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Posts Tagged ‘ccbc’

Canadian Children’s Book News reviews “riveting” Moon at Nine

Posted on July 23rd, 2014 by pajamapress

MoonAtNine_C_Oct5.indd“Growing up in Tehran in the 1980s, Farrin’s entire life has always been filled with secrets. As secret supporters of the Shah who was overthrown by the Revolutionary Guard in 1979, Farrin’s parents’ illegal activities in support of the Shah could land them all in serious trouble. Her mother has always warned her not to draw attention to herself. Consequently, Farrin has never had close friends at school where she endeavours to keep a low profile. But everything changes when she meets a new girl named Sadira. Sadira’s friendship brings colour and brightness to her days, and soon Farrin knows that her feelings for Sadira are stronger than friendship. But this is Iran, and being gay is considered a crime. Farrin and Sadira cling to a desperate hope that the can somehow be together. But when the truth about their relationship is discovered, they are confronted with the harsh and terrible penalty that they must face for loving one another.

True to form, Deborah Ellis has crafted a stark, riveting and uncompromising account of life in a country and era that is markedly different from our own. Even the day-to-day details of Farrin’s life – the cruel, ever-suspicious school monitor always looking for an excuse to report her to the principal; her father’s driver stealing food from Farrin’s house to feed the other Afghan workers – create a strong sense of the political and religious climate of this time and place. Although the evolution of Farrin and Sadira’s relationship is not shown or explored in any real depth, their plight is nonetheless dramatically depicted. The strength of this novel is in its ability to highlight the social injustices that are still sadly present in our world today. Its heartbreaking and unflinching honestly will both engage readers and create heightened awareness.”

– Lisa Doucet

Learn more about Canadian Children’s Book News here.

4 Pajama Press books selected in Best Books For Kids & Teens

Posted on May 12th, 2014 by pajamapress

The Canadian Children’s Book Centre‘s semi-annual publication Best Books for Kids & Teens has selected four Pajama Press books in its Spring 2014 edition:

NatTheCat_CNat the Cat Can Sleep Like That by Victoria Allenby with illustrations by Tara Anderson

Stowaways_CThe Stowaways by Meghan Marentette with illustrations by Dean GriffithsStarred Selection

GraffitiKnight_CGraffiti Knight by Karen BassStarred Selection

CatChampions_CCat Champions: Caring for our Feline Friends by Rob LaidlawStarred Selection

Congratulations to our authors and illustrators whose work has been honoured!

Snuggle Up and Read for Family Literacy Day

Posted on January 31st, 2014 by pajamapress

A small school in North Bay, Ontario hosted a remarkable event for Family Literacy Day this week.

Inspired by the Family Literacy Day booklist compiled by the Canadian Children’s Book Centre, a teacher at J.W. Trusler Public School decided to organize a “Snuggle Up and Read” event, inviting parents to bring their pajama-clad children to school in the evening for cookies, milk, and story time. The evening’s feature family-themed book? Hoogie in the Middle.
Stephanie meeting her audience

Stephanie meeting her audience

Stephanie McLellan, author of Hoogie in the Middle, heard about the event. Undeterred by a long, snowy drive and the expectation of a small audience (J.W. Trusler only has about 150 students), she decided to attend herself. The school staff, eager to welcome an award-winning author, spread the word to families, baked cookies, and acquired enough milk and books for a crowd.

The next day The North Bay Nugget described the event, which ultimately included over thirty families—more than 100 people: “Children came in their pyjamas and brought pillows, blankets, and favourite books. Board superintendent Amanda Meighan also read the award-winning bedtime story, ‘Nat the Cat Can Sleep Like That.'”
Debbie Woods introducing Stephanie

Debbie Woods introducing Stephanie

Debbie Woods, the teacher who organized the event, described families using blankets and pillows to create cozy campsites on the gym floor while they listened to the stories. Stephanie McLellan called it “a fantastic event” on social
media, adding that “Debbie had a goodie bag for every family which included a book…”

Pajama Press salutes Debbie, Stephanie, and the CCBC for doing so much to encourage literacy and a love of books among children and their families.

Full Pajama Press list recognized in Best Books for Kids & Teens

Posted on December 1st, 2013 by pajamapress

Pajama Press is thrilled to announce that every book in our Spring 2013 list has been recognized in the Canadian Children’s Book Centre‘s Fall 2013 edition of Best Books for Kids & Teens. Those books are:

NixMinusOneNix Minus One by Jill MacLeanStarred Selection

Namesake_LRNamesake by Sue MacLeod

HoogieInTheMiddle_LRHoogie in the Middle by Stephanie McLeallan, illustrated by Dean Griffiths

CommunitySoup_LRCommunity Soup by Alma FullertonStarred Selection

Congratulations to Jill, Sue, Stephanie, Dean, and Alma!

CCBC features Community Soup and Nix Minus One

Posted on November 28th, 2013 by pajamapress

The Canadian Children’s Book Centre has compiled a list of great children’s books for the 2013 holiday season. They include two books published by Pajama Press.

CommunitySoup_Med

Community Soup by Alma Fullerton

Kioni loves her goats but they can be big trouble! On soup day, when all the other children are gathering vegetables from the community garden, Kioni is gathering goats! Luckily the kids have a great idea, and soon Kioni’s four-legged are helping to make the soup a delicious success…

Kenya / Community Gardens / Community Kitchen

Nix_C_PRINT_Nov13.indd

Nix Minus One by Jill MacLean

Quiet, out of shape, and bold only around the neighbourhood’s neglected dog, Nix is the polar opposite of his vibrant sister Roxy. But he’d do anything for her, even hide her late-night partying from their parents. When Roxy goes too far, Nix feels like it’s his life that’s spiralling out of control.

Death / Grief / Bullying / Healing

 

 

Click here to see the full Great Reads for the Holidays 2013.

Canadian Children’s Book News calls Namesake “a gem”

Posted on November 1st, 2013 by pajamapress

Namesake_C_Dec13v2.indd“Jane Grey is a student in Nova Scotia preparing a history project on her namesake, Lady Jane Grey, who was the queen of England for nine days in 1553, a political pawn in the intrigues of the Tudor era. Jane discovers Lady Jane’s Book of Prayre mixed in with her research books from the library and it carries her back to Lady Jane during the last few months of her life. The two teenagers become friends and confidants, helping each other through everything that happens in both of their lives.

MacLeod uses words sparingly and lovingly in Namesake, revealing just enough to carry the reader through the lives of both Janes, just enough to capture the imagination and draw us into the story. Her descriptions of High School ring completely true as do the times when Lady Jane is trying out modern language. The abuse suffered by both girls is also treated gently, realistic without being harrowing.

The modern Jane is strong and inventive, carrying on an active inner life and finding a way to improve her own life — even when her attempts to change 16th century events fail.

Without a misstep, Namesake proceeds from a tantalizing prologue to the satisfying conclusion. Perfectly constructed, this book is a gem.”

Willow Moonbeam is a math professor and librarian.

Click here to learn more about Canadian Children’s Book News.

TD Canadian Children’s Book Week with Alma Fullerton and Sylvia Gunnery

Posted on May 6th, 2013 by pajamapress

Alma Fullerton

Two Pajama Press authors begin their TD Canadian Children’s Book Week tours today: Alma Fullerton in Alberta and Sylvia Gunnery in Manitoba. The Canadian Children’s Book Centre interviewed both of these wonderful authors before they left.

Click here to find out why Alma struggled to read as a child

Click here to find out what famous writer’s hometown Sylvia is excited to visit.

And then click here to learn more about the TD Canadian Children’s Book Week!

Sylvia Gunnery

Alma Fullerton is the author of two Pajama Press books: A Good Trade (2012) and the upcoming Community Soup (June 1, 2013). Her novels Libertad, Burn, Walking on Glass and In the Garage have earned her many awards.

Sylvia Gunnery is the author of Emily For Real (Pajama Press, 2012) and more than fifteen other novels for young people. A recipient of the Prime Minister’s Minister’s Teaching Award, she regularly gives presentations and writing workshops young people, inspiring them to write just as they have inspired her.

Sylvia Gunnery profiled in Canadian Children’s Book News

Posted on April 18th, 2013 by pajamapress

“Author Sylvia Gunnery on learning, writing, eavesdropping, teaching”

by Kathleen Martin
(reprinted with permission from Canadian Children’s Book News Vol 36 No. 2, Spring 2013)

Sylvia Gunnery had to turn her writing desk away from the ocean. “I was getting distracted too much,” she says. There are trees outside the window next to her desk now, and on the day we talked, a group of ducks wandered past, peering in at her in an inquiring way.

Above Gunnery’s desk in her home at Crescent Beach, Nova Scotia, there is a small basketball hoop and ball. “They were on a huge cake (fellow writer) Nancy Wilcox Richards had as part of the launch for my book Out of Bounds at Bayview Community School in Mahone Bay.”

The hoop hangs on a framed print from the Writers’ Trust of Canada that is signed by Margaret Laurence, Margaret Atwood, Pierre Berton and Graeme Gibson.

“They are the writers who did the groundwork for the rest of us to continue on,” says Gunnery, her tone momentarily serious. “It is a big reminder for me that they made space for us.”

Gunnery built her writing studio after she retired from teaching and after years of working in “a little corner of a space.” This studio, she says, “is wonderful. And it is full of nice things that remind me about what I care about and who I am.”

In this space, Gunnery completed her most recent novels, Emily for Real and Game Face. And, in this space, a stone’s throw from the Atlantic, Gunnery is — even after publishing 15 books — working hard at continuing to develop her skills.

How has being retired changed your writing process?

I taught because I loved teaching young people. Still do! I was not a teacher to financially support my writing. But there are lots of bonuses to being a retired teacher. The biggest bonus is time. I loved teaching and made sure I always did the best job I could possibly do to inspire my students to care about reading and writing and all the other ways in which we get to know who we are and how we fit into this world. That meant a big commitment of time. Looking back, I have no idea how I managed to write all those books during the 80s and 90s. The two months of summer were a gift! Now, I come to my writing studio in my home every day to write, to read, to research, to revise, to connect online with other writers, and on and on… And that’s a gift, too.

But you have lost daily access to your target audience!

In the late 70s, I had a few stories published in literary magazines, so I thought I was on my way down that path. Then, a close friend changed my direction when he said, “You’re always telling stories about your students. Why don’t you write teen fiction?” Two weeks later, a new student was brought to the door of my Grade 8 classroom. Immediately I wondered what might have brought her to our school halfway through the school year and how might she feel about what’s happening in her life. I’m Locker 145, Who Are You? started at that very moment and it was published a year later (in 1984) by Scholastic. I’ve been stealing stories from students’ lives ever since!

 

As for having daily access to my target audience, like any other writer, I watch and listen. No matter where I am — in an airport, on a bus, in crowded school hallways, walking on the beach, waiting in a line-up — I’m always eavesdropping on teens, wondering why they’re saying what they’re saying or doing what they’re doing.

When you first began writing, you had the good fortune to bump into some of Canada’s greatest writers.

In 1976, I went to the Banff Centre for the five-week summer writing session. My focus was on short fiction for adults, and one of the session mentors was Alice Munro. Serendipity multiplied by 1,000! I’ve had so many lucky gifts in my life. Budge

Wilson, who lives less than an hour away in the summers, and Joyce Barkhouse were two of them. I met Joyce Barkhouse first, in Halifax. She was 30 years older than me. We lived in a little house on Birmingham Street where my apartment was in the basement and hers was the middle one. She could hear my noisy parties, and she’d say to me, “I’ll just put my good ear to the pillow.” When I had my first short fiction published in

Canadian Fiction Magazine, she said, “Sylvia, you are a real writer.” My spine straightened up because Joyce Barkhouse had said this. We had a wonderful friendship. We spoke of writing so much. Writers don’t come out of a vacuum. You come out of your experiences and the support of your community.

Did you always plan on writing?

Being from the north end of Halifax and reading only British and American authors in school, the idea of becoming a writer didn’t occur to me. I didn’t go to Banff until I was 30. But I always wrote, even as a little kid. I am from a storytelling family. We would sit around the table until the leftover food turned to glue because we were talking. There was constant storytelling. And when I was little, my older sister, Barb, would read to me from thick hard-covered books at night. And then we’d turn out the light and she’d say, “Okay Shrimp, tell me a story.” I’d make up stuff to tell her — always about hope and strength and moving on and joy.

You have done a lot of writing about how to teach young people to write. You’ve written two books on the subject for educators. What is your advice to people — teachers and mentors — trying to inspire new writers?

At Banff during that summer writing session, I discovered a significant barrier to successful writing in schools — choice. As well meaning and thoughtful teachers, we were always trying to come up with the best writing topics to engage our students and make them care about writing. But they were our topics. Our choices. Unless the writing themes truly belong to the students — not as a group, but individually — the writing will simply be an assignment done for marks in a course. There’s not much room for the kind of commitment necessary to real writing. When I go to schools to do writing workshops, teachers sometimes say that I shouldn’t expect much because the kids just don’t like writing. Those teachers always seem really happy when I prove them wrong. It’s not magic — it mostly comes down to choice.

I’m interested in why we choose to write the stories that we do. What do you think it was that drew you to Emily for Real?

What I started with, before I even imagined Emily herself, was the idea of family secrecy, especially the effects of secrets on the people who don’t realize the secrets even exist. My theory — and I had enough evidence for this in memoirs I’d read or from personal stories shared with me by acquaintances — was that secrecy would eventually rot a family from the inside out. But as Emily told her own present-tense story, my theory about family secrecy changed. I came to see that the family would not necessarily rot from the inside out if they all truly loved each other and demonstrated that love.

Emily’s extended family does that. Like my own did. Our house on Hillside Avenue in Halifax was home to Mom, Dad, my older sister, my grandfather Gunny, and my godmother we all called Tettie. If I fell backwards, there was always that cushion of love there to break my fall. As Emily tells her story, she comes to see that her life will not always make sense and that there’ll be lots of surprises, but she also recognizes the support that love offers.

You’ll be talking about Emily for Real as part of this year’s TD Canadian Children’s Book Week. I have also heard you speak passionately about Nova Scotia’s Writers’ in the Schools program. Why do you think these kinds of opportunities matter?

When people can see that somebody values something enough to call it a “Week,” that’s a gigantic huge message in itself. I think it’s important for the public — people going to libraries, kids in schools — to hear the language around author visits, illustrator visits, storytellers, and to realize that it’s part of their environment too. A friend visiting me said recently, “When I was in school, words were everywhere. But now — words aren’t anywhere anymore.” That’s true for a lot of people. And unless we have these celebrations and they are not token — not “book minutes” but “book weeks” — people in Canada can lose words. If we don’t say these things, they will be gone. And to be one of those messengers sent out across the land — it’s just thrilling!

—Kathleen Martin is a writer living in Halifax.

Click here to learn more about Canadian Children’s Book News

Nix Minus One is “complex and engaging” —Canadian Children’s Book News

Posted on April 18th, 2013 by pajamapress

At 15, Nix Humbolt is taller and leaner than in his “Fatty Humbolt” days, but he still keeps a low profile at school. He finds refuge in his father’s workshop where he builds intricate boxes and tables – and avoids arguments with his older sister Roxy. When Roxy starts dating Bryan Sykes, Nix knows he’s bad news – but what can he do? The only battles he ever fights are on his Xbox – until the day he finds the nerve to fight for Swiff Dunphy’s neglected dog. When things start to spin out of control, this dog might just be the one who saves him.

Award-winning author Jill MacLean uses verse to tell an emotionally resonant story of an extremely introverted teenager. Nix still thinks of himself as the bullied fat boy, and he struggles to find his voice. He’s fiercely loyal and intelligent, and has a strong sense of justice, but when it comes to acting on it, he feels helpless. The one area where he can do something is to take care of the neglected and abused dog, whom he calls Twig.

While never explicitly stated, MacLean draws a subtle and effective connection between Roxy and Twig in Nix’s mind. The more out of control Roxy becomes, the more desperate Nix is to save Twig. Just when he thinks he’s failed at that, too, it’s Roxy who surprisingly gives him the strength he needs to fight for what matters to him. Nix Minus One is also a story about transformation, and MacLean skilfully parallels Twig’s transformation with Nix’s. As Twig transforms from a skittish, unhappy animal to a happy, healthy dog, Nix gradually is able to come out of his shell and emerge as a stronger, more confident boy.

MacLean’s books demand a lot from their readers, and Nix Minus One is no exception. Her characters are extremely authentic, and they will make the reader root for everything to turn out OK. The story is complex and engaging, and the deep themes make this an excellent novel for study and discussion.”
—Rachel Seigel is Selection Manager at S&B Books – a division of Whitehots.

 Click here to learn more about Canadian Children’s Book News.

Last Airlift is a CCBC Choice 2013

Posted on March 28th, 2013 by pajamapress

The Cooperative Children’s Book Center at the University of Wisconsin-Madison has released their CCBC Choices 2013 publication. Among the exemplary books selected is Marsha Forchuk Skrypuch’s Last Airlift: A Vietnamese Orphan’s Rescue from War, released in the US in 2012:

“The last Canadian airlift to leave Saigon during the Vietnam War was on April 11, 1975. The plane carried 57 babies and children, along with rescue workers. Son Thi Anh Tuyet was one of the orphans on board. About nine years old at the time, she was experienced helping care for younger children and babies—something she did all the time at the orphanage where she’d lived. So perhaps it was no surprise that when she first met the Morris family in Toronto a few weeks later, she assumed the couple with three young children had picked her to be their helper, not their daughter. But they had chosen her to be their child, and in the coming weeks and months, as Tuyet adjusts to life in the West, she also begins to understand what it means to be part of a family, and loved unconditionally. Marsha Forchuk Skrypuch never strays from Tuyet’s child-centered perspective in recounting her experiences. In an author’s note, Skrypuch describes interviewing Tuyet (obviously now an adult), who found that she remembered more and more of the past as she talked. Dialogue takes this narrative out of the category of pure nonfiction, but Tuyet’s story, with its occasional black-and-white illustrations, is no less affecting because of it.”

For more information about the Cooperative Children’s Book Center, visit their website at http://www.education.wisc.edu/ccbc.