Pajama Press

Archive for the ‘Reviews’ Category

The Undercover Book List Reviews

Posted on July 27th, 2021 by pajamapress

Kirkus Reviews

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

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On the Line Reviews

Posted on July 27th, 2021 by pajamapress

Kirkus Reviews

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

Young Jackson Moore comes from a family of hockey players who swap goal stories at dinner. Grandpa tells Jackson, “You’ve got Moore in your blood. You’ll be great!” But Jackson isn’t so sure, and his first efforts leave him flat on the ice. The other kids think he’s too big and uncoordinated for their team. But they have problems of their own—their mismatched gear will prevent them from competing in the Winterfest Tournament. Jackson, it seems, is good at making plans. His first effort to become a better skater doesn’t pan out, but then he puts his talents toward supporting the team with the gear they need. He finds his true calling and acceptance by the team. Scratchy, bright cartoon illustrations portray a diverse cast of characters, from the team to the audience in the stands. Jackson and his family present White; the coach has brown skin. Bright swathes of greens and blues are punctuated by oranges and yellows, powering a vibrant, eye-catching palette….An author’s note offers additional insight to the origin of Jackson’s story.

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

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Youth Services Book Review

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

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

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A Smile Reviews

Posted on July 27th, 2021 by pajamapress

Kirkus Reviews

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

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Independent Book Reviews

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

North Somerset Teachers’ Book Award

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

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Picture Book Snob

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

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Library Lady

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

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Listen Up! Train Song Reviews

Posted on July 8th, 2021 by pajamapress

School Library Journal ★ Starred Review

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

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

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Kirkus Reviews

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

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

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

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Youth Services Book Review

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

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The Cow Said BOO! Reviews

Posted on July 7th, 2021 by pajamapress

Kirkus Reviews

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

An infectious seasonal read-aloud.”

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Youth Services Book Review

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

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

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On the Line Reviews

Posted on June 29th, 2021 by pajamapress

Kirkus Reviews

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

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

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

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Hello, Dark Reviews

Posted on June 29th, 2021 by pajamapress

Kirkus Reviews

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

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

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

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Sunny Days Reviews

Posted on May 26th, 2021 by pajamapress

School library Journal ★ Starred Review

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

Kirkus Reviews

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

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

Booklist

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

YA Books Central

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

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

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Canadian Children’s Booknews

Morning Sun, golden skies

Softly waking sleepy eyes

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

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

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

Setting sun, rosy sky

Blow today a kiss goodbye

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

Theo Heras

Harley the Hero Reviews

Posted on May 25th, 2021 by pajamapress

Kirkus Reviews


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

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Foreword Reviews

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

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Canadian Review of Materials

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

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

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Youth Services Book Review

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

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CanLit for Little Canadians

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

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

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If Only… Reviews

Posted on March 17th, 2021 by pajamapress

School Library Journal Starred Review

“Implied messages about imagination and finding satisfaction in your own special abilities are there for children to interpret as they choose. Van Hout employs painted papers in the style of Eric Carle to collage plants and critters and places them on backdrops washed in vibrant, translucent color. The result is spread after spread of exuberantly busy, beautiful life. A glossary with one to two sentences of information about each featured animal is included, as are instructions for making painted papers and collage. VERDICT A visual delight, this picture book offers openings for conversation about wishes, predictions, and one’s own enviable strengths.”
Jan Aldrich Solow

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Booklist Starred Review

Cover: If Only... Author: Mies van Hout Publisher: Pajama Press“The imaginative narrative guides viewers through a series of richly colorful, dynamic collages, each showcasing a creature and its particularly enviable ability, characteristic, or situation. In an appended section, Van Hout presents an illustrated glossary with a relevant fact or two about each animal, as well as an art project advising kids on creating their own collage creatures by sliding scraps of paper around ‘until you feel happy,’ a possible insight into her own creative process and one that may explain how a picture book based on longing manages to express such delight in the natural world. Originally published in the Netherlands, this radiant picture book has international appeal.”
— Carolyn Phelan

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Kirkus Reviews

“Every spread, crafted with striking paper-collage illustrations reminiscent of the work of Eric Carle and Denise Fleming, glows with red, blue, green, and yellow hues and provides an entrance to an intricate and appealing environment specific to the creature….The racially diverse children who appear in the initial and final pages are active, smiling, curious, a part of the natural world themselves, and they feature similar abilities of their own. This gentle celebration of differences also promotes an appreciation of others’ strengths and quietly emphasizes relationships within the animal kingdom.

A colorful introduction to the natural sciences featuring warm and inviting illustrations. (glossary, art tips)”

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Canadian Review of Materials

“Nature comes alive in Mies Van Hout’s dazzling collage illustrations that are rich in colour and details. Flowers have textured, patterned designs and seem to be in motion. The park-like setting is a clever landscape to explore the “grass isn’t always greener on the other side” adage.

This circular tale comes to a satisfying and thoughtful ending when a dragonfly wants to be a child, explaining, “Then I could run, jump, laugh, play hide-and-seek, count, build houses … and so much more!” Instead of concentrating on what others have, the final spread shows a diverse group of children celebrating their own unique abilities. The grass just might be the greenest where you water it.”

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YA Books Central

“IF ONLY… is an intriguing picture book that ultimately encourages readers to be happy with who they are. The book begins with a child thinking that if they were only a butterfly, they could fly anywhere. The butterflies are thinking that if only they were a stick insect, they would blend in better. This continues on until a bug is thinking about being a child.

This was an intriguing concept, and I appreciated the ultimate message along the lines of the grass is always greener… This was unique with its walk through different bugs and insects, giving facts and features about them along the way.

The pages turn really fast with each page having one if only phrase. This makes it great for toddlers through elementary school readers. The circle that starts with a child and goes through the bugs before coming back to children is a fun journey that will resonate with young readers.

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Mrs. Book Dragon

“What a beautiful story that is equally beautifully illustrated. The message of this story is to show that you may look at others and wish you had what they had, but you should celebrate what makes you, you. This message is so important for our youth-to celebrate and value yourself and what makes you unique.”