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The Dog Patrol: Our Canine Companions and the Kids Who Protect Them Reviews

Posted on February 10th, 2020 by pajamapress

Booklist

“In No Shelter Here (2012), animal advocate Laidlaw highlighted the best practices for procuring and caring for dogs. This newer informational book can serve as a stand-alone or a companion guide….Additional checklists, sidebars, and visuals help make this a fetching book for dog lovers.”
—Angela Leeper

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School Library Journal

“An emphasis on advocacy characterizes this introduction to supporting man’s best friend….The author’s obvious love of dogs and the impressive feats of the Dog Patrol will inspire young readers to take an interest in animal welfare causes.

VERDICT Dog lovers will relish the rich detail and extensive photography in this engaging guide to canine care and advocacy.”

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Kirkus Reviews

“Clear, accurate, engaging, and informative text combines with a substantial collection of high-interest color photographs, several per large page, to round out a thorough exploration of an important issue….Suggestions abound for tasks readers could actually accomplish to improve dogs’ lives. The profiles of young activists add a level of inspiration and ideas for those who want to take further steps and do more than just providing better care for their own dogs….A dog lover’s pledge, a thorough glossary, a detailed index, and a long list of useful websites round out a fine presentation.

Perfect for dog lovers and those contemplating that critical mission.”

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CM Magazine

“In The Dog Patrol, Laidlaw makes sure that young readers are educated in a gentle and thorough way about canine needs. The book introduces the history of the canine and how the original gray wolf developed into hundreds of modern dog breeds, each with its own unique characteristics. It discusses how intelligent dogs are, their social needs and the wisdom of adopting a dog, particularly an older one, from a reliable shelter….

The Dog Patrol definitely belongs in elementary school classrooms or libraries…

Highly Recommended.”
—Helen Mason of Ottawa, Ontario, started her career teaching. When she was in her mid-20’s, she began a freelance writing career, has authored 38 nonfiction books, many of them for young readers, and is currently working on a young adult novel.

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CanLit for LittleCanadians

“Rob Laidlaw’s book The Dog Patrol: Our Canine Companions and the Kids Who Protect Them goes beyond the traditional information of different breeds. A well-known advocate for animals, Rob Laidlaw, wanted to not only explain how to care for dog companions but to educate readers about some of the dangers these animals can face….

This book is an excellent read for children who love animals. It will help them to better understand all of the care a companion dog needs, how to understand the signals dogs are giving humans, how to find a reputable adoption centre, and so much more. Many families may not be able to have a dog due to allergies or space restrictions, but they can still be a dog advocate like some of the children in the Dog Patrol profiles highlighted in the book. I am sure Rob Laidlaw’s The Dog Patrol: Our Canine Companions and the Kids Who Protect Them will inspire readers to support animals in need in their own communities.”
—Elizabeth Cook is a teacher-librarian in the Halton District School Board. She is an avid reader and fan of Canadian literature

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Youth Services Book Review

Rating: 1-5 (5 is an excellent or a Starred review) 4

What did you like about the book? The Dog Patrol functions as both a how-to manual on taking care of a dog and a celebration of kids who have made significant efforts to protect and help dogs. Information is also included about the history of dogs and humans. The book is filled with attractive color photographs with clear captions. Tips include options for adopting a dog, how to find a lost dog, how to protect your dogs’ paws and more….Readers can easily browse through the book or read it cover to cover. Includes a glossary, index and photo credits. This is an excellent resource for anyone thinking about getting a dog, as well as for those who already have dogs. Highly recommended.”
—Laura Gardner, Dartmouth Middle School, Dartmouth, MA

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Music for Tigers Reviews

Posted on February 10th, 2020 by pajamapress

Kirkus Reviews ★ Starred Review

Cover: Music for Tigers Author: Michelle Kadarusman Publisher: Pajama Press“Kadarusman masterfully creates a lush, magical world where issues associated with conservation, neurodiversity, and history intersect in surprising and authentic ways….Crucially, the author acknowledges the original, Indigenous inhabitants of the land as experts, something rarely seen in books about environmental degradation. Louisa’s narratorial voice strikes the right balance of curiosity, timidity, and growing confidence, and her character’s transformation feels both incredibly natural and incredibly rewarding to behold.

A beautiful conservation story told in a rich setting and peopled with memorable characters.”

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Foreword Reviews ★ Starred Review

“The wilds of Tasmania are described with tangible reverence, making clear the drive which the characters have for preserving it….Descriptions of the ‘pastel-blue sky’ and twinkling constellations are enchanting, while Louisa’s growing attention to the natural beauty around her mirrors her increasing commitment to the camp and its mission….

A stirring tale that will inspire young readers to take to heart our collective responsibility as stewards of the planet, Music for Tigers is a coming-of-age story with a conservation twist.”
—Danielle Ballantyne

Read the full review in the May/June 2020 issue of Foreword Reviews

Booklist

“Author Michelle Kadarusman deftly incorporates Australian history into this middle-grade book that reads like a love letter to the unique flora and fauna of the Tasmanian Tarkine. The author’s note at the end gives more historical information about the Tasmanian tiger and efforts to preserve other endangered species. Music for Tigers is perfect for young readers interested in ecology and preservation.”
—Bridget Ward

Read the full review in the April 15, 2020 issue of Booklist

Oregon Coast Youth Book Preview Center

“Verdict: Students who enjoy nature stories, especially those who are interested in cryptid species, will enjoy this book. The idea that a large extinct predator species might actually be found is exciting….This character and setting driven plot appeals on many levels and introduces a setting not well represented in children’s books in the United States. I recommend it for middle school and public libraries.”
—Jane Cothron

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CM Magazine

Music for Tigers seamlessly blends several themes together to create a unique story. The most obvious theme of wildlife conservation is beautifully executed with important messages that we, as humans, can often do more harm than good, even when we try to help….

Another important theme in the novel is that of mental health and personal growth. Both Louisa and Colin are neurodivergent children who have to deal with real life implications of their mental health….

Kadarusman’s novel also provides an uncommon but insightful blending of science and art. Louisa feels at the beginning of the novel that her parents wish she was more interested in biology like them. She feels that they can’t understand her passion for her music because the two things are polar opposites. However, she finds through Eleanor’s journals that the two things can be used together for a very good purpose. Louisa learns that her music can be used along with her parents’ biology to help the animals she’s come to love.

Michelle Kadarusman’s, Music for Tigers is a fun, engaging read for middle grade children, one that will appeal to many different readers because of its diverse themes and subjects. Louisa’s relationships with Colin and Rufus are delightful to read, and the novel covers important topics with delicacy and grace. Music for Tigers is a heartwarming story of personal growth and friendship that will draw readers in with its charm.

Highly Recommended.”
—Deanna Feuer is an English Literature graduate from the University of the Fraser Valley. She lives in Langley British Columbia.

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Chirstina Ammirati

“This captivating story is full of heart, hope, music, and science. Louisa’s many new relationships evolve so beautifully and I especially adored her interactions with Colin, who has autism spectrum disorder. Kirkus starred reviewed, MUSIC FOR TIGERS is a special coming-of-age story that pays homage to Tasmanian aboriginal people, nature, and the magnificent beings with whom we share the earth.”

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Book Gaga

“Kadarusman weaves beautifully themes and issues such as environmental fragility and protection, understanding and respecting neurodiversity differences, reverence for family and history and more into an engaging and at times suspenseful storyline….Michelle Kadarusman orchestrates it all with compassion and storytelling verve. Music For Tigers is uniquely good and genuine, truly ‘fair dinkum’…!”

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Tickled Pink: How Friendship Washes the World with Color Reviews

Posted on January 22nd, 2020 by pajamapress

Booklist

Cover: Tickled Pink: How Friendship Washes the World with Color Author: Andrée Poulin Illustrator: Luile Danis Drouot Publisher: Pajama Press

“Poulin offers readers a nice opportunity to reflect on identity and difference while exploring other sentiments, such as jealousy, rejection, sadness, empathy, and building confidence. The jungle settings are gracefully depicted in Drouot’s jaunty, cartoonish figures and a grayscale palette that enables pink to stand out strikingly. Pair with Pete Oswald’s Mingo the Flamingo (2017) or Jacqueline Woodson’s The Day You Begin (2018).”
—Vivian Alvarez (February 7, 2020)

Quill & Quire

“In this heartwarming story, award-winning author Andrée Poulin (The Biggest Poutine in the World) uses Ludo’s incredible tenderness to  remind young readers how important it is to be kind, while also showing how tumultuous a child’s journey to self-confidence can be – especially when their peers see only flaws. And Poulin seems to relish the opportunity to debunk the stereotype that ‘pink is for babies and princesses’…

By making Filippo the only splash of colour in the book’s black-and-white setting, illustrator Lucile Danis Drouot masterfully sets the tone for the flamingo’s loneliness. But as his confidence blossoms, so does Drouot’s use of pink. Eventually, the storybook world is just as rosy as he is.”

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Foreword Reviews

“This story illustrated in shades of grey with bold pink accents, the dispirited bird hears insightful words from his family; with the friendship of a fun-loving lemur, he learns that the world is a much better place because of its beautiful variety of colorations, but especially pink.”
—Pallas Gates Mccorquodale (March / April 2020)

Read the full review in the March/April 2020 issue of Foreword Reviews

San Francisco Book Review

Tickled Pink: How Friendship Washes the World with Color is a heartwarming tale…This book about acceptance, feelings, and friendship is a wonderful addition to any childrens’ library.”

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CM Magazine

“Good children’s picture books do not lecture. Big ideas are embedded in interesting, cheerful, easy-to-read-and-understand stories. Through a simple story, Andrée Poulin, the award-winning author of more than thirty books for children, reveals to young children the importance of accepting yourself even when you feel different as well as the value of true friendship which empowers you to see the beauty of the world. Readers’ hearts sink and rise with Filippo’s experience and emotions. Like the title indicates, readers will feel tickled pink reading to the end….

The story can be interpreted in several ways, depending on the readers. Maybe you come from a minority group and sometimes struggle with identity and belonging; maybe you are an introvert who tries very hard to put yourself out there and socialize with peers; maybe you have different interests than others around you and feel out of place every now and then. Anyone who has the feeling of ‘not fitting in’, whether constantly or occasionally, will see themselves in Filippo.

Tickled Pink: How Friendship Washes the World With Color, a heartwarming and delightful read on a serious topic, is beautifully illustrated and well-written in delivering a positive message to young children. It would make an excellent addition to libraries, schools and family collections.

Highly Recommended.”
Emma Chen is a Family Literacy Coordinator in a local non-profit literacy organization in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.

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Winnipeg Free Press

“In Andrée Poulin’s Tickled Pink: How Friendship Washes the World with Color (Pajama Press, $24, hardcover) Zak and Poncho tell Filippo that pink doesn’t mix with black and white. Pink is for crying babies, and fussy princesses, they say….Lucille Danis Drouot from Montreal has supplied the lively and colorful illustrations to produce an amusing and thoughtful picture book.”

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CanLit for LittleCanadians

“I’m tickled pink by any book that supports diversity and acceptance of differences as the norm so I’m especially thrilled about a picture book that supports this message in as subtle and eloquent a way, as well as playful, as Tickled Pink: How Friendship Washes the World with Color….

The story in Tickled Pink is far from black and white. It goes beyond a story of excluding those who are different. It demonstrates how much we all want to be included….I’m glad Andrée Poulin gave Filippo a quiet and insightful friend in Ludo who proves that it’s not the black-and-white animals that lack understanding, but just one zebra and one panda. (Okay, there may be others out there, there always are, but it’s clear that it’s not all black-and-white animals.) For intolerance to be eliminated, everyone needed to see beyond the colours.

Artist Lucile Danis Drouot keeps her palette, until the very end, black, white, gray and pinks to emphasize the separation that Zak and Poncho highlight but she adds a playfulness in her animals’ activities–vine-climbing, soccer, volleyball, and badminton–that embeds the message in gentleness and whimsy. A final spread resplendent in pinks brightens the world in happiness and friendship.”

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Youth Services Book Review

What did you like about the book? …The illustrations perfectly complement the story as the bright pink flamingos stand out against the monochromatic setting and characters….This is a sweet French import about being one’s self and making friends….

To whom would you recommend this book? This would be a good choice for storytimes about friendship.”
Catherine Coyne, Mansfield Public Library, Mansfield, MA

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The Elephant Reviews

Posted on November 15th, 2019 by pajamapress

School Library Journal

Cover: The Elephant Author-Illustrator: Peter Carnavas Publisher: Pajama Press

“With kindness and caring, Olive seeks creative solutions to help both Grandad and Dad find healing and let go of their heavy companions….Sweet black line illustrations throughout the book complement the narrative and tone. VERDICT A warm-hearted book of emotional learning, creative problem-solving, and genuine care for others. Recommended for anyone in need of hope for a path to happiness.”

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Kirkus Reviews

“A gentle story of depression and hope is told in this middle-grade Australian import….Carnavas takes the tough topic of caregiver depression and gives it a delicate, graceful touch. His plot weaves tightly together, and the ending twist is a lovely completion. Black-and-white spot illustrations throughout give a visually accessible feel, as do the short chapters….A delicate, lovely story about caregiver depression that will validate and empower readers.”

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CM Magazine

“With The Elephant, Peter Carnavas has created a brilliant work of art, cunningly folded into the deceptively small package of a short illustrated novel for young readers aged seven through eleven. This joyful, hopeful exploration of family dynamics affected by grief and mental illness uses simple yet powerful symbolism to create a child-centered platform from which readers can identify and/or empathize with the characters. Anyone looking for effective ways to open discussions about mental illness with child readers – or to provide what will surely prove a highly effective support resource – will welcome The Elephant with immense gratitude….

The warm, plain, rich written text is more than sufficient to mark The Elephant as excellent, but Carnavas’s playful, emotionally evocative line drawings catapult the work into the exceptional realm.

This book is also exceptionally child-centred, showing genuine respect for children’s experiences, values, and capabilities. In particular, the use of symbolism provides a developmentally appropriate metaphor for how depression might seem to a young child….The Elephant is a must-buy for everyone who knows anyone touched by mental health issues – which is everyone. This book belongs in every home, library and classroom.

Highly Recommended.”
Michelle Superle

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Youth Services Book Review

Rating: 1-5 (5 is an excellent or a Starred review) 5

What did you like about the book? …The story is lovingly illustrated with drawings throughout….A beautiful story beautifully told….

To whom would you recommend this book? Those who liked The Runaways by Ulf Stark or who like the Dani stories by Rose Lagercrantz would likely enjoy this sweet story….

Should we (librarians) put this on the top of our ‘to read’ piles? Yes.”
—Katrina Yurenka

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Kids Make Mess

The Elephant is a great book for a lot of reasons. From a structural standpoint, it helps ease young readers into the novel format. The chapters are clearly separated and digestible in size, and the text is sophisticated enough to keep kids intrigued while remaining at a level they can understand and enjoy. Thematically, The Elephant deals with issues of loss and depression without getting too heavy. The death of Olive’s mother is never explicitly explained, but as Olive and her family deal with their grief, certain details are revealed and Olive is forced to confront her own feelings. Ultimately, she learns a lot about life, loss, and love. Great for kids 7+.”

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Christina Ammirati

“Exquisite, moving, and utterly unforgettable, THE ELEPHANT (3/17/20 from @pajamapressbooks) is award-winning picture book author, Peter Carnavas’ middle grade debut. With short chapters and charming, fine lined and shaded illustrations, Carnavas tells the story of Olive, her dad, granddad, and one unwelcome guest…a big, gray elephant. This unique metaphor is a poignant and clever way to describe her father’s big, heavy sadness that has followed him around for as long as Olive can remember….I absolutely loved this darling story and it’s tender approach in dealing with loss, depression, and despair. You’ll need your tissues for this one, perhaps multiple times, but the warm message of love, family, and moving forward together will ultimately warm your heart.”

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Kiss the Book Jr.

“The imagery and simple, child view of this story are amazing. I love how Carnavas illustrates sadness and happiness in a clear and uncomplicated way….Olive is an inspiring girl, and I found the charming illustrations to be the perfect complement to her story.”
—Carolina Herdegen

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Canadian Bookworm

“This is a great book to help kids understand when someone in their lives is struggling with depression. The use of the various animals brings the idea of depression to life in a physical way, and the way people work together to make things better for everyone shows that there is often a way forward past the depression.

The illustrations for this book are simple, yet show so much. From the jacaranda tree that Olive loves to sit in to think, to Olive, Arthur, her teacher, her dad, and her granddad, to the grey animals (especially the elephant with its tiny black top hat) and the various objects that play a role, the line drawings bring the story to life for young readers.

I loved it.”

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Jill Jemmett

Rating: ★★★★★

This story is a great metaphor for depression or mental health problems. Olive can physically see how her father’s depression is dragging him down, as if he has a giant elephant following him. This was a creative way to teach children about mental health. It also shows that sometimes you need others to help you get rid of the elephant.

I loved this book!”

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Bon Voyage, Mister Rodriguez Reviews

Posted on October 18th, 2019 by pajamapress

The New York Times Book Review

Cover: Bon Voyage, Mister Rodriguez Author: Christiane Duchesne Illustrator: François Thisdale Publisher: Pajama Press

“[A] host of new picture books tackle ‘taking the ferry,’ staring down that overtly thwarting subject, and making it personal, peaceful and approachable.

In Christiane Duchesne and Francois Thisdale’s bewitching Bon Voyage, Mister Rodriguez, set in a small seaside town, a group of kids watch the mysterious comings and goings of a man who wears a bright red scarf and looks as if he has ‘clouds under his coat.’ His solitary meanderings through the cobblestone streets and his eccentric love of animals — he attaches wings to a cat’s back, strolls with a goldfish bowl on his head — go unnoticed by the adults. But to the children he is a fascination and delight….[Mister Rodriguez’s] absence prompts a strong sense of community as [the children] band together to say their goodbyes…Thisdale’s realistic yet dreamlike illustrations, windswept with mist and surreal painted skies, add to the sense of wonder.”
—Marisha Pessl

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School Library Journal

“Children often notice things that adults do not, especially when they are out of the ordinary….The story line speaks to the reality of death in a whimsical way, introducing it by way of it occurring to someone known by the children in the book but not someone with whom they were particularly close. VERDICT Young children beginning to learn about the concept of death will find this book to be an easy introduction to this inevitability in their lives.”
—Mary Lanni, formerly at Denver Public Library

Read the full review in the November 2019 issue of School Library Journal

Publishers Weekly

“[A] surreal allegory…Acrylic and digitally altered artwork by Thisdale (Poetree) offers crisp, photographic realism, with misty skies of purple and green that suggest atmospheric otherworldliness.”

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Quill & Quire

“There’s no dearth of death in today’s children’s books. These days you can as easily find books on the loss of a parent as on the loss of a goldfish, and everything in between. And that’s okay. Stories are an excellent way to process a delicate but perennial, once-verboten topic.

Bon Voyage, Mister Rodriguez has found another gap to fill: what about the death of a neighbour, or those people you see every day but don’t know all that well? Those who, when they suddenly disappear, take a part of the community with them?…

No tears, no sentimentality, no explicit mention of death – it’s possible to read this book as a quirky story about a magical musician. It can also be appreciated just for illustrator François Thisdale’s gorgeous, painterly spreads, with their becalming greens, blues, and ochres. Either way, it boils down to the simple acknowledgement of a life, apparently well lived, by some young witnesses.”

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Resource Links

“Rating: E…The topic of death is a difficult subject for children, but Christiane Duchesne’s picture book has broached the topic in a light and nonchalant manner. For the children in the story, they see Mister Rodriguez as heading on a new journey and their only wish is for him to be happy. This method of introducing death in a picture book allows death to be not seen as a scary thing, but one that must be accepted and understood….

Bon Voyage, Mister Rodriguez is an uncomplicated picture book delivering a message that young children can relate to without the sadness and gloom normally associated with death. The title may initially indicate that Mister Rodriguez is going on a different voyage, not the one that readers eventually discover in the story. Overall, Bon Voyage, Mister Rodriguez is a perfect selection for sharing with young children, in a classroom, or a library setting.”
—Carmelita Cechetto-Shea

Read the full review on page 5 of the December 2019 Final Issue of Resource Links

Kirkus Reviews

“Observed by village children, an elderly man prepares for death in this misty allegory.”

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Midwest Book Review

“A beautifully crafted and charmingly entertaining picture book for children ages 5-8 by the team of author/storyteller Christiane Duchesne and illustrator/artist Francois Thisdale, Bon Voyage, Mister Rodriguez is an especially and unreservedly recommended addition to family, elementary school, and community library collections.”

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CM Magazine

“The real magic of Bon Voyage, Mister Rodriguez is in the illustrations by Montrealer Francois Thisdale. The blue and grey backdrops of sky and sea are at once misty and luminous, grounded by the pretty shuttered buildings and the solid human figures, emphasizing the juxtaposition of the reality of a continental town with some pretty unusual plot elements.

Bon Voyage, Mister Rodriguez is a rather special picture book for larger collections.”
Ellen Heaney is a retired children’s librarian living in Coquitlam, British Columbia

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CanLit for LittleCanadians

“Though the children did not weep for their loss of Mister Rodriguez, knowing that he was happy, I wept. I wept for an extraordinary man whose time had come to pass to the other side but who eased the passage of others with him. Though there is much for young readers to interpret about Mister Rodriguez and his existence on this plane and the next, they will appreciate the richness he brought to the lives of children who took pleasure in ‘seeing’ him walk through or above the street, his cap low on his forehead, his bright red scarf a beacon of his brightness and his overcoat light billowing ‘as if he had clouds under’ it. Christiane Duchesne’s text leaves open what the children actually see and what actually happened to Mister Rodriguez but still laces it with the heartfelt emotion of a dear friend’s passing.

Because of the surreal, perhaps supernatural, texture of Bon Voyage, Mister Rodriguez, François Thisdale’s illustrations, created with acrylic and digital media, have the perfect blend of the ethereal and the realistic. The foggy coastal town is ghostly with its overhanging mist and crashing waves and a man who may be intangible….

Picture books about death and dying are plentiful and all aim to help children understand loss and grief. But Bon Voyage, Mister Rodriguez presents the concept of death in a wholly unique fashion, leaving open what happens after we leave the physical world. Mister Rodriguez, along with a lovely assortment of companions, may transition from one world to the next under the watchful of a group of children but it’s evident that his life is far greater than just a physical presence in this world.”
—Helen K

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Finding Lucy Reviews

Posted on September 17th, 2019 by pajamapress

School Library Journal

Cover: Finding Lucy Author: Eugenie Fernandes Publisher: Pajama Press

“Beautiful, bright, and fanciful illustrations using acrylics on canvas gift readers with delightful details….The prose is mainly conversational, lengthy at times, and includes entertaining adjectives such as atrocious and flabbergasting. Moreover, the careful choice of words invites children to think about the correlation between art, color, and feelings. VERDICT There are many facets to this book that will give viewers something new to discover with each reread. A real find.”
—Mindy Hiatt, Salt Lake County Library Services

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Kirkus Reviews

“Everybody’s a critic. Lucy, an elementary-age white girl who appears to live alone with her cat, is an artist, painting happily in her garden until a reporter from the local paper comes by….Fernandes’ illustrations borrow both palette and a sense of vegetative lushness from Gauguin; Lucy’s creations are almost wholly abstract. She is also the only human in the story—all the carping critics are anthropomorphic animals, lending a sense of fun and softening the unkindness of their remarks. The text shares the illustrations’ whimsy, delighting in words as much as Lucy delights in her art. A valuable lesson in pursuing your own artistic star.”

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Resource Links

“Rating: E…The text is carefully presented with humour, and nonsensical delight as each animal gives his or her more ridiculous suggestions. Fernandes’ illustrations are engaging, full of deep, vivid colour, humour and rendered in acrylic paint on canvas.

The heroine learns a valuable lesson to be true to herself, to promote her self-expression and her art and to have confidence in herself.”
—Isobel Lang

Read the full review in the December 2019 Final Issue of Resource Links

CM Magazine

“Fernandes also does not shy away from using big words and challenges her readers to expand their vocabularies; for child readers who love language, this story is a treat.

In addition to writing the text, Fernandes also painted Finding Lucy’s illustrations, using acrylic paint on canvas which gives the illustrations vibrancy and texture. Lucy and her series of animal visitors are dynamic and interactive; in one illustration, Lucy is shown sharing a cup of tea with the elephant reporter. The illustrations are an explosion of bright colours, light, and joy. Fernandes uses a playful mix of semi-abstract solid shapes to form the background and cartoon-like animation to depict Lucy and the animals. The illustrations are every bit as energetic and cheerful as the text.

Finding Lucy is recommended for young artists finding their own artistic voices and lovers of bright and vibrant illustrations.

Recommended.”
Sabrina Wong is a librarian at Capilano University in North Vancouver, British Columbia.

Click here to read the full review

Canadian Children’s Book News

“In this playful new picture book from the powerhouse talent of Eugenie Fernandes, Lucy happily paints the colour of laughter in her garden with her faithful cat as a companion — until a rabbit reporter criticizes her art….

Finding Lucy is a character-rich story of confidence and self-expression paired with colourful and vibrant illustrations. With poetic turns of phrase, lively language and a cartoon style, both the text and art evoke light-hearted fun, even when the critics do their worst to Lucy. The story also upends fairy-tale tropes in delightful ways…The strategic use of sophisticated yet engaging language, such as ‘scrumptious’ and ‘fan-tab-u-lous,’ will prompt young readers to play with the sound of the words and provide discussion about the meanings.

A whimsical, heartfelt story about what happens when we try to satisfy other instead of our own creative muse.”
—Karen Krossing is a Toronto author and MFA student

Read the full review in the Winter 2019 issue of Canadian Children’s Book News

Youth Services Book Review

To whom would you recommend this book? A great read aloud for the art teacher to discuss independence and self-expression.”
Julie Durmis, JC Solmonese Elementary School, Norton, MA

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CanLit for LittleCanadians

“Eugenie Fernandes has given us a story in words and pictures that supports that idea that creativity is an expression of self and needs to be embraced rather than questioned, especially when every armchair critic feels the need to voice their personal preferences and expects the artist to accommodate those. From colour to feeling, shape and voice, creativity comes from within and Lucy knew and knows this. Sadly she is distracted by those with loud and overbearing opinions and buckles under their varied and judgemental assertions.

I hope Eugenie Fernandes, whose art work has won her a variety of awards and accolades, has always felt supported in her artistic endeavours whether she chooses to use acrylic paint on canvas as she does here in Finding Lucy or other media. If Finding Lucy demonstrates anything it’s that those who observe art derive their perceptions from their perspective and attitudes and Lucy can’t possibly give every viewer what they need to see the art’s beauty. I’m glad that she finally trusts herself, and her very wise cat, that what she brings to her art is everything it needs to be to bring her joy.”

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Sal’s Fiction Addiction

“Using acrylic paint on canvas, Ms. Fernandes creates bold spreads that are both textured and detailed. She brings a joy to images that will encourage young children to try their hand at creating something of their own.”

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Storywraps

“Lucy learns a very valuable life lesson. She discovers that the most important thing is to be true to yourself and not try to always please others. Her faithful loving cat encourages her to return to her own style of creating and when she takes his advice her happiness returns.

The illustrations are whimsical and full of colour with lots of detail. Young readers will ascertain that it’s important to follow your own heart and your own uniqueness because those two things will bring happiness to your soul. I highly recommend this book.”

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Pickle Me This

“Writing this post doesn’t feel at all like a chore though, because it’s about Eugenie Fernandes’ Finding Lucy, a picture book I’m kind of obsessed with (and I think it’s also Fernades’ first picture book in quite some time). It mingles an old fashioned storybook sensibility (there are talking animals, and the cat is called ‘the cat’) with a dazzling and delightful abstraction, and the most delicious vocabulary. In fact, this is a book that relishes language just as much as it does colour and art, with words like ‘discombobulated,’ ‘ferocious’ and ‘atrocious.’ ‘It’s utterly befuddling and baffling and piffling and dribbling and scribbling!’ —so say the critics about Lucy’s attempt at a painting….

It’s a story about the necessity of sticking to one’s vision and not having your art be muddled from every elephant or crocodile who happens to wander by. But it’s also a story that’s so much more more than what it’s actually about, a book that’s rich and expansive, celebrating the exuberance of the creative spirit.”

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The Skeleton Coast Reviews

Posted on September 13th, 2019 by pajamapress

School Library Journal

“[A] thrilling conclusion to “The Flooded Earth” trilogy…Recommended for collections where the trilogy is popular.”
—Marissa -Lieberman, East Orange Public Library, NJ

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Booklist

“These four kids have faced the worst their world has to offer and come through learning lessons about sticking together, the unbreakable bonds of family, and never giving up hope. The last leg of their journey adds heartwarming reunions to the regular dose of adventure and danger, with themes of starting anew, family, friendship, and courage bringing this epic tale to a satisfying end.”
—Elizabeth Konkel

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Kirkus Reviews

“The postdiluvian Flooded Earth trilogy concludes as it began, with high-seas derring-do….For all its dystopian setting, this satisfying trilogy closer is full of pluck.”

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Resource Links

“Rating: G…The Skeleton Coast is a fast-paced adventure story full of difficult questions about climate change and morality. The four main characters are relentless in their determination to survive and find Spinner. Readers should definitely read the three novels in order because there are details which might be confusing in this novel for those who have not read the previous two novels.

The Skeleton Coast deals with difficult issues such as survival, refugees, kidnapping, piracy, fake news, economic disparity, and moral choices. Mardi McConnochie’s novel presents an alarming portrait of a world where climate change has destroyed society as we know it. Is this our future?”
—Myra Junyk

Read the full review on page 39 of the December 2019 Final Issue of Resource Links

CM Magazine

The Skeleton Coast, by continuing the highly credible adventure, moral questions, and imaginative view of a climate-ravaged future of the previous two installments in the series, brings the story to an exciting and satisfying conclusion. As always, characterization is strong, with the introduction of the superstitious and strong-willed Blossom and the naïve yet principled Lt. Cherry as strong additions to the cast….The question of ‘who are the good guys’ is deeply explored, the plight of refugees eerily prescient, and the sailing and survival skills of the kids put to thrilling test as usual….

Highly Recommended.”
Todd Kyle

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Youth Services Book Review

Rating: 1-5 (5 is an excellent or a Starred review) 4

What did you like about the book? …This non-stop action/adventure book will keep readers flipping the pages quickly to determine the characters’ fates. The combination of environmentalism, adventure, and strong characterization make this an excellent series for purchase.

To whom would you recommend this book? Students who have enjoyed the first two books in this series should definitely complete the trilogy! It is not meant to be a stand alone book, but enough context is given that it could be read that way.”
Laura Gardner, Dartmouth Middle School, Dartmouth, MA

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What Cats Think Reviews

Posted on September 13th, 2019 by pajamapress

School Library Journal

Cover: What Cats Think Author: John Spray Illustrator: Mies van Hout Publisher: Pajama Press

“This book perfectly encapsulates everything that is elegant and enigmatic, sinister and sassy in feline behavior. Free-verse poems provide glimpses into the minds of cats, always with a clever, subtle sense of humor. These verses will work well when teaching children that poetry comes in many forms, not just rhyming couplets…..The rhythmic text and dynamic art will delight all readers, but cat lovers will take extra pleasure in the quintessentially feline traits celebrated in this book.”
—Alyssa Annico, Youngstown State University, OH

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Publishers Weekly

“Are cats capable of poetry? They are in this volume, which imagines their interior lives through 20 short poems, some more predictable than others….Color pours off each page in van Hout’s vibrant, bold illustrations—a mix of acrylic ink, oil pastels, and gouache. Her felines expressively embody Spray’s emphatic free verse, which authentically gives voice to cats’ changeable emotions.”

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Booklist

“Evocative, whimsical art portrays a wide array of cats exhibiting various activities, behaviors, and moods, and in lively free-verse poems, they individually explain the motivations behind them….Vibrant mixed-media illustrations depict the cats with bold colors, eye-catching patterns, scribbly lines, and thick brushstrokes, deftly using palette and perspective to convey emotion…Originally published in the Netherlands but with original English text, this ranges from silly to contemplative, but it’s van Hout’s art that takes center stage in this imaginative picture book feline aficionados especially will enjoy.”
—Shelle Rosenfeld

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Resource Links

“Rating: E…Fun to say words and phrases (slobbery, slathering kitty-eaters describe dogs) and bright large drawings of cats will make the verses appealing to young listeners.”
—Tanya Boudreau

Read the full review on page 12 of the December 2019 Final Issue of Resource Links

CM Magazine

“The many facets of a cat’s personality are showcased in this delightful tribute to domestic felines. An assortment of vivid, colourful cats present their feelings in free verse, each one on a separate double-page spread. The author’s use of the first person is very effective in drawing readers in. Some of the poems are of the laugh-out-loud variety while others will cause readers to commiserate with the feline narrators….

Each cat’s uniqueness is not only celebrated by the clever free verse but also by the vibrant, mixed media illustrations, rendered in acrylic ink, oil pastels and gouache, primarily in bright greens, yellows, reds and blues. The cats are shown in a variety of poses, but what makes the illustrations truly charming are the priceless facial expressions….Readers need not be cat lovers to thoroughly enjoy this book. What Cats Think is fun, imaginative and loaded with personality!

Highly Recommended.”
—Gail Hamilton is a former teacher-librarian in Winnipeg, Manitoba.

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Kirkus Reviews

“Colorful, expressive pictures of cats are accompanied by brief text….Bright hues, scribbly lines, and high-contrast backgrounds combine to create pictures that pop, and the relatively large trim size adds to their impact.”

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CanLit for LittleCanadians

“In brilliant colours of lime green and red, turquoise and purple, Mies van Hout’s art, created with acrylics, oil and gouache, startle and comfort the reader with an array of cats. They are skinny and scared, obese and wise, and playful and sneaky. They are no one’s cat and they are everyone’s cat….It is in the creation of scenarios that John Spray illustrates with words what Mies van Hout’s cats say in her art….

With What Cats Think, Mies van Hout and John Spray have given us the context for cats’ looks and sounds that will remind us of the depth of feline reasoning and expression. It’s not surprising to many that cats have been celebrated and worshipped throughout history and it’s best we not forget this.”

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Fab Book Reviews

“Mies van Hout’s acrylic ink, gouache and oil pastels artwork is typically stunning, eye-catching and vibrant: there are distinctive colour palettes for each spread; each drawn cat is unlike the one before; and I would be absolutely remiss if I did not mention that the cats are drawn with remarkably expressive faces, bodies, and tails (there are some cats that had me giggling over their expressions and thoughts!). There is much to pore over in What Cats Think and I enjoy that it doesn’t necessarily have a linear direction to it: that means that whether a reader is absorbed by the artwork, or particular cats, or particular poems- Spray’s poems are whimsical and should be hugely appealing to younger and older readers!- or whether a reader wishes to enjoy the picture book beginning to end, the story simply works. For the cat lovers, for the readers who enjoy their animal stories in verse, and for those who enjoy cat-focused stories such as I Hate My Cats (A Love Story)Mr. Pusskins: A Love Story, the Fuddles books by Frans Vischer, I Won’t Eat That, or Galia Bernstein’s I Am a Cat might especially adore What Cats Think.”

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Sal’s Fiction Addiction

“If you have never lived with a cat, you may not recognize the many faces they present to the world. That is decidedly not true of Mies van Hout, whose wonderful, warm and witty mixed media artwork bless the pages of this fascinating book….John Spray’s free verse text celebrates the cats presented. Each turn offers a double page spread with featured feline accompanied by tremendous variety in tone and temperament….

Verse matches art in every way. There are times when readers will laugh out loud. There are also more sombre, haughty, and frightening times. The absolutely on-point feline faces speak clearly to the emotions felt. Those who love cats will tell you that cats do have varied emotions. The 20 featured here certainly speak eloquently to that statement.

You don’t have to love cats to love this book. It’s a charmer!”

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Pumpkin Orange, Pumpkin Round Reviews

Posted on September 4th, 2019 by pajamapress

Kirkus Reviews

Cover: Pumpkin Orange, Pumpkin Round Author: Rosanna Battigelli Illustrator: Tara Anderson Publisher: Pajama Press“Rhyming verses follow a group of cats for some pumpkin picking and carving fun before trick-or-treating….The ending is especially satisfying, one larger cat giving a smaller one a hug while three others curl up with the largest gray cat on a sofa with a book: ‘Pumpkin tired, / pumpkin fed, / pumpkin story, / pumpkin bed.’…The artwork, done with colored pencil and acrylic glaze, is both childlike and nicely textured, the six cats easily differentiated, especially the elder dark gray parental figure who wears half-moon specs….Cozy, repetitious autumn fun for toddlers and younger preschoolers.”

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Publishers Weekly

“Cats enjoy all the glories of a human Halloween in this peek at popular October traditions. In Anderson’s colored pencil and acrylic glaze illustrations, a family of smiling, scarf-wearing felines heads to a pumpkin patch…Battigelli’s text—a series of rhyming, two-word phrases each beginning with ‘pumpkin’—…possesses a jaunty rhythm and a fun-to-pronounce quality. Ages 3–6.”

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School Library Journal

“[T]he repetition and simplicity of the text make this an appealing choice for group-sharing during storytime. The art, created with colored pencil and acrylic glaze on watercolor paper, is warm and fuzzy, providing a safe, not-so-scary depiction of Halloween that is appropriate for young listeners. The book concludes with instructions on how children can carve their own jack-o’-lanterns, emphasizing the need for an adult helper. VERDICT A safe bet for libraries looking for autumnal and Halloween-themed picture books for the youngest patrons.”
—Laura J. Giunta, Garden City Public Library, NY

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Resource Links

“Rating: E…The simplicity of the text is brought to life by the perfect pairing of Tara Anderson’s warm, cosy and childlike illustration style. Rendered in a luscious and juicy palette of bright oranges and emerald greens along with warm autumnal hues and the deep, dark Halloween blacks and purples. Whimsical and energetic, the furry friends pop off the pages reeling in the reader to join in the fun!

Easy to read yet lively, Battigelli’s Pumpkin Orange, Pumpkin Round guides us around the clock from daytime to evening transforming an orange pumpkin to something aglow! Don’t forget the ‘How to Carve a Jack-o-Lantern’ how-to guide in the back inside cover!”
—Lara Chauvin

Read the full review on page 2 of the October 2019 issue of Resource Links

CM Magazine

“The rhyming scheme is bouncy and fun…Tara Anderson’s charming, bright illustrations are created with coloured pencil and acrylic glaze on watercolour paper and have a nostalgic feeling to them….A fun, simple, festive book that families will love. Highly Recommended.”
—Andrea Zorzi is a children’s librarian at Toronto Public Library in Toronto, Ontario.

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Midwest Book Review

“What could be better than an autumn trip to the pumpkin patch with a cast of cat characters ready to celebrate Halloween? In bouncy rhyme, the folksy felines choose their pumpkins, wheel them home, and work together through all the steps of carving a jack-o-lantern. With the lanterns’ spooky and cheerful faces shining bright, now is the time to dress up and head out for trick-or-treating. The collaborative work of author Rosanna Battigelli and illustrator Tara Anderson, Pumpkin Orange, Pumpkin Round will prove to be a unique and appreciated addition to the Halloween reading lists of children ages 3-6 — as well as an enduringly popular inclusion into family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library picture book collections.”

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Youth Services Book Review

Rating: 1-5 (5 is an excellent or a Starred review) 5…

What did you like about the book? This is a sweet rhyming story about all the festivities that lead up Halloween night. This story features a family of cats and their brave little mouse friend….

To whom would you recommend this book? This book is perfect for ages three to five….The rhyming text is very soothing and the images are not scary so it is a perfect Halloween book for young children. Even during one scene where a scary creature appears, you can clearly see that it is a cat wearing a scary mask–younger children will not be scared by this Halloween book.”
—Kristin Guay, former youth services librarian

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Winnipeg Free Press

“Battigelli has written a series of catchy rhyming verses celebrating this beloved autumn icon….and with Anderson’s vibrant illustrations, they take the pumpkin all the way from the farmer’s field to the Halloween doorstep. Early readers and preschoolers will enjoy this one as they get ready for trick-or-treating.”

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The Girl Who Rode a Shark: And Other Stories of Daring Women Reviews

Posted on August 12th, 2019 by pajamapress

Kirkus Reviews ★ Starred Review

Cover: The Girl Who Rode A Shark: And Other True Stories of Daring Women Author: Ailsa Ross Illustrator: Amy Blackwell Publisher: Pajama Press“Brief biographies of 52 intrepid women, spanning the globe and all centuries, are flanked by large, full-color illustrations and by maps that show the women’s adventuring sites….The artwork, reminiscent of art deco travel posters, is a gorgeous complement to the eclectic curation. The biographies are written in a conversational style, often including a short quote from the subject….An exciting labor of love—for kids of all gender identities. (Collective biography. 8-12)”

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School Library Journal

“The subjects are fascinating, and the women come from a variety of time periods, geographic regions, socioeconomic backgrounds, and ethnicities and include women with disabilities. Yet they all shared common characteristics: the need for adventure and a desire to learn. The book also contains portraits of the women, a glossary, and information about Indigenous peoples and the world’s ever-changing political boundaries. VERDICT This colorful, delightful book is highly recommended for all history and women’s history collections.
—Patricia Ann Owens, formerly at Illinois Eastern Community College, Mt. Carmel

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Booklist

“This collection presents single-page but surprisingly detailed accounts of more than 50 notable women….The essays are engaging, and in addition to providing basic biographical information, effectively connect each woman with her designated category. Brightly colored digital-media portraits face each page of text, and double-page maps pinpoint each subject’s country of origin. Truly international in scope and ranging across centuries…this attractive collection should spark inquiry for further research.”
— Kathleen McBroom

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School Library Connection

“The title of this new nonfiction text is enough to catch any readers’ attention, but this is only one of many qualities of this book that will keep readers engaged….The diversity of the women featured allow readers of all backgrounds to find a little bit of themselves in these stories. Additionally, Ross employs language from world cultures and varies her sentence structures; the book even has a glossary at the end. Also worthy of mention are the incredible illustrations provided by Amy Blackwell….The colors, cultural aspects, maps, and quotes in the illustrations amplify Ross’ exquisite writing. This would be a strong addition to any middle grade or middle school collection.”
—Caitlin Bennett, Librarian, Londonderry (New Hampshire) Middle School

Read the full review in the Jan/Feb 2020 issue of School Library Connection

CM Magazine

“Ailsa Ross’ The Girl Who Rode a Shark & Other Stories of Daring Women is a comprehensive work of middle grade nonfiction. The book is broken up into six sections, and each section includes anywhere from 7 to 10 women of historical significance. A former travel writer and student of law and women’s rights, Ross selected 50 female ‘adventurers’ to showcase, spanning the centuries from 231 BC to modern day. The final pages include a glossary of terms, such as ‘activism’, ‘emancipation’ and ‘colonialism’, as well as a listing of indigenous peoples and their geographic locations and a disclaimer about how geographical names change over time….

Ross’s book would be a useful resource for school-aged studies on topics such as women’s rights, female historical figures or biographies. The book is diverse both culturally and geographically, and the easy to navigate layout and bright engaging illustrations will quickly draw readers in. The inclusion of maps and a glossary make this book a good fit for school libraries and classroom collections. An alphabetical index by name would have been an added bonus for students looking to quickly find a particular person. The Girl Who Rode a Shark & Other Stories of Daring Women would work well coupled with Lisa Dalrymple’s book Fierce Women Who Shaped Canada to inspire and motivate young females as the two books are similar in format and scope and feature some of the same women.

Highly Recommended.
Cate Carlyle, an author and former elementary teacher, currently resides in Halifax, Nova Scotia, where she is a librarian at Mount Saint Vincent University.

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Resource Links

“Rating: G…This book would appeal mainly to girls in the upper elementary and junior high grades who have an interest in women and the accomplishments they have achieved throughout history. The biographies are short but give a good idea of what these women did to make them outstanding in their place and time. They could lead to further research by students who have a particular interest in some of the women highlighted.

Thematic Links: Women in History”
—Victoria Pennell

Read the full review on page 37 in the October 2019 issue of Resource Links

Canadian Children’s Book News

The Girl Who Rode a Shark is a standout biographical journey of the lives of 52 women history-makers around the world. This one-of-a-kind celebration of fierce and fearless female adventurers is ideal for those who enjoyed Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls.

Written in age-appropriate text chock-full of fascinating facts and figures, activist author Ailsa Ross shares eye-opening stories of women from circa 231 BC to today who’ve made the world a better place by smashing barriers, speaking their minds, defying expectations, stepping out, fighting injustice and exploring new ground….Amy Blackwell’s vibrant full-page portraits of each woman add dimension and striking visual impact, bringing each heroine to life. Complete with an introduction, a glossary, and hand-drawn maps, this spirited collection of stories is a must for every classroom and home library, fillings its readers with a palpable sense of wonder, inspiring them to aim high, dream big and blaze new trials, carving their own indelible mark on history.”
—Jennifer D. Foster

Read the full review in the Winter 2019 issue of Canadian Children’s Book News

Pickle Me This

The Girl Who Rode a Shark, by Ailsa Ross (who lives in Alberta!) and Amy Blackwell, has managed to live up to my expectations. My favourite bit is the Canadian content—we’re almost at the Roberta Bondar essay. And Indigenous hero Shannen Koostachin is included in ‘The Activists’ chapter.

The women profiled in the book come from places all over the world, include many women of colour, and also women with disabilities. Even better—while many of the profiles are of historical figures, just as many are contemporary, young women who are out there doing brave and groundbreaking things as we’re reading. A few of these figures are familiar, but more are new to us, and their stories are made vivid and compelling through the book’s beautiful artwork and smart and engaging prose.”

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Christina Ammirtai

“What an incredible compilation of fearless females who are sure to inspire anyone who reads of their bravery, strength, intelligence, and persistence. THE GIRL WHO RODE A SHARK had me in awe, not just for each of the 52 courageous, impactful stories, but also for the beautiful images and organization of the collection….THE GIRL WHO RODE A SHARK will serve as inspiration to all readers, especially female, empowering them to be their best selves and follow their hearts no matter how daunting the road—or ocean—might be.”

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Mighty Village

The Girl Who Rode a Shark & other Stories of Daring Women is an inspiring and informative collection of biographies from around the world. From artists, to pioneers, scientists, activists, athletes and seekers, this book is a must have for all kids to discover real examples of courage and perseverance….These extraordinary women will surely inspire the next generation of young readers, or readers of any age to be more brave and take action.”

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Sal’s Fiction Addiction

“Conversational in tone, and with lovely artwork throughout, this book is full of tales that are sure to inform and entertain. Every one of the women here were looking for adventure and wanting to learn more about the world and the time in which they lived.

The maps are a welcome addition, as is the beneficial glossary. Inspirational, it will surely encourage readers looking for more information.”

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