Pencil: A Story with a Point Reviews

Posted on November 12th, 2018 by pajamapress

CM Magazine

“Veteran author Ann Ingalls has produced a book with a lightweight plot but much lighthearted play with language that will delight younger readers just learning about verbal humour as well as teachers who could use this book as a lesson on the pun as literary device.

Dean Griffiths is a British Columbia illustrator with a number of awards to his name. He has filled the pages of Pencil with familiar objects which are candy-colourful and plastic in their contours, as well as expressive images of the two dark-eyed, dark-haired children. Tooth-marked and a little off-kilter, Pencil is definitely a character in his own right in the story. The spread showing the shadowy interior of the junk drawer where a small green flashlight illuminates little but a number of pairs of eyes is especially captivating.

Recommended.”
—Ellen Heaney is a retired children’s librarian living in Coquitlam, British Columbia.

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The Night Lion Interviews

Posted on September 18th, 2018 by pajamapress

Cover: The Night Lion Author: Sanne Dufft Publisher: Pajama PressKidLit TV with Rocco Staino interview with Sanne Dufft (featured from 39:30–46:10 of the recorded stream)

The Theory of Hummingbirds Interviews

Posted on September 18th, 2018 by pajamapress

Cover: The Theory of Hummingbirds Author: Michelle Kadarusman Publisher: Pajama PressPublishers Weekly “News From the North: September 2017” interview with Michelle Kadarusman

Best Pirate Interviews

Posted on September 18th, 2018 by pajamapress

Read Marmalade interview with author Kari-Lynn WintersCover: Best Pirate Author: Kari-Lynn Winters Illustrator: Dean Griffiths Publisher: Pajama Press

Dragonfly Song Interviews

Posted on September 17th, 2018 by pajamapress

Cover: Dragonfly Song Author: Wendy Orr Publisher: Pajama PressThe Edmonton Sun interview with Wendy Orr

Too Young to Escape: A Vietnamese Girl Waits to be Reunited with Her Family Reviews

Posted on September 17th, 2018 by pajamapress

Booklist

Cover: Too Young to Escape: A Vietnamese Girl Waits to be Reunited with Her Family Authors: Van Ho and Marsha Forchuk Skrypuch Publisher: Pajama Press

“Skrypuch continues her collaboration with the Ho family in telling the stories of their escape from Vietnam after the war. Here the youngest daughter, Van Ho, pieces together memories of being the one who was left behind at the age of four….

As a work of fragmented and painful memories from the time Van was between the ages of four and eight, the narrative is impressively credible, capturing her feelings of confused abandonment, visceral descriptions of her life in Ho Chi Minh City, and gradual adjustment to being separated from her immediate family….”

—Amina Chaudhri

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Kirkus Reviews

“With simple but engaging language, Skrypuch recounts Van Ho’s true story of her lonely and hard life in Vietnam during the years she was separated from her family. Skrypuch offers readers myriad opportunities to identify with Van, who navigates school, friendship, bullying, and poverty, while also giving them insight into less-common American experiences such as political oppression and asylum. The story covers four years of Van’s life, including her reunion with parents and siblings in Canada and the immediate culture shock of arriving….This illuminating chapter book respects an often overlooked demographic, providing transitioning readers a truthful yet age-appropriate introduction to big issues that still affect people to this day. (Historical fiction. 7-11)”

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Quill & Quire **Starred Review**

“Skrypuch and the now-adult Van Ho collaborate on this account of Van’s life from the morning she woke to find her mother and siblings gone to when, four years later, she was reunited with her family in Toronto….

[T]hroughout the book, the authors eschew sentimentality and sensationalism, creating a straightforward autobiography that is truthful about resilience and the often unpredictable ways children act and react.”

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CM Magazine

Rating: 5…Van’s story is necessarily informed by Skrypuch’s research and imagination in addition to Van’s memories of her distant childhood as corroborated by other members of her family. The product, is an extremely engaging account of a childhood in challenging circumstances….

Van’s story is a page-turner. Children will relate to her sense of injustice….

Too Young to Escape is a welcome reminder of the post-Vietnam War refugee crisis that saw Canada, France, the United States and Australia welcome strangers in need. Readers will appreciate hearing this personal story from a child’s perspective. The book will include an eight page colour insert of photographs of Van and her family as children plus a recent photo of Vanessa (formerly Van) with her spouse and children and a final image of Vanessa and her beloved Bà Ngoąi taken in 1997. Skrypuch includes very brief interviews with Van’s parents, Nam Ho and Phuoc Ho, that help to explain the context of the time including the reasons for their difficult decisions.

Readers may have wondered why the telephone or e-mail was not used by Van’s parents. The paucity of telephones in Vietnam in the early 1980s and censorship of physical mail by government officials are two more challenges that Van’s parents note in their interviews. Modern technology may make it easier to communicate over long distances today, but civil wars, state-sanctioned or state-sponsored discrimination and persecution are enduring reasons for normal people to be transformed into refugees in the twenty-first century. Van’s story and those of her family members remain timeless as well as time-specific.

Highly Recommended
—Val Ken Lem is a librarian at Ryerson University in Toronto, Ontario

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CanLit for LittleCanadians

“When Marsha Forchuk Skrypuch co-wrote Adrift at Sea: A Vietnamese Boy’s Story of Survival with Tuan Ho, she began a family’s story of escape from Vietnam in the aftermath of the Vietnam War and taking of power by the communists. In that picture book, illustrated by Brian Deines, a mother and her two daughters, Loan and Lan, and six-year-old son Tuan escape Vietnam by boat, hopeful of joining father and the eldest daughter Linh in Canada. But there was another story. Because four-year-old Van is left behind. Too Young to Escape is her story….

Van Ho, who lived this story, tells it through Marsha Forchuk Skrypuch’s pen of extraordinary writing which reflects both Van’s youthful point of view and her trauma. Her story is disquieting but it’s also uplifting, focusing on Van’s resilience. Told from her perspective, from Van explaining away her family’s absence before she learns the reason to her obligation to completing chores many of our culture might deem inappropriate for one so young to finding a friend in a girl less fortunate than herself, Van’s story of being left behind is heartbreaking.

Enhancing Van Ho’s story with photographs and interviews with her father, Nam Ho, and mother, Phuoc Ho, Too Young to Escape gives a snapshot of a different time and place, one of upheaval and loss, perseverance and endurance, that ends with a reunion and a good life in Canada. It is a story of survival, even if Van Ho was Too Young to Escape.”

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Our New Kittens Reviews

Posted on August 14th, 2018 by pajamapress

Kirkus Reviews

Cover: Our New Kittens Author: Theo Heras Illustrator: Alice Carter Publisher: Pajama Press“Illustrations in colored pencil, watercolor, and digital media feature soft lines and colors and emphasize the relationships between the boys and their pets…Endpapers list in crayon-styled hand printing things to have before bringing a kitten home and what to give your kitten each day….[will] stoke a child’s excitement about the idea of getting a pet and useful for facilitating a conversation about “pet care. (Picture book. 3-6)”

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Foreword Reviews

“Through this lovely introduction to pet care and responsibility—whether families are adopting an animal for the first time or reinforcing good practices—children will learn how to safely care for new furry friends: providing fresh water and food, a clean litter box, brushing, play time, gentle care, and, of course, lots of love.”

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CM Magazine

“Alice Carter’s illustrations are warmly created with colored pencil and watercolours as well as digital art. The characters and the setting are realistically represented with a slight cartoonish flair. Overall, the pictures allow the readers to infer more details in addition to the text, thereby extending the storytelling of how the relationship between the brothers and their new pet kittens develops.

Reading Our New Kittens would be a good way to inform young children of the emotional and behavioural aspects, plus accountability, of what pet ownership entails.

Highly Recommended
—Sheryl Lee

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Giraffe and Bird Together Again Reviews

Posted on August 14th, 2018 by pajamapress

Booklist

“Bender’s language is lively and poetic: Giraffe gazes and grazes, Bird swoops and soars and explores. Her illustrations focus on Giraffe’s very expressive face, which often dominates his orange-and-brown-colored pages, while Bird, when not displayed in full glory on his blue-tinged ones, is just a feather or two, leading Giraffe on his quest. More than one rescue is needed here, which adds to the tale’s tension. Savor for the warmth of the illustrations, the fun, and the read-aloud possibilities.”
— Edie Ching

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Kirkus Reviews

“The zany odd couple is back again in an exciting new adventure….Bender’s sharp wit, onomatopoeic language, and cartoon-style illustrations capture Giraffe’s exasperation, determination, and terror and, above all, the joy of his reunion with his best friend—right before they get themselves into more trouble! Bender includes a map of the locations Giraffe visits in his odyssey; inset pictures of the new animals in this book, a bush baby and an ibex, along with their Latin, scientific names offer bonus STEM material.

May this series continue with more humorous adventures that teach, ever so gently, that best friends have to let each other roam—because the reunion is that much sweeter. A sequel that delivers; may Bird soon have his own starring role in an upcoming story. (Picture book. 3-6)”

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CM Magazine

“Bender’s acrylic and coloured pencil artwork is an essential part of the book’s success, and, as in the previous Giraffe and Bird books, the illustrations’ contents not only reflect the characters’ emotions but add to the book’s written text….

Bender provides foreshadowing to the contents of Giraffe and Bird Together Again via a map that occupies part of the copyright page and its facing page. There, young readers can see the route that Giraffe will follow in his quest to find Bird as well as learn the names of the two other African animals that will make cameo experiences in Bender’s illustrations.

Like the earlier two books in the series, Giraffe and Bird Together Again offers subtle lessons in the dimensions of friendship.

Grade One children all across Canada will encounter these two animal friends this autumn as Giraffe and Bird has been chosen as the 2018 TD Grade One Book Giveaway selection.

Highly Recommended.”
—Dave Jenkinson

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A Good Trade Teaching Guide

Posted on August 8th, 2018 by pajamapress

Click here to download the A Good Trade reading guide

When Emily Carr Met Woo Teaching Guides

Posted on August 8th, 2018 by pajamapress

Click here to download the When Emily Carr Met Woo teaching guide

Two Times a Traitor Teaching Guide

Posted on August 8th, 2018 by pajamapress

Click here to download the Two Times a Traitor reading guide

The Theory of Hummingbirds Teaching Guides

Posted on August 8th, 2018 by pajamapress

Click here to download the Theory of Hummingbirds reading guide

Slug Days Teaching Guides

Posted on August 8th, 2018 by pajamapress

Cover: Slug Days Author: Sara LEach Illustrator: Rebecca Bender Publisher: Pajama Press

Click here to download the Slug Days reading guide

Skydiver: Saving the Fastest Bird in the World Teaching Guides

Posted on August 8th, 2018 by pajamapress

Click here to download the Skydiver: Saving the Fastest Bird in the World reading guide

Once Upon a Line Teaching Guides

Posted on August 8th, 2018 by pajamapress

Click here to download the Once Upon a Line reading guide