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Ballewiena Reviews

Posted on March 31st, 2022 by pajamapress

Kirkus Reviews

“For a dachshund with dancing feet, “sit” and “stay” are just so passé.

Possessed with the soul, if not the body, of a ballet dancer, Dotty would much rather pirouette and glissade down the sidewalk than heel like her polite poodle sisters Jazzebelle and Miffy—and so when her severe trainer Ms. Austere sends her to obedience school, she runs off in tears: “All I want to do is dance.” Despair is transformed to delight, however, after she meets Louis-Pierre, an acrobatic park squirrel whose offer to teach her a thing or two about training and discipline leaves her well prepared to walk onstage at the canine Golden Bow Talent Show and wow the crowd with her grand jeté and pas de chat.”

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Publishers Weekly

“Dotty meets a Balanchine-like squirrel, Louis-Pierre, who encourages her passion while demanding rigorous practice: “Look how much discipline you’ve gained, Pitou! The more focus you have, the better you dance.” This insistence on diligence and commitment propels Dotty to a triumphant performance at the dog talent show, which shows Ms. Austere the error of her ways, and infuses freshness into a familiar-feeling beat-of-one’s-own-drum story (Dotty even realizes why Ms. Austere’s other dogs practice unceasingly). The gouache, watercolor, pencil, ink, and digital illustrations brim with joie de vivre as the wiry pooch spins, leaps, and pursues her dream—readers may find themselves becoming budding balletomanes as the story unfolds.”

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Booklist

For readers who don’t speak French, the phonetic pronunciations of terms for basic ballet moves are readily available on the endpapers, along with drawings of tutu-clad dachshunds performing each action. The story is well paced, and the lively pictures, created with gouache, watercolor, ink, pencil, and digital elements, portray Dotty as a determined ballerina, performing impressive feats while balanced on her tiny yet strong back legs. A picture-book romp for children who dream of ballet.”

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Foreword Review

“In this inspiring tale, a dance-dazzled dachshund, Dotty, cannot resist mimicking the ballet moves she loves—even when her person, Ms. Austere, issues other commands; even when she’s out on walks among other, baffled dogs. Rendered in grayscale against Dotty’s colorful world, frustrated Ms. Austere boots Dotty off to obedience courses with similarly colorless rules.”

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Youth Services Book Review

“What did you like about the book?  A little dachshund dreams of being a ballerina, even though her owner fails to recognize her talent. Ms. Austere doesn’t appreciate Dotty’s dancing; she’s focused on training her toy poodles Jazzebelle and Miffy for their act in the Golden Bow Talent Show. Dotty’s a washout at obedience school and flees class in tears. In the park, she meets a squirrel named Louis-Pierre, who’s specialty seems to be parkour. In a Karate Kid-style sequence, he builds Dotty’s endurance so that she can shine at the Golden Bow. Ms. Austere eventually sees the little weiner dog’s true talent and signs her up for ballet classes. The delicate and detailed gouache pictures are cute and the message of following your dreams is perennially popular.”

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YA Books Central

“BALLEWIENA is an adorable ballet story all about chasing after your dreams. Dotty knows dancing is in her blood and continues to do it unconsciously. It’s not that she’s trying to be rude. She just truly can’t stop herself from dancing. I like how she doesn’t allow others to push her down and suppress her talent. Even though it hurts her feelings and she gets upset about not fitting in the school, she stays true to herself and her heart. The illustrations are cutesy with soft colors and any dancer will enjoy the frequent use of ballet terms. A dog as the main character adds to the entertainment for children.

Final Verdict: Overall, BALLEWIENA holds a powerful message for young aspiring dancers and I would recommend it to fans of ballet. It’s also a cute story for children to enjoy and learn to follow their hearts.”

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Book Time

“One day, Dotty met a peculiar squirrel named Louise-Pierre, a performer in acrobatics, who invites Dotty to join him in his daily workouts. Dotty does so, practising even when she wants to give up until the day of the talent show arrives. Despite being kept on a short leash, will she be able to show people her talent? Ballewiena by Rebecca Bender and Pajama Press…is another cute book the importance of going after your dreams and to remember to just dance.”

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Harvey Takes the Lead Reviews

Posted on March 31st, 2022 by pajamapress

Kirkus Reviews

“In the third series entry, Harvey, the West Highland white terrier; his young owner, Maggie; and her friend Austin confront drama and heartbreak.

Seventh grade pals Maggie and Austin, who volunteer at the Brayside Retirement Villa, meet Ms. Appleby, the facility’s strict new assistant director. She imposes draconian rules governing, among other things, visits by dogs. Additionally, Maggie’s dismayed she was overlooked for the lead in the school’s production of Annie, the role she coveted; she’s become the understudy instead. Besides that, Austin’s unemployed mom can’t afford his upcoming school trip. Brayside resident Mr. Kowalski faces the toughest struggle: His seriously ill wife has been hospitalized. Over time, he achieves emotional catharsis by recounting to sympathetic Austin some of his and Mrs. Kowalski’s World War II experiences. Meanwhile, Maggie puts her role in the play into perspective and befriends and supports the talented lead. In brief chapters this warm novel delivers well-realized characters and underscores connections that bind: those between animals and humans and those that unite generations.”

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CM Magazine

“Austin is embarrassed by his family’s lack of funds to enable him to attend the school trip, but he continues to channel his energies in a positive direction, particularly through his volunteering at the retirement home. Mr. Kowalski is sad that his wife of sixty years is very ill in the hospital, but Austin helps him to remember the pleasant memories and music of their earlier years. And Harvey continues to do what he does best: comforting the retirement home residents and searching for the source of the scent that he knows means mice. For the most part, the story strands move on separate tracks (chapters are narrated by Maggie, Austin, and Harvey) until the end when they are woven together in a satisfying conclusion. A welcome treat for Harvey fans and dog lovers everywhere. Highly Recommended”

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YA Books Central

“Kindness will be rewarded. The early parts of the book share a simple tale of two kids volunteering at a retirement village, but the plot slowly evolves into an emotional journey of hope, caring, and friendship. The story unites generations in a sensitive way, and I recommend you give it a shot.”

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Children’s Literature–CLCD

“Fans of the lovable and charming Harvey (a West Highland terrier) will be thrilled with his return. Maggie (Harvey’s owner) along Austin and the residents of Brayside Retirement Villa are back with new dilemmas. There’s a new assistant director at Brayside. She begins to enforce and dictate several rules; one regulation severely limits Harvey’s visits to everyone’s dismay. The Brayside residents along with the staff are extremely disappointed with the changes instigated by the assistant director in the guise of running a tight ship.”

Book Time

“The story is fast moving and the characters are strong. I am impressed by Maggie and Austin’s mature choices and I loved getting to learn about Mr. Kowalski’s life during the Secord World War. While you do not need to read Books 1 and 2 to understand what is going in Harvey Takes the Lead, I am going to suggest you may want to: the characters are great and I think the former books will provide more details about the crews’ backstories.”

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Storytime with Stephanie

“Colleen Nelson pours so much heart onto the pages of her Harvey stories and none more than in Harvey Takes the Lead. At a time when many seniors living facilities have been locked down and seniors have been allowed very few visitors, it’s a bright light to remind grandchildren about the importance of connections with grandparents and elders. There is tremendous love and respect not just for seniors but those who care for them as well and I love seeing how important the Brayside community is to Maggie and Austin.”

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Jill’s Book Blog

“The issues at the retirement home were an important part of this story. The new assistant director thought she was doing the right thing by restricting Harvey’s visits and banning activities for the residents. However, these were things that they looked forward to, so it actually hurt their quality of life. I saw first hand at my grandmother’s nursing home how music and dogs can brighten up the residents. There were even non-verbal residents who would speak when they saw dogs or heard certain songs. I’m glad this was part of a children’s book, so they can learn about life in a retirement home.

Harvey Takes the Lead is another wonderful Harvey story!”

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Room for More Reviews

Posted on March 31st, 2022 by pajamapress

Kirkus Reviews

“Over the objections of Scratch, the more timorous of the two, Dig invites first a fleeing wallaby and her joey, then a koala with burned paws, and, scariest of all, a venomous tiger snake into the increasingly crowded burrow to escape the flames and smoke above. The wombats’ kindness is rewarded when the rains that come to douse the fire threaten to flood the burrow and the grateful visitors pitch in to build a barricade. “Aren’t we clever,” says Scratch afterward, “to have invited the neighbors into our home?” “Yes,” agrees Dig, viewing things from a more perceptive angle. “We are very lucky.”

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YA Books Central

“What I loved: This is a sweet story about helping others and sharing what you have. The detailed and sweeping illustrations really bring the story to life. Backmatter talking about Australia and the animals shown in the story add to the educational context. The messaging around welcoming refugees is subtle but also important, as Dig and Scratch make sure other animals are saved from the natural disasters around them only to face later troubles themselves and have others help them as well.

Final verdict: With adorable characters, important themes, and lovely illustrations, this is a cute picture book that children will enjoy. Due to text length and context, recommend for elementary school aged readers.”

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CM Magazine

“The animals learn a lesson about putting worries aside (especially Scratch), and they are all able to begin their lives anew.

We’ve seen many examples of kindness, sharing and togetherness in climate disasters all over the world. Wouldn’t it have been nice if we’d all used that approach to our neighbours consistently during the Covid-19 pandemic?

Montreal artist Maggie Zeng has drawn anthropomorphic representations of the animals to match Kadarusman’s sympathetic characters. The wombats are chubby and vulnerable-looking; even the snake has expressions on its face. Zeng uses the earth-tone browns, golds and soft mauves as well as also the reds and oranges to indicate the dangerous fires raging above the burrow. The outlines of the animals are soft, indicating their rough, undefined furry coats.

Room for More can supplement a unit about inclusiveness and friendship and is a good read-aloud. Recommended”

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Simcoe.com

“When heavy rains come the visitors leave the underground burrow, but not before building a barrier at the burrow entrance so the wombats’ home doesn’t flood. Room for More is a nice picture book about kindness and helping others and it introduces young (and old) readers to some of the fascinating animals who live in Australia.

The author, Michelle Kadarusman, was inspired to write this book by stories of animals who found shelter in wombat burrows when Australia experienced devastating fires. At the back of the book there is an “Author’s Note” along with a glossary providing information on: wombats, wallabies, koalas, tiger snakes, bushfires, floods, climate change and environmental disasters, Australian Indigenous land practices.”

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Storytime with Stephanie

Michelle Kadarusman sets her stories in the places where she grew up and places that are close to her heart. Growing up in Australia, she knows lots about the unique species that make the island their home. Inspired by stories of animals taking shelter in wombat burrows during the devastating wildfires in 2019-2020, Room for More acknowledges the devastation in a child friendly way and also encourages readers to remember to extend a hand of kindness when you see another in trouble.

I LOVED that this book included information about the animals featured at the end as well as a glossary of important terms and other information about bushfires, climate change and Australian Indigenous environmental practices. She even included a lovely author’s note.

Maggie Zeng’s illustrations are ADORABLE! Dig and Scratch are so cuddly and cute and readers will just want to bring them all home with them. I love the choice to give the illustrations during the fire a yellow/orange glow to them, emphasizing the heat and the danger. Then, when the rains come, the illustrations cool with blue and purple undertones. Readers will be drawn to the big faces and the endearing animals.”

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Rainy Days Reviews

Posted on March 3rd, 2022 by pajamapress

School Library Journal, Fuse 8

“I cannot resist a clever bit of paper cutting, no matter how hard I want to… This is one of those titles that have the poofy covers and then the thinner but incredibly difficult to rip or tear plasticy pages. You’ll appreciate their hearty quality since this book is bound to be a favorite each time a rainy day comes along. And, as a parent myself who indulged the outdoorsy whims of my own tots long ago, I appreciate lines like, “Freezing rain; we complain,” which shows a kid and dog INSIDE on a sleety nasty day. May it save many a fine parent from feeling obligated to tromp through that muck. Layered paper illustrations by Sato expertly provide the color you needs in a book with such gray skies.”

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Youth Services Book Review

“Simple rhymes take children through a rainy day. Starting with the rain and how that can sadden kids, to finding the joy in things that kids can still (or only) do in the rain. Taking something that might make them sad and giving them ideas to have fun is always a good lesson for all of us, kids and parents. The illustrations are neat and clear, with details that enhance without distracting the reader.”

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YA Books Central

“What Worked: Preschool children need time to explore their environment in all different weather and seasons to gain an understanding of their world and their place inside of it. This book helps young children do that by showing kids having a blast playing in the rain with all sorts of ways to explore. Some children stomped in puddles, made a mud painting, picked up worms. If the weather had lightning and thunder then they stayed cozy in their house.

Final Verdict: As an adult, it is often easy to think of the inconveniences of rainy weather even if it is essential to life on our planet. This book highlights the joy that can be found on a nice rainy day.”

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CM Magazine

The clever rhymes in Rainy Days really make for an entertaining way to teach children rhyme and rhythm. Being that the many forms of rain are something that, especially in Canada, we see in our day-to-day lives, children will be able to engage with the story because it is relatable and compelling.”

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CTV Your Morning

“This is a padded book, so it is perfect for younger kids. It is just a lovely story about the things that you do on a rainy day, from putting on your boots to looking for snails. It is lovely rhyming couplets, which is really nice for young children.”

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Sal’s Fiction Addiction

“Poetry is very important for little ones. They respond to the rhythm of the words, and begin to understand that many words sound the same. Rhyme is a very important part of the reading process. Children who know how to rhyme have a better chance of success at school.

This is the fourth in a series of padded hardcover books for our youngest readers. It follows Windy Days, Sunny Days and Snow Days. What a way to get started on a library for a new baby or a favorite toddler. Each of the books captures the magic found in nature and its many blessings.”

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Whistling for Angela Reviews

Posted on February 23rd, 2022 by pajamapress

 

“Whistling For Angela, is a purely wonderful adoption story by Robin Heald who was adopted, and who with her own husband, years later, became the adoptive parents of two children. The love passes down the generations of adoptees, and shines in this lyrical book.”
—Jane Yolen, author of Owl Moon the How Do Dinosaur picture books

School Library Journal

“A little boy prepares to meet his newly adopted baby sister Angela by learning how to whistle for her. Daniel loves songbirds, but has been struggling to learn how to whistle. When he arrives at the adoption center with his family, his new sister’s birth mom shows him just what to do. This sweet, informative story sheds light on a particular kind of adoption experience.”

Youth Services Book Review

“This sweet look at the constructive and loving relationship between parties in an ‘adoption triangle’ may not be the norm, as is mentioned in an author’s note at the end, but it helps to explain ‘why’ and ‘how’ to an expectant sibling. I think it’s an important story to be told, and it echoes the author’s experience when adopting her own daughter.”

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San Francisco Book Review

“There are many different kinds of adoptions these days, and open adoptions are becoming more popular. Robin Heald has written a charming story with a hook that will pull young readers through as they learn about adoption in general and open adoptions in this case. The bright and warm illustrations by Peggy Collins are the perfect complement to this story. This is a great introduction for youngsters to open adoption and the making of a new family.”

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The International Educator

“Whistling for Angela by Robin Heald, illustrated by Peggy Collins, is a beautifully executed picture book that will work on many levels. Mostly it is the story of a new big brother preparing a special gift for his new baby sister.  It is the happy story of a family adopting a baby. And it is the important but sad story of a birth mother finding a loving home for her baby.”

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CM Magazine

“As she describes in her “Author’s Note”, Heald has used her own experiences with adoption to help convey those emotions to readers. There is anxiety and sadness for everyone involved, but also happiness, love, and a potential for new bonds. Heald offers an opportunity for connection and representation for readers, whether a child has been adopted themselves, or a parent has adopted or had to give their own child up for adoption. Whistling for Angela is a perfect story to share with families and in the classroom.”

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Little Bookworm Club

“When they arrive at the adoption center they meet Angela & her birth mother Jessie. Jessie loves birds too! She even has 3 parakeets, teaches Daniel to whistle, & leaves a letter and a pair of parakeet feather earrings as a gift for Angela someday. When they say goodbye Daniel can see how sad Jessie is & wants to help her feel better. He rushes after her and gives her a feather of his own and a promise that Angela will always be cared for and loved. This is such a sweet story inspired by events the author experienced. It examines both sides of the adoption process, the joy of growing a family and the heartache experienced when these mothers make one of the hardest decisions of their lives. This is a truly touching and necessary story.”

 Imagination Soup

A tender, heartwarming beautiful story of love and adoption. Daniel hopes to learn to whistle by the time he meets his new little sister. But, when he meets her, he still can’t whistle. That’s when, in a heart-strings-tugging moment, the baby’s birth mom named Jessie teaches Daniel how to whistle.”

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This is the Boat that Ben Built Teaching Guide

Posted on February 8th, 2022 by pajamapress

Click here to download the This is the Boat that Ben Built teaching guide.

Click here to download the Northern River Ecosystem Insects Fact Sheet


Click here to download the Northern River Ecosystem Plants Fact Sheet

A Sky-Blue Bench Teaching Guide

Posted on January 24th, 2022 by pajamapress

Click here to download the A Sky-Blue Bench teaching guide.

Sun in My Tummy Reviews

Posted on December 16th, 2021 by pajamapress

 

 

School Library Journal★ Starred Review

“Mixed-media artwork creates striking color variation and subtle dimension, lifting the illustrations right off the page and resulting in a natural flow throughout the story. Blinick’s deliberate use of line moves the eye across the page in perfect accompaniment to the narrative, highlighting the story’s theme of interconnection. The main character and her mother both have brown skin and straight black hair. VERDICT This book is as essential as sunshine; the absolutely beautiful STEM story is as absorbing as photosynthesis itself.”

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Quill & Quire★ Starred Review

“A breakfast table conversation between a girl and her mother encompasses big concepts like energy, plant life cycles, and photosynthesis in a child-friendly manner. Toronto author Laura Alary’s poetic rumination about how the sun nourishes us all offers food for thought. The sunny and bright mixed-media illustrations from Andrea Blinick are inviting. –LL”

Find this review in the Jan/Feb 2022 edition

Booklist

“Bright, page-filling illustrations with whimsical details (a cow in an inner tube floats in a cereal bowl) align with the text and offer visual reinforcement. The text does include some technical details but always in a naive, impressed way that supports the overall magical tone. Perfect for reading out loud, this engaging tale could be used as an introduction to elementary science units and also to encourage young readers to find the magic in everyday things.”

Find this review in the March 2022 edition

Youth Services Book Review

“What did you like about the book? The unnamed main character wakes up excited to get some sun in their tummy. At first I was expecting a storyline similar to “there was an old lady who swallowed a fly”; instead, the book has a beautiful narrative about photosynthesis. Readers are first introduced to how oats are made, then how the blueberries are grown, and lastly, to the milk that goes into the bowl. Each step along the way we meet another part of the yummy bowl of oatmeal. The illustrations are brightly colored pencil-like drawings of how oats grow, how blueberries grow, and even how birds and bees help pollinate flowers. This is a great way to talk about the cycles of food and how we end up with some of the yummy dishes that become part of our family routines.”

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YA Books Central

“While there is more technical detail about photosynthesis in the author’s note at the back of the book, this is a good introduction to the concept of plants harnessing the sun to make energy for themselves, and also energy to pass on to human consumers. The idea that a bowl of oatmeal, blueberries, and milk all contain the sun is a happy way to think about nutrition, and perhaps a good way to entice reluctant eaters. Alary’s language is very poetic, and the book reads more like free verse than a science text.”

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CM: Canadian Review

“One morning a little girl wakes up and finds her mother making breakfast in the kitchen. In an effort to make her daughter understand how the sun creates the food we eat, which, in turn, gives us energy for the day, her mother begins explaining the process of photosynthesis.

As her mother explains, it all begins with the sun. Whether it’s the oats that make up the girl’s oatmeal, or the blueberries that sweeten it, or the milk that makes it taste so delicious, everything in her bowl is connected to the earth through an exceptional process that combines the sun, some air, and water. And voila, the little girl now has the sun in her tummy which will keep her going for the rest of the day.”

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Cloud Lake Literary

“I love the circular nature of each journey through the chain of photosynthesis, done in accessible and pretty language. Each turn layers beautifully on top of the other until the young protagonist—and young readers—understand the meaning of having the sun in their tummy.

Now let’s talk about the pictures, which are just adorable. They are warm and full of clever details (like cow spots on the carton of milk and a bright sun on the belly of the protagonist’s red t-shirt) alongside cozy morning rituals (mugs of tea, fuzzy slippers, and sleepy slouching at the table). Blinick is a mixed media artist, and the cut-out effect is beautifully used in this book. The palette is reminiscent of a country kitchen, with an abundance of golds and yellows interspersed with green, red, and blue. The sun is ever present, and each spread gets brighter and brighter until the protagonist is awake, energized, and ready to start her day.

For those of us that like a fictionalized feel to our nonfiction, this book delivers. It’s accessible, fun, and informative but does not scrimp on the science (there is even a one-page Author’s Note describing the process of Photosynthesis). It could just as easily be read as a bedtime story as used as a learning tool in a classroom environment. An excellent choice for parents, caregivers, or educators. Loved this read.”

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Children’s Literature-CLCD

“The final page of the book includes a scientific description of the chemistry of photosynthesis for curious young minds ready to understand the ‘magic’ referenced in the main text. A clever book to help young children understand where our food comes from and how it grows and passes energy to us: food is fuel, and sometimes that means the warm-heartedness of sunlight! The colorful, fun, and unique illustrations bring real delight to this read and absolutely enhance the book’s appeal, with lots to visually discover.”

Canadian Children’s Book News

“The sun is the true star of this charming picture book by Laura Alary and Andrea Blinick. Sun in My Tummy is a great supplement to any science lesson or a way to build gratitude and understanding in subtle ways for the role of nature in our lives.”

Find this review in the Spring 2022 edition

A Kids Book A Day

“Oatmeal, blueberries, and milk may seem like a ho-hum breakfast, but there is magic in the foods we eat.  The oats and the blueberries grew out of the soil, warmed by the sun, and watered by the rain.  They make food from sunlight, creating seeds which can be used to grow new plants.  The cow was able to make milk because she ate grass that grew with the help of sun and rain as well.  “Inside everything, if you look deep enough, you will find the sun. Warm-hearted. Generous. Giving.”  Includes additional information about photosynthesis.”

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Book Time

“One of my favourite pages is when she walks down the stairs in the dark, not overly pleased about having to wake up, and in the kitchen her mom is making oatmeal and the entire kitchen is bright and sunny. Readers learn how the sun, soil and rain make the plants and blueberries grow as well as provides the grass the cow eats that gives her the milk for her oatmeal.

Alary talks about the magic of how the sun allows us to live and eat and grow. In her author’s note, Alary calls the process of plants covering air, water and sunlight into food, but reminds readers it’s not really, rather it’s chemistry.”

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Sal’s Fiction Addiction

“The second-person narrative is soothing and informative as it includes instruction on plant life cycles, food webs, and photosynthesis. It provides a clear and logical explanation for a complex process, and leaves young readers with an easy awareness for the breakfast foods that sustain them during their day. Questions are asked, comparisons are made – all with the purpose of helping young children know the importance of the sun. After a filling and healthy breakfast, the girl is off to catch her school bus with sun in her tummy.

Andrea Blinick’s mixed-media artwork is filled with the sunlight that benefits all. From making its appearance at dawn to its growing brilliance as mother and daughter tuck into their nutritious meal, the sun is always in the background doing its amazing work. Many lovely details on each spread will encourage further attention and discussion. The cow literally floating in her cereal bowl will elicit tiny giggles.

An author’s note further explains photosynthesis for readers.”

Click here to read the full review

This is the Boat that Ben Built Reviews

Posted on December 13th, 2021 by pajamapress

School Library Journal

“Bailey’s debut puts an ecological spin on “This Is the House That Jack Built,” in a cumulative tale of a boy exploring a northern river ecosystem. Dark-haired, fair-skinned Ben heads downstream in his very own boat. Safety first as Ben, as well as the grown-up and dog watching from shore, wears a life vest, even though Ben sails solo. This is a simple and gentle introduction to northern wildlife.”

YA Books Central

“What I loved: The illustrations are really lovely and capture the river and its animals in a way that is sure to appeal to children. The buildable story is great for toddlers and preschoolers who will appreciate the repetition and understanding the way that things begin to relate to each other in the story. There is a lot of simplicity to this story that works perfectly for this age group. The backmatter is a nice addition, with some additional context and basic facts about the animals.

The font is easy to read, and I appreciated that the color changes as needed with the background to make it easier to see. Although the story builds, the amount of text on each page is relatively brief, making the pages turn quickly, which is great for the youngest of picture book readers. With the backmatter, this would work well for classrooms or at home learning about ecosystems, animals, and the ways in which we interact with them….

Final verdict: A beautifully illustrated picture book, THIS IS THE BOAT THAT BEN BUILT is a fun, buildable story that teaches about river animals and ecosystems.”

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Youth Services Book Review

“This book in rhyme borrows the scheme of ‘The House that Jack Built’, and perks it up with a nature theme. Set in the Northern Forest, the story starts with Ben putting the finishing touches on a rowboat, then setting off down the river, with his pet dog and Mom keeping apace on shore. The progressive rhyme relates how the fish, the beaver, the loon, and other animals coexist in the forest around him. When the hoot of owl startles the heron, a comedy of reactions takes place, ending with fish jumping right into Ben’s boat.

This is a sweet, rhyming early look at ecosystems in the forest. Back matter talks about keystone species, and asks readers questions about the story.”

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The International Educator

“The text uses repetition as ‘moose strolls by bear taking a swim by the goose that glides by the loon that floats by the beaver in the river that carries the boat that Ben built’. Fun to read over and over with young students and create your own story based on animals your students may spot in their own surroundings. Nonfiction information on each animal is supplied in back pages.”

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CM Magazine

“Montreal-born artist Maggie Zeng has filled the pages with digitally-produced illustrations which show a tranquil waterway flanked by inviting woodlands. Misty tones dominated by green and peach may at first seem to make the outing appear to be a child’s perfect dream. But wait: readers can see that Mom and the family pooch are following along, continually watching from the bank as Ben floats, dips a bucket, naps and uses his binoculars to spy something that needs more careful examination. (And – safety first! – he is seen to be wearing a life jacket throughout). All of the animals are brought to life by the active poses that have been employed which let readers know this a fully-realized adventure. One of the most engaging spreads shows Ben leaning over the side of the little boat with a scoop net while all around fish big and small rush through the bubbling teal water.

Extensive back matter discusses the ecosystem of a northern river and offers a page of information about each of the animals introduced in the body of the text.

This Is the Boat That Ben Built is a collaboration that exudes a sense of happiness. It is the meeting of pleasant story and informative nonfiction that will be useful in primary classroom and library collections.”

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CLCD – Children’s Literature

“What could be more amazing than experiencing an ecosystem through a story? Or floating down a river into a new world that you can explore? This tale has echoes of the traditional “The House That Jack Built” story, yet Bailey weaves a narrative that is distinctly modern, which Zeng has filled with wondrous illustrations. A young boy named Ben builds a boat and explores a world filled with a fish, a beaver, a bear, a goose, an owl, a heron, and a moose while floating down a river on a sunny afternoon. Young readers will enjoy following Ben’s adventures and encountering creatures that leap across the river and become larger-than-life within this imaginative journey.”

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Winnipeg Free Press

Ben floats through a memorable day in his hand-built wooden boat. But when an owl startles the heron and leads to a quick reversal of the creatures in the forest, Mom joins him in the boat. For readers who want to learn more there’s extra info on each of the wild creatures.”

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Metroland Media

“This Is The Boat That Ben Built is a nature, cumulative story that explores a northern river ecosystem. After building his boat, Ben sets out on a river where he sees various animals including fishes, a beaver, a loon, a moose, a heron – and more. Young readers will enjoy the fun story and quality illustrations.”

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Sal’s Fiction Addiction

“A hooting owl provides enough drama to reverse the direction the words have taken, bringing the story full circle. The lively text is just right for early readers with its repetitive language. Paired with Maggie Zeng’s luminous digital art, it is sure to be read often and soon independently. Filled with movement and humor that adds to its appeal, it will encourage talk about the way an ecosystem works, food webs, and how many animals flourish in a healthy environment.

Back matter includes an author’s note about the what makes an ecosystem.”

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Book Time

“First, Ben is going down a river and he sees some great creatures – fish of course, but also a beaver, a loon, a grinning goose, a bear and moose, among others. But just when you think you can’t read the same words any longer, an owl “whoos on a whim and startles the heron all proper and prim,” and a chain reaction of disaster follows until Ben gets a surprise in his boat. At the end of the book, Bailey talks about the Northern River ecosystem and goes into information about the creatures she featured in her book.

The pictures are adorable.”

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Canadian Children’s Book News

“Patterned on the familiar “The House That Jack Built” nursery rhyme, Jen Lynn Bailey’s text is fun and easy to read, flowing smoothly with the right cadence that pulls the reader along. Maggie Zeng’s digital illustrations are beautiful and full of detail. Gentle humour infuses the story in both text and illustrations, and readers will enjoy the sense of wonder always to be found in natural settings.”—Canadian Children’s Book News

The full review can be found in the Spring 2022 issue.

Birds on Wishbone Street Teaching Guide

Posted on November 24th, 2021 by pajamapress

Click here to download the Birds on Wishbone Street teaching guide.