The Skeleton Coast Reviews

Posted on September 13th, 2019 by pajamapress

Booklist

“These four kids have faced the worst their world has to offer and come through learning lessons about sticking together, the unbreakable bonds of family, and never giving up hope. The last leg of their journey adds heartwarming reunions to the regular dose of adventure and danger, with themes of starting anew, family, friendship, and courage bringing this epic tale to a satisfying end.”
—Elizabeth Konkel

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Kirkus Reviews

“The postdiluvian Flooded Earth trilogy concludes as it began, with high-seas derring-do….For all its dystopian setting, this satisfying trilogy closer is full of pluck.”

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CM Magazine

The Skeleton Coast, by continuing the highly credible adventure, moral questions, and imaginative view of a climate-ravaged future of the previous two installments in the series, brings the story to an exciting and satisfying conclusion. As always, characterization is strong, with the introduction of the superstitious and strong-willed Blossom and the naïve yet principled Lt. Cherry as strong additions to the cast….The question of ‘who are the good guys’ is deeply explored, the plight of refugees eerily prescient, and the sailing and survival skills of the kids put to thrilling test as usual….

Highly Recommended.”
Todd Kyle

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What Cats Think Reviews

Posted on September 13th, 2019 by pajamapress

School Library Journal

Cover: What Cats Think Author: John Spray Illustrator: Mies van Hout Publisher: Pajama Press

“This book perfectly encapsulates everything that is elegant and enigmatic, sinister and sassy in feline behavior. Free-verse poems provide glimpses into the minds of cats, always with a clever, subtle sense of humor. These verses will work well when teaching children that poetry comes in many forms, not just rhyming couplets…..The rhythmic text and dynamic art will delight all readers, but cat lovers will take extra pleasure in the quintessentially feline traits celebrated in this book.”
—Alyssa Annico, Youngstown State University, OH

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Publishers Weekly

“Are cats capable of poetry? They are in this volume, which imagines their interior lives through 20 short poems, some more predictable than others….Color pours off each page in van Hout’s vibrant, bold illustrations—a mix of acrylic ink, oil pastels, and gouache. Her felines expressively embody Spray’s emphatic free verse, which authentically gives voice to cats’ changeable emotions.”

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CM Magazine

“The many facets of a cat’s personality are showcased in this delightful tribute to domestic felines. An assortment of vivid, colourful cats present their feelings in free verse, each one on a separate double-page spread. The author’s use of the first person is very effective in drawing readers in. Some of the poems are of the laugh-out-loud variety while others will cause readers to commiserate with the feline narrators….

Each cat’s uniqueness is not only celebrated by the clever free verse but also by the vibrant, mixed media illustrations, rendered in acrylic ink, oil pastels and gouache, primarily in bright greens, yellows, reds and blues. The cats are shown in a variety of poses, but what makes the illustrations truly charming are the priceless facial expressions….Readers need not be cat lovers to thoroughly enjoy this book. What Cats Think is fun, imaginative and loaded with personality!

Highly Recommended.”
—Gail Hamilton is a former teacher-librarian in Winnipeg, Manitoba.

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Kirkus Reviews

“Colorful, expressive pictures of cats are accompanied by brief text….Bright hues, scribbly lines, and high-contrast backgrounds combine to create pictures that pop, and the relatively large trim size adds to their impact.”

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Pumpkin Orange, Pumpkin Round Reviews

Posted on September 4th, 2019 by pajamapress

Kirkus Reviews

Cover: Pumpkin Orange, Pumpkin Round Author: Rosanna Battigelli Illustrator: Tara Anderson Publisher: Pajama Press“Rhyming verses follow a group of cats for some pumpkin picking and carving fun before trick-or-treating….The ending is especially satisfying, one larger cat giving a smaller one a hug while three others curl up with the largest gray cat on a sofa with a book: ‘Pumpkin tired, / pumpkin fed, / pumpkin story, / pumpkin bed.’…The artwork, done with colored pencil and acrylic glaze, is both childlike and nicely textured, the six cats easily differentiated, especially the elder dark gray parental figure who wears half-moon specs….Cozy, repetitious autumn fun for toddlers and younger preschoolers.”

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Publishers Weekly

“Cats enjoy all the glories of a human Halloween in this peek at popular October traditions. In Anderson’s colored pencil and acrylic glaze illustrations, a family of smiling, scarf-wearing felines heads to a pumpkin patch…Battigelli’s text—a series of rhyming, two-word phrases each beginning with ‘pumpkin’—…possesses a jaunty rhythm and a fun-to-pronounce quality. Ages 3–6.”

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School Library Journal

“[T]he repetition and simplicity of the text make this an appealing choice for group-sharing during storytime. The art, created with colored pencil and acrylic glaze on watercolor paper, is warm and fuzzy, providing a safe, not-so-scary depiction of Halloween that is appropriate for young listeners. The book concludes with instructions on how children can carve their own jack-o’-lanterns, emphasizing the need for an adult helper. VERDICT A safe bet for libraries looking for autumnal and Halloween-themed picture books for the youngest patrons.”
—Laura J. Giunta, Garden City Public Library, NY

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CM Magazine

“The rhyming scheme is bouncy and fun…Tara Anderson’s charming, bright illustrations are created with coloured pencil and acrylic glaze on watercolour paper and have a nostalgic feeling to them….A fun, simple, festive book that families will love. Highly Recommended.”
—Andrea Zorzi is a children’s librarian at Toronto Public Library in Toronto, Ontario.

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Missing Mike Teaching Guides

Posted on August 21st, 2019 by pajamapress

Cover: Missing Mike Author: Shari Green Publisher: Pajama PressClick here to download the Missing Mike teaching guide.

Lili Macaroni Extra Content

Posted on August 21st, 2019 by pajamapress

Cover: Lili Macaroni Author: Nicole Testa Illustrator: Annie Boulanger Publisher: Pajama Press

Click here to download the Lili Macaroni butterfly activity page

The Girl Who Rode a Shark: And Other Stories of Daring Women Reviews

Posted on August 12th, 2019 by pajamapress

Kirkus Reviews ★ Starred Review

Cover: The Girl Who Rode A Shark: And Other True Stories of Daring Women Author: Ailsa Ross Illustrator: Amy Blackwell Publisher: Pajama Press“Brief biographies of 52 intrepid women, spanning the globe and all centuries, are flanked by large, full-color illustrations and by maps that show the women’s adventuring sites….The artwork, reminiscent of art deco travel posters, is a gorgeous complement to the eclectic curation. The biographies are written in a conversational style, often including a short quote from the subject….An exciting labor of love—for kids of all gender identities. (Collective biography. 8-12)”

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Booklist

“This collection presents single-page but surprisingly detailed accounts of more than 50 notable women….The essays are engaging, and in addition to providing basic biographical information, effectively connect each woman with her designated category. Brightly colored digital-media portraits face each page of text, and double-page maps pinpoint each subject’s country of origin. Truly international in scope and ranging across centuries…this attractive collection should spark inquiry for further research.”
— Kathleen McBroom

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CM Magazine

“Ailsa Ross’ The Girl Who Rode a Shark & Other Stories of Daring Women is a comprehensive work of middle grade nonfiction. The book is broken up into six sections, and each section includes anywhere from 7 to 10 women of historical significance. A former travel writer and student of law and women’s rights, Ross selected 50 female ‘adventurers’ to showcase, spanning the centuries from 231 BC to modern day. The final pages include a glossary of terms, such as ‘activism’, ‘emancipation’ and ‘colonialism’, as well as a listing of indigenous peoples and their geographic locations and a disclaimer about how geographical names change over time….

Ross’s book would be a useful resource for school-aged studies on topics such as women’s rights, female historical figures or biographies. The book is diverse both culturally and geographically, and the easy to navigate layout and bright engaging illustrations will quickly draw readers in. The inclusion of maps and a glossary make this book a good fit for school libraries and classroom collections. An alphabetical index by name would have been an added bonus for students looking to quickly find a particular person. The Girl Who Rode a Shark & Other Stories of Daring Women would work well coupled with Lisa Dalrymple’s book Fierce Women Who Shaped Canada to inspire and motivate young females as the two books are similar in format and scope and feature some of the same women.

Highly Recommended.
Cate Carlyle, an author and former elementary teacher, currently resides in Halifax, Nova Scotia, where she is a librarian at Mount Saint Vincent University.

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Pickle Me This

The Girl Who Rode a Shark, by Ailsa Ross (who lives in Alberta!) and Amy Blackwell, has managed to live up to my expectations. My favourite bit is the Canadian content—we’re almost at the Roberta Bondar essay. And Indigenous hero Shannen Koostachin is included in ‘The Activists’ chapter.

The women profiled in the book come from places all over the world, include many women of colour, and also women with disabilities. Even better—while many of the profiles are of historical figures, just as many are contemporary, young women who are out there doing brave and groundbreaking things as we’re reading. A few of these figures are familiar, but more are new to us, and their stories are made vivid and compelling through the book’s beautiful artwork and smart and engaging prose.”

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Christina Ammirtai

“What an incredible compilation of fearless females who are sure to inspire anyone who reads of their bravery, strength, intelligence, and persistence. THE GIRL WHO RODE A SHARK had me in awe, not just for each of the 52 courageous, impactful stories, but also for the beautiful images and organization of the collection….THE GIRL WHO RODE A SHARK will serve as inspiration to all readers, especially female, empowering them to be their best selves and follow their hearts no matter how daunting the road—or ocean—might be.”

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Sapphire the Great and the Meaning of Life Interviews

Posted on July 17th, 2019 by pajamapress

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

Lit Happens interview with author Beverley Brenna

Nutcracker Night Reviews

Posted on July 2nd, 2019 by pajamapress

Kirkus Reviews

Cover: Nutcracker Night Author: Mireille Messier Illustrator: Gabrielle Grimard Publisher: Pajama Press“A sprightly introduction to the classic Christmas ballet. The backmatter notes that ‘[The Nutcracker] is often the first ballet children attend,’ and Messier and Grimard’s collaboration does an exceptional job of distilling the ballet’s story into spare, accessible text and engaging art that could prepare children for attending the ballet, let them relive the experience, or simply give them the delight of the story in book form….Sure to elicit the storytime equivalent of ‘encore’ at Christmastime and beyond.”

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Publishers Weekly

“This vibrant tribute to a holiday tradition follows a sensory-filled adventure to a Nutcracker performance….The interpretation of the Christmas tree that grows enormous as the clock strikes midnight—always a show-stopper on stage—is particularly memorable, featuring the word Bong! in a gradually increasing font size and a glowing, candlelit evergreen towering over the heroine. A charming entrée for ballet-bound children.”

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The Horn Book Magazine

“A good primer to complement a child’s first time seeing The Nutcracker and, for those familiar with it, a fresh take on a classic.”
—Katie Bircher

Read the full review in the November/December 2019 issue of The Horn Book Magazine

Foreword Reviews

“Experience Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker through the eyes of a young girl attending the ballet in this fresh rendition of the beloved classic.”
—Pallas Gates McCorquodale

Read the full review in the November/December 2019 issue of Foreword Reviews

CM Magazine

“With a diversity of audience and delightful observations, Nutcracker Night captures the magic of a young school-aged child’s visit to the ballet with her father. The Nutcracker, a classic ballet, comes to life as a true auditory experience….The pen and ink with watercolour illustrations are both detailed and energetic….The book concludes with a synopsis of the story told by The Nutcracker as well as history of the ballet and its current cultural significance. Highly Recommended.”
Christy den Haan-Veltman

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My Puppy Patch Activities

Posted on June 21st, 2019 by pajamapress

Cover: My Puppy Patch Author: Theo Heras Illustrator: Alice Carter Publisher: Pajama Press

A colouring sheet featuring two children and their dogs playing outside

Click here to download the My Puppy Patch colouring sheet

Harvey Comes Home Reviews

Posted on June 20th, 2019 by pajamapress

School Library Journal ★ Starred Review

Cover: Harvey Comes Home Author: Colleen Nelson Illustrator: Tara Anderson Publisher: Pajama Press

“Harvey’s strong connection to Mr. Pickering sets up an emotional conclusion—expect a few tears—in which lives converge and Harvey is reunited with Maggie, his 12-year-old owner. Alternating among the perspectives of Harvey, Austin, and Maggie, this gently paced, character-driven narrative captivates on every level, transforming a ‘lost dog’ story into a deeper reading experience. Present-day and historical time lines (with a few grim moments) are seamlessly interwoven and keep readers invested. Back matter reveals that the tale was inspired by Nelson’s (Finding Hope) grandfather, accounting for the book’s authentic, intimate feel. VERDICT Nelson’s first middle grade novel is heartwarming and inspirational; a first purchase.”
—Marybeth Kozikowski, Sachem Public Library, Holbrook, NY

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Kirkus Reviews

“Affecting, riveting, and evocative, this character-driven tale within a tale, with narrative perspective alternating among Harvey, Austin, and Maggie, believably reveals the best and sometimes the worst of human nature. The cast defaults to white. Much more than a lost-dog story.”

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Booklist

“Harvey, a Westie, loves his young owner Maggie, but while she’s away on a family vacation, Harvey’s sitter doesn’t latch the gate properly. The little white pup escapes and wanders into new parts of the city. Hungry, thirsty, and dirty, he finally rests behind a planter at Brayside Retirement Villa, where he is discovered by Austin. Austin has been working off a detention by assisting his grandfather with custodial work at Brayside. The residents, employees, and Austin fall in love with Harvey. One crotchety resident, Walter Pickering, even begins reminiscing about his 1930s childhood and a beloved dog of his own; Austin and Harvey are hooked (as are readers). What begins as a story of a dog and two kids evolves into a historical look at Mr. Pickering’s much simpler, yet complicated, life. Throughout, alternating third-person chapters from Maggie, Harvey, and Austin give readers a rounded view of each prominent character. The title clues readers into the final outcome, but it’s the middle that moves the plot along. Dog lovers will drool over this multi-generational story.”
— J. B. Petty

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ILA Literacy Daily, “Compassion, Empathy, and Understanding”

“Although it might not be a part of the Common Core State Standards or easy to measure, teaching our students compassion, empathy, and understanding is an important part of the curriculum. Following are some recently published books that are good choices for reading aloud to foster discussion as well as for independent reading….

The chapters alternate from the perspectives of Austin, Harvey, and Maggie, an effective device that allows readers to develop an understanding of the emotions and behaviors of the characters.”

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CM Magazine

“Assuming that Harvey Comes Home is a simple novel about a lost dog does not give this story enough credit. Assuming that it is a novel about a family that searches for their missing dog isn’t enough either because the author has given equal weight to Harvey’s journey and to a second story, one that is a touch more emotionally captivating, with Harvey becoming a visitor in a nursing home and an important friend to the people who live and work there….Harvey Comes Home is a gentle story about a slow build to friendship between generations that would be of interest to all readers and a wonderful choice for reading aloud. Harvey Comes Home is about so much more than a lost dog, and I can see this book being one that any reader would treasure. Highly Recommended.
—Penny McGill

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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? While looking at the cover and the title of this book you might think this is a story about a lost dog that makes its way home — but that would be a mistake because this story is so much more than that. As a matter of fact, it is actually a story within a story….

This story flips from the present, Maggie searching for Harvey and Austin trying to keep up the ruse, and the stories of Mr. Pickering that take place in the 1930’s during some particularly challenging times. Austin becomes engrossed in these stories of life on the prairie and all the hardships and challenges the families fought against. I found it was the stories provided by Mr. Pickering that kept me turning the pages of this book. I really wanted to know what happened to him, his family, and his special friend that he rescued from the brink of death.

Anything you didn’t like about it? Nothing

To whom would you recommend this book? Perfect for children between the ages of eight and twelve. There are some topics of abuse, neglect, and a dead body so these concepts might be a little scary for younger children….

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

Click here to read the full review

CanLit for LittleCanadians

“A scent, a touch, a colour, a voice. They can draw memories. And memories can take you places. They can take you away from the present and towards something else. They can take you to a past that needs to be remembered or give direction to follow forward. And they can take you home in more ways than one….

Told in alternating chapters from the perspectives of Harvey, Maggie and Austin, Harvey Comes Home is not just a story about a dog lost and found. It’s a story about the bonds between human and dog. These are the bonds that tie us in love and gratitude, responsibility and empathy. They are the ones that give us our humanity via our benevolence for others. But Harvey Comes Home is also about the power of memory to bring us home. I will admit that Colleen Nelson’s story brought me to tears time and time again, as an aging Mr. Pickering grabs at his memories, as Bertie survives against all odds, and as Harvey and General are loved and love. Colleen Nelson always tells a good story (see her YA titles SadiaBlood BrothersFinding Hope, and The Fall for a great sampling) but, in her first middle-grade novel, she is able to grab the reader’s heartstrings while blending a dog story with an intergenerational relationship and embedding profound reflections on the Depression and the Dust Bowl. It’s a complete package as Harvey’s, Maggie’s and Austin’s stories converge, integrated with heart and important messages about connecting with others and forgiveness for mistakes made when scared, hurt or alone.

Harvey Comes Home will make dog-lovers hug their animals and children ask their grandparents to share their stories from their own childhoods, bringing all a little closer and giving life to new memories for all.”

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Toronto.com, “Good books for older children and teenagers”

Harvey Comes Home is an entertaining novel aimed at middle-grade readers (ages 8-12)….Not only will the reader enjoy learning about Harvey’s adventures and whether he will get back to his family, but also about the dust storms, droughts, poverty and difficult lives of those who lived on the prairies during the 1930s. Readers will also learn about how dogs greatly enrich our lives, including the special work done by therapy dogs, and how people often aren’t as they appear. Excellent book for middle-grade readers!”
—Glenn Perrett

Click here to read the full review

Author Sheryl McFarlane

“I have just finished the most wonderful middle grade novel, Harvey Comes Home by Colleen Nelson, illustrated by Tara Anderson and published by Pajama Press.

Kids will absolutely love this novel about a little West Highland Terrier who escapes when left in the care of a dog sitter….Told in alternating chapters in the voices of Harvey, Maggie and Austin, Nelson paints a moving picture of the bond between dogs and people, especially the bond between Mr. Pickering and his childhood dog, General. The power of Harvey Comes Home lies in Nelson’s skilled storytelling. Fully drawn characters, including the curious little Westie, are absolutely believable. Her ability to bring history to life for any aged reader makes this book a must read. Delightful illustrations by Tara Anderson add a touch of whimsy to an already 5-star book.”

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From 1 to 10 Reviews

Posted on June 19th, 2019 by pajamapress

Booklist ★ Starred Review

Cover: From One to Ten Author: Mies van Hout Publisher: Pajama Press“Amidst the numerous counting books available, van Hout offers a stand-out with great child (and adult) appeal. While the book only goes from 1 to 10 (and then, on the closing end pages, back again), she makes the experience of counting both joyful and imitative through the use of animal personalities and anatomies….Bold eyes engage the reader, and a final spread takes this a step beyond most counting books: practical advice for parents or caregivers explains the usefulness of counting books for early readers and includes several fun and educational activities—one of which, of course, is counting with this book again and again.”
—Edie Ching

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Kirkus ★ Starred Review

“Count different number sets on boldly drawn and vibrantly colored animals. Open this Dutch import and marvel at the rich, saturated background colors and the grinning, oversized animals….Don’t skip the backmatter on this one, as the clear and accessible instructions, ideas, and vocabulary offer caregivers easy ways to engage children in their own counting adventures within the book and beyond. The book’s neat, square trim size and padded cover are ideal for sharing with lap readers. Simplicity plus spirited art equals a counting book that you can count on.”

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Foreword Reviews

“In this delightful introduction to basic counting skills, young children are encouraged to take note of how many arms, wings, whiskers, or teeth can be found on an entertaining array of bright creatures rendered in different patterns and textures. Employ the book’s tips for more interactive learning fun or read aloud and trace the numbers, each sized for small fingers to practice shaping and identifying digits one through ten.”
—Pallas Gates McCorquodale (July/August 2019)

Read the full review in the July/August 2019 issue of Foreword Reviews

CM Magazine

“Rating: 4/5…The endpapers are not just decorative but also functional, with the opening endpapers presenting the numbers from 1-9 in a colourful 3×3 grid accompanied by a large number 10 appearing on a page by itself. The closing endpapers are a mirror repeat but with the numbers now appearing in reverse or descending order, thereby inviting youngsters to learn to count down from 10 to 1, an opportunity not usually found in most counting books….

With its padded cover, rounded corners and extra-heavy paper, From 1 to 10 is an excellent introduction to the base ten numbering system. An obvious gift or home purchase, From 1 to 10 belongs in libraries serving this audience level. Highly Recommended.”
—Dave Jenkinson, CM’s editor, lives in Winnipeg, Manitoba.

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Sal’s Fiction Addiction

“Counting from 1 to 10 is a romp with this attractive, beautifully designed concept book. Front endpapers begin with 1 and end with 10, while the ones in the back begin with 10 and count down to 1. That is a worthwhile learning experience in itself….

The artist inspires constant touching by making the countable elements large and obvious, through text and art. Kids won’t stop at counting the named features, they will want to show off their counting prowess with counting so much more.”

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Fab Book Reviews

“Author-illustrator Mies van Hout (FriendsHappy) brings readers another joyously bright and engaging book with From 1 to 10. A wonderfully colourful, appealing, and spare counting book, van Hout draws and holds the readers’ attention with clear, highlighted numbers and descriptors, and super artwork….I love when a concept book surprises and delights with something that feels fresh and inviting, and Mies van Hout’s From 1 to 10– a recipient of a few starred reviews!- is a real standout in a busy field of early counting books.”

Click here to read the full review

Triceratops Stomp Reviews

Posted on May 9th, 2019 by pajamapress

Kirkus Reviews

Cover: Triceratops Stomp Author-Illustrator: Karen Patkau Publisher: Pajama Press“[D]ino fans will delight in this onomatopoeic romp. Extra information about other dinosaurs found throughout the story is appended at the end. Fill your storytime with prehistoric sound.”

Click here to read the full review

School Library Journal

“A serviceable addition for the most devoted toddler dino fan.”

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The Globe & Mail

“Young readers will find themselves stomping and romping and thudding about just like the baby dinosaurs in Patkau’s lively onomatopoeic text.”
—Jeffrey Canton

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Youth Services Book Review

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

You have to love a book where a mother triceratops scares away a t-rex — nice for a change in dinosaur stories….While reading this story, I kept thinking how perfect it would be for a toddler story time. The illustrations are adorable and there are plenty of sounds and movements for young children to mimic such as tap-tap, peck-peck, poke-poke, wriggle-wriggle, cheep-cheep, munch-munch, and roarrr, just to name a few….Also, the last page of the book illustrates seven different dinosaurs along with some interesting facts. A challenge is also presented to see if you can find these dinosaurs throughout the pages of the story….

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

Click here to read the full review

CM Magazine

“[C]hanges to the size of the font and capitalization encourage the reader to read aloud with enthusiastic vocal variation…

Extra content includes a concluding ‘Can You FIND ME in the Story’ page that invites readers to return to the book and locate the seven dinosaurs that appear somewhere in the book….The closing endpapers carry the text ‘This is how BIG we were’ and provides a size comparison of all the dinosaurs with a human family standing at the side. Recommended.”
Saeyong Kim is a public librarian who lives and works in British Columbia.

Click here to read the full review

Lili Macaroni Reviews

Posted on May 8th, 2019 by pajamapress

Kirkus ★ Starred Review

Cover: Lili Macaroni Author: Nicole Testa Illustrator: Annie Boulanger Publisher: Pajama Press“Self-confidence is hard to come by when classmates make fun of the things that make Lili Macaroni herself….Boulanger’s changing perspectives and use of shadows to stand in for other kids’ teasing set the mood, Lili’s exuberant brightness changing to more somber tones with her sadness. Lili and her family are white; there is one black classmate. From Québec, a wonderfully empowering message to be yourself, with a strategy to ease heartache added for good measure.”

Click here to read the full review

School Library Journal

“The resolution isn’t in the other children being kinder or abandoning their teasing. Although that is implied, the resolution that matters comes from within Lili as she draws upon her own inherent strength and resilience to overcome life’s challenges. The illustrations are colorful and engaging, with clean lines and a contemporary feeling. VERDICT A comforting tale of self-acceptance following the tradition of Kevin Henkes’s Chrysanthemum and Patty Lovell’s Stand Tall, Molly Lou Melon.
—Alyssa Annico, Youngstown State University, OH

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

Foreword Reviews

“Sunny illustrations and Lili’s infectious smile stand out as she spreads positivity with honest conversations, creative solutions, and a homemade paper butterfly perched on her shoulder….Through [Lili Macaroni], children will learn the importance of spreading kindness.”

Click here to read the full review

ILA Literacy Daily, “Compassion, Empathy, and Understanding”

“Although it might not be a part of the Common Core State Standards or easy to measure, teaching our students compassion, empathy, and understanding is an important part of the curriculum. Following are some recently published books that are good choices for reading aloud to foster discussion as well as for independent reading….Lili is fortunate to have an understanding teacher in Mrs. Tamara, who hugs her when she shares her feelings and her polka dotted butterfly. Her classmates feel guilty about what they’ve done, and they come back to class after the weekend with their own butterflies.”

Click here to read the full review

Montreal Gazette

“For those of you with children who are about to start school, or return to class, here are some picture books — both new publications and recent noteworthy titles, generally aimed at ages four to seven — that might ease the transition. If nothing else, sharing them with your youngsters may prompt some of your own recollections and give you both something to talk about.

Lili Macaroni, by Nicole Testa and illustrated by Annie Boulanger (Pajama Press) — both Quebecers — tells the story of a cheerful, rambunctious redhead who discovers, when she starts school, that not everyone is kind….she starts to pull away from the rest of the kids and grows unhappy at school — until her father suggests she create one of the polka-dot butterflies she likes to draw. It lifts her spirits, and when she explains to her teacher and classmates why she’s wearing it on her shoulder, the results make school a much happier place for Lili.”

Click here to read the full review

CM Magazine

“Nicole Testa writes Lili Macaroni’s name in a unique orange, cursive font throughout the text. Even when Lili feels like erasing herself and reimagines her life with a new image, she still knows deep down that she must stay true to who she is—Lili Macaroni. Illustrator Annie Boulanger uses fun, playful colours to match Lili’s personality with the exception of a gloomy, grey colour palette on the pages when Lili’s heart is aching.

Lili Macaroni sends the message to children that they should be always stay true to who they are, no matter what others say or think, and that there are always solutions to help mend a broken heart. Lili Macaroni would still be a suitable addition to home collections and kindergarten classroom libraries due to the storyline. In particular, it would be a useful book to teach resilience and empathy….Recommended.”
—Andrea Boyd is an early years’ teacher in Winnipeg, Manitoba, and a graduate student at the University of Manitoba.

Click here to read the full review

Youth Services Book Review

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

What did you like about the book? Little red-haired Lili is happy to have hair just like her Mom’s ‘I am the way I am. I’m Lili Macaroni.’ She makes up songs and reads her favorite books out loud. She draws polka-dotted butterflies and counts stars at night. When she begins school, she is happy until other kids make fun of her name calling her Macaroni-and-cheese and then make fun of her wild red hair and her freckles….With her Dad’s help she draws a beautiful polka-dotted butterfly, cuts it out and pins it to her shoulder for the next day at school. She explains to the teacher why she has done this and then to the rest of the class. The following day many of the children come in with their own butterflies pinned to their shoulders. Lili proves herself to be strong, courageous and resilient. The artwork is wonderful in expressing the emotions of Lili and the students.”
—Katrina Yurenka, Manager, Youth Services Book Review

Click here to read the full review

Youth Services Book Review

What did you like about the book? This book definitely fits the social-emotional category of picture books….Readers would likely be able to use some of [Lili’s] strategies in their own lives. The end of the book also lists some related activities readers could try, including making their own butterfly, building positive self-esteem while creating a self-portrait, and playing ‘Follow the (Kind) Leader’ with friends….

To whom would you recommend this book? Great for teachers or families to read with children as an introduction to discuss self-esteem, bullying, and heartache. Read-alike for Chrysanthemum (by Kevin Henkes). Best for ages 4-7-ish.”
—Sarah Bickel, Greenlodge Elementary School, Dedham Massachusetts

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CanLit for LittleCanadians

“Teasing can be playful but it can also be bullying and very young children don’t always know when one has become the other. In the mean while, there are little ones like Lili who must endure humiliating comments about their physical appearance and then wish they were anyone other than themselves. Fortunately, author Nicole Testa surrounds Lili with some very astute adults who recognize the little girl’s need to feel good about being herself. Without hoovering up her bad feelings or demanding the school take action, they allow Lili to make her coping strategy work for her. It’s positive and it’s empowering.

Quebec illustrator Annie Boulanger, who illustrated Nicole Testa’s French-language Lili Macaroni: Je suis comme je suis! (Dominique et compagnie, 2017), gives Lili all the attributes the text imbues her with. She’s a little wild, a lot of fun, and a whole lot of smart. She’s colourful and inquisitive and enthusiastic. But when she’s sad, the light is gone from her eyes and her clothing and the page.

For young children going off to school for the first time, Lili Macaroni will help prepare them to recognize teasing that is insensitive and harmful and help them handle it for themselves as well as for others.”

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Sal’s Fiction Addiction

“I have been reading this new book almost every day since it arrived in the mail. There’s a great reason for that. My granddaughters are here to visit this month, and they love listening to it before bed each night….The colorful illustrations help children know and appreciate Lili’s personality; they only change with the sadness she feels. We talked about the changing perspectives and how seeing something from above was an interesting way to watch what the children were doing. Many small details held our attention and provided for discussion.”

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Canadian Bookworm

“This picture brings to life the issues surrounding bullying….When she considers how to feel better, her father encourages her to draw her favourite kind of butterfly, she takes her butterfly to school and tells her class why she has it, and why she felt bad before she made it. This is good, showing people how sharing feelings can make others aware of a problem they may not have noticed. Her teacher handles it well, and things get better at school. Lili now has learned one way to cope with her feelings.

The book includes some activities inspired by this story at the back, a great idea for kids struggling with negativity.”

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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.”

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Midwest Book Review

My Puppy Patch is a simply delightful story from author, performer, and children’s librarian Theo Heras and will prove to be a great introduction for young children about caring for and training a puppy. Complemented by Alice Carter’s warm, inviting illustrations and a sturdy format complete with padded cover, My Puppy Patch is an exceptional and unreservedly recommended addition to family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library picture book collections for children ages 3-6.”

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Resource Links

“Illustrations are vibrantly joyous, done with a fun palette in watercolours, pencils, and digital art. Children will pour over the bright, fun drawings on every page, and the occasional words written in a childish hand with coloured pencil are delightfully whimsical.”
—Nicole Rowlinson

Read the full review on page 3 of the April 2019 issue of Resource Links

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

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Toronto.com “More Fun Picture Books for Kids 3+”

“Young children who have, or are planning to get, a dog will like My Puppy Patch….This simple story about children and raising canine family members touches on topics such as socialization, training and caring for a puppy. Good illustrations complement the text.”

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CanLit for LittleCanadians

“Getting a new pet is a great responsibility and I am delighted that this bright child takes that responsibility seriously now that Patch has joined their household….

For families getting a new dog, Theo Heras gives some excellent advice about canine care, and this little girl is doing it all right, understanding that Patch has basic needs for health and well-being but also for learning and emotional care. Their relationship is certainly one of friendship but the learning goes both ways as the child shows flexibility in her expectations and as Patch’s skills in following commands are reinforced.

Ottawa artist Alice Carter preserves the lightness of Theo Heras’s message about the interrelationship between child and puppy by keeping her illustrations bright and colourful and her characters effusive in their expressions….

For children taking on the responsibility of a puppy, My Puppy Patch emphasizes the joys and only occasional but natural missteps as part of the process of learning to cultivate a solid relationship between child and dog. It may be work, like any education, but it’s worth it.”

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Canadian Bookworm

“I liked that the story showed good ways to look after a pet, and the bond that develops between the child and the dog. I loved how the endpapers show the two along with the girl’s drawings and lists pertaining to Patch.”

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The Castle in the Sea Reviews

Posted on April 5th, 2019 by pajamapress

School Library Journal

Cover: The Castle in the Sea Author: Mardi McConnochie Publisher: Pajama Press

“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

Kirkus Reviews

“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.”

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Booklist

“As in the first book, this sequel offers commentary on the refugee crisis, often using humor to alleviate the tense material, but McConnochie also delivers higher stakes, daring escapes, wild storms, and pirate battles in a second adventure sure to please young thrill-seekers.”
— Elizabeth Konkel

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The Horn Book Magazine

“This equally fast-paced, action-driven sequel to The Flooded Earth (rev. 3/19), set in a post-climate-change society, begins three weeks after twins Will and Annalie, Essie, Pod, and parrot Graham escaped Little Lang Lang Island…McConnochie expands the setting of her post-Flood world, sending the characters to distant lands and introducing new cultures…The book also begins to explore the scientific and ethical challenges of climate-altering technology, leaving plenty of questions to be resolved in the next volume.”
—Sarah Rettger

Read the full review in the July/August 2019 issue of The Horn Book Magazine

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

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Resource Links

“Rating: E…McConnochie showcases the action filled chapters with two points of view set forty years after a massive flood that destroys most of the earth’s surface. One focuses on the crew of the Sunfish ship and the other is on the protagonist Will and his friend Essie who fall off the ship. Even though Will and Annalie are in a fight for their lives to find their father against pirates, Admiralty, castles, rocks and more, the sea, it’s vastness, mightiness and its glory is the main focus. It is an expansive depth that carries secrets and messages just like the crew and that draw parallels to impending issues affecting the world and its future from migration and climate concerns.

The Castle in The Sea will keep you diving in for more…”
—Lara Chauvin

Read the full review on page 12 of the April 2019 issue of Resource Links Magazine