Pajama Press

Archive for October, 2016

Elliot gets a 4 STAR review from E. R. Bird

Posted on October 26th, 2016 by pajamapress

Elliot_Website…[P]icture books carry heavy burdens, far above and beyond their usual literacy needs. People use picture books for all sorts of reasons. There are picture books for high school graduates, for people to read aloud during wedding ceremonies, for funerals, and as wry adult jokes. On the children’s side, picture books can help parents and children navigate difficult subjects and topics. From potty training to racism, complicated historical moments and new ways of seeing the world, the picture book has proved to be an infinitely flexible object. The one purpose that is too little discussed but is its most complicated and complex use is when it needs to explain the inexplicable….Julie Pearson’s book Elliot takes on that burden…It works in some ways, and it doesn’t work in others, but when it comes to the attempt itself it is, quite possibly, heroic….

Let me say right here and now that this is the first picture book about the foster care system, in any form, that I have encountered. Middle grade fiction will occasionally touch on the issue, though rarely in any depth. Yet in spite of the fact that thousands and thousands of children go through the foster care system, books for them are nonexistent….For children with parents who are out of the picture for other reasons, they may take some comfort in this book…

Pearson is attempting to make this accessible for young readers, so that means downplaying some of the story’s harsher aspects….

Artist Manon Gauthier is the illustrator behind this book and here she employs a very young, accessible style. Bunnies are, for whatever reason, the perfect animal stand-in for human problems and relationships, and so this serious subject matter is made younger on sight….

Could this book irreparably harm a child if they encountered it unawares? Short Answer: No. Long Answer: Not even slightly. But could they be disturbed by it? Sure could….I’ll confess something to you, though. As I put this book out for review, my 4-year-old daughter spotted it. And, since it’s a picture book, she asked if I could read it to her….I decided to explain beforehand as much as I could about children with developmental disabilities and the foster care system. In some ways this talk boiled down to me explaining to her that some parents are unfit parents, a concept that until this time had been mercifully unfamiliar to her. After we read the book, her only real question was why Elliot had to go through so many foster care families, so we got to talk about that for a while. It was a pretty valuable conversation and not one I would have had with her without the prompting of the book itself. So outside of children that have an immediate need of this title, there is a value to the contents.

…Books like Elliot are exceedingly rare sometimes….Elliot confronts issues few other titles would dare, and if it looks like one thing and ends up being another, that’s okay….It’s funny, strange, and sad but ultimately hopeful at its core. Social workers, teachers, and parents will find it one way or another, you may rest assured. For many libraries it will end up in the “Parenting” section. Not for everybody (what book is?) but a godsend to a certain few.

For ages 4-7.”

Click here to read the full review

Ramblings of a Daydreamer gives The Hill FOUR STARS

Posted on October 25th, 2016 by pajamapress

TheHill_WebsiteThe Hill isn’t a typical story of survival in the wilderness. The boys do need to fend for themselves, but there’s something far more sinister than wild animals and the elements in the forest – Jared and Kyle are being pursued by a Wihtiko, a Cree legend come to terrifying life. The pair need to learn to work together and overcome their differences in order to survive. The dynamics between the two were really interesting – they’re complete opposites and have nothing in common, but in a very short time and under extreme circumstances, they forge a strong bond. Jared especially learns a lot about himself through Kyle, which was interesting to see.

The Hill was different from anything I’ve ever read. I loved that it was written by a Canadian author, set in Canada, and used a real Cree legend. I was also really happy to see a main character who was Native. This is so (unfortunately) rare that it actually made me ridiculously excited! The Hill is a creepy, paranormal twist on a survival story. It has great messages about privilege, stereotypes, and friendship. I’d particularly recommend it to fans of the TV show Supernatural – the Wihtiko is similar to the Wendigo, which Sam and Dean fought in season one.

Click here to read the full review

Adrift at Sea is “highly recommended” by both curators at Library of Clean Reads

Posted on October 24th, 2016 by pajamapress

AdriftAtSea_websiteOur Review:
Reviewed by Laura Fabiani and Son

I love immigrant stories probably because I grew up in an immigrant family. Adrift At Sea is about Tuan Ho’s escape from Vietnam when he was a boy of six. The story is told through the eyes of Tuan and we feel for him as he experiences fear, a family torn apart and days adrift at sea with little drinking water. The story has a positive ending, of course, but it brings to life what thousands of Vietnamese people went through in the early 1980s when they tried to escape.

My 12 year-old son read this story too and felt saddened by Tuan[’s] harrowing escape. He picked up on the fact that another boat caught fire and those in it did not escape. This opened up a great discussion on world events and how in some countries people are still trying to escape by boat. I think that it’s important to teach our young ones about what children in other countries go through. These are the stories of our country’s immigrants.

The illustrations are simply beautiful and the style perfect for this dramatic story. The last illustration in particular when the American soldier gives Tuan a glass of milk is a perfect way to end this nonfiction book. I also enjoyed the photographs of Tuan and his family when they were young in Vietnam to those of him today as a man with his wife and children. More factual information is accompanied with these photos.

I highly recommend this book as a teaching tool and feel that it should be in every library. It’s books like this that will make history come alive for our next generation of children.

My Review:
Reviewed by Sandra Olshaski

I was deeply touched by this beautiful true story of a family’s survival in the face of overwhelming odds as they leave Vietnam in search of a new life in the West. Sixty Vietnamese refugees, among whom is six-year-old Tuan Ho and his family, endure days at sea as the motor of the fishing boat fails, the hull is leaking, drinking water is depleted, and the merciless sun beats down upon them, They are finally rescued by an American aircraft carrier and eventually reach Canada.

I loved the ‘before’ and ‘after’ pictures as well as the brief historical overview of events relating to the war in Vietnam. It seems so long ago that our hearts were being gripped by the ordeals of the so-called Vietnamese ‘boat people.’ This book makes it very current in view of the new generation of refugees on the world scene.

The soft-focus artwork done by Brian Deines that illustrates each page is amazing. A shout-out to him! The author has produced a very readable book that both parents and children should read together.

I highly recommend this beautiful book.”

Click here to read the full review

Rhino Rumpus “will certainly strike a familiar chord with squabbling siblings and their frazzled parents” says School Library Journal

Posted on October 21st, 2016 by pajamapress

RhinoRumpus_Website“Toddler-PreS–Three rambunctious little rhinos wreak havoc while their mother tries to coax them through their bedtime routine. They tussle, fight, grunt, and bite—while poor Mama becomes more and more despondent and frustrated. But don’t worry—(spoiler alert!) all’s well that ends well, with Mama on the receiving end of a gigantic rhino hug!…VERDICT This selection will certainly strike a familiar chord with squabbling siblings and their frazzled parents and fans of Anna Dewdney and Sandra Boynton…”
–Laura Lintz, Henrietta Public Library, Rochester, NY

Read the full review in the November 2016 issue of School Library Journal


Next Round Book Signing November 5, 2016

Posted on October 20th, 2016 by pajamapress


Another EXCELLENT review for Root Beer Candy and Other Miracles from Resource Links

Posted on October 20th, 2016 by pajamapress

RootBeerCandyAndOtherMiracles_WebsiteRoot Beer Candy and Other Miracles tackles some serious problems common among kids today. Its resolution is gentle and hopeful, but also realistic….Not everything can be fixed, but sharing a problem with someone who loves us makes it easier to bear. This is a message middle-graders cannot hear too often.

I really enjoyed this book. ‘It’s an excellent choice for thoughtful middle-grade readers and would make a valuable addition to a school or classroom library. It’s also a fine complement to the verse novels of K.A. Holt, and a stepping stone to the work of authors like Sonya Sones, Virginia Euwer Wolff, and Martine Leavitt.

Root Beer Candy and Other Miracles is also a physically beautiful book, generously designed and appealing in the hand. Watch for this one!
—Leslie Vermeer

Read the full review in Resource Links October 2016 issue, page 15

Evie Brooks in Central Park Showdown “will appeal to young female readers who love animals” says Resource Links

Posted on October 20th, 2016 by pajamapress

centralparkshowdown_websiteThis novel will definitely appeal to young female readers who love animals. They will be able to relate to Evie’s everyday issues at school and at the veterinary clinic, as well as her complicated relationships….Agnew’s novel also deals with different kinds of families. Evie lives with her uncle Scott, but her biological father is suing to get custody. Greg and Finn go back and forth between their divorced parents. Lorcan has two dads….Readers will definitely look forward to the next edition of Edie’s adventures in New York!

Read the full review in Resource Links October 2016 issue, page 13

Hat On, Hat Off gets an EXCELLENT review from Resource Links

Posted on October 20th, 2016 by pajamapress

HatOnHatOff_1000pxIn Hat On, Hat Off, a little toddler plays the universally loved game of taking pieces of clothing on and off while getting ready to go outside with his big sister….

Theo Heras writes in simple, short sentences that are geared perfectly towards a toddler audience…In addition to the clear writing style, the storyline is wonderfully relatable for most toddlers who have experienced getting dressed and undressed daily with the help of a family member. Renné Benoit’s soft, pastel illustrations draw readers further into the story, as cozy scenes of knitted clothing and toys exude warmth and comfort, visually soothing young readers….

Hat On, Hat Off is a wonderful read-a-loud title for young children that should be incorporated into library and classroom collections without hesitation.

To read the entire review, check out Resource Links October 2016 issue, page 6


In Little Fox, Lost “children are reminded that they should not automatically trust strangers, but that seeking help can be a positive thing” says Resource Links

Posted on October 20th, 2016 by pajamapress


…Originally published in French, this nonthreatening story acts as an important conversation starter for children about strangers and getting lost. Snitselaar’s text explores negative emotions like fear, anxiety and uncertainty that children may associate with being separated from a caregiver….Most significantly, children are reminded that they should not automatically trust strangers, but that seeking help can be a positive thing. The story also champions ingenuity, emphasizing that it is important to be creative when faced with a problem. In support of the gentle tone of the text, Padrón’s soft, pastel illustrations convey a sense of warmth and safety despite Little Fox’s predicament. As a result, young readers will not become afraid, but instead, will come away from the story feeling reassured and empowered. Little Fox, Lost is an effective and compassionate way to begin a discussion about strangers with young children, making it a recommended addition to classroom and library collections.

Read the entire review in Resource Links October 2016 issue on page 12

Resource Links says “Preschoolers with siblings will…have a lot of fun reading [Rhino Rumpus] together”

Posted on October 19th, 2016 by pajamapress

RhinoRumpus_WebsiteThree little rhinos just can’t seem to behave. Whether they’re at the dinner table or in the tub, the three little rhinos keep pushing, fighting, tussling, and butting heads until it turns into a full blown RHINO RIOT! Mama Rhino is getting tired. Will the three little rhinos ever get along? Thanks to its bubbly rhythm, Rhino Rumpusis a great candidate for story time with toddlers. The energetic language and rhymes are made to be read aloud and the illustrations are equally as exciting and expressive. Preschoolers with siblings (or parents with rambunctious little rhinos of their own) will relate to this story and have a lot of fun reading together.

Read the entire review in Resource Links October 2016 issue on page 1