Duck Days Reviews

Posted on October 14th, 2020 by pajamapress

Youth Services Book Review

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

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

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

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

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

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Winnipeg Free Press

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

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Canadian Review of Materials

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

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

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

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

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The International Educator

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

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CanLit for LittleCanadians

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

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

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Getting Kids Reading

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

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

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Storytime with Stephanie

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

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

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

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Canadian Bookworm

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

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Jill’s Book Blog

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

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Teaching Mrs. Muddle Reviews

Posted on October 14th, 2020 by pajamapress

School Library Journal

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

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.”

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Canadian Children’s Book News

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

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

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

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

CanLit for LittleCanadians

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

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

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

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Youth Services Book Review

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

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

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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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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

Snow Days Reviews

Posted on October 6th, 2020 by pajamapress

Publishers Weekly

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

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Kirkus Reviews

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

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Foreword Reviews

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

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

Quill & Quire

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

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

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CM Magazine

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

Postmedia

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

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CanLit for LittleCanadians

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

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

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

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Fab Book Reviews

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

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Canadian Bookworm

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

Click here to read the full review

Teaching Mrs. Muddle Teaching Guides

Posted on September 15th, 2020 by pajamapress

Cover: Teaching Mrs. Muddle Author: Colleen Nelson Illustrator: Alice Carter Publisher: Pajama PressClick here to download the Teaching Mrs. Muddle teaching guide.

The Library Bus Reviews

Posted on September 8th, 2020 by pajamapress

School Library Journal ★ Starred Review

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

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

Click here to read the full review

The New York Times

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

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Booklist

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

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

Kirkus Reviews

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

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

Click here to read the full review

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

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

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Shelf Awareness

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

Click here to read the full review

Quill & Quire

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

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

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

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Asian Review of Books

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

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

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

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The International Examiner

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

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

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Montreal Review of Books

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

Click here to read the full review

Midwest Book Review

“Drawing upon very real conditions confronting Afghanistan girls wanting an education, The Library Bus by the collaborative team of author/storyteller Bahram Rahman and artist/illustrator Gabrielle Grimard is an extraordinary, original, thoroughly ‘kid friendly’, and highly recommended addition to family, elementary school, and community library picture book collections for children ages 5-8.”

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CM Magazine

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

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

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

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Winnipeg Free Press

“Inspired by the first Library Bus to operate in Kabul, Bahram Rahman, who was born in Afghanistan and is now a senior policy advisor for the Ministry of Health in Ontario, has written The Library Bus to show how important it is for girls to be allowed to go to school….Gabrielle Grimard’s pictures wrap around whole pages with watercolour and digital abandon.”

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Postmedia

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

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The International Educator

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

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Canadian Bookworm

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

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Sal’s Fiction Addiction

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

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Harvey Holds His Own Interviews

Posted on September 2nd, 2020 by pajamapress

Cover: Harvey Holds His Own Author: Colleen Nelson Illustrator: Tara Anderson Publisher: Pajama Press

Open Book interview with author Colleen Nelson

Foreword Reviews interview with author Colleen Nelson

The Flooded Earth Teaching Guides

Posted on August 12th, 2020 by pajamapress

Click here to download the The Flooded Earth teaching guide.

Tickled Pink: How Friendship Washes the World with Color Teaching Guides

Posted on August 12th, 2020 by pajamapress

Click here to download the Tickled Pink: How Friendship Washes the World with Color teaching guide.

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

Posted on August 6th, 2020 by pajamapress

Click here to download the The Girl Who Rode a Shark: And Other Stories of Daring Women teaching guide.

Pumpkin Orange, Pumpkin Round Teaching Guides

Posted on July 30th, 2020 by pajamapress

Click here to download the Pumpkin Orange, Pumpkin Round teaching guide.

Nutcracker Night Teaching Guides

Posted on July 30th, 2020 by pajamapress

Cover: Nutcracker Night Author: Mireille Messier Illustrator: Gabrielle Grimard Publisher: Pajama PressClick here to download the Nutcracker Night teaching guide.

A Family for Faru Reviews

Posted on July 28th, 2020 by pajamapress

School Library Journal

Cover: A Family for Faru Author: Anitha Rao-Robinson Illustrator: Karen Patkau Publisher: Pajama Press

“Patkau’s bright digital illustrations show the greens, golds, and browns of the savanna and accurately portray the South African wildlife, making them easy for young readers to recognize. Rao-Robinson’s plot is predictably heartwarming and the text fun to read as listeners can stomp, slurp, and crash through the savanna along with Faru. VERDICT Having wide appeal, this story can introduce a range of topics, from adoption to African animals to endangered species. Young listeners will enjoy the introductory trek through the savanna and cheer when Faru finds a family.”
—Kristine M. Casper, Huntington P.L., NY

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Kirkus Reviews

“Fiction and nonfiction meet as a boy seeks to save an orphaned rhino….This picture book offers a colorful portrayal of a gentle rhino and a boy who cares for him and helps him survive. Readers will encounter many other animals throughout the savanna in Patkau’s illustrations, including egrets, giraffes, an ostrich, guinea fowl, and vervet monkeys. Young readers will also enjoy finding small insects, reptiles, and mammals along the journey. The backmatter offers insightful details on the poaching of rhinos, their endangered status, conservation efforts to save them, and Rao-Robinson’s story of her encounter with rhinos in South Africa that inspired the book.

A gentle story that helps children understand why wildlife conservation matters and why they should care.”

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Horn Book Magazine

“Patkau’s digital illustrations use shadows, reflections, and bright colors against the greens and browns of the savannah to make the figures pop. The presence of an armed ranger guarding the rhinos underscores the reality of protecting creatures from poachers, as described in an appended note. But it is the warm relationship between Tetenya and Faru, and the young boys’ bravery, that children will most likely remember.”
—Susan Dove Lempke

Read the full review in the November/December 2020 issue of Horn Book Magazine

CM Magazine

“An excellent feature of A Family for Faru is that it ends with age-appropriate factual information about rhinos that is worded in comprehendible, child-friendly language. There are brief descriptions about the history and appeal of rhinos, including why they have become an endangered species and where they can be found in the world. To add a personal touch at the end of this educational story, Anitha Rao-Robinson includes more about a family experience which inspired her passion for rhinos, and, in turn, inspired A Family for Faru. Both the story plot and end note are written in a way which is likely to be understood by a young audience and which encourages empathy towards animals….Smooth and distinctive images by award-winning illustrator Karen Patkau transport readers to the savannah setting….Beautifully written and illustrated, A Family for Faru is a most worthwhile addition to library collections. Recommended.”
—Andrea Boyd

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Postmedia

A Family for Faru is a touching picture book that combines a good story with, at the back of the book, a section pertaining to the plight of the endangered rhinoceros. The inspiration for the story involves a way that groups are researching that makes these incredible animals of no value to poachers. Excellent illustrations complement the story.”

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CanLit for LittleCanadians

“Anitha Rao-Robinson’s story is one of friendship and compassion but also conservation as her final note about ‘Rhinos’ elucidates….Anitha Rao-Robinson’s text evokes the camaraderie of rhino and boy in their companionable activities, whether it be collecting waterberries or hiking or resting and it’s Karen Patkau’s extraordinary digitally-rendered art that takes us to the savannah. Whether conjuring the acacia and jackalberry trees or the wildlife of Fatu and Tetenya’s home or the warmth of the grasslands habitat with her organic shapes and earthy colours, Karen Patkau’s illustrations take young readers to a land where a rhino can be protected by a boy and the bad guys can be thwarted by a clever child and a handful of berries.”

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