Pajama Press

Posts Tagged ‘middle-grade-fiction’

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

Click here to read the full review

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.”

Click here to read the full review

Missing Mike "is a life-affirming, soul-soaring journey of love, loss, family, hope and the true definition of home" says Canadian Children's Book News

Posted on September 21st, 2018 by pajamapress

Cover: Missing Mike Author: Shari Green Publisher: Pajama Press“Award-winning author Shari Green has crafted an emotional and lyrically gripping tale capturing readers by the heart strings from page one with the unmistakable voice and keen observations of a young girl wise beyond her years. Indelible characters and realistic dialogue add depth, while short chapters and a free-verse format make for smooth transitions and quick comprehension, especially ideal for reluctant readers.

Missing Mike is a life-affirming, soul-soaring journey of love, loss, family, hope and the true definition of home. A standout book in the collection of any middle-grade reader, it will resonate particularly with those who love stories about the resiliency of the human spirit and the unbreakable bond between animals and their human families.”
—Jennifer D. Foster

Read the full review on page 32 of the Fall 2018 issue of Canadian Children’s Book News

Winnipeg Free Press calls Missing Mike “especially topical”

Posted on September 19th, 2018 by pajamapress

Cover: Missing Mike Author: Shari Green Publisher: Pajama Press“With the rash of wildfires that have threatened many communities this summer, B.C. author Shari Green’s middle-grade novel Missing Mike seems especially topical….

Green’s novel, written in blank verse, is full of dramatic images of the fire that engulfs the town, and helps emphasize the trauma wildfires can have not only on buildings but on the people who live in them. Good for ages eight to 12.”
—Helen Norrie

Click here to read the full review

CM Magazine calls Swallow's Dance "an epic tale for all ages"

Posted on September 17th, 2018 by pajamapress

Swallow’s Dance is a sweeping tale of courage, fortitude, hardship and perseverance against all odds. It is also a coming of age story, an intimate glimpse into the life of a young girl adjusting to puberty at a time when her family, friendships and her understanding of her place in the world are brutally torn apart. Wendy Orr has crafted a sympathetic, memorable heroine whose struggles and challenges transcend time from the Bronze Age to modern day. Youth will relate to and sympathize with Leira, and readers of all ages will find hope in Leira’s resilience and ability to adapt and move forward despite seemingly insurmountable obstacles. Orr delves into the universal themes of family, love, loss, friendship, status and endurance within an engrossing and moving tale. As in Dragonfly Song, Orr includes some of Leira’s thoughts in segments of beautiful lyrical prose that could easily function as stand-alone poetry. While suitable for middle grade students and a wonderful introduction to mythology and discussions surrounding puberty, spirituality, class, mental health, death and disaster, Swallow’s Dance is one of those rare books that is also just a great story, an epic tale for all ages.

Highly Recommended.”
—Cate Carlyle is an author and former elementary teacher currently residing in Halifax, Nova Scotia, where she is a librarian at Mount Saint Vincent University.

Click here to read the full review

The Flooded Earth “is a strong series opener with a unique and timely concept” says School Library Journal

Posted on August 31st, 2018 by pajamapress

Title: The Flooded Earth Author: Mardi McConnochie Publisher: Pajama Press“Originally published in Australia, this adventure novel is a strong series opener with a unique and timely concept. The fast-paced story will keep readers engaged, and solid world building will draw readers into this fascinating cli-fi (climate fiction) tale. VERDICT A timely addition to most middle grade collections.”
—Marissa Lieberman, East Orange Public Library, NJ

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

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.

Kiss the Book rates the audience appeal for Timo Goes Camping as “HIGH”

Posted on August 19th, 2018 by pajamapress

Cover: Timo Goes Camping Author: Victoria Allenby Illustrator: Dean GriffithsBUYING ADVISORY: EL (K-3) – ESSENTIAL 

AUDIENCE APPEAL: HIGH …

This early chapter book is a great read about planning ahead, taking notes, and being nice to your friends. The illustrations are so beautiful, this is a nice series.”

Click here to read the full review

The Flooded Earth is “an exciting and old-fashioned sailboat quest with pirates, secret codes, storms, and cannibals” says Kirkus Reviews

Posted on August 15th, 2018 by pajamapress

Title: The Flooded Earth Author: Mardi McConnochie Publisher: Pajama Press“A high-seas adventure stars 12-year-old twins Will and Annalie, who seek their missing father in a flooded, post-ecological-collapse world….As is typical of the cli-fi genre, McConnochie explores current-world issues within her adventure. Climate refugees and strict immigration laws have created a permanent underclass and a human trafficking problem, which privileged Essie begins to understand when the adventurers are joined by a starving former slave boy….Despite the post-disaster setting, an exciting and old-fashioned sailboat quest with pirates, secret codes, storms, and cannibals. (Science fiction. 10-12)”

Click here to read the full review

Storytime with Stephanie recommends the novel in verse Missing Mike for "all the different types of readers"

Posted on August 13th, 2018 by pajamapress

Cover: Missing Mike Author: Shari Green Publisher: Pajama Press“My newest favourite thing is a novel in verse. Until this year, I had never read one before and now I have four under my belt. The latest being Missing Mike by Shari Green, published by Pajama Press Inc. I LOVED it!

Missing Mike is a fabulous novel in verse set against of the wildfires that devastated Western Canada last summer….

There is so much going on in this story: the fear and sadness of the unknown, the heartache of missing/losing a pet, the separation between siblings as they grow into teenagers. While reading this story you will feel the fear, anxiety, and desperation Cara feels. Shari Green’s writing is so powerful you become a player in the story….

One of the most wonderful things about a novel in verse is the ease through which the reader is guided through the story. Chapters are short, sometimes only a few words long since they are all poems. These verses combine into a beautiful story that flows from one moment to the next. Also, they are a quick read and kind of perfect for all the different types of readers you will encounter. Novels in verse a great for reluctant readers because they feel short and unintimidating. They are great for avid readers as a novel in verse offers a different perspective and a different type of reading journey from the standard prose. A novel in verse is fantastic for dormant readers (once avid readers who no longer read for pleasure) to offer a shake up and something to reinvigorate their reading.

Missing Mike is such a timely and beautiful novel and deserves a space on your library/classroom/home bookshelves.”

Click here to read the full review

School Library Journal says Missing Mike “poignantly captures the harrowing impact of wildfires”

Posted on August 9th, 2018 by pajamapress

Cover: Missing Mike Author: Shari Green Publisher: Pajama Press“GR 4–6—When wildfires threaten her small Canadian town of Pine Grove, almost 11-year-old Cara Donovan and her family must abruptly evacuate, leaving behind her beloved dog, Mike, who has run off in the turmoil….This novel-in-verse poignantly captures the harrowing impact of wildfires and the cascade of emotions that engulf Cara. She agonizes over Mike’s fate, vacillates between hope and despair, and learns from the anxiety, grief, and resilience of others. Cara is an appealing, believable narrator whose story unfolds through succinct and vivid descriptions, interactions and vignettes with family and friends, and self-reflection. Her mix of fears, insecurities, optimism, and penchant for crossword puzzles will resonate….An appropriately realistic—but still happy and hopeful—ending brings a satisfying resolution. VERDICT Cara provides a dramatic and youthful eyewitness perspective on wildfires, evacuation operations, the kindness and generosity of strangers, and the traumatic uncertainty of loss. A timely addition to middle grade collections.”

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