Pajama Press

Posts Tagged ‘diverse-books’

CanLit for LittleCanadians says "[this] is a story of survival, even if Van Ho was Too Young to Escape"

Posted on October 10th, 2018 by pajamapress

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

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

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

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CM Magazine calls Too Young to Escape "a page-turner"

Posted on October 9th, 2018 by pajamapress

Cover: Too Young to Escape: A Vietnamese Girl Waits to be Reunited with Her Family Authors: Marsha Forchuk Skrypuch and Van Ho Publisher: Pajama PressRating: 5…Van’s story is necessarily informed by Skrypuch’s research and imagination in addition to Van’s memories of her distant childhood as corroborated by other members of her family. The product, is an extremely engaging account of a childhood in challenging circumstances….

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

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

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

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

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Kirkus Reviews calls Too Young to Escape: A Vietnamese Girl Waits to be Reunited with Her Family "a truthful yet age-appropriate introduction to big issues"

Posted on September 17th, 2018 by pajamapress

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

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My Beautiful Birds is “both fascinating and heart-breaking” says The Crimson Review of Children’s & YA Literature

Posted on September 8th, 2018 by pajamapress

Cover: My Beautiful Birds Author: Suzanne Del Rizzo Publisher: Pajama Press“This refugee experience, written from the unique perspective of a small boy, is both fascinating and heart-breaking. While the story is lovely, the real successes are the polymer clay illustrations, done by the author. They are brightly colored, have wonderful detail and give the story some nice texture. This book is relevant and lovely, and is an excellent book to teach children about being a refugee.”
Reviewed by Lindsay Davis

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I Read Kids’ Books Journal says My Beautiful Birds “inspire[s] empathy and understanding…for young readers”

Posted on September 6th, 2018 by pajamapress

Cover: My Beautiful Birds Author: Suzanne Del Rizzo Publisher: Pajama Press“There is a fine line to walk when writing for children about the horror and deprivation of war, especially when that story is about a child of the same age. The author needs to inspire empathy and understanding without causing anxiety for the young readers. In My Beautiful Birds, Del Rizzo has done a masterful job of straddling that line and in doing so has not only given a beautiful story, but also a teachable moment for kids ages 4-10….

I am not even going to be shy about admitting that I had no idea what this book was about when I picked it up. I simply judged this book as ‘need to read’ by the positively stunning artwork on the cover, art that has been perfectly described as dimensional illustrations. I am fond of using a euphemism for ‘leaping off the page’ when it comes to talking about art in children’s books, but that is such pale terminology for what this book offers. If there were no text to tell the reader what is happening in the story, the reader would still be pulled in to Sammi’s world; Birds fly, the smell of smoke fills the air, you can feel the grit of the sand and the hear the rasping of canvas tents. Sammi’s fears and hopes have been rendered in infinite detail with this beautifully textured sculpted art.

The war in Syria and other parts of the world are in the news almost nightly. In addition to being a wonderful story, this book can also be a tool to explain to little ones about the war and the people it affects. It is told in a way that is completely accessible to kids and adults alike….

I am looking forward to Del Rizzo’s latest release, in the fall, A World of Kindness.”

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Literacious calls Small Things “A truly powerful story”

Posted on September 4th, 2018 by pajamapress

Cover: Small Things Author: Mel Tregonning Publisher: Pajama PressPersonal Reaction: This is an extremely powerful, wordless graphic novel about the anxiety and worry that affects one little boy and yet is so universal in its imagery. I think this would make a powerful addition to an older elementary and even middle school classroom and would be a great conversation starter for a class, book discussion or even one-on-one about anxiety, expectations, and self care….A truly powerful story that will resonate with many.”

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2 Pajama Press books featured on CBC Books “13 Canadian middle-grade books to watch for this fall” recommended reading list

Posted on August 23rd, 2018 by pajamapress

Swallow’s Dance by award-winning author Wendy Orr and Too Young to Escape: A Vietnamese Girl Waits to be Reunited with Her Family by debut author Van Ho with Marsha Skrypuch have both been featured in the 2018 CBC Books “13 Canadian middle-grade books to watch for this fall” reading list.

The Theory of Hummingbirds gets an “Excellent” rating from Children's Books & Media Reviews from Brigham Young University

Posted on August 22nd, 2018 by pajamapress

“Michelle Kadarusman uses her own personal experience to weave a beautiful story about change, friendship, acceptance, and finding your place in the world. The characters develop naturally throughout the story and the emotions are described in a way that helps the reader relate to the book and stay engaged and absorbed in the story. The Theory of Hummingbirds would be great for any student in upper elementary, middle school and high school. The book doesn’t contain any language or sensitive material, making it a great book for anyone young or old. The way that Alba deals with her differences and life struggles is inspiring and will change the life of anyone who reads her story.”

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Kirkus Reviews says A Good Day for Ducks is “just right to enjoy after a rainy-day outing”

Posted on July 24th, 2018 by pajamapress

“Impressionistic illustrations use light, splashy washes of color with scratchy ink outlines and white backgrounds, conveying both the excitement of the rainy outdoor scenes and the familiar, cozy atmosphere inside. The simple plot, short length, and rich vocabulary make this a fine choice for toddlers just beginning to listen to real stories, but there’s enough interest and action for older preschoolers as well. Just right to enjoy after a rainy-day outing while sipping a cup of hot chocolate and perhaps wearing a pair of bunny slippers.”

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Canadian Children's Book News calls The Theory of Hummingbirds an "endearing story"

Posted on June 18th, 2018 by pajamapress

TheTheoryOfHummingbirds_Website“In her first middle grade novel, author Michelle Kadarusman skilfully uses emotional honesty to capture the turmoil of not fitting in and the hard journey to acceptance in terms children can easily understand. Alba’s spirited nature keeps her afloat through the tough times having a clubfoot has caused, but she is not immune to wanting to be like her classmates, or dreaming of breaking free from her disability.

Alba and Levi’s friendship is a joy to read about. Able to ground each other when needed, they also support putting aside skepticism and doubt for the sake of the other….Drawing on a tale from Peru, Kadarusman ends The Theory of Hummingbirds with the constructive message that all we can do is what we can do. Even a hummingbird dropping beads of water on a raging fire makes a difference, and Alba’s endearing story is sure to change readers as well.”
—Amy Mathers

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