My Puppy Patch Reviews

Posted on April 5th, 2019 by pajamapress

Kirkus Reviews

Cover: My Puppy Patch Author: Theo Heras Illustrator: Alice Carter Publisher: Pajama Press“A young child is confident a new puppy will adhere to newly learned rules on a first outing beyond the backyard fence….Fundamentals of puppy training and pet ownership are the underlying themes…Carter supplies attractive illustrations done with colored pencil, watercolor, and digital media against a stark white background. The narrator presents white and Benny black; the narrator’s jewel-toned, print dress is especially attractive. The genuine love expressed between owner and pet fortifies the responsibilities Patch’s owner undertakes.”

Click here to read the full review

CM Magazine

My Puppy Patch is a wonderful story that introduces, or reinforces, how to care for and train a new puppy. It takes patience, consistency, and love on the part of the little girl to ensure that her new pet will be safe on an excursion beyond the gate. The language and pacing is perfect for the very young, and Patch’s antics throughout keep the story engaging and not overtly didactic….

Alice Carter’s illustrations are a delight….Especially cute are the puppies, whose personalities come out through the soft fur and expressive faces.

My Puppy Patch would be a great choice for a family looking to bring a new dog into the home or for any child who loves pets. Just enough tension, adorable pictures, and a sweet and simple story make it perfect for multiple read-throughs.

Highly Recommended.”
Amber Allen

Click here to read the full review

The Castle in the Sea Reviews

Posted on April 5th, 2019 by pajamapress

Kirkus Reviews

Cover: The Castle in the Sea Author: Mardi McConnochie Publisher: Pajama Press“Will and Annalie continue the search for their dad in the middle installment of an Australian eco-thriller trilogy (The Flooded Earth, 2018)….While they quest for Spinner and his research into geo-engineering the Flood, the children avoid the wicked forces of the Admiralty and survive all manner of adventures: a storm at sea, stranding on a deserted island, capture by pirates, arrest by immigration officers, and having to eat some pretty gross bugs….A post-apocalyptic disaster story with the cozy feel of Swallows and Amazons.”

Click here to read the full review

School Library Journal

“Readers will be engrossed in this action-packed adventure story and will eagerly await the next installment. VERDICT A satisfying, high-stakes sequel. Recommended for middle grade collections that own the first novel.”
—Marissa Lieberman, East Orange Public Library, NJ

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

CM Magazine

The Castle in the Sea continues the highly suspenseful adventure, strong characterization, and intriguing speculation on a very real-seeming future that made The Flooded Earth so satisfying. The endless variety of post-Flood nations, from the northern oasis of Norlind to the squalor of Brundisi to the crime-infested anarchy of the pirate island Dasto Puri, are described in fascinating detail, rendering them both strange and familiar. Parallels with our contemporary world are poignant, from the callous indifference to climate refugees to the materialistic world of Essie’s rich parents, yet the book is never moralizing, instead relying on constant action to propel it forward….

But again, it is the incredible and thrilling pace of the story, and the almost effortless flow for the reader, that make this book as likeable and compelling as it is profound and thought-provoking….The final installment in the trilogy cannot come too soon!

Highly Recommended.”
—Todd Kyle

Click here to read the full review

Pencil: A Story with a Point Interviews

Posted on April 3rd, 2019 by pajamapress

Cover: Pencil: A Story with a Point Author: Ann Ingalls Illustrator: Dean Griffiths Publisher: Pajama Press

Picture Book Builders interview with author Ann Ingalls and illustrator Dean Griffiths

24 Carrot Writing interview with author Ann Ingalls

Before You Were Born Reviews

Posted on April 3rd, 2019 by pajamapress

School Library Journal

Cover: Before You Were Born Author: Deborah Kerbel Illustrator: Suzanne Del Rizzo Publisher: Pajama Press“A gorgeous, captivating, and moving story, this book will touch the hearts and mesmerize the eyes of readers both young and old. VERDICT New parents will love reading this book as they prepare for and welcome new additions to their home. Additionally, art students will relish the complexity and unique nature of the presentation.”
—Mary Lanni, Denver Public Library

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

Publishers Weekly

“Kerbel’s lullabylike verses draw allusions between moments in nature and a family’s anticipation of a new baby…Del Rizzo brings eye-catching allure to Kerbel’s wistful welcome.”

Click here to read the full review

Kirkus Reviews

“[T]he metaphors will surely strike a chord…And the ending is both beautifully illustrated and poignant…Del Rizzo’s polymer clay–and–acrylic wash artwork is the star here, adding texture and depth to the scenes, which show animals, many with babies, in their natural habitats.”

Click here to read the full review

CM Magazine

“This breathtaking weave of prose and stunning artwork pulls at the heartstrings from start to finish. Following the seasons found in nature, the reader meets several animals that live near the family’s seaside home. The text is written in the form of a love letter from expectant parents to their new arrival. A young child would rejoice in the love that oozes from this book to know that s/he was, in fact, special, loved and greatly anticipated before s/he was even born….

Suzanne Del Rizzo illustrates each animal with immaculate detail and grace….Not only are the animals displayed in great beauty, but so are the scenes in which they live, such as the forest of silver birches, fields of wildflowers, the calm waters reflecting the sunset and the mist resting on a fresh stream.

Overall, an expectant couple will relate to the many feelings of anticipation and love as they read the velvety prose and feast upon the artwork….These often-indescribable feelings are celebrated within this text and fully put into words what so many new parents are trying to explain. Beautifully, the changes in season also reflect the change coming soon for their family, yet it is not portrayed as negative or uncertain but instead shows how seasons of life come and go in unique beauty.

Highly Recommended.”
—Johanna Beaumont

Click here to read the full review

CanLit for LittleCanadians

“Books are wildly popular baby shower gifts and Before You Were Born will be a hit with parents and children alike so consider it your future go-to book for celebrating an upcoming birth.

In gorgeous spreads of polymer clay illustrations by Suzanne Del Rizzo, animals including humans, foxes, bears, deer, whales and birds like the northern flicker are seen to make their homes but it’s all about the anticipation of new arrivals….

This is the second collaboration for Deborah Kerbel and Suzanne Del Rizzo. Their first book together, Sun Dog (Pajama Press, 2018), is charming young readers as a Blue Spruce award nominee and Before You Were Born will undoubtedly captivate young children and the parents who adore them.

Dedicate a new birth with Before You Were Born, a book that is born in a celebration of life.”

Click here to read the full review

Girl of the Southern Sea Reviews

Posted on March 13th, 2019 by pajamapress

Booklist

Book Cover: Girl of the Southern Sea Author: Michelle Kadarusman Publisher: Pajama Press

“In this contemporary tale set in the slums of Jakarta, Indonesia, a talented girl resolves to become a writer in spite of poverty, her father’s alcoholism, and grief over her mother’s death….In spare and elegant prose, Kadarusman weaves a quiet tale of survival, grit, and integrity. As Nia struggles to decide between right and wrong, she also takes care of her sibling, confronts the male figures in her life, and builds supportive relationships with female characters. Peppered throughout are stories that Nia crafts, based on Indonesian legends about the princess of the Southern Sea. With nuanced characters, this is a lovely gem for fans of irrepressible girls and contemporary stories set outside of the U.S.”
— Shelley M. Diaz

Read the full review in the April 2019 issue of Booklist

School Library Journal

“A gripping, emotional realistic novel describing the grim realities of growing up in Indonesian poverty. A glossary of Indonesian words is included at the front of the book and a map provides the location of the story’s setting. The author’s note explains how the seeds of this story were planted long ago when Kadarusman observed poverty while traveling with her family to her father’s hometown in West Java. VERDICT A riveting read featuring a determined and talented teenager.”
—Helen Foster James, University of California at San Diego

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

Kirkus Reviews

“Punctuating Nia’s thoughtful, present-tense narration with her stories about Dewi, Kadarusman effectively weaves a gentle tale of love and loss and illuminates the power of storytelling. A thought-provoking peek into a culture deserving of more attention in North America.”

Click here to read the full review

Foreword Reviews

“A stark setting combines with striking characters as they struggle to survive, often engaging in dangerous or unethical activities to earn enough money to live. The choices that the characters make are reflections upon questions of right and wrong in an environment where basic needs are never guaranteed to be met. Nia’s life may not seem like it is in her own hands, but she proves to be a strong young woman, even if the challenges she faces are overwhelming. The novel does not offer simple solutions but instead wraps up Nia’s story in a way that demonstrates her willingness and ability to stand up for herself.

Girl of the Southern Sea is an uplifting novel about hope and the power of storytelling.”
—Catherine Thureson

Read the full review in the May/June 2019 issue of Foreword Reviews

CM Magazine

“Nia is a wonderful character – resilient, courageous and independent. She is self-motivated and determined to one day complete her education and become a writer….

There are important themes in the novel as the author looks at the role poverty plays in the life of a young girl. The rights of girls and women are also an important aspect of the story. As well, the importance of a good education is central to the book. Nia’s big dream is to attend high school when she can afford it. This will come as a surprise to most young Canadians who take for granted a high school education.

The setting of Jakarta is almost another character in the novel. Readers are immersed in the sights, sounds and smells of the city slums. Readers also begin to understand some of the culture as they watch Nia’s daily activities at home and in the city around her….

Young adult readers in the junior grades will find Girl of the Southern Sea an entertaining and interesting novel. A glossary of Indonesian terms and a map will help with comprehension. The novel would be an excellent starting point from which to study Indonesian culture as well as the effects of poverty on young women in Indonesia and elsewhere in the world. In fact, the author will be donating a portion of her royalties to Plan International’s Because I Am A Girl campaign, and Pajama Press will match her donation.

Highly Recommended.”
—Ann Ketcheson, a retired secondary school teacher-librarian and teacher of English and French, lives in Ottawa, Ontario.

Click here to read the full review

Queenie Quail Can’t Keep Up Interviews

Posted on March 1st, 2019 by pajamapress

Dawn Babb Prochovnic interview with author Jane Whittingham

Celebrate Picture Books interview with author Jane Whittingham

Ben and the Scaredy-Dog Teaching Guide

Posted on January 25th, 2019 by pajamapress

Cover: Ben and the Scaredy-Dog Author: Sarah Ellis Illustrator: Kim La Fave Publisher: Pajama PressClick here to download the Ben and the Scaredy-Dog reading guide

Sapphire the Great and the Meaning of Life Teaching Guides

Posted on January 24th, 2019 by pajamapress

Cover: Sapphire the Great and the Meaning of Life Author: Beverley Brenna Illustrator: Tara Anderson

Click here to download Beverley Brenna’s teaching guide
for Sapphire the Great and the Meaning of Life

Penguin Days Interviews

Posted on January 21st, 2019 by pajamapress

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

Pique News Magazine interview with author Sara Leach

A Good Day for Ducks Activities

Posted on January 7th, 2019 by pajamapress

Cover: A Good Day for Ducks Author: Jane Whittingham Illustrator: Noel Tuazon Publisher: Pajama Press

Click here to download the A Good Day for Ducks colouring page

Paula Knows What To Do Reviews

Posted on January 3rd, 2019 by pajamapress

Kirkus Reviews

“When a young girl’s father is too sad to get out of bed, she paints him a picture and the two go on an imaginary adventure together….Author/illustrator Dufft’s watercolor illustrations skillfully combine an assured, realistic watercolor style to portray Paula and her father, with a rudimentary childlike stroke to visually highlight the imaginative adventure. Light and shadow are used to great effect to convey mood…A gentle, touching story of loss and resilience and of the beneficial role imagination plays, with visually intelligent and well-executed illustrations.”

Click here to read the full review

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 simple story about a little girl who decides to cheer up her family after the loss of her mother. In the story it says that mommy is gone so you never really know if it involves death or divorce but there is a loss that is making the father sad so it can work either way….Their adventures take them flying in the sky and then a soft landing right back into her father’s bed. This does cheer up her father and he makes coffee and hot chocolate and they sit looking at her beautiful pictures. You really have a feeling that, although they are both sad, things will be better as long as they are there for each other….

To whom would you recommend this book? Perfect for children between the ages of two and five and definitely a great book to start a conversation about dealing with a loss….

Should we (librarians/readers) put this on the top of our “to read” pile? Yes”
Kristin Guay, Centerville Library, Centerville, MA

Click here to read the full review

CM Magazine

“Watercolour illustrations depict the naturalistic figures of a small child in pajamas and her unshaven father who are taken from a bedroom and whirled up into an imaginary adventure. The backdrops move from the cosily domestic to open blue water to the dark, forbidding skies of the storm. The spread near the beginning which shows Paula kneeling on the floor to start her painting of the sailboat, with a wide-eyed teddy bear looking on, is especially affecting. There is a clever repetition of a large white expanse of cloth with prominent red dots which functions both as Daddy’s bedsheet and the sail of the painting-inspired boat….

Paula Knows What to Do, a gentle piece of bibliotherapy…would be useful in discussions of feelings and of the loss of a parent. Recommended.”
—Ellen Heaney is a retired children’s librarian living in Coquitlam, British Columbia

Click here to read the full review

Sal’s Fiction Addiction

“Gently told, visually lovely with its range of color and light, and uplifting, children will be happy to know that father and daughter can weather the storm that loss brings.”

Click here to read the full review

Penguin Days Reviews

Posted on December 11th, 2018 by pajamapress

Kirkus ReviewsCover: Penguin Days Author: Sara Leach Illustrator: Rebecca Bender Publisher: Pajama Press

“Lauren, who has autism spectrum disorder, is back for a second outing following Slug Days (2017)….A scratchy dress, a little vomit, and an accidental fall into the calves’ stall will all get in the way, although Lauren’s dislike of new situations and a bad case of stage fright are the biggest challenges. Lauren relates her prickly feelings in a believably forthright voice that offers readers welcome insight into her perspective….

Bender’s soft, gentle illustrations expand and illuminate Lauren’s narrative. Plenty of white space and short chapters make this empathetic effort extra accessible to a broad audience….

Another fine and enlightening peek into Lauren’s unique, often challenging world that displays her differences but highlights the needs she shares with all children: love, acceptance and friendship. (Fiction. 5-9)”

Click here to read the full review

Booklist

“A trip to a North Dakota farm for Auntie Joss’ wedding? That’s not easy for eight-year-old Lauren, who has autism spectrum disorder, as she must deal with unwelcome changes in her routine, as well as boisterous cousins and other unfamiliar family members. Remembering suggestions from her “special-helper teacher,” she tries to be polite while controlling the tension building within her. When she freezes before walking down the aisle as flower girl, her cousins rally to give her just the help she needs, and Lauren decides that she likes having them as relatives after all. In this sequel to Slug Days (2017), Lauren again narrates the story, offering insights into how she sees the world and what helps her cope with stressful situations. While she faces particular challenges, Lauren’s misadventures (dealing with loud relatives, letting calves out of their stall, throwing up on her flower girl dress) could have happened to any girl. Other kids will enjoy reading about them from her point of view. Bender’s winsome pencil drawings with gray shading illustrate the story with sensitivity and humor.”
— Carolyn Phelan

Read the full review in the January 2019 issue of Booklist

The Horn Book Magazine

“In Slug Days (rev. 3/18) readers met Lauren, a second grader with autism spectrum disorder; they learned about the effects her ASD had on her everyday routine and also learned some of her coping strategies. Penguin Days throws a new set of challenges at Lauren: a visit to North Dakota for her aunt’s wedding means coping with an unfamiliar rural environment, wearing a scratchy flower girl dress, and interacting with a set of relatives she isn’t used to—and who aren’t used to her, or to making adjustments when she needs them….Black-and-white pencil and digital illustrations should help early-elementary-age readers understand Lauren’s emotions and those of the people around her.”
—Shoshana Flax

Read the full review in the January 2019 issue of The Horn Book Magazine

Foreword Reviews

“A lighthearted story, Penguin Days follows Lauren, who is on the autism spectrum. She sometimes misreads social cues, like not understanding why others laugh; she is not always included in groups….Pencil illustrations by Rebecca Bender appear on nearly every spread. They feature Lauren and her family and are insightful in showing the way she navigates the world, including feelings that Lauren herself might not pick up on or understand. The book’s chapter breaks sometimes interrupt the flow of the story, which might imitate how Lauren sees her own world.

In Penguin Days, Lauren’s family learns to accept one another, no matter how challenging a situation might seem.”
—Rebecca Monterusso

Read the full review in the January/February 2019 Children’s Spotlight issue of Foreword Reviews

CM Magazine

“Lauren is an eight-year-old girl with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), and she sees the world in her own unique way. Penguin Days is a stand-alone book that also continues a story begun in Slug Days, with Lauren encountering challenges this time beyond school that help her stretch and grow. Not only must she attend her first-ever family wedding, but she is going to be a flower girl!…

Sara Leach’s writing is finely crafted as well as highly readable for the intended age group—no small feat— and Lauren’s first-person voice is just as compelling as it was in Leach’s previous work. Ongoing mix-ups and dilemmas present themselves within a strong, plot-driven storyline, and, while the resolution is authentic and satisfying, readers will no doubt anticipate further books about this delightful character.

Adding to the hilarious escapades in the text are Rebecca Bender’s kid-friendly black-and-white illustrations. Penguin Days would make great independent-reading fare for classroom and school libraries as well as additions to units on identity and difference.

Highly Recommended.
Bev Brenna

Click here to read the full review

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 ‘must have’ for any library!…Lauren exhibits some behaviors typically found in children on the autism spectrum such as disliking loud sounds, feeling hot and cold at the same time, rocking back and forth, not liking changes or sharing, and not understanding expressions such as a child being ‘priceless’. We see Lauren handle these challenges through breathing exercises and special tricks she has learned to calm down….

To whom would you recommend this book? I think this is an important book for just about any child; however, if a child is around another child with Autism Spectrum Disorder they would definitely benefit from reading this book. It really explains how these children are feeling and how they process all the events around them. This book is geared for the early elementary level….

Should we (librarians/readers) put this on the top of our “to read” pile? Yes”
Kristin Guay, Centerville Library, Centerville, MA

Click here to read the full review

New York Journal of Books

“The insights readers get about ASD feel authentic and, for those who aren’t familiar with someone who has ASD, unthreatening. This isn’t simple for an author to do, but Leach has taken a topic that kids are exposed to more and more and given them ways to understand why people with ASD behave the way they do. Adults learn, as well. Readers come away with more tools in their toolkit to be empathetic, patient, and nonjudgmental.

Bender’s whimsical pencil drawings on most pages contribute to comfortable reading for those just stepping into chapter books. The illustrations capture emotions and reflect a lovely childhood innocence. Along with the many illustrations, young readers will appreciate the simple sentence structure and vocabulary. Early chapter book readers will find the chapters are bite-size in the amount of text. Yet the same reader can feel a sense of accomplishment in the number of pages covered. The pages have plenty of white space, which also contributes to more comfortable reading.

Penguin Days provides learning of the most important kind, and has an added bonus of sweet humor, age appropriate text, and engaging illustrations. It belongs on the shelf of every library for young readers.”
—Janelle Diller

Click here to read the full review

CanLit for LittleCanadians

“Eight-year-old Lauren of Sara Leach’s Slug Days (Pajama Press, 2017) has returned and now the young child on the autism spectrum must find new coping strategies beyond the school and home situations with which she contended in her first book….

Thankfully Sara Leach shows us that Lauren can have slug days when everything goes wrong, and penguin days when she has to dress up and get along with people she rarely sees, and still have wonderful butterfly days when all is right with the world. With the addition of Rebecca Bender’s charming black-and-white illustrations that depict Lauren in all her moods, Penguin Days becomes a story of resiliency and overcoming anxiety and stressful situations for all children, with ASD and not.”

Click here to read the full review

Canadian Bookworm

“I thoroughly enjoyed the previous book about the young autistic girl Lauren, Slug Days, and was excited to have her story continue….It’s neat to watch Lauren develop here, and conquer new situations, and make new friends.

The illustrations are charming, and really bring the story to life. From penguins to cows, scratchy dresses to pug onesies, they added to the story. I particularly liked the photo style pictures at the end. I hope to see more Lauren books.”

Click here to read the full review

Lone Tree Reviews

Rating : 4 Star…

This was a short story but it shows what goes through a mind of a young girl with Autism….From acting like a sloth during the wedding rehearsal to annoying her cousins with penguin facts, this is a must read for anyone who is looking for a little something different from all the other books out there.

I can’t say much more than that because y’all need to read this short tale that will give you a glimpse of what Autism is like for the person who has it and for the people around them.

Thank You to Sara Leach for this eye-opening book that much needed in this day and age.”

Click here to read the full review

Sapphire the Great and the Meaning of Life Reviews

Posted on November 30th, 2018 by pajamapress

Publishers Weekly

Cover: Sapphire the Great and the Meaning of Life Author: Beverley Brenna Illustrator: Tara Anderson

“Alternating narrators Jeannie and her pet hamster exude an endearing impetuousness in this novel about family and finding one’s true self….Brenna (The White Bicycle) expands on themes of identity and acceptance by introducing Anna, Jeannie’s mother’s transgender friend, and Robin, the man who is Harvey’s new partner. Represented by different fonts, the emotive narrative voices are distinctive and wryly limned….Fetching portraits of Sapphire by Anderson (Rhino Rumpus) open each chapter.”

Click here to read the full review

Quill & Quire“She persisted: Two early reader chapter books show preteen girls going after what they want”

“In two new middle-grade novels about modern tweendom – with LGBT themes – feisty young protagonists face grown-up problems with strength and conviction….

Written by award-winning Saskatoon author Beverley Brenna, and illustrated by Tara Anderson, Sapphire the Great is full of zest….Throughout the novel, the theme of gender-nonconformity is present without being explicitly broken down or didactic….

Both these books contain positive LGBTQ characters and themes. Sibby mentions Charlie Parker Drysdale’s ‘two moms’ and, in Sapphire, Jeannie’s dad has a new boyfriend. Brenna’s novel also directly challenges young readers to think beyond cisgender norms. These original stories would be very helpful classroom resources to provide an entry point for anti-bias and inclusive language and to open up important conversations on gender, self-identity, and inclusivity.”

Click here to read the full review

Kirkus Reviews

“This slice-of-life Canadian import is more than just another ‘I want to get a pet’ tale….Sapphire and Jeannie narrate alternating chapters, and neither is completely aware of all that is going on around them. Sapphire, especially, reports dialogue and action she does not fully understand, adding an additional layer to this tale of understanding difference.”

Click here to read the full review

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 touching and funny story mainly about a girl and her new hamster, but it is also about a family dealing with significant change….The story teaches acceptance of differences and of being who you are. These themes are presented in an age-appropriate and sensitive way….The book grabbed me right away and had me laughing at the end of the very first chapter. The chapters narrated by Sapphire are amusing, I loved the stream of consciousness feel as Sapphire finds her way in the world and tries to figure out the meaning of her life….Almost every illustration at the beginning of each chapter is the hamster character, these are excellent black and white pencil drawings which illustrate the personality and emotion of the animal….

Should we (librarians/readers) put this on the top of our “to read” piles? Yes!”
Valerie Trantanella, Norman E. Day School, Westford, MA

Click here to read the full review

Saskatoon StarPhoenix

“Ever attuned to evolving social dynamics, Brenna presents a family in which the father has left to be with his male companion, and his mystified two children and angry wife are given comfort and cheer by a very large, mannish woman named Anna Conda. Helping little Jeannie navigate her way through this tricky territory is Sapphire, her new hamster, who not only poses intriguing philosophical questions but is co-narrator, with Jeannie, of this story….Brenna understands a child’s need for warm limits and presents a modern family trying to work its way to safety, comfort, and mutual respect.”

Click here to read the full review

CanLit for LittleCanadians

Sapphire the Great and the Meaning of Life is far greater than a story about a girl getting a pet hamster. It’s about struggling to find your place. Jeannie is a pretty good caregiver for Sapphire but she’s trying to figure out why her father isn’t keeping in touch, whether her parents are ‘getting put back together’ (pg. 40), why her little brother seems stressed, how to be a friend, why her Mom’s new friend Anna Conda seems reserved though really cool, and the questions that kids want answered but no one will respect them enough to tell them the truth. Meanwhile Sapphire is recognizing how nice her new home is, singing when pleased, and beginning to understand freedom, especially after a dangerous escape outdoors in frigid January….

It’s perfect that Jeannie’s story and Sapphire’s come together to become something bigger and better. Just as the two are better for having each other in their lives, Beverley Brenna’s text is enhanced with the adorable illustrations by Tara Anderson which head each of the forty-two chapters….

A perfect early reader for kids who love animals, Sapphire the Great and the Meaning of Life is actually more about giving significance to managing our own stories.”
—Helen K

Click here to read the full review

HW Book Reviews

“The story is told through short alternating chapters between Jeannie and Sapphire the Great (her hamster).

We join Jeannie, Alistair (her brother), and their mother three weeks after Christmas and two weeks after their father left, Harvey, left the house. Everyone is dealing with the separation in different ways. Jeannie yells everything, Alistair has turned to video games, and their mother is feeling very stressed….

This book has left me at a loss for words in a very good way. The characters are so engaging, honest, and real that you forget you are reading a book….The story is complete, satisfying, and just feels right…..

Overall rating: ♥♥♥♥♥”

Click here to read the full review

Canadian Bookworm

“This children’s novel is told from two points of view. One is that of nine-year-old Jeannie….The other point of view is that of Sapphire, the hamster that Jeannie gets….We watch how Jeannie struggles with her own feelings, sometimes erupting in frustration, anger, or sadness. And we watch how spending time with Sapphire calms her, and others in her household.

The idea of freedom extends beyond Sapphire into others in the story, who are struggling with the freedom to be who they really are, despite how others may react to them. It’s about being able to have that freedom to be comfortable in your own skin, to be happy with your life, and to see that life in a positive way….

This book exposes children to a variety of family types, and opens the door to discussion in a positive way of these differences. A great addition to any library.”

Click here to read the full review

Book Time

“For such a small book, there is whole lot going on in Beverley Brenna’s Sapphire the Great and the Meaning of Life…There is a lot of things I liked about the book, including Sapphire, who learns about what is important in life and shares that knowledge with the reader. I like Anna and how she teaches the children about kindness and friendship and I like that Jeannie is not caught up in what should be or shouldn’t be, but rather she accepts people who they are.”

Click here to read the full review

Queenie Quail Can’t Keep Up Reviews

Posted on November 29th, 2018 by pajamapress

Kirkus Reviews

“Bright, swirling, busy spreads in warm gouache colors enhance this simple tale of a family of California quails, reminiscent of Make Way for Ducklings….Whittingham adopts a slightly old-fashioned storytelling voice to tell her tale, employing rhythm and repetition to both delineate characters and propel the plot. Pedersen imbues her quail chicks with lots of personality by focusing on their wide, white faces and bouncing topknots. The moral? Slow down and smell the roses!”

Click here to read the full review

School Library Journal

“Repetitive words such as ‘tap, tap, tap’ and ‘hurry, hurry, hurry,’ printed in color, invite young readers to chime in. VERDICT The lovely illustrations and lyrical language, the pairing of curiosity and caution, and the opportunity for youngsters to join in the reading make this a great choice for group sharing.”

Click here to read the full review

Foreword Reviews

“Spring colors abound in green grass and clover, fluffy yellow chicks, and indigo-plumed parents as the quails learn a lesson from their littlest one about appreciating the beauty all around us.”
—Pallas Gates McCorquodale

Read the full review in the March/April 2019 issue of Foreword Reviews

CM Magazine

Queenie Quail Can’t Keep Up is such a beautifully written story about appreciating the world around us and taking the time to stop to notice and wonder. The writing begins very whimsically and is full of descriptive words but turns to a more fast-paced, action-packed read after the orange fuzzy thing enters the scene. Pedersen’s illustrations perfectly capture Queenie Quail’s world and encourage readers to also notice the beauty around them. The details in the writing and in the illustrations, along with the repetition in the text, make Queenie Quail Can’t Keep Up an excellent read-a-loud that will keep young readers engaged until the end. Highly Recommended.”
—Mallory Dawson is the Community Engagement Librarian at Whitby Public Library, Ontario.

Click here to read the full review

Youth Services Book Review

“Beautiful, bright, nature illustrations grace the pages (very appropriately) in this story about a little quail who couldn’t keep up with her hurried parents and siblings….Queenie’s curious observations saved her family from furry danger. Now, her family realizes it sometimes is necessary to stop and look around you!”
Lindsey Hughes, Marstons Mills Public Library, Marstons Mills, MA

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Celebrate Picture Books

“Jane Whittingham’s story of an adorable quail who stops to smell all the roses is a charming, charming, charming read-aloud that adults will love sharing and kids will enthusiastically chime in on during the fun repeated phrases. Whittingham’s agile storytelling shines with lyrical rhythms and alliteration…The gentle suspense will keep young listeners riveted to the story, and afterward they’re sure to join Queenie and her brothers and sisters in slowing down to enjoy the world around them.

Readers will immediately fall in love with Queenie and her siblings as Emma Pedersen’s cute-as-can-be, tufted quail babies race and bob along the trail to keep up with Mama. With expressive eyes and tiny beaks that form a perpetual smile, they nestle next to Mama and pile on top of Papa. As they watch out for Queenie, one or two often peer out at readers, inviting them along on their excursions….Pedersen’s lovely gauche paintings are as fresh as a spring meadow and will entice kids and adults to take a nice slow walk together.

A unique and tender story that will have children entranced from the first page, Queenie Quail Can’t Keep Up will be a favorite on home, school, and public library shelves.”

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CanLit for LittleCanadians

“Though quails are usually very quiet unless startled, Jane Whittingham gives them voice in Queenie Quail Can’t Keep Up and your little ones will enjoy the repetitive chirps of the quails as they move and urge Queenie to hurry. Moreover, by boldly colouring certain phrases or words, including those repeated three times in succession, even non-readers will be able to pick up on key words and read along. Beyond the text, the story content has important embedded messages about sticking together for safety as well as taking the time to really see along the journey….

Queenie Quail Can’t Keep Up is Toronto artist Emma Pedersen’s first picture book and she does Queenie and her family, as well as Jane Whittingham, proud. Though Emma Pedersen ensures that the quail are truly quail-like, with their head plumes, known as topknots, of which Queenie’s is bi-coloured, and elongated bodies for adults and rounded-bodied young, she has given them her own personal stamp of cuteness. In fact, with the adorable facial expressions on the chicks and parents, Emma Pedersen anthropomorphizes the quails just enough to help children see themselves and their families within. Similarly, the landscapes Emma Pedersen creates of stylized plants are both real and fantastical, enriching each page of the story.

While the basis of Queenie Quail Can’t Keep Up may be appear to be a scolding at an errant youngster, it delightfully turns into a lesson about the value in stopping to smell the grass and the blossoms and see the amazing in our surroundings, to the betterment and safety of all.”
—Helen K

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Fab Book Reviews

Queenie Quail Can’t Keep Up is great, bouyant and chirpy reading fun, filled with energy, rhythm, repetition and marvelous artwork. Emma Pedersen’s gouache illustrations are absolutely glorious and inviting (and deeply adorable), while readers familiar with Jane Whittingham’s work in A Good Day for Ducks and Wild One will recognize that the author (also a librarian!) approaches storytelling with an audience in mind, leading to stories tailor-made for reading aloud.

Overall, a beautifully cozy, heartwarming read that contains a just-right-for-the-story moment of excitement. While fresh and current, there is also something so very wonderfully nostalgic in the storytelling and visual appeal of Queenie Quail Can’t Keep Up. My experience of reading this picture book made me think back to when I used to be read (or read) old favourites such as The Story of FerdinandNo Roses for Harry, or Make Way for Ducklings (also noted by Kirkus Reviews I can see!)…Readers on the lookout for a lovely new storytime read aloud to try for preschool ages and up, or for a new cuddly story to share, Queenie Quail Can’t Keep Up is one to reach for!”

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Kids Make Mess

“My children instantly fell in love with little Queenie and so did I. Not just an appealing book for young readers who can relate to the protagonist, Queenie reminds parents (like me) to slow down and appreciate the natural curiosity of their children–children who have an innate ability to really see all the beauty in this world. And when push comes to shove, Queenie is able to recognize when she must hurry, and pulls through for her family….The illustrations by Emma Pedersen are gorgeous, colourful gouache paintings reminiscent of the books of my childhood. The bright and colourful pages will make it an awesome addition to your spring picture book collection.”

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Canadian Bookworm

“This engaging picture book uses word repetition, alliteration, imagery, and onomatopoeia to bring the story of this young bird and her family to life….This is a delightful story of stopping to take delight in the world around us, and valuing the contributions that we may not always recognize as being helpful. Lovely.”

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A World of Kindness Interviews

Posted on November 20th, 2018 by pajamapress

Cover: A World of Kindness Author: The Editors & Illustrators of Pajama Press Publisher: Pajama Press

Advance Reading Copy interview with the creators of A World of Kindness

Marmalade Books “My Interview With Children’s Author/Editor Ann Featherstone”