Pajama Press

Archive for the ‘Reviews’ Category

Windy Days Reviews

Posted on August 25th, 2021 by pajamapress

Kirkus Reviews

“Kerbel follows the wind through the seasons, setting scenes with strong descriptive language in two-line verses with simple rhymes or near rhymes, all filled with movement and joy. A diverse cast of young children interact with the wind, which is depicted throughout as streaming white lines pushing through the air in Sato’s wonderfully textured mixed-media collage illustrations that seamlessly match the scenes described. Readers will want to touch the children’s sweaters, pick the luscious-looking apples hanging loosely on the tree, and jump into that beckoning pile of leaves. The concept of wind in all its varieties is explained simply and beautifully with just enough information for curious young readers.

Feel the wind in your hair and enjoy. ”

Click here to read the full review

Booklist

“Windy days come in all sorts of whimsical forms. Kerbel and Sato’s energetic picture book takes a closer look at just how alive the wind can be. Bouncy, perfectly rhyming couplets capture its varying nature, from gentle and steady to swirly and gusty; breezy enough to fly a kite or strong enough to make whistling sounds on a stormy day. Sato’s elaborate, meticulous cut-paper collage artwork depicts the motion of wind in fascinating vignettes that beautifully capture its movement, featuring cheery, softly rounded kids portrayed with just as much dynamic movement as the book’s subject. The image on each double-page spread expands on the words, helping young readers grasp the concept of each type of movement. Easy to read for beginners, this book will introduce little ones to such words as sweep, blast, blow, blister, roar, spin, dance, sway, swirl, and icy.”

Click here to read the full review

School Library Journal

“As readers have come to expect from Kerbel, rhyming text and beautiful, textured cutout collage illustrations drive this book about the wonders of windy days throughout the seasons. A cast of children of many races and skin colors marvel at the power of the wind, benefit from the power it gives, and joyfully participate in wind play. The wind, cleverly depicted as a variety of curved, straight, and “curly cued” lines, create movement throughout the pages in tandem with the weather event/season illustrated. In addition, the inclusion of various types of clouds throughout the spreads establishes the relationship among the wind, cloud movement, and weather changes. Sato’s use of various textures creates a three-dimensional, tactile vibe that is sure to pique and sustain the interest of children.”

Click here to read the full review

CM Magazine

“Wind and leaves takes centre stage in an engaging homage to our fall days in this lovely collaboration between Kerbel and Sato. A variety of leaves flying across the page will entice readers from the front flyleaf into the actual book. Preschoolers will be enchanted by this force of nature.

Delightful rhyming couplets help describe both the work and the fun that winds provide. The economy of words in the text, yet the frequency of expressive adjectives, such as “blustery, gusting, whistling, swirling, roaring”, are used to highlight the sensation of the wind. The result is a treat to all the senses.

There are many books about the concept of wind for early readers, but what makes Windy Days standout is the skillful artwork. With Sato’s using mixed media and paper collage, textiles, and embroidery silk, the illustrations fairly jump off the page with their tactile feel. Sato’s use of joyful expressions on the faces of the diverse youthful participants is another attractive feature. The depth and visual interest of the colourful drawings fit well in this sturdy book with its extra thick paper, rounded corners and padded cover.”

Click here to read the full review

Metroland Media

“Toddlers will have fun reading about wind and autumn with this nicely illustrated, rhyming story featuring a book with a padded cover, rounded corners and thick pages. The back of the book contains some experiments that young children can do on a windy day.”

Click here to read the full review

The Kid Lit Mama

“The companion to Snow Days and Sunny Days, this board book featuring collage art and descriptive language is a true joy.”

Click here to see the full review

Olivia (Goodreads)

“What I loved: This was a great poem that was perfectly paced with a couplet on each page. This rhythm is great for young ears, who will enjoy listening to it read aloud. The illustrations are really gorgeous, made out of different textures, featuring young children in different scenes, such as at a fair, on Halloween, stuck inside on a rainy day, and more. This book is perfect for fall with recognizable odes to the fall weather.

The book format is great for young readers and ideal for young toddlers and preschoolers. The pages are thicker than typical picture books as a step in between board and picture books, and the soft cover is fun to touch. Toddlers can turn the pages easily and explore this on their own, as a lead in to typical picture books. The font is easily legible, making it great for reading aloud, and the backmatter adds some educational context for at home, daycare, or preschool.

Final verdict: A lovely poem, WINDY DAYS is a fun way to begin to talk about the weather with toddlers and preschoolers. Intriguing textured illustrations and fun autumn scenes make this a great one for little ones to explore.”

Click here to read the full review

A Sky-Blue Bench Reviews

Posted on August 3rd, 2021 by pajamapress

Kirkus Reviews Starred Review

“Gently but poignantly, Collins’ richly hued, cartoon-style illustrations convey Aria’s discomfort, determination, and joy; family members’ and friends’ warm eyes and sympathetic faces are reassuring. Background characters bustle in a rainbow of jewel-toned clothing, their faces bearing a variety of expressions. Though Aria’s accident is unspecified in the simple primary text, an author’s note reveals that Aria’s story, partially based on Rahman’s childhood during Afghanistan’s civil war, honors Afghan children whose lives were changed forever by unexploded ordnance. Most characters’ complexions, including Aria’s, are varying shades of brown.

A timely, eye-opening portrait of resilience, community, and hope.”

Click here to read the full review

Foreword Reviews

“Aria, a young girl in Afghanistan and an amputee, is nervous about going back to school. With all the benches being burned for warmth during the war, the girls in her school have no choice but to sit on the floor, which is unbearable for Aria and her “helper-leg.” Together with her mother and brother, Aria decides to build a bench herself, painting it skyblue: the color of “courage, peace and wisdom.” DANIELLE BALLANTYNE (November / December 2021)”

Quill & Quire

“Aria, an Afghani girl, is eager to return to school, but her new prosthetic “helper leg” makes sitting on the classroom floor far too uncomfortable. So Aria decides to build a bench for herself. Ontario-based Peggy Collins illustrates this heartwarming story about a resilient young girl who faces a barrier to her education.”

Youth Services Book Review

How beautiful and heart-breaking to read this lovely picture book about a young girl, crippled from an UXO device, who finds a way to be comfortable at school by building her own bench. The ingenuity and determination of Afghani women and girls is explored as Aria finds that she can not sit comfortably on the floor of her all-girls school. After briefly considering not going back she decides she will build her own seating. Thus, with a little help from the local carpenter, Aria and her mother build and paint the sky-blue bench.”

Click here to read the full review

Bookishrealm (Goodreads)

“Wow! This was a powerful book. A Sky Blue focuses on a young Afghan girl, Aria, as she attempts to go back to school after receiving a prosthetic leg due to mine explosion. When Aria gets to school she’s extremely uncomfortable finding a way to sit during class because of her “helper leg.” Not only does the author address the danger that Afghan children face due to mines left all over the country, but they also weave discussions about the barriers that young Afghan girls and women face in relation to their education. Aria knows that unless she is able to build a bench to help her feel more comfortable in class she won’t have access to the tools she needs to learn how to read and write. The narrative was powerful and impactful and drew specifically on some experiences the author had growing up in Afghanistan.”

Click here to read the full review

The Undercover Book List Reviews

Posted on July 27th, 2021 by pajamapress

Kirkus Reviews

“Two 12-year-olds confront their vulnerabilities.
A light-skinned girl with brown hair in a ponytail sits atop a cloud with a book in her lap and dozens of pieces of paper falling down from her cloud. Below her is a light-skinned boy with orange curly hair who is sitting atop some pillows, is also reading a book, and is receiving all pages that are cascading down on him.
Told in alternating chapters from the perspectives of seventh graders Jane (in the first person) and Tyson (in third-person omniscient), this story unfolds with clever aplomb. Although they are in the same class, Jane and Tyson don’t hang out together. Top-student Jane loves to read—especially mysteries—and misses her best friend, Sienna, who has recently moved across the country; underachiever Tyson pulls pranks that get him sent to the office and plays video games obsessively at home, to the detriment of his schoolwork. But when Sienna leaves an anonymous farewell note/clue in the school library for Jane, it is Tyson, hiding in the stacks, who sees Jane find the note, and he decides to jump in to the correspondence, also anonymously, as a prank.”

Click here to read the full review

Publishers Weekly

“Alternating chapters catalogue Tyson and Jane’s earnest perspectives (“It feels like people are always leaving me”) in Nelson’s (Harvey Holds His Own) gentle yet well-paced story. Featuring the duo’s interspersed missives, the narrative explores what it means to be accurately perceived, by both others and oneself, while simultaneously serving as a satisfying love letter to Louis Sachar, Rebecca Stead, Jacqueline Woodson, and other cherished authors, and emphasizing books’ transformative power. Back matter includes their Undercover Book List.”

Click here to read the full review

Booklist

“With her father posted in the Middle East and her best friend moving away, Jane’s seventh-grade year is unsettling. Still, she follows through on a suggestion for making a new friend: in a particular book at the school library, she places an anonymous note recommending her favorite titles and inviting the next reader to reply by doing the same.

Nelson, a Canadian author, offers an appealing dual narrative that switches, chapter by chapter, between the two very different classmates’ points of view. The writing is straightforward but lively. Early on, Tyson sums up Jane in this wry sentence: “Teachers probably arm-wrestled each other to get her in their classes.” Both characters are convincingly portrayed in this rewarding middle-grade novel.”

Click here to read the full review

Foreword Reviews

“The book’s narration alternates between Jane and Tyson’s points of view, exploring themes of transformation, and of the strength it takes to embrace change. Tyson and Jane learn that change brings strength, too, once it’s been embraced. Their transformations are fast: both exhibit understandings of human psychology of the sort that eludes many adults. The obstacles they face, including vandalism and illness, are handled in a straightforward manner, but without sacrificing emotion (though a story line concerning a classroom activity is unresolved). Both strong Jane and sensitive Tyson prove to be excellent role models by the book’s gratifying ending. In the diverse novel The Undercover Book List, two classmates overcome their initial antagonism to find commonalities, which lead them to unexpected solidarity.”

Click here to read the full review

Quill & Quire

The Undercover Book List, like Nelson’s Harvey novels, takes an honest look at the emotional lives of preteens. Jane is dealing with loss, fear, and loneliness, while Tyson struggles to shake off his reputation to allow his true self space to grow. Nelson approaches their inner lives with respect and empathy, using books as the healing agent that brings them together.

The plot races along, switching between Jane’s and Tyson’s points of view with each successive chapter. Jane’s chapters are in the first person, while Tyson’s are in third person, which has the effect of making Tyson’s character seem distant in comparison to Jane.

The Undercover Book List will resonate with children who feel unseen, who dream of a friend who understands them, or who are figuring out what kind of person to be. It’s an absorbing, entertaining, and sensitive story that champions reading and the love of books.”

Click here to read the full review

CM Magazine

“This is every mother’s dream situation! Confiscate your kid’s game box and have him turn to reading as a compensation? Wow! Tyson isn’t stupid, but, until now, he’s not been motivated to do anything that takes more effort than a quick joke would. The anonymity of communicating by letter is a way for him to be a different sort of person and without having to worry about being laughed at or teased. So what if the situation is a bit idealistic rather than realistic — every life can use a bit of fantasy (and it doesn’t have to be in the form of a video-game avatar)!

An added bonus is the book list at the end, giving all the titles that Jane and Tyson discuss as well as the ones that just got a mention. It would make for a wonderful display in a school library, a Tyson-path and a Jane-path, with arrows leading from one book to the next to the next; I only wish I were still working in a library. Give The Undercover Book List to a reader and open up a whole new bunch of possible authors to be enjoyed or give it to a non-reader and see what happens. You might be surprised!”

Click here to read the full review

Youth Services Book Review

“Told in alternating chapters from each main character’s perspective, The Undercover Book List is a treat for book lovers as it recommends titles such as Harbor Me, The Book Thief, and several others.  Both characters learn and grow a great deal over the course of the book and readers will really enjoy their development.  Jane grapples with separation, from Sienna and from her military Dad, with worry about her grandfather, and anxiety about her social status at school.  Tyson wants to find his niche between his overachieving siblings and to shed his reputation as class clown without losing his cool guy friends.  The two bond over books and help each other through these challenges with humor and genuine friendship (it is noteworthy that romance between the two is never suggested), supported by a wonderful cast of secondary characters including friends, family members and school staff.  The author includes a list of the book suggestions that Jane and Tyson share.”

Click here to read the full review

CanLit for Little Canadians

“Readers know the richness that stories can bring into their lives. We meet new friends, travel to different places and times, and we learn.  By bringing together a reader and non-reader, Colleen Nelson, an astute writer and undoubtedly understanding teacher, has written about every child out there. The ones that love books will always find something to read but can get so much insight from the perspectives of others. Those that haven’t become readers yet often just need the scaffolding of the right book or the right person to bring them to reading. With the Undercover Book Club, Tyson and Jane both find their people among those they would have dismissed originally and enrich their lives beyond just reading.

Colleen Nelson has a natural skill at giving young readers characters who are real, though not always likeable at first, and who are able to change with their experiences and perspectives. ”

Click here to read the full review

The International Educator

The Undercover Book List, Colleen Nelson is a fabulous middle grade novel. It’s a story grounded in a school library and books, focused on friendship. Jane loves to read but misses her best friend who moved away. Tyson is into video games and does not like to read. But through the secret messages left in books in their school library, both main characters change and make new friends. A great story for book worms and kids who have to move and make new friend.”

Click here to read the full review

Book Time

“I really liked this book and it’s on my to-be-read-to-my-son pile. And while I liked Jane, the main character in the book, it was Tyson I liked the most and who I saw the most change in. My heart actually broke for Tyson a couple of times. Not only do his teachers believe the worse, so too, do his parents who laughed when Tyson said he read a book; they didn’t believe him. No wonder the kid can’t be bothered. I loved how hard Tyson tried and how it changed him in the end.”

Click here to read the full review

kathiemacisaac

“I loved the idea of two kids getting to know each other through notes left in books. Tyson had a reputation as a prankster and poor student, and watching his transformation was my favourite part of the story. I also loved Jane’s willingness to stay connected with Sienna and how they supported each other through their transitions. Both Jane and Tyson have challenges at home that ring true to middle-grade experiences and add depth to the character’s stories. There are some excellent ideas to use in the classroom, such as the Other Words for Me board and starting a Kid Lit Quiz team. The short chapters and overall book-length of 258 pages will appeal to a wide range of readers, and I would recommend this story for Gr. 4-7.”

Click here to read the full review

Storytime with Stephanie

“Coming just in time for the start of the school year, Colleen Nelson’s brilliant and charming new middle grade novel, The Undercover Book List, will inspire the readers and non-readers in your life.

I love that The Undercover Book List is written from two perspectives, Jane and Tyson. They are both incredible characters, going through their own struggles which shape their outlook on life. Tyson has no self confidence and always goes for the easy laugh to protect from being vulnerable. He doesn’t realize all of his potential. Jane is the sweetest person, kind and generous and is confident. When she takes a chance on Tyson, she helps him see himself in a more positive light.

I really enjoyed Tyson. He was such a great character and it was wonderful to watch him grow in confidence and understanding throughout the story. There are many Tyson’s out there. Children who just see themselves as one thing instead of multitudes. He becomes a leader and a good friend. Jane is a character who knows what is right and fights for it. She is a fierce friend and doesn’t give up on people easily. The two of them, Tyson and Jane, teach each other a lot over the course of the story an help each other navigate the tricky middle school dynamics, unbeknownst to each other.

All of the book recommendations within the story are stellar! I loved seeing the familiar titles pop up and even got a couple to add to my list. Colleen Nelson added shout out to books written by some of our most favourite Canadian authors. Honestly, I would have loved an undercover book club when I was a middle schooler. May have made the lonely eighth grade year more tolerable. Heck, I would love to have an undercover book club now! Perhaps I will start leaving notes in my library books!

The Undercover Book List is an awesome story, fabulous for the start of a new year to inspire readers and non readers to just pick up a book and enjoy.”

Click here to read the full review

Julie (Goodreads)

“One of my favorite kind of books are books about books…and this one did not disappoint! By the end I wanted to join both an Undercover Book Club and a Kid Lit Quiz team. I particularly enjoyed the unlikely friendship and how their story revealed the power of books.

Also, this quote…”flexing their intellectual muscles by firing off the names of the Newbery Award winners in chronological order,”…I am OBSESSED with it! It’s the answer to the prompt, “Tell me you’re a reader without telling me you’re a reader.””

Laurie Hnatiuk (Goodreads)

“I love the way Colleen has tackled a friend moving away. The unique way in which Colleen Nelson sets this up is a breath of fresh air. Instead of focusing on the friend who moves away, the author focuses on the friend who isn’t moving. Ms. Nelson reminds us that the friend staying behind also faces challenges and periods of difficulty, things that sometimes we may overlook.
Readers also meet a familiar character. We all know someone like Tyson Flamand. The clever individual who acts one way because they are not confident to show us their true selves. In The Undercover Book List, readers see the growth of Tyson as he gains confidence and realizes he can contribute and doesn’t need to hide behind the elaborate pranks. I appreciated the honesty of showing how Tyson knows how to suggest relevant and current books for Jane to read when he doesn’t consider himself a reader. Some individuals will see themselves and make connections to both Tyson and Jane. What a great way to talk about how we can get around from working to fake read and know excellent books to recommend to finding books that will engage those individuals who see themselves as nonreaders.

Using the duo perspective, readers get to know Jane and Tyson individually while speculating how they will become friends without the characters knowing they will be friends. Kids will enjoy this aspect of the story and will be able to connect and share with their personal stories. Writing from this dual perspective keeps readers engaged and wanting to learn more about each character and the storyline moving.”

Click here to read the full review

Michelle Kadarusman (Goodreads)

“Book nerds unite! The Undercover Book List provides a simply wonderful premise for young book lovers – and for those who don’t think they are bookish, they will be by the end of the story. Love, love, love the depiction of friendships old and new that grow and blossom under Nelson’s deft hand. A heartwarming page turner that achieves what all exceptional literature does, it inspires the reader to read more. All the stars for this middle-grade gem.”

Click here to read the full review

A Smile Reviews

Posted on July 27th, 2021 by pajamapress

Kirkus Reviews

In paper collage art, three children with light-coloured skin walk in a row along a cobblestone path. The eldest in front carries a parcel, the little boy in the middle carries a daisy and walks with a big smile on his face, and the girl at the end of the train carries a cake. A brown cat follows behind them, and a beaming yellow sun smiles down on the children.“Using brightly colored forms, cheerful collage illustrations provide a lively, child-centric, visual context for this uncredited English adaptation of the poem “Un sourire,” attributed to Follereau, a French humanitarian who worked with people who had Hansen’s disease. Opening with smiling parents waking their children in the morning, the simple text reminds readers “a smile costs nothing” and can be given to others.”

Click here to read the full review

School Library Journal

“Every sentence reads as truth, and Hadadi, working in a primary palette of good cheer, welcome, and bright colors, invites readers into the pages. Three joyful children go on a walk, visit a bakery, espy an older man giving someone less fortunate coffee and pastries—and more importantly, conversation—and witness how a smile given freely can change the tenor of the day. The publisher’s note explains Follereau’s philosophy, and helps anchor this airy work to serious goals. VERDICT A quiet idea, amplified, that to be kind, all children need is a smile.”

Click here to read the full review

Independent Book Reviews

“This is a gorgeous children’s picture book about smiling.
Simply perfect for anyone at anytime – it will certainly make you smile!”

North Somerset Teachers’ Book Award

“Whilst accompanying the poem, the illustrations tell their own story as well, showing the kindness, hope and joy a simple smile can bring to everyone. Each spread is bright and bursting with life, full of details to notice and enjoy. Hoda Hadadi’s pictures showing a day in the life of two smiling children would make a wonderful starting point for story telling and collage work.”

Click here to read the full review

Picture Book Snob

“This is perfect for gently introducing children to the importance of kindness and altruisim, as well as easy ways to practice what they’ve learned. It’s a fabulous bedtime story and Hoda’s art will encourage young people to be creative themselves. This is ideal for use in a classroom and for basing activities around too. This book would also make a marvellous and memorable gift, for adults as well as children. It’s sure to put a smile on the face of anyone who reads it.”

Click here to read the full review

Library Lady

“The cover depicting a trio of smiling children beneath a beaming sun and jolly smiling clouds instantly lifts your spirits and the endpapers continue the theme with a garden of flowers each of them smiling happily. The reader follows the children as they spread their smiles among the people they meet; the rich man with his downcast face, the young unemployed man lost in sadness and the little girl with the burst balloon. As we turn the pages we watch as their days are transformed by this small act of kindness.”

Click here to read the full review

Listen Up! Train Song Reviews

Posted on July 8th, 2021 by pajamapress

School Library Journal ★ Starred Review

A red freight train runs along a track with a hilly and forest-covered landscape behind it.

“PreS-K–Train lovers will delight in this board book featuring photos of trains. Each spread corresponds with musical text. A refrain of “Let’s sing a…song all down the track” makes this title a perfect match for story hours about things that go. Onomatopoeic words for various trains and train parts will encourage listeners to repeat and follow along.”

Click here to read the full review

Kirkus Reviews

“Locomotive-loving storytimers rejoice! Your newest read-aloud is here. “Whoooooo! Chooooooo!”

In this bouncy follow-up to Allenby’s Shape Up, Construction Trucks! (2020), rhythm carries readers along the rails. “Where do the trains go? / There and back. / Let’s sing a train song / All down the track.” After this opening, double-page spreads introduce different train-related vocabulary and associated onomatopoeia. Large, colorful, close-up stock photographs of trains ac uses it company the different sounds they’re capable of making. The engines go “Chuff-a-gruff-a!”; the metro sings “Whoooosh! Swoooosh!”; the boxcar says “Rattle-tattle!”; and more. Participation possibilities abound with the consistently inventive train sounds, and the bright and colorful images will be easy to see from across a room….Notes at the end of the book offer adult readers different ways to connect the book to rhythm and song….

All aboard! The littlest readers with a yen for the rails are bound to bounce with delight.” (Picture book. 2-4)

Click here to read the full review

CM Magazine

“The physical hardiness of the book is noted, including a hard, padded cover and rounded corners, and extra-heavy paper, making it robust enough for frequent use by young library patrons. The title is well-suited to reading out loud in storytime settings as the text is rhythmic and repetitive, yet there is enough variety to interest young listeners from page to page. Onomatopoeia is frequently utilized in words such as “hisssss!” and “screeeeech!” which add an exciting and interactive quality. The text is greatly enhanced by the full-colour photographs which are rich in detail and successfully depict movement. Some seasonal variety of outdoor scenes would enhance the overall impression of this title as all the outdoor photographs showcase trains under partly cloudy skies in the fullness of summer or very early Autumn. Nevertheless, Listen Up! Train Song is a delightful and fun book that will be of great interest and entertainment to very young children.”

Click here to read the full review

Youth Services Book Review

“An excellent way to introduce rhyming to young readers. The book explores the different types of sounds trains and train parts make. On each two page layout you get a large zoomed in photo of a train/train part or even a railroad crossing sign. On the opposite side of the picture there is a short large-text script that asks the readers what sound the picture makes and then encourages them to make up their own song based on the photo. The book is very realistic and simple which makes it a perfect read to pair with a hands-on activity.”

Click here to read the full review

Fab Book Reviews

“Allenby’s book encourages participation and imagination, singing, and practicing rhyming, with detailed back matter that proffers “sound and rhythm” based activities that adults/caregivers/parents can try out with little ones. (My youngest proudly made up his own sweet train song after a few reads of this title!). Listen Up! Train Song is a solid, participatory read, and a highly recommended companion title for any young readers who love transportation or train books, or who have loved Shape Up, Construction Trucks!”

Click here to read the full review

Canadian Bookworm

“This picture book shows different kinds of trains, different parts of trains and connects them to different sounds. It plays with onomatopoeia by showing kids how the sounds that the trains make are described by words that sound similar and encourages them to explore this concept.

The book is written in a song pattern with repetitive lines linking the different verses. The photographs have close-ups of some of the train parts making sounds like horns and brakes. There are also some train-related items like crossings that have noise that get included here. Parts of the trains like engines and boxcars have their own particular noises.”

Click here to read the full review

Alissa Tsaparikos (Goodreads)

“The sparse text is set in a simple rhythm that encourages audience participation. Back matter includes tips on practicing rhyme with children and how this acts as an early literacy activity. This book would work great in a transportation or train themed storytime.”

Click here to read the full review

Andrea (Goodreads)

“Excellent storytime book for young children. Rhyming, repetitive text is well paced. Close up pictures show the train parts being talked about in each rhyme, helping young children visualize just what makes each noise.”

The Cow Said BOO! Reviews

Posted on July 7th, 2021 by pajamapress

Kirkus Reviews

“Button’s rhyming text hits at just the right pace, encouraging participation from little readers. A black and white spotted cow stands on her hind legs, holding a box of tissues in one arm and a single kleenex in the other. She stands in front of a clothesline on a bright day with a jack-o-lantern pajama set on the line. Fall leaves and a pumpkin are on the ground.Kids will love being in on the joke that the cow isn’t really a ghost, and the silliness of the animal sounds when they all catch the cow’s cold will certainly elicit many a giggle. Carter’s illustrations include subtle hints at fall and Halloween even though the text doesn’t explicitly mention the season: Pumpkins dot the field, there’s a jack-o’-lantern shirt on the clothesline, and leaves float across the pages. The real visual highlight, however, is the progression of frames showing the fox sneaking through the field of snoozing animals. The glow of the moonlight acts as a spotlight on the fox, drawing readers’ attention to the action the animals don’t notice. The rear endpapers present five illustrated steps to “wash your hooves and paws!” and keep colds away.

An infectious seasonal read-aloud.”

Click here to read the full review

School Library Journal

“The rhyming text and repeated refrain are sure to engage the smallest readers and listeners. Bright, energetic watercolors show all the action and some of the funny contrasts in the story. There are also timely suggestions for handwashing and helping others stay healthy. A terrific story time read-aloud, this works for Halloween events or any time of year.

VERDICT A silly rhyming story that will have toddlers giggling along.”

Click here to read the full review

CM Reviews

“Button’s rollicking rhyming text is humorous and catchy. This simple story begs to be read aloud with gusto and presents a great opportunity for teachers and parents to encourage active participation from youthful listeners.

The lively pictures, with their abundant frenetic activity, match the fun-loving text. The rendering of the sick cow will bring giggles galore to youngsters. This original art is created with coloured pencil, water-colour and digital media.

Aided by the farm cat and friends, the endpapers of The Cow Said Boo! provide helpful hints for cold prevention.”

Click here to read the full review

Canadian Children’s Book Centre

“A cow’s congestion causes consternation on the farm. Woozy and miserable from a head cold, the bleary bovine doesn’t feel or sound like herself. Her usual genteel salutations of “moo” come out as “BOO!” When she accidentally stumbles into some washing hung out to dry and gets tangled in a bedsheet, she doesn’t look like herself anymore either. Her barnyard pals don’t recognize her and react with alarm. In the evening, too stuffed up to sleep, the cow spies a foxy intruder and knows exactly what to do to bravely save her friends.

Alice carter’s watercolour illustrations have autumnal background details, with bales of hay, pumpkins in the field, and a whimsical jack-o-lantern T-shirt blowing in the clothesline. To show their appreciation, the animals comfort their under-the-weather hero with sweet gestures: the goat offers tissues, the pig plays a song on a ukulele, and the horse brings a bowl of soup.

This boisterously fun picture book offers plenty of wordplay and a healthy dose of humor, from the rooster’s musings of “What do we cock-a-doodle-do?” to the catchy refrain of “the cow said BOO!” Perfect for reading aloud, there are many opportunities for active participation, including a review of handwashing hygiene on the endpapers to “Scare away colds.””

Seattle Book Review

“Author Lana Button has written an adorable little story that will have little listeners giggling as poor Cow tries to “Moo,” and can’t seem to do anything the way she wants. Absolutely charming illustrations by Alice Carter are filled with fun details that will keep little eyes searching the illustrations for more silliness. This book will have youngsters asking for it to be read over and over, but it’s so much fun, adults won’t mind at all.”

Click here to read the full review

Youth Services Book Review

“This is a fun story in rhyming text about a cow with a cold.  Because her nose is stuffy, the cow’s “Moo” sounds like “Boo.”

The illustrations, created with colored pencil, watercolor and digital media, are filled with detail and expression. This is a cute story for teaching hygiene to little ones. The plentiful pumpkins and autumn leaves make this a good choice for a not-so-scary Halloween read aloud.”

Click here to read the full review

Parents Magazine

“In this infectious Halloween read-aloud, the cow’s friends think she’s a ghost because her cold makes her “moos” come out as “boos.” Rhyming text and a repeated refrain swoop kids into the silly antics. The kindness that the cow receives from her pals and how she pays it forward is the real treat. Ages 4 to 7

Click here to see the review

The International Educator

“Not specifically about Covid, but about communicable diseases in general and especially helpful in Kindergarten classes, The Cow Said Boo by Lana Button, illustrated by Alice Carter is a fun farm romp when poor cow catches a cold and can’t say ‘Moo!’ but says ‘Boo!’ instead. The other animals nurse cow back to health but once cow is better, rooster says “cock-a-doodle-CHOO!” A nonfiction back page talks about washing hands to prevent colds.”

Click here to read the full review

@jmebills

“What do you get when you cross a cow, a cold, and a bedsheet?

A hilarious picture book of course! …

I found the rhyme scheme in this book delightful, as well as the illustrations.

It is the perfect silly-fun for Halloween! (Although, I am sure we are going to enjoy it all year round 😁!)”

Click here to read the full review

CanLit for Little Canadians

“Lana Button gives us a story in which a difficulty becomes a blessing, reminding young readers that face-value is just that. Sure, the cow looked like a ghost and frightened her friends with her nasally voice but she used that to her advantage to help her farm pals in the end. Ultimately, they appreciate her efforts, cheering her and even nursing her back to health, though they all catch their own colds and speak with transformed voices. (They would be wise to follow the illustrated instructions on the back end-papers for scaring away colds by washing hands.) Lana Button gives us some silliness and some wisdom, a great way for young children to learn important lessons like how to keep colds at bay and not being too quick to judge.

Ottawa’s Alice Carter created her art with coloured pencils, watercolour and digital media to give The Cow Said Boo! the simplicity and mischievousness that speaks to young children. They know about getting colds and how it feels but Alice Carter makes it more goofy than ridiculous and definitely less miserable than the common cold. From her blue skies and sickly yellow green fields–yes, sickly is a colour–there’s some subtle messaging but the animals are the stars with their brightly-hued coats and cartoonish faces and forms. Moreover, because young children are familiar with animals and their sounds, especially on farms–even if they’ve never visited a rural community–Alice Carter’s depictions of Lana Button’s characters will make them smile.”

Click here to read the full review

Little Bookworm Club

“When Cow gets a terrible cold making all his moo’s sound like boo’s and has an unfortunate mishap with a sheet all the farm animals mistake him for a ghost. They run and hide away, but Cow finds a crafty way to reveal his true identity and save his friends from some real danger.”

Click here to read the full review

Storytime with Stephanie

The Cow Said Boo is a delightfully perfect fall story. It has a lovely rhyme to it that rolls right off your tongue. To me the best rhyming stories are ones you can just pick up and catch the beat right from the first page. Also, there is some excellent repetition throughout the story in the line, “the cow said Boo!” making it perfect for a read aloud. You can get your listeners to help you with that part of the story and even say the Boo part, which in my experience children LOVE to do. Another excellent thing about this rhyming tale is that after children have heard the story a few times, they will be able to retell it. If you are a teacher having a retelling station featuring this book would be amazing and so fun for your little readers!

Alice Carter’s illustrations are lively and colourful and very very funny. Children will love seeing the animals’ expressions when they think the cow is a ghost in the farmyard. Also, there is a lot of Halloween imagery making it a fantastic, non-scary story to share at Halloween time. Also, the illustrations are nice and bold, meaning if you are sharing the story with a group, the illustrations will be highly visible.”

Click here to read the full review

Sherly Books

“I love the story & how the end papers help kids “scare away colds” with the cutest hand-washing instructions ever. And your littles will love all the sound words like “cock-a-doodle Choo”! A perfect read-aloud, but probably not at bedtime because there will be far too much giggling! Highly recommended”

Click here to read the full review

The Kid Lit Mama

“🎃The Cow Said BOO! | @pajamapressbooks | @lanabutton & @alicecarterillustration | This playful picture book tells a story of the day a cow had a cold so bad that her “moo” came out as “boo.” The cow’s tough day will take a turn as the cow becomes a hero amongst her farm friends!”

Click here to see the review

On the Line Reviews

Posted on June 29th, 2021 by pajamapress

Kirkus Reviews

“To be a team player, sometimes you need to think creatively.

Young Jackson Moore comes from a family of hockey players who swap goal stories at dinner. Grandpa tells Jackson, “You’ve got Moore in your blood. You’ll be great!” But Jackson isn’t so sure, and his first efforts leave him flat on the ice. The other kids think he’s too big and uncoordinated for their team. But they have problems of their own… illustrations portray a diverse cast of characters, from the team to the audience in the stands. Bright swathes of greens and blues are punctuated by oranges and yellows, powering a vibrant, eye-catching palette…. an encouraging story for young readers who struggle with shyness and anxiety. An author’s note offers additional insight to the origin of Jackson’s story.

Believe in yourself, trust your talents, and find resilience in stories.”

Click here to read the full review.

Youth Services Book Review

“The simple text and lively illustrations in this book celebrate being a team player, thinking outside the box, and the true meaning of stewardship. Jackson Moore comes from a family of hockey heroes.  His grandpa was an all-star and taught him how to make a game plan, hold a stick, and pass a puck. Jackson is not so sure about his hockey skills, he feels like a potato on skates and even his teammates question if he is a Moore due to his lack of skills on the ice. Jackson’s grandpa tells him he is good at making game plans and he gets to work on figuring out the team’s problem: not having the proper equipment to play in their upcoming Winterfest Tournament.

A great read aloud for the introduction of being part of a team, reinforcing perseverance, believing in oneself, and valuing everyone’s talents.  This would be nice for coaches to share with their elementary school teams.”

Click here to read the full review

Canadian Bookworm

“On the surface this is a tale of a young hockey player finding his place, but it is so much more than that. The central character is Jackson Moore, a boy that lives in a small town where hockey is an important part of the community. Several members of his family have been players that have been great assets to their team, described as hockey heroes. Everyone seems to be looking for Jackson to follow in their footsteps, but he has doubts. Mostly he keeps his doubts to himself while wondering what will happen if he doesn’t live up to these expectations.

The illustrations add important elements to the story, showing diversity in the community and on the team, and the level of ingenuity the kids and their parents had used to come up with workarounds on equipment.”

Click here to read the full review

Book Time

“Author Kari-Lynn Winters talks about growing up in a hockey-loving family in a hockey-loving town but being an OK hockey player: “I wasn’t the best skater. I rarely scored goals and I got even fewer assists.” What Winters came to realize, however, was that she was a team steward or leader, helping her team on and off the ice.

This a great picture book to show kids that there are more important things than scoring goals – like trying hard, being a great team player and never giving up.”

Click here to read the full review

Storytime with Stephanie

“This story gave me some very Mighty Ducks vibes and being a huge fan of the movies and the new series, I really enjoyed this book. I grew up in a hockey family but neither of my kids care to play the sport so at times hockey stories can be a tough sell for us. I know so many hockey fans who will really enjoy this story and so many parents who will love the aspect of community and giving back that Kari-Lynn Winters has built into the text. With the hockey community acknowledging the ways that teams are boosting their communities, it’s a bonus to have a story to help them along. I love that we are seeing stories about kindness and leadership off the ice as well as on the ice. We need to show readers that being a team player and a team leader is more than how they play, it’s how they create opportunities and give back off the ice too.

Scot Richie’s illustrations are colourful and filled with excellent hockey action. I love all of the team members in their various iterations of equipment, most not appropriate for playing hockey. He creates a beautiful community throughout the story that readers will love.”

Click here to read the full review

Hello, Dark Reviews

Posted on June 29th, 2021 by pajamapress

Kirkus Reviews

“A new perspective combats a common childhood fear: the dark.

Beneath a flock of imaginary sheep running across a rainbow, an Asian-presenting boy lies in bed beneath his covers smiling with the company of a friendly-looking ghostly shadow.…The spare text gently narrates as the kid declares, ‘I’m tired of being afraid of you. Tonight, can we talk?’ Dark purple and blue hues saturate each detailed illustration as the child acknowledges the “good things” the dark also provides. A menagerie of animals playing in the twilight and dreamy scenes of the sky attest to how the dark facilitates life for nocturnal creatures and rest for others. The child then offers a hand to the shadow with an invitation: ‘Let’s be friends.’ In subsequent pages, the child models ways readers can interact with the dark: ‘play imaginary games’; ‘count sheep’; ‘practice breathing’; and ‘listen to music.’ Eventually, and with the help of a night light, the child concludes, ‘I’m sure we can be friends,’ and watches Dark, no longer an object of fear, head back into the closet. The young child presents as East Asian.

This tale compassionately guides young readers to face their fears.”

Click here to read the full review.

CM Magazine

“Written simply and poetically in a reassuring and confident monologue, Hello, Dark will help children to understand why the darkness is necessary. The author’s note explains that this story “reframes the dark in a positive context”, something which it has indeed achieved. The illustrations transport the reader into a nighttime atmosphere and range from depicting a cozy bedroom in rich blue-green hues to the resplendent shades of purple in a starry night sky overseen by a friendly moon. The detail in some of the scenes is astounding, in particular, the picture books on the shelves and the newspaper pirate’s hat. Hello, Dark will be a comfort to children and an essential title for parents who struggle with their children’s fear of the dark. Highly recommended for all children’s collections.”

Click here to read the full review

Youth Services Book Review

The very familiarity of both the child and the setting will make it easy for young listeners to identify with the narrator.  Campeau mixes up the framing of her vibrant digital artwork so that we look at the narrator and the room from a variety of angles, which heightens the book’s visual impact. 

A good choice for families struggling with bedtime fears in children ages 3-6. The use of a BIPOC child as a narrator will be of interest to those trying to diversify their bibliotherapy collections. The very literal illustrations and suggested solutions may work as good talking points for weary adults.”

Click here to read the full review

Canadian Children’s Book Centre

“In this, her debut picture book, Wai Mei Wong has written a compelling story which encourages children to gain control of their anxieties. By articulating concerns and re-imagining a negative situation into a positive one, this book celebrates the inner strength of children in overcoming their fear of the dark. A helpful note to caregivers offers support and strategies.

Tamara Campeau’s vibrant digital illustrations subtly portray the child’s transformation from apprehensive to accepting as Dark grows into a more congenial character. Of visual interest is the child’s bedroom, a comforting milieu filled with toys and a library shelf featuring picture books, two of which have been illustrated by Campeau.”

Click here to read the full review

The International Educator

Hello, Dark by Wai Mei Wong gives voice to a child who is afraid of the dark. “I hear you creak, and cast shadows all around,” he whispers, alone in bed. But soon he realizes that the dark helps animals at night, even helps the moon shine bright.”

Click here to read the full review

Storytime With Stephanie

“Wai Mei Wong is an early childhood educator and has drawn on her experiences working with young children and their families to create this beautiful resource which also includes strategies parents and caregivers can use to help ease bedtime anxiety. Working in a preschool myself, I have definitely fielded the question about bedtime/nighttime anxiety and think that this story would make a great addition to the resource shelves in daycares.

The illustrations by Tamara Campeau make the dark seem less intimidating and more like a great new friend. The rich blues in all of the illustrations add a dreaminess to the story. I especially love her depictions of the nighttime animals and the wonderful book covers featured in the child’s bedroom.

This is definitely a story I will be adding to our preschool resource shelves for the next time we encounter the bedtime questions.”

Click here to read the full review

Bookishrealm (Goodreads)

“This was an interesting picture book. It’s been a while since I’ve come across a newer title that focuses so heavily on a child’s fear of the dark. This will be great for parents/caregivers who are looking for additional support in helping their children cope with a fear of the dark. Not only does the author address the concerns of the child, but through the text the attempt to reframe the child’s perception of what the “dark” really is.”

Click here to read the full review

Bethany (Goodreads)

“Befriending the dark is a smart concept because how can you be afraid of something if it’s your friend? I love how the author addresses the fear of darkness in an indirect and positive light. Instead of focusing on the boy’s apprehension, the author twists it so the dark is the one who’s lonely and looking for a friend too. The overall dark illustrations fit the theme and I love how the illustrator portrays darkness as a shadow so it puts emphasis on it being an actual friend to talk with. Not something to be scared of.

Final Verdict: HELLO, DARK is the perfect book for children who have a fear of the dark. A parent’s job is to bring positivity into a child’s life and this author gives parents the opportunity to do exactly that.”

Click here to read the full review

Sunny Days Reviews

Posted on May 26th, 2021 by pajamapress

School library Journal ★ Starred Review

“These charming couplets about fun in the sun will have their appeal to lap sitters…. With its padded cover, rounded corners, and thick pages, this eye-catching yet simple look at sunshine will suit all collections that serve toddlers.”

Click here to read the full review

Kirkus Reviews

“Similar to the text in its companion book, Snow Days (2020), simple rhyming couplets create a playful, upbeat tone: “Ocean sun: flash and glimmer / Kick and paddle, little swimmer.” A vivid color palette bursting with highly saturated hues pairs well with collage to create richly layered scenes that will capture young readers’ interest. The changing position of the sun and use of embroidery for its rays evoke various moods and signal different times of day in each spread. The use of mixed media allows various textures to jump off the page, giving the book an almost 3-D feel. The multiracial cast of children featured have a diverse mix of skin tones and hair colors.

Radiates joy and the carefree fun of days in the sun.”

Booklist

“This is a charming book for very young children. Kerbel’s brief rhyming couplets—one per spread—capture the feeling of the sun throughout the day and from spring through the heat of summer. The first spread sets the tone: “Morning sun, golden skies / Softly waking sleepy eyes.” The book concludes, “Setting sun, rosy sky / Blow today a kiss goodbye.” The pages in between describe the shining sun, spring sun, bursting sun, blazing sun in the summer, ocean sun, and prickly hot sun. Of course, no book for children this age would be complete without pictures, and Sato’s bright, peaceful collages not only illustrate each page but add texture, pattern, and the feeling of three dimensions to the visual mix.”

Click here to read the full review

YA Books Central

“SUNNY DAYS is a charming picture book that captures a summer day. Told in rhyme, the story captures so many of the magical things about summer, such as cold treats, playing in the mud, visiting the beach, and planting seeds. The book features full page illustrations of toddlers enjoying the summer with plenty of bright colors and interesting scenes.

What I loved: The rhyming text adds some fun to this book celebrating summer. The text carries the reader from morning until bedtime, adding a reflection of the reader’s own summer days. The illustrations are full of color and capture the joy of summer with children who have diverse skintones. The children pictured appear to be toddlers, which will definitely appeal to the intended audience.”

Click here to read the full review

Canadian Children’s Booknews

Morning Sun, golden skies

Softly waking sleepy eyes

So begins Sunny Days. A waking child rubs her eyes while the sun streams in from her bedroom window.

The sun is the subject of Deborah Kerbel’s rhyming couplets: morning sun, shining sun, spring sun, blazing sun, ocean sun, setting sun, and more—all are gloriously depicted as little children go about the day playing, exploring, experimenting and celebrating. Each page turn contains a different child or children enjoying a different kind of sun. All are connected by the one sun in all its variations. The seasons and the connection with nature, as well as the children’s activities, spill over the double-page spreads and will delight readers.

Collage illustrations had a particularly childlike quality, and Miki Sato’s illustrations are notably playful and joyful. Three-dimensionality and abundant use of fabric bring these colourful, child-centered illustrations to life. Whether posing in a favourite summer dress, staring intently at a cricket, making mud pies, reading a book, or plating a seed, the children in the illustrations are in their moment under the sun. But the day has to end. In the final illustration, brilliant pink and orange radiate from the setting sun as a little one sits on a parent’s lap and blows on a dandelion:

Setting sun, rosy sky

Blow today a kiss goodbye

Back matter offers five simple experiments that preschoolers and kindergarteners can do by themselves. (But parents won’t want to miss out on the fun!) Sunny Days is a cheerful book chockful of sunshine and joy.”

Theo Heras

Book Time

“This book for three to five year olds shows all that is wonderful about summer and embracing the weather (wearing sunscreen and a hat of course.) I love the ideas at the back of the book that shows some science experiments kids can do including leaving objects on dark-coloured construction paper in the sun and seeing the prints it makes and looking at the rainbows created in the bubbles.
I absolutely love the paper collage illustrations by Sato – the sun shines, the water sparkles, the days grow long and the sun sets. So beautiful and so much detail.”

Click here to read the full review

CanLit for Little Canadians

“The rhymes may seem simple but there is a richness in Deborah Kerbel’s take on what children experience in the sun. What’s most important is what they feel, what they see, what they notice, and how it affects them. After all, Sunny Days is a book for our youngest children, connecting with them and their realities. There are the sensations of the blazing sun freckling the skin and the drying of mud. There is sunshine everywhere and anywhere, including an urban setting, a backyard, a beach or a park and Sunny Days shines on the lives of children’s routines, joys and play.

I’ve always loved textured illustration and Miki Sato’s paper collages are becoming a favourite, doing more than just following Deborah Kerbel’s words. The artwork gives us crumbly soil in which seeds are dropped, cooling water lapping onto sandy shores, and angry clouds having left puddles for mud pies. The quality of Miki Sato’s artwork infuses Sunny Days with more than just warmth and light; it also gives a sense of place and pursuit.

My recommendation for enjoying Sunny Days? Get yourself and your young charge on a blanket on the grass or the sand, or on a bench in a park or in yard. Let the child hold the book which is in Pajama Press’s Toddler Tough hardcover format (padded cover, rounded corners and thick paper) and read it aloud, asking questions and even doing the fun and easy science experiments on the final page of the book. Then read it again on a rainy day to remember what sunny days are like.  I suspect your child will start learning the rhymes and reading along with you soon enough and you might even encourage a new curiosity with weather or the solar system. Who knows what Sunny Days may bring?”

Click here to read the full review

Fab Book Reviews

“Author Deborah Kerbel and illustrator Miki Sato’s Sunny Days is a beautiful follow-up to their earlier picture book collaboration Snow Days. In Sunny Days, readers follow joyful, appealing, and sweet spreads that highlight different kinds of lovely sunny day weather, and the different kinds of activities and fun things that young ones and their adults can enjoy during sunny days. As with Snow DaysSunny Days features rich and bright short rhyming text, providing generous space for Miki Sato’s gorgeous layered, textured collage artwork to shine. This is a title that I have been sharing for nighttime read aloud with my youngest and he is just fascinated by the children characters featured in the book, and all the sunny day activities that he and they share in common! Readers who love sweet rhyming books or those who enjoy Snow Days will likely adore Sunny Days.”

Click here to read the full review

Jill’s Book Blog

Rating: ★★★★★

This picture book is about all the different things that you can do in the sun, from morning to night. When you wake up, there’s a golden sky. Then, throughout the day you can garden or swim. In the evening, the sky turns a rosy pink to say goodbye to that day. Each page had short rhyming lines that went along with the pictures.

This is a beautiful children’s book. I love the style of art, with layers of paper creating a picture. Each picture was made with pieces of coloured paper layered on top of one another.”

Click here to read the full review

Simcoe.com

“Miki Sato’s colourful illustrations will capture a child’s attention. At the back of the book there are some experiments that you can do on sunny days including blowing bubbles and looking for rainbows in them, touching stones to feel their warmth from the sun and observing a shrinking puddle.”

Click here to read the full review

Harley the Hero Reviews

Posted on May 25th, 2021 by pajamapress

Kirkus Reviews


“Collins’ tale of neurodiversity, based on a true story, is really about Harley’s job as a service dog—from the title and front endpapers to the ending…. The illustrations are inclusive, from the progress pride flag flying over the school under the Canadian maple leaf to the diverse classroom, which includes a child who uses a wheelchair. (The narrator and Ms. Prichard present White, and Amelia presents Asian.)…A lighthearted introduction to service dogs and their grateful partners.”

Click here to read the full review

Foreword Reviews

“Ms. Prichard’s class has the reputation for being the best in the school thanks to Harley, the service dog who helps her to feel safe. Among students of all backgrounds and abilities, Harley is a calming force. He helps the children learn about respect, boundaries, and listening—and when an emergency strikes, he’s ready to leap into action and assist.”

Click here to read the full review

Canadian Review of Materials

The author has executed her own illustrations for the book. Bold colours are used for the digital artwork which has the look of having been rendered in oil pastel and line. The facial expressions of the humans and of one friendly dog are very readable throughout, from glee at watching Harley open the Animail box on his own, to the pleasure of a circle time, to dismay at the sound of the fire bell. Perspectives are dynamic and sometimes pull readers in by showing only a fragment of a scene.

A classroom drama with a lesson in caring, Harley the Hero will be enjoyed by children and the adults who introduce the book to them.”

Click here to read the full review

Canadian Children’s Book Centre

“Every day Harley comes to school with Mr. Prichard to help her feel safe. Harley stays close to Ms. Prichard all day and always keeps one eye open so he can see everything. The students in the class are not allowed to interact with Harley when he has his vest on, so they send him ‘Animail’ and leave him treats. Ms. Prichard’s class is the quietest in the school.

One day the stage curtains catch fire, and everything becomes very loud. The fire alarms ring and ring, and there is even smoke. Most of the children head to the door, but Amelia, who doesn’t like loud noises, runs the other way. Harley drags Ms. Prichard back to her desk to find Amelia hiding underneath. Ms. Prichard, Amelia and Harley crawl to the hallway to safety and everyone cheers. Harley is a hero!

Peggy Collins once visited a classroom where the teacher has a service dog. She based this book on the real teacher, Sherri Richards, and the real-life service dog, Stanley. You’ll find an Author’s Note about the real dog behind the fictional Harley at the back of the book. Collins brings the children in this story to life with vivid colours and expressive characters. The students are from diverse backgrounds, represent multiple exceptionalities, and Harley is a most endearing pup who loves to lick people’s feet. I would highly recommend sharing this book to teach about service animals and to begin discussions about children and adults with ‘invisible disabilities.’”

Youth Services Book Review

“This book is about an elementary school class with many diverse abilities, including a teacher with a service dog. Students in the class know what they can and can’t do with Harley, and it is mostly action focused. (For example, they know they can’t distract him, but they can smile at him, write him messages, and be on their best behavior so he can do his job more easily.) The teacher is described as having an “invisible disability” and Harvey helps her feel safe, which I think is an appropriate and positive description for young children. ”

Click here to read the full review

CanLit for Little Canadians

“Most children are drawn to dogs. They want to pat them and hug them, call their names and get close. But service dogs must be treated differently so that they may help their human friends. Harley is one such service dog so he’s a hero everyday for his person. But when there’s a fire in the school where his person works, Harley proves he’s able to share his strength with others when needed.

As mentioned in Peggy Collins‘s “Author’s Note” and in a brief note from the teacher upon whom the story of Harley is based, Harley the Hero is a very real story. Because of that, Peggy Collins uses it to educate as well as entertain. The issues of individuals with invisible disabilities like PTSD and sensory processing disorder are addressed as are how to deal with service dogs.”

Click here to read the full review

Eden Mills Writer’s Festival Kids’ Reads

What do you like about this book? 

Yuliana: I liked that Ms. Prichard is the best teacher she can be.

Alison: I like the pictures and the doggy.

What is your favourite part of the story and why? 

Yuliana: My favourite part is when he goes to school. Every day he comes to school with Ms. Prichard. I don’t have a dog. My teacher has a dog at my virtual classes.

Alison: Harley likes to lick feet.”

Click here to read the full review

The International Educator

“Harley The Hero by Peggy Collins is based on a real classroom where the teacher has a service dog. The book celebrates the work of service animals and the normalization of neurodivergence. The author-illustrator brings Harley and his class to charming life and concludes with an Author’s Note about the real dog behind the fictional Harley who goes to school every day with Ms. Prichard to make sure she feels safe.”

Click here to read the full review