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Archive for the ‘Reviews’ Category

Easter Morning, Easter Sun Reviews

Posted on January 13th, 2021 by pajamapress

Kirkus Reviews

“Anderson tucks careful, child-friendly details into the simple compositions, rendering flora and fauna with greater realism than the bipedal, clothed felines. The fact that one of the assumed parent cats is a black cat is a nice change from the usual stereotypes around black cats. That the many mice (at least one of whom lives in the cats’ house) in the story live in harmony with—and even help—the cats is both entertaining and sweet. This Easter story focuses on things like springtime renewal as opposed to delving into the religious background of the holiday. Instructions for preparing decorated eggs close the book.

A simple, secular Easter story best suited for younger readers.”

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Cuckoo's Flight Reviews

Posted on January 12th, 2021 by pajamapress

Kirkus Reviews

Title: Cuckoo's Flight Author: Wendy Orr Publisher: Pajama Press“Told mostly from Clio’s point of view, the novel slides effortlessly between prose and poetry. It may take readers a few pages to enter the unfamiliar world, but the engaging storyline and characters make it worth their while. Most impressive is Orr’s ability to translate a worldview vastly different from our own. Memorable.”

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The Egyptian Mirror Reviews

Posted on January 6th, 2021 by pajamapress

Kirkus Reviews

The Egyptian Mirror's book cover features a silhouette of a running person and dog through a misty and darkly wooded area. Written by Michael Bedard.“Bedard’s fourth stand-alone novel set in the town of Caledon again focuses on a good-versus-evil plot structured around supernatural events. The place and setting are strongly developed as each clue quietly builds to a suspenseful climax, and the slow pace contributes to an old-fashioned feel. The technology in Simon’s world points to a 1980s setting: Computers, ultrasounds, TVs, and landline phones exist but not the internet or cellphones….A quiet story for patient readers.”

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School Library Journal

“Bedard’s story is an intriguing premise that doesn’t quite hit its mark….What should be a dark, exciting mystery is overshadowed with a lackluster narrative, providing an adequate but humdrum tale.”
–Emily Walker, Lisle Lib. Dist., IL

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Winnipeg Free Press

“Do you enjoy stories with a hint of dark magic, spells that threaten to trap you into a world of ancient sorcery? Then The Egyptian Mirror by acclaimed Toronto author Michael Bedard is the book for you….Bedard builds a feeling of impending disaster that threatens Simon and his friend Abbey as they watch a strange woman and an unfriendly black dog move into the old man’s home.”

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When Elephants Listen with Their Feet: Discover Extraordinary Animal Senses Reviews

Posted on January 6th, 2021 by pajamapress

Kirkus Reviews

An African elephant, rendered as a digital illustration, and a girl with brown skin walk side-by-side along a grassy path. The title of the book is When Elephants Listen with Their Feet. Written by Emmannuelle Grumndmann, illustrated by Clemence Dupont. Translated from the French original by Erin Woods.“Grundmann and Dupont highlight the ways in which various nonhuman animals display extraordinary sensory capabilities that human bodies lack….Small lessons in the science behind senses are interspersed amid the many short paragraphs about animals all over the planet. The text is graceful and often humorous, with an extensive vocabulary and fairly complex sentence structure….Overall, the book thoughtfully and exuberantly excites wonder in its readers. Sensational sensory stories.”

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A World of Mindfulness Reviews

Posted on October 16th, 2020 by pajamapress

Booklist

Cover: A World of Mindfulness From the Editors & Illustrators of Pajama Press

“This calming picture book is a collaboration between a number of Pajama Press’ editors and illustrators. Their styles differ, but all are soothing and promote thinking in the moment about one’s environment and feelings….The gentle writing and age-appropriate examples make this a useful book for little ones.”
— Miriam Aronin

Read the full review in the December 1, 2020 issue of Booklist

Publishers Weekly

“From the team behind A World of Kindness comes this picture book, which does double duty as a mindfulness guide. Fourteen artists illustrate, with a table of contents helpfully identifying the respective page numbers….The children have differing skin tones and hair textures, highlighting the universality of this effectively grounding read.”

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Kirkus Reviews

“Numerous artists illustrate words meant to ground readers in the moment….Designed to bring readers’ attention to what is occurring within and around them, the text reads like a guided meditation, beginning and ending with ‘I am here.’ Each spread features art by a different illustrator, varying in style, with bright colored-pencil drawings, soft watercolor paintings, mixed-media collage, and striking scenes in textured clay. The scenes represent the moments and experiences described in the text, and they feature children of diverse racial and cultural backgrounds. With its meditative words that encourage slow reading, this book can be used as a practical introduction to mindfulness meditation, as an example of the practice, and as a guide.”

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Postmedia

“Mindfulness practice, such as meditation and yoga, can be helpful to children making them feel calm, focused and more in control….This collaborative picture book is ‘dedicated to all children struggling to navigate our uncertain world.’”

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Winnipeg Free Press

“In a year when the pandemic has turned the whole world upside down, children may need familiar and comforting things to hold on to. Pajama Press has gathered 14 exceptional Canadian artists to project the calming feelings that can be invoked by our senses: smelling fresh grass, feeling the warmth of the sun, hearing the sound of birds or experiencing the joy of creating things and more.”

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The International Educator

“A meditative text, accompanied by beautiful images demonstrates the importance for children on being quiet and reflective some times. It shows how listening to birds can help quiet the snow storm in your head and help you to let go of anger. This picture book can help to lead children to practice yoga, meditation and general peace of mind.”

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CanLit for LittleCanadians

“Our world needs more mindfulness. With all the strife and worries, we need to become aware of the present, appreciate the now and bring calm. A World of Mindfulness will help all of us, but especially children, find that.

Fourteen illustrators provide artwork to complement Pajama Press editor Erin Alladin’s words. The text is sparse but impactful…Whether trying to permeate the text with the calm resulting from mindfulness or the wish to find joy or the angst that compels a need for mindfulness, the illustrators complete the messages of enlightenment and support in their medium of choice. There are coloured-pencil drawings, cut-paper art, digital illustration and more. As diverse as the ways to attain mindfulness, the illustrators of A World of Mindfulness explore the concept with their own form of creativity.

When Pajama Press came out with its first collaboratively-created picture book, A World of Kindness, it impressed all with its poignant messages and stunning and varied artwork. It ushered readers through recognizing the need for kindness, especially when faced with unkindness, and how to be kind. A World of Mindfulness similarly takes the reader on a journey of discovery, of how to find the calm within, of focusing on moments and tasks and of immersing oneself in the experience that is. Whether for quality of life or therapy, mindfulness works and so does A World of Mindfulness.”

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Canadian Bookworm

“Particularly this year, with the lack of structure and routine, proliferation of screen time, and societal anxiety, this book can help children stop and find balance and calm in their lives.

The illustrations are beautiful and show the beauty of our world and the diversity of our peoples. Each picture has lots of things to look at and can provide an image to meditate on. They celebrate our self, our natural world, small joys of life, and the act of creation and reflection.

This is a beautiful book and an apt one for this difficult year.”

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Sal’s Fiction Addiction

“As the Pajama Press team led by Gail Winskill did in A World of Kindness, they again combine stunning artwork with sensitive text to help young children find ‘warmth, peace and hope’ in difficult times. As 2020 winds down with a fervent hope for a better new year, this is a book that will resonate with all families….

The artwork is created in a variety of media, and is beautifully rendered to bring a sense of calm and to empower readers to take note of the world that surrounds them every day. The well-chosen words offer a chance to think about self, nature, feelings, movement, and place in that world….

Read slowly. Look carefully. Feel the calm as the world moves from one year to the next, with hope for better and a plan to find joy in the small things.”

Click here to read the full review

Duck Days Reviews

Posted on October 14th, 2020 by pajamapress

Youth Services Book Review

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

Cover: Duck Days Author: Sara Leach Illustrator: Rebecca Bender Publisher: Pajama Press

What did you like about the book? There’s so much I love about this book! Lauren is a relatable third grader who has a best friend Irma….Lauren also has autism, and regularly describes her feelings and reactions for the reader….All readers will be able to relate to her experiences navigating friendships, child stresses at school, and big emotions, and readers without autism will find many role models in the story for ways to connect with and support friends and family with autism without harping on it. Diversity is celebrated in the book – with Lauren, her friend Irma who is learning English, and supportive classmates with different skin colors. Black and white illustrations on most pages show both the events of the story as well as additional clues about characters’ emotions. The messages and theme of the story come across strongly even for young readers, but they are woven throughout the fantastic story to create an overall enjoyable reading experience.

To whom would you recommend this book? This would be an ideal read aloud for a class (probably 1st or 2nd grade). It would be great for adults to read with children (both on the autism spectrum and not) to support social emotional skills. I would also give it to kids who have read any of the picture books A Friend for Henry (Bailey), My Brother Charlie (Peete), All My Stripes (Rudolph), or Since We’re Friends (Shally) and are looking for something a bit longer, but are not ready for longer chapter books like Rain Reign (Martin) or A Boy Called Bat (Arnold)….

Should we (librarians) put this on the top of our ‘to read’ piles? Yes”
Sarah Bickel, Greenlodge Elementary School, Dedham Massachusetts

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Winnipeg Free Press

“From the author of the highly recommended Slug Days and Penguin Days, this early chapter book puts the reader squarely in the life of a child with Autism Spectrum Disorder….Sara Leach is a teacher-librarian from Whistler, B.C., who has worked with students who share Lauren’s condition and has been able to help them cope. Rebecca Bender, who added the sensitive, homey black-and-white illustrations, lives in Burlington, Ont., and is best known for her award-winning Giraffe and Bird books.”

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Canadian Review of Materials

“This story hit close to home as I have two children very close to me with ASD. Duck Days is accurate when portraying the challenges for a child who has “dragonflies” in her tummy when faced with something new. Showing Lauren being hesitant to try new foods, activities and not being in charge will be relatable for the readers.

Although Duck Days might read as a Kindergarten-grade 4 level book, I think it could be used as a teaching tool for even higher grades to address differences and challenges for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder. ASD is a lifelong disorder. You cannot change the fact that a person has ASD, but support can significantly improve the ability of that person to be successful in all areas of her/his life. This support is referred to as intervention (Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) – Canada.ca)

Having books like Duck Days available as a starting point for discussion with children who can relate and see themselves in Lauren’s behavior and thought process can only serve as essential tools for parents and teachers alike.

Recommended.”
Shelly Quade, the Talent Lab Manager for the Whistler Film Festival, is based in Halifax, Nova Scotia, where she helps train and promote Canadian storytellers from her remote office.

Click here to read the full review

The International Educator

Duck Days by Sara Leach is a novel for ages 7 – 11. Third grade student Lauren has Autism Spectrum Disorder and experiences some things a bit different from her friends….This book is part of a well written series for young kids on Autism and Asperger’s.”

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CanLit for LittleCanadians

“Author Sara Leach introduced young readers to Lauren, a young child living with Autism Spectrum Disorder, in Slug Days (2017) and Penguin Days (2018) and, with each new story we get to celebrate Lauren’s successes in developing coping strategies that give her the comfort to endure typical childhood situations from school to spending time with relatives to making new friends and keeping them. Though it’s evident that Lauren becomes uncomfortable with anything that detracts from her routines primarily as a result of her ASD, Sara Leach helps young readers see that anyone can use a little help when having a hard time. Most children do better with routines and the predictable and have worries about friendships and looking foolish. So while Sara Leach helps them understand some of the challenges faced by children with ASD, she also encourages them to find coping strategies, including visualization and focusing on breathing, to help get through uncomfortable or irregular circumstances.

Accompanied by the charming pencil and digitally-rendered artwork of Rebecca Bender whose illustrations have graced her own picture books like Giraffe and Bird Together Again and How Do You Feel?Duck Days will captivate early readers with both the familiarity and distinction of Lauren’s circumstances and recognize that being brave is in everyone.”

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Getting Kids Reading

Duck Days is a heart-warming chapter book for early readers. It’s the third in a series; the main character is Lauren, who has Autism Spectrum Disorder. All of the books are lovely reads about friendship, perseverance and the challenges life brings to us all. In Duck Days, Lauren uses the concepts of ‘go with the flow’ and ‘water off a duck’s back’ to help her deal with last-minute changes to her plans….

I’m going to add that even if your young reader doesn’t have the same mountains to climb as Lauren, Duck Days and the other books in the series, are a good choice.”

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Storytime with Stephanie

“Sara Leach kindly and matter of factly shares Lauren’s journey with readers. We learn the challenges that Lauren faces everyday at home and school. Readers will also recognize the same challenges that we all face during childhood: navigating friendships, persevering against bullies, being brave and trying new things. Everything Lauren does in Duck Days is very relatable to all children but this story also fosters empathy in those who do not have ASD….

Books like Duck Days and the companion stories Slug Days and Penguin Days are important for your readers to access. It is through learning stories about people who may be different from ourselves that we learn empathy, compassion and the richness of the human experience. I love the illustrations by Rebecca Bender….

I really hope to see this series continue. I want to read more about Lauren’s journey through life and how she and her friends will approach the challenges that come their way.”

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Canadian Bookworm

“Lauren learns about what it means to be brave, and how she can have more than one friend. I like to see how Lauren grows from book to book and becomes more confident in her abilities and tackles new challenges with the help of her family, friends, and teachers. As always with this series, the illustrations show both the events of the story as well as Lauren’s feelings. The facial expressions really work well to show how she feels in different situations here.”

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Jill’s Book Blog

“I loved the Autism representation in this story. Lauren had a lot of visual techniques to help figure out the world around her….Lauren helped Irma with her English, which showed some representation of the immigrant experience. Irma had to go to school and learn a language that she wasn’t familiar with, but she had the courage to do it every day. Lauren would correct Irma’s language, but at least Irma was trying to speak, even when she got it wrong. They were both brave little girls. This is a great children’s book!”

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Teaching Mrs. Muddle Reviews

Posted on October 14th, 2020 by pajamapress

School Library Journal

Cover: Teaching Mrs. Muddle Author: Colleen Nelson Illustrator: Alice Carter Publisher: Pajama Press“The first day of school can be scary and very, very confusing, and not just for the students….Nelson embraces the nervousness of walking into a school for the first time and blends those feelings with the antics of a hapless teacher who would get along just fine with Amelia Bedelia. Friendly and colorful illustrations depict a diverse group of students with a zany teacher at the helm…Children not yet old enough to read will be engrossed by the detailed images of all the places they may find in a school building. VERDICT This story is perfectly suited to settle some first day jitters, but will also be appreciated by teachers and parents who know what it takes to help children feel comfortable in new environments.”
—Erica Deb, Matawan Aberdeen P.L., NJ

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Kirkus Reviews

“It’s Kayla’s first day of kindergarten, and she’s riddled with anxiety about all the mistakes she’s sure she will make.

Then Kayla meets her teacher, Mrs. Muddle, and realizes that she might not be the only one learning the ropes….By the time the day is over, Kayla is confident in her ability to navigate her new school. Nelson’s narratorial voice is clear and charming, and the choice to illustrate Kayla as a dark-skinned girl of color is pleasing.”

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Canadian Children’s Book News

Teaching Mrs. Muddle by award-winning author Colleen Nelson and illustrated by Alice Carter, is a fun-loving, thoughtful picture book about first-day-of-school jitters, empowerment and personal growth, all housed within 32 colourful pages….

A former kindergarten teacher turned junior high school teacher, Nelson has astutely captured both the curiosity and nervousness that often accompanies kids when beginning something new. And Carter’s bright, delightfully whimsical illustrations bring Kayla and her new school world brilliantly to life. The choice to illustrate Kayla (and many of her classmates) as a dark-skinned person of colour is both refreshing and important. At the same time, Carter’s ability to expertly characterize the expressions, actions and emotions of Kayla, Mrs. Muddle and those around them adds to the giggle level of this charming read.

A practical resource for librarians, teachers and families, this timely book makes the grade as ideal reading for bringing the focus back to a love of learning, friendship and fun, perfect for engaging and encouraging children during these uncertain, challenging times.”
—Jennifer D. Foster

Read the full review in the Winter 2020 issue of Canadian Children’s Book News

CanLit for LittleCanadians

“Without making Kayla precocious or Mrs. Muddle outrageous, Colleen Nelson creates a very relatable school situation that is both engaging and charming. It’s giving Kayla and every child the opportunity to see that they embody far greater capabilities than they imagine they possess. Though this is Colleen Nelson’s first picture book, her impressive repertoire of both middle grade novels such as Harvey Comes Home and YA novels like The FallFinding Hope and Sadia have always cheered young people for their ability to face challenges, find solutions and make better lives for themselves than their circumstances might dictate. Even in a light but big-hearted story about finding your own way by helping others, Colleen Nelson drives home the conviction that young people can do so much.

That brightness of Colleen Nelson’s story and message about children’s potential to lead is emphatically portrayed in Alice Carter’s illustrations. Rich in the primary colours which will appeal to young children, Alice Carter makes what could have been a gloomy story about making mistakes or an incompetent teacher into an energized lesson in helping with heart and being confident.

Teaching Mrs. Muddle should become a must-read for parents sending little ones off to kindergarten but it will be also become a favourite for young children who will laugh at the muddled Mrs. Muddle and applaud Kayla for her cleverness and subtlety, recalling their own first times in new situations and satisfaction at handling them as well.”

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Youth Services Book Review

What did you like about the book? Kayla is nervous about her first day of kindergarten, but has so much fun at school she forgets about her worries. Mrs. Muddle, her teacher, makes mistake after mistake all day long, and Kayla and her new classmates must help her out. Kids will love laughing at the mistakes she makes, including giving out the wrong name tags, holding a book upside down during a read aloud, and taking the class all around the school and into many wrong rooms while looking for the gym and the bathrooms. Whether or not the reader knows that Mrs. Muddle’s ‘mistakes’ were on purpose, they will enjoy following her and the class all around the school. I appreciated the variety of skin colors in the characters, and the inclusion of a few male teachers. The illustrations add to the humor and really give the feel of a tour around an elementary school….

To whom would you recommend this book? This would be a perfect read aloud for a first day of kindergarten (or preschool, or first grade). I would also recommend it to adults to read with children who are nervous about starting school for the first time, or for young readers who like funny school stories.”
Sarah Bickel, Greenlodge Elementary School, Dedham Massachusetts

Click here to read the full review

Canadian Bookworm

“The illustrations were the best part of this book. They absolutely made the story come to life….From problems matching nametags to kids at the beginning of the day, to going to different rooms in the school as the day progressed, to using snacks as art supplies, the kids learn to work together to get things done and keep Mrs. Muddle organized….The endpapers are filled with more illustrations, alphabet pictures of letters and animals whose names start with the letters (or for Xx end with them).”

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Raven, Rabbit, Deer Reviews

Posted on October 14th, 2020 by pajamapress

Publishers Weekly ★ Starred Review

Cover: Raven, Rabbit, Deer Author: Sue Farrell Holler Ilustrator: Jennifer Faria“Acrylic and colored pencil artwork by debut illustrator Faria (Chippewas of Rama First Nation) startles with rich, startling winter sunset hues of fuschia, violet, and aqua….Holler’s story gains from the interplay of dimensions: the affectionate relationship between the boy and his grandfather, the growing vocabulary they share, and their slow-paced appreciation of the natural world.”

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School Library Journal

“Brilliant colors of the trees, animals, and characters contrast nicely with the white of the snow, and on several pages the late-day rainbow-colored sky is reflected on the ground. Whether or not children are close to their own elders, this beautiful picture book engages and delights. The grandfather points out animals in both English and Ojibwemowin; the illustrator is a member of the Chippewas of Rama First Nation. VERDICT An excellent addition to any school or public library, especially those looking to freshen up their picture book collections on the subject of winter.”
—Anne Jung-Mathews, Plymouth State Univ., NH

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The Horn Book Magazine

“This sweetly unassuming picture book is simultaneously a small wintertime adventure, a story of a loving intergenerational friendship, and an animal-identification book incorporating both English and Ojibwemowin vocabulary….Acrylic and colored-pencil illustrations vividly portray the snowy landscape as well as the boy and grandfather’s home; the bright yellow living room filled with mementos radiates love and warmth. Endpapers helpfully label the three animals with their English and Ojibwemowin names; the Ojibwemowin names are also spelled phonetically.”
—Nicholl Denice Montgomery

Read the full review in the January/February 2021 issue of The Horn Book Magazine

Canadian Review of Materials

Raven, Rabbit, Deer tells a sweet, intergenerational story through the eyes of a young Indigenous boy….

I enjoyed the almost childish and innocent illustrations by Jennifer Faria. The soft lines and gentle colours connect the reader (or viewer) to the tender inside the world of the young boy. The illustrations align perfectly with author Sue Farrell Holler’s words and invite us to walk with the boy and his grandpa on that glorious winter afternoon….

Raven, Rabbit, Deer serves as a window for Indigenous children to see themselves and their families in the story. It also serves as a window for everyone in the classroom to learn about Indigenous ways of knowing and being. There is a thoughtful glossary with pictures as well to teach readers the proper pronunciations of raven, rabbit, and deer in Ojibwemowin. If you are considering setting up a multicultural and multilingual classroom library, I highly recommend adding this piece to your collection.

Highly Recommended.”
Emma Chen is a Ph.D. student with a research focus on immigrant children’s heritage language education at University of Saskatchewan.

Click here to read the full review

Postmedia

“An extraordinary nature picture book for young children is Raven, Rabbit, Deer by Sue Farrell Holler….This delightful book is ideal to share with a child anytime, but particularly during winter.”
—Glenn Perrett

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CanLit for LittleCanadians

“At its heart, Raven, Rabbit, Deer is a story about a grandfather and young grandson taking a walk in the snow. But simple pleasures and company are often bigger than they might appear, and that can be said for Raven, Rabbit, Deer as well….

Though Raven, Rabbit, Deer is culturally informative with its inclusion of Ojibwemowin, author Sue Farrell Holler has not created it as a picture book of vocabulary as much as a story of a touching inter-generational relationship. As grandfather and grandson walk and chat, they each give and take something different and yet together….The child sees the wonder of the natural world while the grandfather sees its reality, instead appreciating the wonder of his grandson’s perspective. By focusing on the relationship and the sensory nature of that walk, Sue Farrell Holler makes Raven, Rabbit, Deer more personal and less informative than it could have been by another pen.

Similarly, debut picture book illustrator Jennifer Faria takes that heartfelt relationship and organic walk in a winter park and makes it into something warm and embracing….Using acrylic paint and coloured pencil, Jennifer Faria has given Raven, Rabbit, Deer a boldness of colour and shape but with an understated edge that complements Sue Farrell Holler’s story and intensifies it.

In Raven, Rabbit, Deer, or gaagaagi, waabooz, waawaashkeshi as would be in Ojibwemowin, Sue Farrell Holler and Jennifer Faria have let us enjoy an outing with a grandfather and his grandson and feel the warmth of that harmonious connection between people and with place.”

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Canadian Bookworm

“This picture book is a beauty….I loved how the end papers showed the three animals of the title, showed the tracks they make, and gave their names in Ojibwemowin with a pronunciation guide….The drawings were great, with expressive faces and simple and colourful images of the world. A great book for the coming season.”

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The International Educator

Raven, Rabbit, Deer by Sue Farrell Holler is a brand new release….grandfather teaches the boy which animals make which tracks as well as the Ojibwemowin names of the animals.”

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Snow Days Reviews

Posted on October 6th, 2020 by pajamapress

Publishers Weekly

Cover: Snow Days Author: Deborah Kerbel Illustrator Miki Sato Publisher: Pajama Press“Kerbel’s couplets include both concrete details and more poetic abstractions. Sato’s deceptively simple illustrations are almost tangible in their layers, showcasing an array of stitches, paper finishes, and fabric surfaces, and depicting an inclusive cast. Back matter features five ‘fun experiments’ with snow.”

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Kirkus Reviews

“Simple rhyming couplets explore the myriad experiences snowfall brings, from the revelatory joy of the first snow to the somber goodbye of winter….The colorful collage illustrations strongly utilize texture to create depth and visual interest. The materials used to create the outerwear and accessories are especially realistic and invite closer inspection. Timid blooms peeking through melting snow end the book with a hopeful promise of spring. A playful celebration of wintry weather.”

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Foreword Reviews

“From the first snowfall of the year to the sprouting of spring, Snow Days walks through the magic of winter in charming rhyming couplets. Meticulous paper and fabric cutouts form illustrations that seem to leap off of the page…”
—Danielle Ballantyne

Read the full review in the November/December 2020 issue of Foreword Reviews

Quill & Quire

“The text is poetic but accessible, and compact without feeling hasty. It affirms the experiences of young winter veterans, while also being instructional for little newcomers as to why Frosty cannot always be constructed on a whim.

Sato uses paper and fabric collage for the illustrations, creating a striking juxtaposition between the textures of snow (mostly paper) and winter clothes (mostly fabric). Sato also demonstrates the surprising range of white paper: after showcasing the predictable, traditional snowflake cut-out on the first page, tiny haphazard shards evoke ‘Blowing flakes of frosted light’ and crinkled sheets that resemble plasticine represent the coveted packing snow.”

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CM Magazine

Snow Days is about the magic of winter through the eyes of a child. With each page, children are seen taking part in various winter activities, such as skating, making snow angels, and building snow forts. Instead of depicting winter as sad and cold, winter is described as a wondrous season filled with many opportunities to enjoy the outside, even when there is a blizzard….Young readers will become excited for the first snow of the year with this delightful story. Highly Recommended.”
Julia Pitre is a children’s librarian with London Public Library in London, Ontario.

Postmedia

“The rhyming text, complemented by quality illustrations, looks at the various types of snow including the first snow, powder snow, Christmas snow, packing snow and last snow.”

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CanLit for LittleCanadians

“Deborah Kerbel begins her story with the delight of children taking in the first snow of the season. With arms upraised and mouths agape, perhaps to catch a few of Miki Sato’s extraordinary snowflakes, the warmly-dressed children revel in the splendour of the snow….Whether it be powder snow or packing snow, blizzard snow or Christmas snow–a particularly special kind– or even frozen snow and slush and sleet, Deborah Kerbel invites little ones to savour each as a sensory experience of touch and feel….

Miki Sato’s three-dimensional illustrations, created with cut-paper collage, reflects Deborah Kerbel’s textured text, making us feel the iciness of packed snow and the dampness of mittens, amidst the piles of different snows. Just as each snow day is different, Miki Sato’s children and landscapes are as varied and diverse….

With our own snow days upon us, enjoy Deborah Kerbel and Miki Sato’s exploration in words and art and even consider the handful of experiments for very young children suggested at the end. It may be a little cold and get a little wet but the adventure will be worth it.”

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Fab Book Reviews

Snow Days, written by award-winning Canadian author Deborah Kerbel (My Deal With the UniverseSun Dog with Suzanne Del Rizzo), and Japanese-Canadian illustrator Miki Sato (Golden Threads with Suzanne Del Rizzo) team up to bring readers the gorgeously cozy rhyming story Snow Days….With Miki Sato’s gorgeous and cheerful multi-textured, paper collage images (be sure take a close-up look at the snowflakes!) and Deborah Kerbel’s precise and lively rhythmic couplets, Snow Days is a snuggly, bouncy and softly reflective reading experience- and one that is truly perfect for reading aloud. Additionally, at the book’s end, five simple science experiment involving snow are offered- just right for any potential snow days ahead!”

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Canadian Bookworm

“This delightful picture book looks at all the different kinds of snow and the things that one can do with it, in it and because of it….Sato’s illustrations, using paper and fabric in collage, add a lovely dimension to the book.  The book closes with five fun activities you can undertake with your child to further explore the world and wonder of snow.”

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The Library Bus Reviews

Posted on September 8th, 2020 by pajamapress

School Library Journal ★ Starred Review

Cover: The Library Bus Author: Bahram Rahman Illustrator: Gabrielle Grimard Publisher: Pajama Press

“Villages and refugee camps in Kabul are visited by the area’s only library bus in this picture book that celebrates the continued fight of Afghani women for education….An author’s note follows, explaining refugee camps, growing up under the Taliban, and the author’s personal admiration of female teachers in their pursuit of an education. The conversational text is great for one-on-one sharing, but this will also come in handy at story times, for a celebration of reading, and for a glimpse of Afghani culture.”

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The New York Times

“In a story inspired by the first library bus in Kabul, Afghanistan, where Rahman grew up during the civil war, it brings books to girls in remote villages and refugee camps who have no other access to education. When it arrives, their cheeks blush with hope, like Pari’s magenta dress against Grimard’s richly nuanced saffron sand and sky.”

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Booklist

“Illustrations in warm-hued watercolors depict the buildings in the old city nestled in the mountains ‘like the embroidered scarfs in the Grand Bazaar,’ which contrasts with the dusty tents of the camp. The girls’ individualized faces and emotions will establish a bond with children everywhere as Rahman celebrates the brave and resourceful Afghani women teachers from his childhood who found creative ways to educate girls.”
—Lolly Gepson

Read the full review in the October 1, 2020 issue of Booklist

Kirkus Reviews

“Grimard’s illustrations pair well with Rahman’s words, from the sun rising over the mountains in the morning against an atmospheric sky to the dusty camp area with tents labeled UNHCR. Pari, her mom, and many girls cover their hair. In the backmatter, the author, an Afghan refugee himself now living in Canada, offers a personal message, which is accompanied by a brief note about refugee camps.

An inspiring story that conveys the power of education—paying it forward and meeting avid readers where they are.”

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The Horn Book Guide, “Book Bundles: Finding Hope”

“Rahman, who grew up in wartime Afghanistan, states that ‘all of the characters [in this fictional story] are inspired by the children that I met during my visits to refugee camps and orphanages in Kabul.’ The reassuring watercolor and digital illustrations help convey Rahman’s assertion that ‘when you are born in war, you are truly unaware of the alternative, peace. War is your normal.’”
—Kitty Flynn

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Shelf Awareness

“Bahram Rahman, who worked as a gender equality activist in Afghanistan, delicately portrays in his first picture book the continued effects of the Taliban’s prohibition on female education. Yet it is with profound hope and drive that Rahman depicts his characters…With her watercolor illustrations, Gabrielle Grimard (Stolen Words illustrator) evokes natural movement, suggests soft textures and depicts the beauty of dusty landscapes dotted with brightly painted buildings. Closed with an author’s note sharing his connection to the story, The Library Bus extols the soaring spirit of those who value learning.”
—Samantha Zaboski, freelance editor and reviewer

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Quill & Quire

“The majority of Canadian children – though shamefully not all – can take for granted the availability of books at home or in schools and local libraries. Two new picture books, both told from the perspective of children, are set in war-ravaged countries where access to books is anything but a given….The Library Bus introduces readers to the brave women in contemporary Afghanistan who run mobile schools and libraries to teach young girls and provide them with reading and writing materials….

Bahram Rahman’s The Library Bus is inspired by growing up in Afghanistan and by the children he met during visits to orphanages and camps in Kabul….

The dangers and obstacles that still exist for girls getting an education in Afghanistan are not emphasized; Rahman instead refers back to the education of Pari’s mother by her father, which had to be conducted in utter secrecy. In the afterword, the author mentions the inspiration he drew from the real-life children he met. Gabrielle Grimard’s characteristically warm style and her animated representation of Pari and the other children beautifully brings to life the vitality and potential of the girls in the book.”

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Asian Review of Books

“Although the book deals with heavy and complex themes, there is still a lightness to the story that attracts and engages young readers. While the circumstances around the library bus in the villages and refugee camps are sobering, Pari’s enthusiasm for a library bus is joyous….

Rahman provides a number of opportunities for young audiences to engage with the story: an author’s note that follows the story gives some insight into Rahman’s childhood, while another note provides an introduction to refugee camps.

The illustrations by Gabrielle Grimard are equally appealing and capture Rahman’s tone and the power of books and education, while celebrating the bond between mother and daughter.”
—Melanie Ho is the author of Journey to the West: He Hui, a Chinese Soprano in the World of Italian Opera.

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The International Examiner

“Bahram Rahman’s The Library Bus is set in Afghanistan and tells the story of a little girl, Pari, and her mother who take a library bus filled with notebook, pencils, and books to villages and refugee camps so young girls can become literate….The story is simple and heartwarming and underscores the importance of literacy and schooling for girls and gently points to the political challenges—repressive regimes, poverty, refugee camps—that preclude education for young girls….

[A] beautifully illustrated heartwarming narrative that will appeal to young children, especially at bed-time….welcome additions to any child’s library.”

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Montreal Review of Books

The Library Bus reminds us what a luxury it is to learn to read. Set in Kabul, Bahram Rahman’s first picture book takes us on a journey – a library bus journey – to Afghanistan, bringing books and teaching English to children in the small villages and refugee camps where there are no schools for girls….Award-winning illustrator Gabrielle Grimard brings this story to life with water-colour paintings of the refugee camps, villages, and the little children who live there.”

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CM Magazine

“The text sweetly follows young Pari as she assists her mother and learns a little bit about why her mother runs a library bus. When her mother was young, girls were not allowed to read, and so her father taught her in secret….

More than anything, The Library Bus is a slice-of-life book that takes the reader through a typical day of an Afghani library bus. Along the way, the story subtly drops points of information that will leave readers with much to think about and discuss. This book is notable for depicting Afghanistan without fear or violence. The only reference to hardship is the description of the refugee camp mother and daughter visit, and, even then, dust and patched clothes are only briefly mentioned. The author’s Afterword provides clear reasoning for doing so and may influence adult readers to reconsider some of their own assumptions.

The illustrations, created using watercolour and digital media, are lovely and bring the setting to life….The Library Bus is a gentle day-in-the-life book that introduces readers to a beautiful country. Highly Recommended.”
Sadie Tucker is a children’s librarian at the Vancouver Public Library.

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Postmedia

“This nicely illustrated picture book looks at the importance of education for everyone. At the end of the book the author writes about what it was like growing up in Afghanistan. There is also ‘A Note About Refugee Camps.’”

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The International Educator

The Library Bus by Bahram Rahman is a picture book, a gently told story of Pari and her mother who operates a library bus in Afghanistan….A great read to discuss the plight of refugees with young children.”

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Canadian Bookworm

“This picture book was written by a Canadian who immigrated here from Afghanistan and was inspired to document the struggle for education faced by not only the women in his family, but for thousands of others….The illustrations were lovely, with the girls seen as individuals and the eagerness clearly portrayed. I loved the colours used here as well. And, of course, how could I not love a book about libraries and their importance.”

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Sal’s Fiction Addiction

“Hopeful stories impact each of us in these troubled times….Warm and inviting artwork, done in watercolor and digital media, allows readers a chance to appreciate both setting and characters. The author’s note adds context for the telling, and an information box explains the need for camps to house refugees.”

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