Posted on September 16th, 2013 by pajamapress
In a recent article titled “Lost Childhood,” School Library Journal contributor Kathleen St. Isaacs highlighted books “about child refugee experiences and children who’ve found safe havens, but have haunting memories.” The selections are “emotionally rich narratives, often with a political subtext.” They include two books published by Pajama Press:
A Good Trade by Alma Fullerton, illustrated by Karen Patkau
“Gr. 1–3—On his daily trek to get water, a Ugandan boy sees a treasure in an aid truck—bright new sneakers—and finds just the right thing to exchange. Colorful illustrations full of details of daily life in a war-torn country will show well when the spare text is read aloud.”
One Step at a Time: A Vietnamese Child Finds Her Way
“Gr. 4–6—A seven-year-old Vietnamese refugee, newly arrived in Canada and unable to understand the language, faces a painful operation to straighten an ankle bent by polio. Tuyet’s poignant story was begun in Last Airlift: A Vietnamese Orphan’s Rescue from War (2012) but readers don’t have to have read that to enjoy this story of healing.”
Learn more about School Library Journal here.
Posted on August 22nd, 2013 by pajamapress
“Alberta author Karen Bass’s latest novel is a character-rich story about a 16-year-old boy struggling with anger, loyalty, and rebellion. What makes Graffiti Knight different is the setting: Soviet-occupied Eastern Germany in 1947.
Wilm and his impoverished family live in a tiny flat in war-ravaged Leipzig. His father is a crippled, bitter war veteran, his sister an emotionally paralyzed victim of the Soviet invasion, and his mother a ghost-like figure fighting to keep the family together. The only people in Wilm’s world with any power are the Soviet occupiers and the brutal collaborationist East German police; everyone else compromises and tries to get by.
Minor acts of rebellion give Wilm a thrill and offer him a sense of power that he is otherwise lacking. Unfortunately, the minor vandalism he and his friends see as a game escalates dangerously. Suddenly, Wilm finds himself dragging his family and friends into a deadly race to escape across the border into the American zone.
The characters in Graffiti Knight are multi-faceted and their motivations complex. Wilm, in particular, represents an excellent portrayal of how teenage anger can sometimes lead to stupidity. In attempting to assert his individuality, Wilm is seduced by the power he feels carrying out sabotage. But does that mean he is the same as the enemies he is trying to outwit? …Wilm is a thoroughly believable character who invokes the reader’s sympathy (and a sense of frustration at his actions).
Bass has artfully recreated an historical time and place peopled by realistic, three-dimensional characters grappling with their own emotions and global forces they can only barely understand.”—John Wilson, whose latest novel is Stolen (Orca Book Publishers)
Posted on August 2nd, 2013 by pajamapress
“Maclean’s novel in verse has a hypnotic rhythm that pulls readers into the mind of 15-year-old Nix. Formerly known as “Fatty Humbolt,” he is struggling with his crush on Loren Cody, the girlfriend of the best player on the hockey team, and his love-hate relationship with his older sister, Roxy. With her “Vampire Red” hair, endless stream of boyfriends, and rebellious energy, Roxy is the polar opposite of Nix, who likes to fade into the background and thinks it’s hard to talk to anyone, let alone members of the opposite sex. Nix finds solace and self-expression in his woodworking. Then Roxy falls for Bryan Sykes, a popular but notorious cad and politician’s son, and Nix is forced to come out of his shell and find his voice. The poems successfully capture the cadences of modern teenage speech and behavior in unadorned language. The sparse verse also provides the perfect narrative voice to express Nix’s taciturn strength. Readers used to a diet of cliché-ridden YA fiction will enjoy this refreshing take on the teenage plight, and, although the ending is particularly painful and poignant, the hard-won hopefulness of Nix’s growth will linger with them long after the poetry ends.”
Posted on August 1st, 2013 by pajamapress
“PreS-Gr 2–With echoes of “Mary Had a Little Lamb,” this amusing tale set in a Kenyan school garden tells the story of students and their teachers making soup. A girl’s recalcitrant goats, however, do little to help with the process: “Kioni has a herd of goats,/with hair of calico./And everywhere Kioni goes,/those goats are sure to…Oh, no!” Finally, one clever student realizes that the animals have just the right ingredient to add to the meal: their milk. This title will be a fun read-aloud, with lots of opportunities for listeners to predict the upcoming action. The full-color, mixed-media collages steal the show. The illustrations add texture and vibrancy to the tale and advance the plot on several wordless pages. The book ends with a recipe for pumpkin vegetable soup. A great choice for group sharing or for units on communities.”
—Sara-Jo Lupo Sites, George F. Johnson Memorial Library, Endicott, NY
Click here to learn more about School Library Journal.
Posted on July 26th, 2013 by pajamapress
Pajama Press is pleased to announce that Nix Minus One by Jill MacLean is a Publishers Weekly Pick for the “Best New Books for the week of July 29, 2013.” One of eight selections in a variety of genres, MacLean’s book was chosen by PW‘s editors from among their many previously-reviewed, recently-released titles.
You can view the full list of PW Picks here.
You can read PW‘s review of Nix Minus One here.
Posted on July 22nd, 2013 by pajamapress
“Not all children’s books need to be moralistic; some just express, simply and effectively, how it feels to be a child. Hoogie in the Middle is just such a book.
Hoogie might be in the middle of her monster family, but she is front and centre in this delightful picture book. Young readers caught in the middle like Hoogie will certainly identify; even their siblings will find themselves portrayed in positive ways in the pages. Hoogie is always caught in the middle, so much so that sometimes she ‘feels like the hole in the middle of a donut’: sadly invisible to all of her family. Eventually, her sadness becomes too much and ‘Hoogie… EXPLODES!’ Sometimes it takes a drastic reaction to get adults to notice…
Hoogie in the Middle does not condone loss of temper so much as present frustration as a real part of the childhood experience, as much as the imaginative play that Hoogie and her siblings engage in. The simple comparisons made between Hoogie, her older sister Pumpkin, and their baby brother Tweezle, are balanced and sufficiently repetitious to create a memorable, lilting narrative that will help young readers to learn the words as they go, or to enjoy the sounds as their parents read to them.
Combine Stephanie McLellan’s gentle and effective wordplay with Dean Griffiths’ fabulous, colourful illustrations, and you have a book that feels like Hoogie at the end: ‘like the jelly in the middle of a sandwich: Sweet.’”
Rated E: Excellent, enduring, everyone should see it!
Posted on July 22nd, 2013 by pajamapress
“Fullerton masterfully runs through the paces and emotions of tracking down the pesky, calico haired goats, her illustrations colorful and very tactile. Very different and visually appealing with her mixture of painted and reference materials, cloth and cut outs[.] I really liked the feel of the illustrations.”
—Agy Wilson, author/illustrator
Click here to read the full review.
Posted on July 17th, 2013 by pajamapress
“A modern-day Canadian girl named Jane Grey travels back in time to meet the Lady Jane Grey, imprisoned in the Tower of London in 1553.
Bookish Jane is doing research for a paper about her namesake Lady Jane Grey, the 15-year-old who was queen of England for nine days and later executed by Queen Mary. Finding an old prayer book, she reads a prayer out loud and is transported to the Tower of London, where only Lady Jane, who calls her “Namesake,” can see her. Using the prayer book to time travel at will, she becomes friends with Lady Jane and tries to think of a way to save the brilliant and innocent teenager. Meanwhile in the present, Jane tries to escape her alcoholic mother’s increasingly aggressive and bizarre behavior. When the two stories collide just before Lady Jane’s scheduled execution, Jane struggles to save herself and her friend. MacLeod writes the modern sections in a heightened style that almost feels more like poetry than prose. She writes Lady Jane’s dialogue in Tudor English, modifying it only slightly for modern readers. Her vivid descriptions of the filthy turmoil of 1553 London, when even the nobility often had lice, should open some eyes. Most importantly, she strives to get the history right.
Suspenseful, emotional and powerful.”
Posted on June 3rd, 2013 by pajamapress
“The recipe for Fullerton’s second picture book, after A Good Trade, involves a bit of “Stone Soup,” a dash of “Mary Had a Little Lamb,” and a rural Kenyan setting…there’s much to enjoy in Fullerton’s textured illustrations, from the goats’ wooly hides, to the dark green vegetation in the garden and thickly painted hills in the distance.”
Click here to read the full review.
Posted on May 26th, 2013 by pajamapress
On Thursday, May 23 a group of book lovers gathered at Another Story Bookshop to celebrate Namesake by Sue MacLeod. There was a lot of positive energy, plenty of insightful questions, and even some bakery-fresh cookies. Thank you to everyone who came out to the launch!