nesting platform to a ledge on a city skyscraper, and the last falls victim to a great horned owl. An author’s note provides further resources and information on both peregrine falcons, and pesticide use.”

–Nancy Silverrod, San Francisco Public Library

When Emily Carr Met Woo is “charming”—SLJ

Posted on July 1st, 2014 by pajamapress

WhenEmilyCarrMetWoo_RGB_72dpi“Gr 1-3–Internationally renowned Canadian artist and writer Emily Carr (1871–1945) painted the Pacific Northwest landscape and its indigenous culture at a time when these subjects were unfamiliar outside of this region. Kulling briefly describes how the fiercely independent and eccentric Carr lived during a period when opportunities for women were limited: few people bought her paintings, and she often had to find other ways to support herself. Carr loved animals and owned several dogs, cats, a parrot named Jane, and a rat named Susie, but her most unique pet—and the focus of this title—was her monkey, Woo. Woo loved pranks and caused havoc in the household, but one day, she ate a tube of paint, becoming incredibly sick. Through simple, accessible text complemented by bright, engaging watercolors, Kulling has written a charming story about an exceptional woman. While the author touches upon Carr’s work and art, the emphasis of this slim volume is on Carr as an animal lover. A short biographical sketch along with a historical photo is included at the back of the book. Pair this book with others about women who loved animals and who made a difference, such as George Ella Lyon’s Mother to Tigers (S. & S., 2003), Jane A. Schott’s Dian Fossey and the Mountain Gorillas (Carolrhoda, 2000), and Patrick McDonnell’s Me…Jane (Little, Brown, 2011).”
—Paula Huddy, The Blake School-Highcroft Campus, Wayzata, MN

The National Reading Campaign is captivated by When Emily Carr Met Woo

Posted on July 1st, 2014 by pajamapress

WhenEmilyCarrMetWoo_RGB_72dpi“Award-winning author Monica Kulling’s When Emily Carr Met Woo offers a glimpse into the world of an iconic Canadian artist…Dean Griffith’s watercolour and pencil crayon illustrations capture Woo’s mischievous antics, from chasing dog’s tails, to plucking artificial cherries from the hat of an unsuspecting visitor….

This captivating picture book biography, written with elegance and straightforward simplicity, artfully captures Emily Carr’s passion for her craft, as well as her love for animals. End notes and an archival photograph add depth and historical details and provide a great introduction for young artists.”

Click here to read the full review.