Pajama Press

Archive for the ‘Reviews’ Category

While You Sleep Reviews

Posted on August 12th, 2022 by pajamapress

Publishers Weekly

“In rhyming couplets, a caregiver encourages a child…to embrace bedtime so that a crew of bunny helpmeets can begin their work tidying up the world. As a child’s caregiver turns off the light and offers a bedtime kiss, lines describe the “chores,”…being completed by toy stuffed rabbits come to life: “Comb the grass, straighten the trees,/ Place a dot on the black-eyed peas.” Other imagery draws heavily on sewing metaphors, aligning with Sato’s collaged illustrations, which rely on paper, textiles, and embroidery silk: when “the woven night of black and gray” is described as being “embroidered with a Milky Way,” the child is shown yawning beneath an inky knit blanket and a purple embroidered sky. Throughout, the textured scenes remix details from the child’s waking life into suitably snuggly dreamscapes.”

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Cocoa Magic Reviews

Posted on July 13th, 2022 by pajamapress

Kirkus Reviews

It was magic when Daniel made his first batch of chocolates at age 4, with his Great-Uncle Lewis—“the Cocoa King of Charlottetown”—keeping his hands steady as Daniel poured the chocolate into the mold. Four years later, the duo’s chocolate-making has become routine as they melt, pour, scrape, and mold together for “one precious hour every morning” before Daniel goes to school. A new classmate’s loneliness prompts Daniel to hide a beautifully wrapped chocolate caramel in her desk to cheer her up.

When Great-Uncle Lewis goes off to a chocolatiers’ conference for five days, Daniel frets about the “cocoa magic” fading. His classmates surprise him with their own act of kindness. Drawing inspiration from her background as a clinical social worker, Bradley crafts a story laced with empathy and kindness. Grimard’s soft, mixed-media illustrations evoke a sense of coziness as well as the historical Charlottetown setting…Endpapers mimic a box of chocolates—a delicious touch…Sweet as sugar.

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Let’s Add Up! Reviews

Posted on July 6th, 2022 by pajamapress

YA Books Central

“The author uses easy, simple words that are easy for young children to understand, but not so simple that it is a chore for a parent to read aloud. The illustrations are cute and vivid, and they provide that necessary step for visual learners. I enjoyed that the author included fun activities for kids at the end of the book, perfect for kinesthetic learners. Let’s Add Up! would be a great addition to any beginner reading/counter library – whether at home or a school setting.

Good Points: Easy To Read, Vivid illustrations, Educational

Overall Rating: 5”

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Dinos Driving Reviews

Posted on June 1st, 2022 by pajamapress

CM Magazine

“Scot Ritchie…has contributed his signature illustrations to bolster this…picture book written by first-time author Lynn Leitch. Spread by spread, one brightly-coloured dinosaur after another can be seen steering some kind of motor vehicle across the viewer’s horizon…The author has ended the book with a page directed at parents and care-givers with ideas for expanding on the use of the book through discussion and activities. Ritchie’s illustrations are definitely the star here. Dinos Driving would be an entertaining addition to picture book collections for young ones interested in both dinosaurs and things that go. Recommended

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YA Books Central 

“Each page introduces a species of dinosaurs, such as velociraptor or brachiosaurus, and states what kind of car they would drive…I recommend this book to parents or teachers of young children in the age 3-8 range who enjoy dinosaurs and are beginning to explore repetitive beginner books with increasing independence. Overall rating 4.5″

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Storywraps

“Velociraptor, Iguanodon, Triceratops, Tyrannosaurus Rex, Bradchiourus ( and more )  all weigh in the kind of vehicle that they want to drive.  The illustrations animate the text and tickle kid’s imaginations.  The book is enriched with preschool- friendly facts and activities.  Eight dino-mite dinosaurs will take you on a ride of your life.  I love the whole exciting vibe of the book and I highly recommend it.”

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Berani Reviews

Posted on June 1st, 2022 by pajamapress

Kirkus Reviews

“Inspired to help orangutans facing habitat destruction for palm oil agriculture, Malia disregards her teacher’s warning and circulates a petition through her private school in Surabaya, Indonesia.

The seventh grader garners peer support, but the petition falls afoul of the government’s pro–palm oil stance, resulting in both Malia’s and her teacher’s suspensions. Meanwhile, Ari has moved to the city to work in his uncle’s restaurant and attend middle school. Ari feels guilty for his good luck and even more guilty as he looks after Ginger Juice, the sad-eyed orangutan trapped in a too-small cage at the restaurant. Ari feels helpless until he learns about Malia’s petition, which offers information about rescuing captive orangutans. All the while, Ginger Juice dreams of the jungle and her lost mother. Told through alternating viewpoints, Malia’s and Ari’s chapters detail the corruption, inequities, and prejudices that are obstacles to activism as well as the differences between Ari’s village life and Malia’s privileges…the portrayal of Malia’s experiences as the biracial daughter of an Indonesian father who has passed away and a White mother from Toronto is nuanced and well integrated into the larger plot.

A stirring introduction to the plight faced by orangutans.”

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Booklist

“Seventh-graders Malia and Ari seem unlikely to cross paths. Malia has had a privileged upbringing at one of Indonesia’s best schools, and Ari is grateful to be attending a less prestigious academy in a neighboring town. But one subject binds them together: orangutans…When the kids’ lives finally overlap, a series of events change their lives—and Ginger Juice’s fate—in ways they never could’ve imagined. The expansive story, nimbly told from both human and orangutan viewpoints, gives glimpses into different class, race, and even species experiences while introducing readers to life in Indonesia and the plight of the orangutans. Ari and Malia are warm and well-intentioned guides, and it’s impossible to resist Ginger Juice’s gentle charms. A compelling call to action and a crucial reminder that, while doing what is right is not always easy, it is always worthwhile.”

The International Educator

“Berani by Michelle Kadarusman is a perfect book for international schools. This is a novel takes place in Indonesia and is told in 3 voices… Each one of them needs courage to stand up for their convictions and follow their hearts, despite the consequences this may have. A fantastic read that shows kids (and readers of all ages) to believe in their values and that they, too, can change the world.”

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Kathie MacIsaac

“This author was a Governor General’s Award finalist for her 2019 book, GIRL OF THE SOUTHERN SEA, and I will pick up anything she writes. Still, the stunning cover of BERANI designed by Peggy Collins will draw readers to this story told from three different points of view that focus on environmental activism in Indonesia…These three perspectives weave together into a moving and inspiring story about standing up for what you believe…Fans of THE ONE AND ONLY IVAN will especially want to add this book to their TBR shelf.”

Book Time

“Michelle Kadarusman’s latest middle grade book, Berani, was a great read…The book is told in three voices – Malia, who has had a privileged upbringing in Indonesia and uses her voice to share the plight of her country’s orangutan; Ari, who knows he is lucky to be working in his uncle’s shop so he can go to school and play on the chess club; and Ginger Juice, his uncle’s orangutan, which is being kept in a too-small cage and is growing more desolate by the day.

Each voice is unique, and each story is connected to the other…I look forward to reading it again.”

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Storytime with Stephanie

“Michelle Kadarusman always writes from the heart. The love she has for the places she writes about is evident throughout all her stories and none more than in Berani. I really appreciate how she takes readers on a journey, to the special places of her childhood and her heart but also grounds them to her current home in Canada. Readers have the opportunity to travel and learn about the wide world around them while still having the connection to home. In really enjoyed Berani’s three different voices, providing readers with three different perspectives of the lives of other living in Indonesia. Each voice was clear and it was easy to navigate the story, never forgetting who the story was centering at any given time because of each character’s clear voice.

I especially loved the discussions about Malia’s activism. There are always consequences of social activism. There is an incredible opportunity for discussion, through this story, about orangutans, habitat destruction, farming culture, livelihood and the world’s reliance on single industries. In Canada, we can link the discussions about habitat destruction and livelihood by comparing with the logging industry or the oil and gas industry.

If you enjoyed The One and Only Ivan, put Berani on your TBR list. I think you will love it even more.”

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Mrs. Book Dragon 

“What an awesome book! Multiple POVs (including an animal point of view), short chapters, student activism, and doing the right thing even when it’s the hardest thing…[Michelle Kadarusman] has such a talent for creating worlds…book was a treasure to read.”

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@westmaplemedia

“Berani by [Michelle Kadarusman] captivates, inspires, and gives hope. This tale takes you to Indonesia through three perspectives interwoven with culture, environment, and character growth.”

Dr. Larry Recommends

“This fine novel, set in Indonesia is a story of activism and animal rights, choices and consequences…The three perspectives are woven together as readers enter the worlds of three conflicted, fearful  characters…the author builds readers’ compassion as they learn about the circumstances and choices of each character who bravely confront the odds of class, culture and climate change. This is a wonderful novel and my guess [is] it will be on several Canadian award lists in the year ahead.”

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If You Can Dream It, You Can Do It: How 25 inspiring individuals found their dream jobs Reviews

Posted on May 18th, 2022 by pajamapress

Kirkus Reviews

“When you do what you love, you never work a day in your life!

The professional lives of 25 diverse individuals are documented in this fascinating title that will spur readers to consider how their own passions may shape their futures…All individuals profiled express pride and fulfillment with their careers. Each entry spans a double-page spread with added bubbles of additional information, such as “Fun Facts,” “Spin-Off Jobs,” or a brief summary of a similar individual in a connected field. Photos of the subjects are included; Ritchie’s graceful illustrations of the individuals in action round out the book…the authors use measured vocabulary that does not assign a hierarchical value to any of these paths…Readers will delight in learning more about the range of professions available, and adults looking for a career change may be tempted to pick up the book as well.

Will inspire readers to find—and follow—their dreams.”

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School Library Journal, Fuse 8

“Colleen Nelson and Kathie [MacIsaac] … created a book where 25 people of a wide range of occupations explain precisely how they got those jobs in the first place. How cool is that? … It actually looks like something a kid would get a kick out of reading. This is so cool.”

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YA Books Central

“In this well-formatted collective biography, nicely illustrated with Scot Ritche’s full color, exuberant page decorations, we meet a variety of people who set out to pursue jobs from farming to teaching to writing books. There are common jobs that young readers may see in their every day lives, as well as more exotic occupations like stuntperson, clothing designers and mathematicians, as well as the holy grail of middle school careers, professional video game player! Each biography includes basic information about what encouraged the person to go into a particular field, “pro tips” on how to get into the field as well as tangential areas, “spin-off jobs” that are similar, and a short biography of a younger person who has already started the path to a similar career. I especially liked the “Why Not Try?” feature that might suggest a web site to visit, opportunities young people might avail themselves of, or activities to try to see if they have an interest in a topic. There are also fun facts and information about inspiring individuals and how they fought through challenges, like Dav Pilkey.

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Bit About Books

“If anything was going to get me out of this blogging funk, it was Kathie’s (and Colleen Nelson’s) upcoming release If You Can Dream It, You Can Do It.   I am so proud of Kathie and her debut book, and I know that many of you are just as excited and eager to read. You will NOT be disappointed.

If You Can Dream It, You Can Do It is not your every day “Here is what you can do when you grow up” book. Instead, the authors highlight more unfamiliar jobs such as a smokejumper, a video game player, and an NHL Scout. Yes, some jobs that people may consider typical such as a carpenter or a teacher, are in the book, but the authors have put their own spin on that by ensuring it is someone you may not first envision. As a reader, I appreciated the diversity and representation of all genders when reading about the imaginative and what I would say are “cool careers.”

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The U-nique Lou Fox Reviews

Posted on April 19th, 2022 by pajamapress

Kirkus Reviews

“Louisa Elizabeth Fitzhenry-O’Shaughnessy has 36 letters in her name—and she hates spelling. She’d rather go by Lou Fox, the dream name that she plans to use when she becomes a Broadway playwright. For now, though, she is stuck in class with Mrs. Snyder, someone who seemingly doesn’t like anything about Lou and can sense her daydreaming a mile away. Lou nicknames her teacher the Shadow Phantom, after the stealthy character in her dad’s comic books. Lou attempts to control her wandering mind but nevertheless ends up regularly visiting the principal’s office. But trouble with her friends over her behavior as director of the school play and stress at home since her mother became pregnant with twins mean her level of distraction grows. Still, she is supported by a humorous, devoted father full of love for Lou just as she is. The book’s text design and font were selected with accessibility for readers with dyslexia in mind, and the author shares her own struggles with ADHD in a note to readers.”

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School Library Journal, Fuse 8 

“It would seem to me that if one were writing a middle grade novel about a girl that’s dyslexic and has ADHD, it might make complete and utter sense if said book were written in a dyslexia friendly font. So often this is just simply not the case, and it’s nice to see Pajama Press making a bit of an effort here with this publication. In this story Louisa Elizabeth Fitzhenry-O’Shaughnessy wants to be a writer, but has to deal with things like a teacher who simply doesn’t understand what having ADHD actually means. Fortunately, Lou has a lot of good coping techniques and the book takes time and attention to display these.”

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Foreword Magazine

“The books also strikes an excellent balance between acknowledging the hardships that disabilities bring and making it clear that disabilities do not define people—they can even be strengths. Though Lou has trouble concentrating in school, her active mind means she can balance the intricacies of complex plots. Her struggles encourage others to learn more about dyslexia and ADHD. In the book’s sweet ending, Lou dedicates her play to someone who she’s come to understand is not so bad after all.

Both humorous and melancholy, The U-nique Lou Fox is a touching novel about a young playwright’s self-discovery and creative triumphs.”

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YA Books Central

“Appreciate those close to you. The author is able to evoke empathy for Louisa, as she becomes overwhelmed by the challenges faced every day. The plot isn’t overly complicated, but the feeling of normalcy helps to make the book approachable. This book became more than I expected, and I highly recommend you give it a shot.”

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The International Educator

The U-nique Lou Fox by Jodi Carmichael is a book about a girl named Louisa, who dreams of being the youngest Broadway playwright in history, as well as the youngest Cirque du Soleil gymnast. But for now, she’s in fifth grade, with two best friends (Lexie and Nakessa), ADHD and dyslexia, and a teacher, Mrs Snyder, who seems to hate her. Then Lou’s mom delivers some bombshell news: Lou is going to be a big sister—to twins! Will she ever get to spend time with her mom after the babies are born? This book is amazing. I could really feel what Lou was feeling.”

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CM Magazine

“Probably every family, and every teacher, knows a Louisa. ‘Louisa’ in our family (the name has been changed to protect the innocent) is every bit as fun and creative and caring as author Jodi Carmichael’s Louisa. And she struggles every bit as much as Louisa to focus and function in a school environment. Carmichael, who has ADHD herself, has created a totally believable character.

Our ‘Louisa’ loves to cook, and so it is a nice bonus that Carmichael has included a recipe at the back of the book for “Mom’s Tofu Chocolate Chip Cookies”. Carmichael also includes short descriptions and resources for more information on dyslexia and ADHD, as well as a message to her readers…I hope that every Louisa in every classroom gets an opportunity to read or listen to The U-nique Lou Fox. It will be wonderful for all Louisas to have their uniqueness recognized and affirmed. Highly Recommended”

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Storytime with Stephanie

“Everything about The U-nique Lou Fox is fantastic. Pajama Press Inc has ensured the book is accessible using a font and font size to make it dyslexia friendly. Jodi Carmichael writes from personal experience. As an adult with ADHD, her writing celebrates the wonderful things that come from having such a creative, empathetic and adventurous spirit…This story exudes kindness and generosity and is a must have for classrooms and school libraries. It’s time for more stories about neuro-atypical children.”

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Finding Moose Reviews

Posted on April 6th, 2022 by pajamapress

Youth Services Book Review

“A little boy narrates a walk in the woods with his grandpa. They find fresh moose droppings and walk softly in hopes of seeing a moose in person. They hear the call of a chickadee and the hammering of a woodpecker, and see a chipmunk and a beaver, but no moose. Along the way, Grandpa tells the boy the Ojibwemowin words for the animals and plants they find. Finally, just as they get home: “Mooz!”

This is a sweet tale of exploring nature with a grandparent, enriched by the grandfather’s observations and Ojibwemowin words. The boy and his grandfather present as indigenous people, adding to a growing number of children’s books which feature native cultures from around North America. Endpapers have a pictorial glossary, with English, Ojibwemowin and pronunciations.”

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Midwest Book Review

“Providing an inherently fascinating glimpse into the wondrous world of nature through the eyes of a curious child, “Finding Moose” is a thoughtful and entertaining picture book that is especially recommended for family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library picture book collections for children ages 3-7.”

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Portland Book Review

“Sue Farrell Holler has written a sweet, quiet story of a grandfather introducing his grandson to the wonders of nature and teaching him the names of flora and fauna in both English and Ojibwemowin. Charming illustrations by Jennifer Faria are painted in gentle, soft colors, and they are filled with plenty of details to keep little eyes on the pages as the story is read to them. This is a lovely story that will become a favorite at reading time.”

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CM Magazine

“The illustrations are serene, detailed, and convey the crisp cold of the forest on this exploratory day. Faria utilizes textures and colour to bring the audience with the grandfather and his grandson as they go on their journey and to illuminate the movement of animals in the forest. Her illustrations also hold a surprise near the end.

Holler’s Finding Moose is an excellent addition to any bookshelf, especially for helping young learners learn a bit of the Ojibwemowin language. Lovers of nature, exploring, and spending time with dear loved ones will enjoy this story – it is a gem for all ages.

Highly Recommended

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CanLit for LittleCanadians

“Finding Moose is as contemplative and instructive as Sue Farrell Holler and Jennifer Faria’s earlier picture book. Sue Farrell Holler gives Grandpa the wisdom of age and experience and the boy that of fascination and connection. Together they experience nature fully but perhaps in different ways. A walk in the woods becomes a sensory adventure without the drama and high-octane action that can be tiresome and ephemeral. Instead, the two walk and look. They are one with each other and the world. That patience and calm is carried with Jennifer Faria’s illustrations. Her acrylic paintings are often reflective of a Woodland Art style (see the flowers in the illustration above), emphasizing line and shape and keeping the story grounded in tranquility and reality. Even her choice of colour expresses that oneness with nature, playing the browns and blues with occasional flashes of red or a shamrock green.”

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Simcoe.com

“I like children’s books that are both educational and show how wonderful nature is, so I was delighted with Finding Moose written by Sue Farrell Holler and beautifully illustrated by Jennifer Faria.

The story sees a young boy and his grandfather quietly go for a spring walk in the woods where they come across some moose poop on the trail. They look for the moose and find where he ate some branches for breakfast…Children will enjoy this simple story that introduces them to some of their forest neighbours whose names are in both English and Ojibwemowin. Highly recommended.”

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YA Books Central 

“The observations about nature that the grandfather teaches the little boy to make could be a great springboard to neighborhood walks…it’s always good to help children connect to nature. [Finding Moose] fills a niche for much needed books about the natural world for children…”

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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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Seattle Book Review

“What is cuter than a small dog and a ballerina? How about a dancing dachshund? Ballewiena is the story of Dotty, who dreams of being a ballet dancer, but that is not something that dogs normally do. Will her owner see Dotty’s talent?

The text is great for both the younger and older child. Thank you so much to the publisher for including the pronunciation guide in the endpapers. Adults, look at them first if ballet terms are not your “forte.” I missed them initially. I loved the potential for expanding children’s and adults’ knowledge of real ballet terms with a sweet story…it’s a great way to introduce ballet or dancing to a child who might have never thought they could do those things.

Star Count 5/5”

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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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Winnipeg Free Press

“Not everyone is born to follow the rules. That’s the underlying message in Ontario writer and illustrator Rebecca Bender’s picture book Ballewiena…Bender’s watercolour and gouache illustrations are comical and colourful. This book will bring smiles and attempts to replicate moves from young ballet enthusiasts.”

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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

School Library Journal

“Harvey’s delightful antics wonderfully complement the good hearts of Maggie and Austin…This feel-good story told from multiple points of view, including Harvey’s, keeps readers engaged and interested…A wonderful addition to libraries where Harvey’s previous adventures, or dog stories in general, are popular.”

Click here to read the full review

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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CTV Your Morning

“Harvey Takes the Lead…is the third book in a contemporary series about two middle school students, a retirement community, and the dogs that bring them all together. Author Colleen Nelson weaves relatable issues like friendship drama and economic disparities with the historical stories of the residents at the retirement centre.”

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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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Dr. Larry Recommends

“Harvey, the loveable West Highland Terrier returns in the third book…by award-winning author, Colleen Nelson…Harvey Takes The Lead is an engaging story with adventure, warmth and personal connections.”

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