Pajama Press

Posts Tagged ‘historical’

Namesake shortlisted for IODE Violet Downey Book Award

Posted on May 20th, 2014 by pajamapress

Namesake_CPajama Press is proud to announce that Namesake by Sue MacLeod has been shortlisted for the National Chapter of Canada IODE Violet Downey Book Award.

Given each year to the best English-language book for children aged 13 and under that contains at least 500 words of text, the award will be celebrating its 30th anniversary on May 30th, 2014. That night, at IODE Canada’s National Annual Meeting, the winner of this year’s award will be announced from a shortlist of five titles.

IODE Canada is “a national women’s charitable organization dedicated to enhancing the quality of life for individuals through education support, community service and citizenship programs.” For more information, visit the organization’s website at www.IODE.ca.

Pajama Press extends its heartfelt congratulations to Sue MacLeod.

Quill & Quire reviews Sylvia McNicoll’s Revenge on the Fly

Posted on May 16th, 2014 by pajamapress

RevengeFly_C_Dec5.indd“In veteran children’s author Sylvia McNicoll’s new book, grief and anger are the overriding emotions 12-year-old Will Alton feels over the loss of his baby sister and mother to illness in the family’s native Ireland, even as he and his father embark on a fresh start in 1912 Hamilton, Ontario. When Dr. Roberts, Hamilton’s health officer, visits Will’s new school to speak about the role of flies in the transmission of disease, and to announce an essay and fly-killing contest (“You can be a hero to your city, vanquish disease, and win great prizes too”), Will is eager to win.

As determined as Will is to kill “the miserable creatures that had caused my family so much grief” and win $50 to help his father find them a new home (away from the rooming house of the vile Madame Depieu), hostile classmate Fred Leckie is just as relentless. Worse still, Fred has the advantage of being wealthy enough to bribe others to do the work for him, and a father with a factory of workers whom he compels to help his cause. Fortunately Will is tireless, clever, and goodhearted, attributes that are always valuable when facing challenges.

McNicoll never allows her characters or storyline to become predictable. Will, his father, and the rest of the cast possess individual voices that ring true and avoid cliché. And, while the ending is satisfying, it isn’t neatly tied up with a bow. Rather, McNicoll illustrates how difficult life was for poor immigrants in the early part of the last century by framing their struggles against a tragic, peculiar episode in Canadian history.”

—Helen Kubiw

Moon at Nine is “sensitive and passionate”—Quick Brown Fox

Posted on April 18th, 2014 by pajamapress

MoonAtNine_C“…Multi award-winning author Deborah Ellis excels in creating stories of determination in the face of adversity and social injustice. Here, she presents us with a sensitive and passionate tale based on the true life experiences of a young woman in Iran, where execution is the accepted form of punishment for gays or lesbians.

This is a story of love, courage, perseverance and ultimate betrayal by family, friends and country. Beautifully told, Ellis’s work represents the struggles and efforts of young people everywhere to gain acceptance in a world where inclusivity is not just a dream, but a reality.”

Click here to read the full review.

Graffiti Knight nominated for R. Ross Annett Award

Posted on April 11th, 2014 by pajamapress

GraffitiKnight_MedPajama Press is proud to announce that Graffiti Knight by Karen Bass has been nominated for the R. Ross Annett Award for Children’s Literature.

Administered by the Writer’s Guild of Alberta, the R. Ross Annett Award was established in 1982 in honour of the author of the popular Babe & Joe series.

A historical novel about a young man struggling to find his voice in Soviet-occupied East Germany in the years after World War II, Graffiti Knight is the winner of the 2014 CLA Young Adult Book of the Year Award. It was also chosen as a 2013 Ontario Library Association Best Bet and a 2013 Resource Links “The Year’s Best” selection.

Starred Review for Moon at Nine from Ken Setterington for Quill & Quire

Posted on March 21st, 2014 by pajamapress

MoonAtNine_C_Oct5.indd

“With her multiple award-winning works of fiction and non-fiction, Deborah Ellis has introduced readers to the harsh realities of life for youth around the world. Her latest novel, based on a true story, is another powerful, realistic tale that will capture the attention of teen readers.

In Moon at Nine, Ellis expertly weaves the politics, religion, and culture of 1988 Iran into the story of Farrin, a 15-year-old girl who obediently tries not to draw attention to herself. Her family’s wealth and support for the Shah put her at odds with the other girls at her Tehran school. When a new girl named Sadira arrives at the school, Farrin finds it impossible to maintain her low profile.

Sadira is irreverent, studious, and challenging. Most of her family was killed in a bombing and she now lives with her father in a small apartment. This austere existence contrasts with the lavish lifestyle maintained by Farrin’s family. Still, the girls become fast friends, and find their feelings developing slowly and realistically into love.

Homosexuality is illegal in Iran, and Ellis carefully handles the cultural taboos and legal restrictions of lesbian relationships. When the nature of Farrin and Sadira’s involvement comes into question, the girls’ lives change drastically. Farrin’s grandmother suggests a hasty engagement and marriage. Classmates are charged with policing the girls’ conduct, and when a secret kiss is observed at school, all contact between them is prohibited. The title comes from a pact made by the girls before they are separated—and eventually imprisoned—to look at the moon every night at nine o’clock, knowing the other is doing the same.

Moon at Nine is a riveting tale of young girls being true to themselves and their love, set against a political and cultural backdrop few readers will have first-hand knowledge of. Ellis once again proves she is a master storyteller. Readers will remember Farrin and Sadira long after the final page has been read.”

—Ken Setterington, author of Stonewall Honor Book Branded by the Pink Triangle

CM Magazine highly recommends Moon at Nine

Posted on March 7th, 2014 by pajamapress

MoonAtNine_C_Oct5.inddBasing her book on a true story, Ellis has written a heartbreaking tale of prejudice and injustice. Ellis contrasts the sanctioned horrible treatment of human beings with an illegal love story...The characters are complex and carefully drawn…

While we recognize some progress in our country in terms of gay and lesbian rights, Moon at Nine is a sobering reminder that being gay or lesbian is still a criminal offence in many countries in the world, and for many, the penalty is death. Ellis has given us this reminder with yet another beautifully written story, the love story of Farrin and Sadira.

Highly Recommended.”

Click here to read the full review.

Moon at Nine is “haunting”—Kirkus Reviews

Posted on February 26th, 2014 by pajamapress

MoonAtNine_C_Oct5.indd“In a novel based on a true story, two teen girls fall in love and face harsh political fallout in post-revolution Iran.

Readers learn the basics of 1980s Iran’s political situation from context and light exposition. Farrin’s family is wealthy, and her mother hosts Bring Back the Shah teas and parties with illicit alcohol. Farrin’s mother discourages her from making friends…When Farrin meets Sadira, however, the two become fast friends, and their bond soon grows. Then, just after the war with Iraq has ended and the new regime is cracking down at home, an officious class monitor catches the two girls kissing and reports them. The consequences are both chilling and tragic…[T]he portrait painted of 1980s Iran’s political climate—and in particular the situation of gay and lesbian people and political prisoners—is haunting.”

Graffiti Knight “a riveting page-turner”—Canadian Children’s Book News

Posted on February 20th, 2014 by pajamapress

GraffitiKnight_MedExcerpt from the article “Exploring History through Fiction” by Rachel Seigel, Canadian Children’s Book News Winter 2014

“History is the succession of events that shape our present and our future, and one of the best ways to engage children in learning history is through historical fiction. Good historical writing offers insights into people and events from the past, and helps children to understand how the world we live in has been shaped by those events…

The last book, Graffiti Knight by author Karen Bass, takes readers to Soviet-occupied Germany in 1947, and is a riveting page-turner that readers will find impossible to put down.

Sixteen-year-old Wilm and his family live in Leipzig, Germany, a town scarred heavily by WWII and now occupied by the Soviets who are brutal and oppressive. The war has also left its scars on his family, but Wilm is finding his voice, sneaking out at night to leave messages on police buildings. What he’s doing is dangerous but exciting, and Wilm feels justified considering how much his family has suffered. When one mission goes too far, Wilm finds he’s endangered the people he’s tried most to protect, and he’s forced to take drastic action to keep them safe.

The setting is detailed and richly drawn, and Bass successfully creates an atmosphere of tension and fear. Wilm’s family are no strangers to Soviet brutality, and after witnessing a group of soldiers terrorize his crippled father, he decides it’s time to act.

His minor acts of rebellion give him a sense of power and control that he lacks in his daily life. The more he succeeds in angering the police, the more his game escalates, until it culminates in one final act that puts him and his family in a life-or-death situation.

The spelling of ‘knight’ in the title is a clever play on words, as Wilm’s acts take place under the cover of night and, at the same time, implies heroism. Wilm is a complex and fascinating character and readers will be left to decide whether his actions are heroic or simply reckless.

A skilled storyteller can bring history to life, and while the four highlighted books span different countries, cities, and historical periods, all effectively present these events through the eyes of the children living in them, and more deeply connect readers to the past.”

Graffiti Knight is “an eye opener”—Ms. J’s Book Reviews 4 School Libraries

Posted on January 27th, 2014 by pajamapress

GraffitiKnight_Med“I thoroughly enjoyed the pace and historical details in this novel.  Karen Bass—the author, gave me a sense of the difficulties of living in a communist, post war Germany in 1947.  I learned many details and now I have even more questions about life after World War 2.”

Click here to read the full review.

Amy’s Marathon of Books is in Halifax with Namesake

Posted on January 17th, 2014 by pajamapress

Namesake_C_Dec13v2.indd“…Where reading non-fiction books can at times be dry and daunting, fiction opens up the same topics in a new way, providing characters a reader can personally connect with interspersed with historical facts.

Sue MacLeod’s Namesake is a spectacular example of this. I loved the way she took some liberties with Lady Jane’s story, while still staying true to the historical aspects. MacLeod also manages to make Jane and Lady Jane’s characters equally fleshed out and relatable.

…I would recommend this book more for early teen readers, but it’s a must read for lovers of historical fiction.”

Click here to read the full review.