Pajama Press

Posts Tagged ‘school-library-journal’

French Toast and Elliot are selections on School Library Journal blogger Elizabeth Bird’s “2016 Books with a Message”

Posted on December 15th, 2016 by pajamapress

FrenchToast_WebsitePajama Press is thrilled that Elizabeth Bird has selected both French Toast by Kari-Lynn Winters, and illustrated by François Thisdale, and Elliot by Julie Pearson and illustrated by Manon Gauthier as books on her list “2016 Books with a Message.”


Click here to read the full book list

The Hill has “broad appeal for teens and tweens,” says School Library Journal

Posted on August 23rd, 2016 by pajamapress

TheHill_WebsiteAfter the private plane Jared is flying in crashes in the wilderness, the first person to reach him is another teen, Kyle, a member of the Cree nation. Desperate to use his cell phone, Jared insists on climbing a hill, though Kyle warns him against it. Kyle ends up going with Jared to protect him. Both boys are thrown into a spirit world; they are pursued by the Wîhtiko, a flesh-eating monster and occasionally helped by the trickster Wolverine as they attempt to find their way back to their own world with Kyle’s grandmother’s prayers as guidance. Along the way, stereotypes are confronted and the boys become tentative buddies in their fight for survival. Told mostly from Jared’s perspective, the narrative shows his personal growth as he follows Kyle’s lead to stay alive. The boys realize that in order to return to their world they must stop the Wîhtiko—or die trying. In the notes, the author explains her use of the Cree language and legends and discusses the individuals with whom she consulted when using them. Kyle often serves as a guide for Jared and helps him realize his own biases, a trope often found in literature. The writing is descriptive and fast-paced, with an impending sense of dread overshadowing everything as the boys try to outrun and outwit the Wîhtiko. VERDICT: A survival and buddy story with broad appeal for tweens and teens.
—Tamara Saarinen, Pierce County Library, WA

Root Beer Candy and Other Miracles a “lovely and poignant novel”—School Library Journal

Posted on August 9th, 2016 by pajamapress

RootBeerCandyAndOtherMiracles_WebsiteEleven-year-old Bailey keeps her eyes open for miracles. She and her younger brother, Kevin, are spending the summer with their grandmother while their parents are in a marriage counseling program. Bailey’s fear that her parents may separate along with concern about her new friend, Daniel, who has cystic fibrosis, leads her to look for magic in many forms—including a mermaid-shaped piece of driftwood that Bailey refers to as a “gift from the ocean.” Told in verse, Green’s writing captures the hopes of a young girl who is starting to recognize the complexity of relationships. Among Bailey’s new friends in Felicity Bay, a seaside Canadian town, is Jasper, a retired preacher who foresees that “a stranger from the sea will change everything.” Things do begin to change, most of all in Bailey’s life. When a chalice from the church goes missing and many of the townspeople suspect Jasper is the culprit, Bailey is determined to discover the truth. Along the way, Bailey learns important lessons about Felicity Bay that lead to healing between family members and friends and within herself. Dialogue written in italics, along with spacing between speakers, renders the narrative accessible and immediate to readers. Ultimately, Bailey makes peace with life’s inevitable challenges, and she recognizes that her time in Felicity Bay was indeed magical. VERDICT Recommend this lovely and poignant novel to middle grade readers who enjoy coming-of-age stories.

Click here to read more from School Library Journal.


School Library Journal recommends Good Pirate as “a wise choice for most libraries”

Posted on August 9th, 2016 by pajamapress

GoodPirate_WebsiteCaptain Barnacle Garrick and his daughter Augusta, last seen in Bad Pirate, return with more adventures. Augusta wants to be a fancy pup, but she’s the daughter of a pirate captain, so she needs to be rotten, sneaky, and brainy. Despite her best efforts to be good and foul, she can’t help but groom herself, enjoy wearing pearls, and love the smell of vanilla. When Captain Barnacle Garrick and the other pirate pups run into trouble, it’s Augusta and her fancy vanilla smell, lovely pearls, and brain that save the day. Fans of the first title will be pleased with this continuation of Augusta’s story. While chock-full of pirate slang and appeal, this tale is a great example of being true to oneself despite what others might say, and should be recommended as such. VERDICT A first purchase for pirate picture book collections and a wise choice for most libraries.

Click here to read more from School Library Journal.


Next Round by John Spray, “holds a lot of appeal for young sports fans”—School Library Journal

Posted on June 17th, 2016 by pajamapress

NextRound_Website“Gr 4-8–An intense opening scene: on one side of a bridge, hardened Russian soldiers, on the other, a young Arthur Biyarslanov with his family and 120 other Chechen refugees, hoping to cross through Dagestan to reach Azerbaijan. This biography follows the future Pan-Am Gold Medalist and Olympic hopeful as he fled Chechnya; sought refuge in Baku, Azerbaijan; and finally settled in Toronto, Canada. A gifted athlete, Biyarslanov helped to settle this tumultuous childhood by focusing on sports—first soccer, then boxing. This title has the same emphasis, telling the stories of his athletic achievements in simple, easy to read prose. Spray does well to provide context for young Biyarslanov’s reputation as the “Chechen Wolf,” a fearless fighter (his at-times aggressive behavior is attributed to his father’s death, his experience with the Russian soldiers, and being forced into poverty). Larger, outside conflicts (such as why he, his family, and others were forced to leave Chechnya) are glossed over. Ending chapters explore Biyarslanov’s rivalry with Zsolt Daranyi Jr., his decision to pursue boxing full-time, and his performance in the Pan-Am Games, with a look toward the upcoming Olympics and the future. VERDICT This selection holds a lot of appeal for young sports fans, and its accessible and straightforward storytelling will make it especially tempting to reluctant readers.”

School Library Journal’s verdict: Elephant Journey “a great addition for lessons on wildlife and the ethics of zoos.”

Posted on June 17th, 2016 by pajamapress

ElephantJourney_WebsiteGr 2-4–The story of three zoo elephants and their journey to a new home. Toka, Thika, and Iringa were not thriving in the barren, small, and often frozen enclosure at the Toronto Zoo. When the zoo decided to send the unhappy pachyderms to another location, animal advocates spoke up and convinced officials to send the elephants to Performing Animal Welfare Society (PAWS), a California animal sanctuary. Thus began their three-day trek across the continent. On a stormy October night in 2013, the caravan set off. Along the way, the animals encountered a number of difficulties but ultimately reached the safe haven that was their destination. Laidlaw chronicles the trip, combining key facts with absorbing storytelling. His forthright narrative is complemented by Deines’s luminous oil paintings, which expertly use color and light to track the emotional trajectory of the elephants from discomfort and misery to anxiety and fear and then, finally, to delight and contentment. The image of the newcomers being greeted by the waving trunks of the three elephants already residing at PAWS glows with golden light and reflects the joy of the occasion. A supplementary appendix includes background information and photographs of the actual trip. VERDICT A great addition for lessons on wildlife and the ethics of zoos. Pair with Sandra Markle’s The Great Monkey Rescue: Saving the Golden Lion Tamarins or Toni Buzzeo’s A Passion for Elephants: The Real Life Adventure of Field Scientist Cynthia Moss.

School Library Journal calls A Year of Borrowed Men a “precious gem”

Posted on April 19th, 2016 by pajamapress

A Year of Borrowed Men | Michelle Barker & Renné Benoit | Pajama Press“Based on a true story, this precious gem evokes compassion in a way that is sure to resonate with young audiences. Told from the perspective of seven-year-old Gerda, the tale explores the warmth that can exist among individuals whose countries are at war with one another. Gerda’s “borrowed men” are three French prisoners of war during World War II. The men have been sent to work on her family’s farm in Germany at the same time that her father has been sent into battle. The generosity and human kindness shown by Gerda’s family—especially by the little girl herself—are contrasted with the cold, punishing actions of the village policeman, Herr Mohlen. On a particularly cold night, Gerda’s mother invites the French POWs (who normally eat, sleep, and live in the pig kitchen, where meals for the pigs are prepared) inside for dinner. The next day, Herr Mohlen “borrows” Gerda’s mother and threatens her with prison. The child narrates that a neighbor must have seen them (the author’s note explains the promotion and practice of neighbors spying on one another). But friendly bonds are formed in spite of the formidable authorities, and when the war is over, Gerda is just as sad to say goodbye to her amis as they are to leave their little freunde. The concept of “borrowing” in wartime—first introduced by Gerda’s mother when explaining the sudden appearance of the French POWs (“She said we were just borrowing the French men”) and peppered throughout the text—is sure to spark conversation about the so-called rules of war, especially with the reveal in the author’s note that Gerda’s father (also referred to as “borrowed”) and, later, her brother Franz die in combat. Photos preceding and following the text document what Gerda, her family, and the farm looked like. Illustrations done in watercolor and colored pencil, with a touch of pastel, create a beautiful backdrop that darkens and lightens with the tone of the narrative. VERDICT Purchase where nuanced portrayals of family during World War II are needed. Keep the tissues close by!”Gloria Koster, West School, New Canaan, CT

Going for a Sea Bath “reminiscent of Robert Munsch’s writing” —School Library Journal

Posted on February 8th, 2016 by pajamapress

GoingForASeaBath_Website“Leanne does not have the standard tub toys. She bathes with real turtles, eels, clown fish, and sea horses. Her dad delivers them to her footed bathtub after she complains about her boring bath-time. Each time he runs to the beach behind their house, he returns with a successive number of animals. The tub becomes too full when 10 octopuses are dropped in, so the dad and the daughter have a sea bath outside in the ocean. The humor in this story is reminiscent of Robert Munsch’s writing. It’s over-the-top but heartfelt, and the bright cartoon art is a hoot. Seeing all of the creatures of different sizes, textures, and colors in the tub is anything but boring. VERDICT A fun addition for those looking for new bathtime or numbers books.”
—Tanya Boudreau, Cold Lake Public Library, AB, Canada

School Library Journal reviews Once Upon a Line

Posted on December 17th, 2015 by pajamapress

OnceUponALine-COVER-FAKE-FOIL_RGB_500px“The cover asks, ‘Where do stories come from? How do ideas begin?’ and the title answers, ‘Once upon a line.’ The book begins with a Harris Burdick–like framing device describing a folder of pictures found inside an old steamer trunk. Readers are invited to take the paintings and a humorous beginning line to develop original stories. Unlike Van Allsburg’s mysterious, moody illustrations, Edwards’s are more fanciful. Rendered in watercolor, pencil, and gouache, most of the pictures depict animals in strange situations. Many of the images are visual jokes, such as a chicken chasing an egg with legs, accompanied by the text ‘Once upon a line, there was a great race. No one knew who would come first until the fluffy one began to….’ Each full-page illustration is boxed by a white border on three, not four, sides, leaving even the pictures open-ended. By themselves, the funny pictures will amuse readers; going further, the situations should inspire creative writing. Edwards adds a puzzle element by hiding the same drawn line in each picture. An answer key is included at the end of the book….”

School Library Journal enjoys Evie Brooks is Marooned in Manhattan

Posted on October 1st, 2015 by pajamapress

MaroonedInManhattan_Website“Evie Brooks, 12, is at a crossroads: her mother, who was an American, has died, and her mother’s brother Scott insists that she should leave her home in Dublin, Ireland, and live with him in New York City. Evie wants to stay in Ireland with her mum’s friend, but she agrees to try New York for the summer. Uncle Scott is a vet, and the tween spends her days helping out at his clinic, making some new friends, and learning what Scott’s snooty girlfriend thinks of his new charge, which is not much. By the end of the summer, Evie has decided to stay after all, a predictable outcome—not so predictable, however, is a final twist that paves the way for a sequel. VERDICT An enjoyable, light read that will particularly draw in animal lovers, who will learn a lot about animal care from Evie’s work with Uncle Scott.”

—Etta Verma