Pajama Press

Archive for November, 2016

A Year of Borrowed Men “is a story to be shared at…a time of giving” says Sal’s Fiction Addiction

Posted on November 22nd, 2016 by pajamapress

AYearOfBorrowedMen_Website“…This is a book that has been on my shelf for far too long. Today, I will remedy that by telling you about it. It is a story of Germany at the end of World War II. Based on her mother’s memories of that time in her life, Michelle Barker chooses to tell it in clear, understated prose.

Gerda and her family ‘borrow’ three French prisoners to help them with keeping their farm productive. They will only stay until the war ends. They are there because the German army has ‘borrowed’ her Papi to help fight the war….

A young narrator’s voice lessens the horror that surrounds the family in wartime. This story of kindness, friendship, and a loving family is illustrated realistically with watercolor, colored pencils, and pastel to evoke the warmth of the situation at a time when there was little hope for many. The addition of family photos and an author’s note add clarity.

This is a story to be shared at any time of year. It would also work well at a Remembrance Day Service (sorry I missed telling you about it a bit earlier) or at Christmas, a time of giving and for being kind and thankful.”

Click here to read the full review

Uncertain Soldier wins the Geoffrey Bilson Award for Historical Fiction for Young People

Posted on November 18th, 2016 by pajamapress

We are thrilled to extend our congratulations to Karen Bass, author of Uncertain Soldier. This suspenseful YA novel, set in northern Alberta during World War II, has won the Geoffrey Bilson Award for Historical Fiction for Young People. This is Bass’ second Geoffrey Bilson Award win, and this is Pajama Press’ third year in a row to see a title win the award.

Karen Bass accepted this prestigious award Thursday night at the 12th annual TD Canadian Children’s Literature Awards celebration. Hosted at The Carlu in Toronto, this gala is a highlight of the publishing year in the Canadian children’s book industry. The Geoffrey Bilson Award, named for a Canadian author and history professor, is one of six major prizes awarded at the gala each year. This is the first award win for Uncertain Soldier, which was nominated for the 2016 Forest of Reading Red Maple Award, and the 2016 IODE Violet Downey Book Award.

Pajama Press is proud to mention that Bass’s most recent release, The Hill, is a 2016 White Ravens Selection. Other accolades for The Hill include a 2016 Junior Library Guild Selection, and a 2017 Forest of Reading Red Maple Award nomination. We are also excited to announce Two Times a Traitor, a new Middle Grade novel by Karen Bass to be published in the fall of 2017.

Pajama Press would also like to congratulate Michelle Barker and Renné Benoit for their nomination for the TD Canadian Children’s Literature Award for A Year of Borrowed MenAlma Fullerton and Brian Deines for their nomination for the Marilyn Baillie Picture Book Award for In a Cloud of Dust, and all the other award nominees and winners of the evening. Our nominated titles were in such good company; it is truly an honour to be recognized alongside some of the best books in the country. Special congratulations to Melanie Florence and François Thisdale for winning the TD Canadian Children’s Literature Award for Missing Nimâmâ.

Pajama Press thanks the Canadian Children’s Book Centre and TD Bank for their continued dedication to children’s literacy in Canada.

Adrift at Sea is “a good introduction to the subject of the Vietnamese boat people…” says Semicolon

Posted on November 18th, 2016 by pajamapress

AdriftAtSea_website“…The illustrations in this book, full color paintings, are absolutely stunning. Canadian illustrator, Brian Deines, has outdone himself in two-page spreads that bring this refugee story to life.

The story itself, a slice of life, begins abruptly without any explanation as to why the family must leave Vietnam. Nor does the main part of the text explain what happens to Tuan Ho and family after they are rescued at sea. However, there are some explanatory pages with both photographs and text at the end of the book that tell readers about the history of the Vietnam War and about the entire history of Tuan Ho’s family and their emigration from Vietnam and eventual reunification in Canada. It’s a good introduction to the subject of the Vietnamese boat people for both older students and middle grade readers. Even primary age children could appreciate Tuan Ho’s story with a little bit of explanation from a parent or teacher about the war and the Communist persecution that they were fleeing….”

Click here to read the full review

Youth Services Book Review recommends putting Little Fox, Lost at the top of your to-read pile!

Posted on November 17th, 2016 by pajamapress

LittleFoxLost_WebsiteFormat: Hardcover

Rating: (1-5 5 is a starred review) 4

Genre:  Picture book

What did you like about the book? Originally written in French, this book was first published in Canada with the support of the Canadian council for the arts. It is a story of a little fox who has gone for a walk with his mother in the forest. When mother fox meets another fox and stops to chat, little fox sets off to explore on his own. He soon finds himself lost in the forest with nothing but lots of his footprints in the snow around him. When an old owl offers to show him the way home, he remembers his mother’s song about what to do if he ever gets lost. The happy ending reinforces the important message.

Anything you didn’t like about it? I liked everything about this book.

To Whom Would You Recommend this book? Told in a non-frightening way, this story addresses the situation of what to do if a child becomes separated from his mother. It’s a good story for parents to read to preschool children and for teachers to read in school to kindergarten classes. Without making children anxious about the situation, it teaches them a strategy.

Who should buy this book? All libraries

Where would you shelve it? Children’s Books

Should we (librarians/readers) put this on the top of our “to read” piles? Yes”
Sandra Pacheco, ESL teacher, Washington, D.C.

Click here to see more reviews from Youth Services Book Reviews

Little Fox, Lost was the “perfect solution” for The Reading Castle

Posted on November 16th, 2016 by pajamapress

LittleFoxLost_Website“Moving to the US wasn’t as big of a culture shock as we expected. Well, at least not until the results of the presidential election came in… We live in the liberal Pacific Northwest, so life is not so different from rainy Germany. After Finja was born I realized that education and upbringing in the US definitely is different from childhood in Germany though. One example: Stranger danger. Even with a policeman as a dad, my sister and I never were explicitly warned about strangers. Not because we were distrustful by nature, but it seems as if our parents were just not afraid of some outsider would come and swipe us away. I thought this was a generation conflict – after all I pedaled my bike through the dark woods when I was middle school aged. You can’t compare the 80s and 90s with today, can you? But speaking with my parent friends in Germany made me realize that it’s only not a question of generations – it’s a question of culture as well.

So with a naturally friendly and outgoing daughter I thought it was time to tell her about not wandering away (she loves to do that!) and not trusting anyone she doesn’t know – and even be careful of people she knows. But how can you do it without inflicting distrust and fear of other human beings?

I didn’t search for Nicole Snitselaar’s ‘Little Fox, Lost’, but it was the perfect solution to our problem….

‘Little Fox, Lost’ is a gentle story about getting lost and finding your way home again. We loved the snowy winter setting and the cute forest animals as well as the significance of the story – the illustrations by Alicia Padron are calming, they have a huge part in talking about a difficult topic without being frightening. Mother fox’s rhyme ‘If you ever are lost my child’ is easy to remember for children every age. This little ear worm can give them confidence if they should ever get lost for real….”

Click here to read the full review

Publishers Weekly says When the Rain Comes is “a gratifying portrait of a child discovering her own strength”

Posted on November 14th, 2016 by pajamapress

WhenRainComes_website“Fullerton’s (In a Cloud of Dust) tale starts out as a thoughtful account of a child’s daily life in Sri Lanka: ‘[Malini] watches the load of rice seedlings swish back and forth on the cart as it bumps over the road toward her. Today she will learn to plant those seedlings…. But what if she does it wrong?’ The story takes a dramatic turn as a sudden squall floods the road and cuts Malini and the oxcart off from the adults. LaFave’s (Ben Says Goodbye) spreads, too, switch from quiet landscapes to urgent action, dashing lines tracing sheets of rain. Malini must lead the ox and cart into the barn to get the rice seedlings under cover. She overcomes paralyzing fear and tugs ox and cart inside, but her troubles aren’t over: the ox is agitated.

Bold lines emphasize the animal’s intimidating bulk, but Malina screws up her courage: ‘She leans close to him, stroking whispering calming. They wait slowly, breathing together.’ It’s a gratifying portrait of a child discovering her own strength: Malini, so nervous about learning to plant rice, is capable of far greater feats. Ages 4–8.”

Find this review on page 56 of the November 14, 2016 issue of Publishers Weekly

Kids’ BookBuzz reviewer Kilian, age 8, says French Toast “is great for all ages and all colors”

Posted on November 14th, 2016 by pajamapress

FrenchToast_Website“We rated this book: 4.5/5

At school, people make fun of Phoebe for her skin color, which is medium brown, and they call her ‘French toast.’ When she and her grandmother are taking a walk in the park, they walk past her school and the kids yell at her and laugh. Her grandmother doesn’t know why they’re laughing. She is blind, so she can’t understand skin colors. She asks Phoebe to describe her skin color and her family’s. Phoebe finally uses foods to describe the colors. She says her skin is like ‘tea after you’ve added the milk’ and her grandmother’s is like ‘maple syrup poured over…French toast.’ She ends up feeling better in the end because talking about it helps.

When Nan-ma says she has been told her mom is white, Phoebe laughs because white people aren’t really white. All people are just different shades of brown. I like the illustrations because they are mainly different colors of brown, too, and warm colors. The story is set at either sunrise or sunset in winter, which makes it even browner. This book is great for all ages and all colors.”
—Kilian – Age 8

Click here to read more reviews from Kids’ BookBuzz

CM Magazine “Recommend[s]” When the Rain Comes

Posted on November 14th, 2016 by pajamapress

WhenRainComes_website*** /4

With When the Rain Comes, Fullerton introduces children to a culture different from their own in a way that is engaging and full of relatable emotions. Malini is Sri Lankan, and, although her experience is in many ways very different from that of a Canadian child, some feelings and encounters transcend borders. Here, readers witness a child explore her own capacity for bravery when faced with a challenge. Fear, uncertainty, loyalty, and pride are all things to which children everywhere can relate. The rising intensity of the story creates a connection to the character as readers strive and hope alongside her that she reaches the barn and calms the beast. Guided conversation after the book would be rich, delving deeper into the child’s personal experience with challenges and successes. What was at stake? What did it feel like to overcome the obstacle?

The true highlight of When the Rain Comes, however, is the artwork – big, luscious illustrations that own each page. LaFave demonstrates a mastery of colour, choosing a rich palate of purples and blues to depict the storm and creating depth with interesting colour blocking. From the brightly coloured spurfowl taking flight to the violent rain feverishly falling down, the images are unique and beautiful.

—Amber Allen

Click here to read the full review

Little Fox, Lost is “an excellent addition to both a school and home library” says Library of Clean Reads

Posted on November 11th, 2016 by pajamapress

LittleFoxLost_Website“Content rating: G

Little Fox and his mother come out of their den to go out for a walk on a sunny day after it had snowed all morning. Right from the beginning the setting in this book is perfect. A beautiful wintry day to explore the outdoors is what we as Canadians look forward to once fall is behind us. And what child can resist the lure of that sparkling snow in winter?…

I love books that provide a song. Children seem to remember better when text is put to music. My son also likes drawings of foxes so he took to this story quickly. Little Fox is cute, with his pointy face and bushy tail. The illustrations are simple but adorable. They are in soft watercolor using soothing earth tone colors. Perfect for a gentle story for the young but with powerful lessons.

This book teaches four lessons: 1) for parents to always keep a watchful eye on their little one because it is very easy for them to wander off; 2) for parents to teach their children what to do when lost; 3) for children to stay in place and not follow a stranger, and 4) for children to use their skills to attract help, such as when Little Fox got the other animals in the forest to sing with him so their raised voices together would help his mother find him.

The translation from the original French version Petit renard se perd was well done. If the reader doesn’t know it’s translated, one can’t tell that it is. The flow is good and the text appropriate for the age range. This book is an excellent addition to both a school and home library and could become a favorite, especially if a mother memorizes the song and sings it as she takes her child out with her on errands.”—Laura Fabiani & Son

Library of Clean Reads says French Toast “is an excellent way to introduce new cultures”

Posted on November 11th, 2016 by pajamapress

FrenchToast_Website“Content: G

Even though Nan-ma’s blind, she sees things others do not.’

And so begins this book whose message to be proud of one’s culture and nationality shines through. Phoebe has a good relationship with her grandmother who is blind. On weekends she is her neighborhood guide. As a mother, I liked that this story included a grandma and her wisdom. When Phoebe has to explain why the boys from school yelled out, ‘Hey, French Toast!’ to her, she is embarrassed because she knows it’s because of the color of her skin.

Since her grandmother has never known the colors of skin, she asks Phoebe what color her skin is. So Phoebe describes it like tea after milk is added. And so the story continues. With Nan-ma’s gentle prodding, Phoebe gets to talk and think about her parents. She explores in her mind what she loves about them, her childhood, her favorite foods and her mixed nationality.

Living in Quebec, we are very familiar with the French-Canadian culture and mixed marriages among the very diverse ethnic groups that live here. My son and I enjoyed this story and we liked its message. It’s a book that should resonate well with children living in Quebec and perfect to introduce others to a culture that embraces mixed marriages. Children need to feel proud of who they are and where they come from. Using food to bring out the beautiful qualities of a culture works well. My son and I were getting hungry reading this book!

The illustrations use earth-tone colors and are soft. They are a mix of digital media and acrylic. What this means is that they are a mix of real-life photos with the drawings. So, the faces of the characters, for example, are actual real photos but blended in with the drawings. My son noticed it right from the first page and told me he is not fond of this technique. I had to look more closely. In the end, we agreed that the way the illustrator blended the two worked well and also the way he highlighted the food and brought it out in the illustrations was unique.

This book would make a great addition to a home or school library. It is an excellent way to introduce new cultures and to open the discussion of how to embrace who we are.”
—Laura Fabiani & Son

Click here to read the full review