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….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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School Library Jounal

“Rhyming text paired with jewel-tone images will encourage children to read and rhyme along using picture clues. The truly courageous can pair this with an egg-coloring project. VERDICT Purchase for large collections and include in Easter or spring holidays programming/displays.”
–Heather Maneiro, Glenn Elem. Sch., Durham, NC

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Publishers Weekly

“The creators of Pumpkin Orange, Pumpkin Round reunite for this easy-to-read secular celebration of Easter, which features a community of multicolored cats….A mellow color palette and expressive characters mark Anderson’s approachable art, done in oil-based colored pencil and mineral spirits, rounding out this simple seasonal offering. Back matter includes instructions for Easter egg dyeing.”

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Youth Services Book Review

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

 What did you like about the book? A family of cats and mice come together for an Easter celebration on a beautiful spring day–and there is even an appearance by the Easter Bunny at the end of this story. The rhyming text shows all the wonderful things about Easter – hot-cross buns fresh from the oven, pastel colored decorated eggs, beautiful Easter outfits with fancy hats, an Easter egg hunt, and a yummy picnic outside. All the wonderful things about springtime are included in this story as well including ducklings, baby birds, frogs and beautiful flowers. The fun-filled day ends with an Easter dinner with none other than the Easter Bunny himself.

The illustrations provided by Tara Anderson are done in pastel-hues and feature all the colorful things about spring–this includes bright green grass, purple lilacs, blue skies, and yellow daffodils….

To whom would you recommend this book? This book is perfect for children between the ages of three and five, especially if their family is preparing for the Easter celebration….

 Should we (librarians) put this on the top of our ‘to read’ piles? Yes”
Kristin Guay, former youth services librarian

Click here to read the full review

CanLit for LittleCanadians

“For those who celebrate Easter, Rosanna Battigelli and Tara Anderson will give life to your celebrations of hot cross buns, Easter egg hunts and family feasts. For those who don’t, Easter Morning, Easter Sun shares springtime festivities that herald a new season of colours, freshness and connection of family and friends. So, we’re all invited to enjoy Easter Morning, Easter Sun….

Rosanna Battigelli delighted us with her debut picture book Pumpkin Orange, Pumpkin Round (2019), which was also illustrated by Tara Anderson, giving us a holiday-themed rhyme perfect for young children. They’ll appreciate the rhythmic verse and repetitive nature of the text, sure to know the words after just a few readings. It’s simple in its vocabulary but meaningful and comprehensive in its story. This is all the more so due to Tara Anderson’s artwork created with oil-based coloured pencils and mineral spirits. There’s a texture to her illustrations, from her medium to her technique, that emulates the grain of a blanket or the grass, the water or the cats’ fur. What’s more, her cats never fail to bring joy and smiles from their expressions and antics, and now we have mice from Tara Anderson that do likewise.

It doesn’t matter if you celebrate Easter or not because Easter Morning, Easter Sun will take you into one cat family’s festivities to partake in their traditions–you can even decorate your own eggs with the recipe provided–and rhyme along as they enjoy their day.”

Click here to read the full review

Cuckoo’s Flight Reviews

Posted on January 12th, 2021 by pajamapress

School Library Journal

Title: Cuckoo's Flight Author: Wendy Orr Publisher: Pajama Press“Orr mixes prose and poetry masterfully throughout the tale. The story is fast paced but has moments of contemplation, and Orr’s skill as a writer show, especially in her poetry….Although sometimes heartrending, the story ends on a hopeful note of change and enlightenment. This Bronze Age historical fiction is a follow-up to Orr’s Swallow’s Dance and revisits the main character Leira, now a grandmother hoping to save her granddaughter. While it’s not necessary to have read the first book, those who have will enjoy reuniting with familiar characters. VERDICT Fans of historical fiction, or even horse stories, will appreciate this fast-paced tale.”
–Ellen Conlin, Naperville P.L., IL

Click here to read the full review

Kirkus Reviews

“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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Canadian Review of Materials

“Wendy Orr’s Cuckoo’s Flight is the final installment in a trilogy that included the award-winning Dragonfly Song and Swallow’s Dance. Set in Crete during the Bronze Age, Cuckoo’s Flight can be saved for last or read as a stand-alone story….

Cuckoo’s Flight is an action-packed, edge-of-your-seat, epic tale while still incorporating the beautiful poetry of Orr’s first two books. Clio is a unique heroine fighting physical and emotional challenges, and proving that perseverance, bravery and ingenuity will always save the day. While this book demonstrates that girls are just as capable as boys (even in Bronze Age Greece!), the historical setting, and suspenseful drama will hook all readers, both young and old. Orr has done it again, and fans of Dragonfly Song and Swallow’s Dance will be pleased with how this final book wraps up the series.

Highly Recommended.”
Cate Carlyle, an author, librarian and former elementary teacher, currently resides in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

Click here to read the full review

Fresh Fiction

“This dynamic adventure is totally immersive. We smell the stink of rotting murex snails, in the purple-works where slaves produce dye. We hear the whistle of the herder’s pipes, and the crash of waves on the shore. We can taste the dry barley cakes and slippery olive oil. Left to the vagaries of the weather and fortune, the people make promises and offerings to placate any gods that might be listening. They know the barbarian raiders with their black ships care nothing for such sacrifice.

If you want to explore the Bronze Age, let Wendy Orr be your guide. She has previously written Dragonfly Song and Swallow’s Dance in this setting, and Young Adult readers will learn a great deal not just about this period, but about resilience and resourcefulness. I suggest anyone from eight to fifteen would be the ideal readers. Especially if they love horses. Wendy Orr, author of Nim’s Island, was born in Canada but now lives in Australia. I’m mightily impressed by Cuckoo’s Flight and I’ll be reading more of her work”

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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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The Globe & Mail

“In his ominously spooky novel, The Egyptian Mirror (Pajama Press, 9-12), Michael Bedard deftly weaves readers into this mystery, which the 13-year-old unintentionally finds himself caught up in as he delves deeper and deeper into the uncanny goings-on in the life of the scholarly old archaeologist next-door.”
—Jeffrey Canton

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Youth Services Book Review

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

What did you like about the book?…This is an engrossing read, combining mysterious supernatural events with a mysterious illness, and the reader is unsure if they are related. A ‘vast malevolence’ from ancient Egyptian mythology will ensnare the imagination of readers who like mythological fantasy tie-ins. It’s a quieter, more introspective fantasy than many recent mythological fantasies….

To whom would you recommend this book? For ages 10-14, for fans of quieter fantasy and of Egyptian mythology”
Stephanie Tournas, Robbins Library, Arlington, MA

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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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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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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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School Library Journal

“This book highlights the extraordinary ways some creatures’ unique senses are highly developed. The text is organized by the five senses….The brief descriptions are clear and contain an appropriate amount of scientific terminology. Each section begins with a short introduction to the sense, usually comparing it to humans’ use of it. Text boxes feature a realistic image and are attractively laid out on the page to provide a clean, uncluttered format. An index of animals offers additional information about each creature and the corresponding page number. VERDICT A solid contribution to any elementary study of the senses.”
–Maggie Chase, Boise State Univ., ID

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YA (and Kids) Books Central

When Elephants Listen With Their Feet is a seriously cool collection of animal facts around the senses….There are some new facts that I did not know as an adult, and I love learning something new. This would be a great book for children who love to know unusual and cool facts….

A seriously awe-inspiring collection of facts about animal senses, When Elephants Listen With Their Feet is a delightful book to explore and learn. Highly recommend for older elementary school aged / middle grade readers who love cool and unusual animal facts.”

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Midwest Book Review

“Exceptionally ‘kid friendly’ in tone, commentary and presentation, When Elephants Listen With Their Feet: Discover Extraordinary Animal Senses is especially recommended for family, elementary school, middle school, and community library Wildlife picture book collections for young readers ages 8- 12.”

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Youth Services Book Review

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

What did you like about the book? This non fiction picture book shows how animals use their senses to interact with their environment, for food, mating, defense and more….I learned many facts I didn’t know, such as: the golden mole has no eyes; the Atlantic herring passes gas to communicate; the salmon can smell under water; a blue whale’s tongue weighs 3 tons; and birds have no nerve endings in their feet….

The text is conversational and informative without being didactic – I would say that this French translation is very successful. Charming realistic illustrations complement the text, and I appreciate that most of the humans in the book have non-white skin, which is rare in non fiction. There are indexes at the end, so this book can be used for elementary school animal reports. This is a great book to sample bit by bit to learn fascinating animal facts.

Anything you didn’t like about it? No

To whom would you recommend this book? For ages 8-12, especially kids who love fun animal facts….

Should we (librarians/readers) put this on the top of our “to read” piles? Yes, if you are looking for a fresh source on animal senses.”
Stephanie Tournas, Robbins Library, Arlington, MA

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The International Educator

“A 40 page picture book, it has attractive art and lots of text boxes to encourage curious, budding biologists. From fish that pass gas to communicate to the taste buds of pigs and everything in between, this book is full of fascinating facts about senses.”

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Sal’s Fiction Addiction

“The tone of the text is conversational, the design well-organized and eye-catching, and the information provided is often quite remarkable. Initially organized according to the senses, the text then moves on to describe vibrations, electromagnetism, and the final part of the book deals with ‘superhero animals’. This gives readers a look at some pretty spectacular ways that animals have adapted to their environment….An animal index provides further tidbits of info and page numbers for each to allow readers to return to reread the parts of the book that hold specific interest.”

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San Francisco Book Review

“Emmanuelle Grundmann has found a new way to help kids learn lots of new, fascinating facts about a wide variety of critters. She looks at how animals use their five senses to help them navigate, communicate, hunt, stay safe, and more….Facts are laid out in text blocks with wonderful drawings by Clémence Dupont to support the text. This is a picture book for older youngsters, second through fifth grade. It is fascinating and fun. Don’t miss it.”

Click here to read the full review.

Raven, Rabbit, Deer Interviews

Posted on December 14th, 2020 by pajamapress

Cover: Raven, Rabbit, Deer Author: Sue Farrell Holler Ilustrator: Jennifer FariaCanLit for LittleCanadians interview with author Sue Farrell Holler and illustrator Jennifer Faria

The Library Bus Teaching Guides

Posted on November 17th, 2020 by pajamapress

Click here to download the teaching guide for The Library Bus.

A World of Mindfulness Teaching Guides

Posted on November 17th, 2020 by pajamapress

Click here to download the A World of Mindfulness teaching guide.

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.”

Click here to read the full review

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.”

Click here to read the full review

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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Canadian Review of Materials

“This book transcends categorization as it tells a story of tranquility, instructs a generation on mindfulness, and opens a conversation about self-care for every age….

While each page plays host to a simple, reinforcing statement of calm reliance on the five senses and leaning into your feelings to stay grounded in the now, the real draw of A World of Mindfulness is the exhibition of immense artistic talent at Pajama Press. The artwork is bold and diverse with each piece showcasing a different use of colour, texture, or form. From Amélie Dubois’ simple calming landscape embracing fear to Suzanne Del Rizzo’s detailed ode to tactility and from Miko Sato’s mixed-media winter wonderland to Tara Anderson’s soft pencil summer scene, each illustration welcomes the reader into a new and wonderful world.

A World of Mindfulness is a wonderful resource for parents and educators as it makes mindfulness practice for children accessible and uncomplicated….Highly Recommended.”
Amber Allen is a librarian in Guelph, Ontario, with a passion for children’s literature and writing.

Click here to read the full review

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.”

Click here to read the full review

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.”

Click here to read the full review

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.”

Click here to read the full review

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

A Family for Faru Extra Content

Posted on October 16th, 2020 by pajamapress

Cover: A Family for Faru Author: Anitha Rao-Robinson Illustrator: Karen Patkau Publisher: Pajama Press“A Family for Faru & A Different Drummer Books” virtual launch video with author Anitha Rao-Robinson from October 7, 2020

Teaching Mrs. Muddle Extra Content

Posted on October 16th, 2020 by pajamapress

Cover: Teaching Mrs. Muddle Author: Colleen Nelson Illustrator: Alice Carter Publisher: Pajama Press“Teaching Mrs. Muddle: Behind the Scenes” video with illustrator Alice Carter

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

Click here to read the full review

Midwest Book Review

“The collaborative work author/storyteller Sara Leach and artist/illustrator Rebecca Bender, Duck Days is an honest and warm-hearted successor to their critically acclaimed Slug Days and Penguin Days. With its straightforward text and frequent black-and-white illustrations, Duck Days is a thoroughly ‘kid friendly’ and accessible chapter book suitable for young readers ages 7-10 — especially those with mountains of their own to climb! While wholeheartedly recommended for family, elementary school, and community library collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that Duck Days is also readily available in a digital book format.”

Click here to read the full review

Manhattan Book Review

“We rated this book: [5/5]…

Text: I think this book is amazing. I love that it is from first person, Lauren’s point of view, and how we can see how she processes things. It is so helpful for me as an adult, and I think also for kids on the spectrum (or not) to be able to understand how they process their emotions. I love how Irma and the teachers help Lauren, but also gently help her challenge herself.

Illustrations: I thought the pictures depicted the scenes perfectly, whether something was happening or whether Lauren was processing emotions. It adds to the text wonderfully.”
—Megan Walvoord

Click here to read the full review

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.”

Click here to read the full review

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.”

Click here to read the full review

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.”

Click here to read the full review

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.”

Click here to read the full review

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.”

Click here to read the full review

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.”

Click here to read the full review

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!”

Click here to read the full review

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

Click here to read the full review

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.”

Click here to read the full review

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

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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

Kirkus Reviews

“On a snowy winter’s day, a young Ojibwe boy takes Grandpa’s hand and leads him out of the busy town and into the woods….Faria (Chippewas of Rama First Nation) brings an #ownvoices perspective to Holler’s text, illustrating the gentle scenes in acrylics and colored pencil. Understated humor emerges in the details…Phonetic pronunciations of the Ojibwemowin words appear on the endpapers.

This intergenerational tale gently introduces woodland animal tracks and Ojibwemowin words.”

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Midwest Book Review

“A thoroughly enjoyable and entertaining picture book introduction to the subject of animal tracks to children ages 4-7, Raven, Rabbit, Deer by the team of author Sue Farrell Holler and illustrator Jennifer Faria is an extraordinary and forthrightly recommended addition to family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library collections.”

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Youth Services Book Review

Rating: 5…In this story, the grandfather provides the Ojibwemowin (an indigenous language of North America) name for all the animals that he and his grandson see in the woods. There is a pronunciation key for each of the names as well….

To whom would you recommend this book? This book is perfect for children between the ages of three and six years old. I could see this book being read just before a winter walk in the snow–a great way to encourage children to carefully look for tracks in the snow of any animals that might have passed through….

 Should we (librarians) put this on the top of our ‘to read’ piles? Yes, great introduction to the Ojibwemowin language for children.”
Kristin Guay, former youth services librarian

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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.

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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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Teaching Mrs. Muddle Interviews

Posted on October 14th, 2020 by pajamapress

Cover: Teaching Mrs. Muddle Author: Colleen Nelson Illustrator: Alice Carter Publisher: Pajama PressOpen Book interview with author Colleen Nelson

The Library Bus Interviews

Posted on October 8th, 2020 by pajamapress

Cover: The Library Bus Author: Bahram Rahman Illustrator: Gabrielle Grimard Publisher: Pajama PressOpen Book interview with author Bahram Rahman