Pajama Press

Posts Tagged ‘Historical Fiction’

Youth Services Book Review calls Swallow's Dance "Top notch historical fiction"

Posted on October 11th, 2018 by pajamapress

Cover: Swallow's Dance Author: Wendy Orr Publisher: Pajama PressWhat did you like about the book? Top notch historical fiction for those who like it ancient!…Set during the Bronze Age, the story shows that migration has been a constant since time began, and that it has never been easy to lose your home and those whom you love and start over in a new place, in this case, Crete. Leira narrates, in prose and alternating poetry, the catastrophe and the emotional toll it takes on her and her family. Lots of animal sacrifice, daily ritual worship of the gods, and intense heartbreak for a young person unused to any hardship. The poetic interludes do a good job of describing the emotional journey. The scenes of devastation – earthquake in Santorini, tsunami in Crete – are riveting to experience through the lens of a survivor….

To whom would you recommend this book?  Definitely offer this to fans of Orr’s Dragonfly Song and to fans of historical fiction, ages 10-14.”
—Stephanie Tournas, Robbins Library, Arlington, MA

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Three Starred Reviews for Swallow's Dance by Wendy Orr!

Posted on October 3rd, 2018 by pajamapress

Booklist ★ Starred Review

“As she faces the demands of sheer survival, Leira gradually realizes that the privileges afforded to her, thanks to her social status, are meaningless, and she starts taking on whatever unpleasant job she must to protect herself and

her family. There are no miracles and no clear answers for Leira, but she learns to love what she has and that she can cope with anything. Leira’s lyrical first-person narrative advances the story along beautifully with a fitting sense of urgency, and free-verse songs clue readers in to her emotional development. Immersive historical fiction.”
—Donna Scanlon

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School Library Journal ★ Starred Review

“Gr 5-8–Leira’s sheltered life of privilege is all she has ever known. Her biggest concern is becoming a woman so she can start her priestess rites. Her people believe the earth goddess will protect them if the proper rituals and sacrifices are carried out, but an earthquake rocks their existence. Leira’s mother is crushed inside their home and suffers severe brain damage, and eventually her family chooses to take their chances by boarding a boat to Crete. As tragedy upon tragedy befalls the sweet but naive Leira in this Bronze Age–set tale, readers will cheer for her to succeed, grow, and to find her way in this new world. Some chapters written in verse make the more emotional plot lines sing. An eye-opening look at how difficult it is when one’s status changes in life, and how attitude can shape outcome. VERDICT Beautiful writing and a fast-moving plot will give young historical fiction fans much to love.”
–Mandy Laferriere, Fowler Middle School, Frisco, TX

Read the full review in the October 2018 issue of School Library Journal

Kirkus Reviews ★ Starred Review

“Spiritual and cultural beliefs blossom into a celebration of life—at least until the darkness of fear and ruthlessness of the earthmother rip apart a homeland and a cherished way of life. This mesmerizing, aching tale explores ancient beliefs in gods and nature and their impact on an Aegean island society in the Bronze Age….Orr nimbly shows Leira’s imperiousness and her humanity alike as the girl witnesses the jarring shift in order when once-exalted priests and priestesses find themselves cast adrift. Her mixture of prose and free verse to tell Leira’s story is lyrical and magnetic—and devastating. Not for readers searching for a simple or happy journey, this is a beautiful song of a book that shows that life isn’t always fair, but change is always constant.”

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Log Cabin Library calls Swallow's Dance "a wonderful mix of survival and a coming of age story"

Posted on September 28th, 2018 by pajamapress

Cover: Swallow's Dance Author: Wendy Orr Publisher: Pajama PressSwallow’s Dance is the fictionalized story inspired by the real events of a hurricane that occurred in 1625 BCE on the island of Thera (now known as Santorini) that resulted in a huge tsunami on Crete and the speculation of whether the people of Thera were able to flee to Crete before the city was buried.  Like Dragonfly SongSwallow’s Dance is told through a combination of prose and free verse. It’s a wonderful mix of survival and a coming of age story.

Leira is a resilient young girl who endures so many hardships once she arrives in Crete. One of her early concerns is that she will never be able to complete her learning to become a woman….Despite everything that she endures, she is still strong, fierce and strives to improve her living situation, to one day be free. You can’t help rooting for Leira as she vows to honor her people and claim who she is.”

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“Wendy Orr…uses her formidable writing skills, poetic prose and narrative poetry to bring [Dragonfly Song] to life” says Oregon Coast Youth Preview Center

Posted on April 3rd, 2018 by pajamapress

DragonflySong_WebsiteVerdict: Australian author Wendy Orr, author of Nim’s Island, uses her formidable writing skills, poetic prose and narrative poetry to bring this historical fiction to life, juxtaposing the old ways of Crete with the changes brought by the invading Minoans. Highly recommended for middle, high school, and public library collections.”
—Jane Cothron

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Pirates and Privateers warns readers that Two Times a Traitor “is near impossible [to put down]”

Posted on January 23rd, 2018 by pajamapress

TwoTimesATraitor_Website“[5/5 stars]…Two Times a Traitor is a riveting time-slip adventure. From first page to last you are caught in the vortex that whisks him from the present back to the past. When the sword slices his hand or musket balls whiz by, you feel and hear both. His emotions become yours as he wends his way through dangerous actions and foreign places where he doesn’t know the rules, yet his life depends on knowing them. Bass vividly recreates past places and times and her characters, both good and bad, compel you to discover how Laz resolves the conflicts he faces as he matures from an immature youth to a teenager wise beyond his years. Beware: Putting the book down is near impossible. Nor is this book just for older children and young adults; adults will equally be enthralled with this historical novel that explores a period in Canadian history of which few Americans are aware. Once you begin to read, you soon discover why this highly recommended book was chosen as a 2017 Junior Library Guild selection and one of the Best Books for Kids & Teens for 2017.”

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Kids’ Book Buzz gives Two Times a Traitor 4.5/5 stars!

Posted on December 17th, 2017 by pajamapress

TwoTimesATraitor_Website“We rated this book: [4.5/5]

I never thought I’d like a character who betrays his family and friends, but 12-year-old Laz is a character you are going to root for….

My favorite parts are full of action as Laz becomes a pirate, spy, and messenger and returns home to be an older brother and son. If you could travel through time through a medallion, then the rest is a pretty believable story. I like a lot of historical fiction, so this book really interested me, but I didn’t know a lot about Halifax or this particular war.”
—Neela, Age 9

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Canadian Children’s BookNews says “Resurfacing after being immersed in [Two Times a Traitor]…is certainly a challenge”

Posted on December 13th, 2017 by pajamapress

TwoTimesATraitor_Website“Two-time winner of the Geoffrey Bilson Award for Historical Fiction for Young People, author Karen Bass follows up Graffiti Knight and Uncertain Soldier with Two Times a Traitor, weaving an exciting tale of adventure, time travel and war, all within a historical perspective.

Bass’ writing provides a visceral experience of the events leading up to the Siege of Louisbourg, thrusting Laz into a life completely unknown to him, without technology, clean drinking water or regular bathing. Armed with his parkour skills and a certain knack for getting people to trust him, Laz manages to get by and even thrive under such harsh conditions….

Resurfacing after being immersed in Bass’ highly charged, patriotic and engrossing portrayal of 1745 is certainly a challenge, not just for Laz but for the reader as well.”
—Amy Mathers

Read the full review on page 26 of the Winter 2017 issue of Canadian Children’s BookNews

Log Cabin Library says the action in Dragonfly Song is “thrilling to say the least”

Posted on November 9th, 2017 by pajamapress

DragonflySong_WebsiteWhy I wanted to read this: Wendy Orr is the author of Nim’s Island, which I’ve read and enjoyed and once I read the premise of Dragonfly Song I was intrigued by how it is based on the legend of King Minos of Crete. and the Minoan civilization….

Dragonfly Song is written in both free verse and prose, which I thought was an interesting choice at first, yet Orr’s transitions come together smoothly, developing Aissa’s character and giving insights into her inner thoughts. Aissa was so resilient and even a bit silently rebellious, which I really appreciated about her character….[D]espite everything she grows into this strong girl determined to win her freedom and show everyone what she is capable of.”

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Dragonfly Song gets ★★★★ from reviewer Jill Jemmett

Posted on November 7th, 2017 by pajamapress

DragonflySong_WebsiteRating: ★★★★…I really enjoyed this story….[A] great introduction to the Ancient Greek style for young readers, if they also have some guidance from an adult.”

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Blue Stocking Thinking recommends Dragonfly Song for readers who “love being absorbed in another world”

Posted on November 6th, 2017 by pajamapress

DragonflySong_Website“I love the gentleness and the vulnerability in this story. I also love the hope, the knowing that there is more in store for Aissa. And I love Aissa’s sense of good and her perseverance. My goodness, she certainly perseveres.

This is a book to give readers that love being absorbed in another world. Readers that don’t need flashy events on every page, readers that can wait. It is so worth the wait.”

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