***/4 – Gabby: Drama Queen (Deakin Review of Children’s Literature)

Gabby Drama Queen front coverThank you to the Deakin Review of Children’s Literature for this thoughtful, smart review, by Leslie Aitken, of Gabby: Drama Queen.

If you want a Gabby book with a bit more plot, a bit more going on–a bit “busier”–than Drama Queen is the Gabby for you.

Three out of four stars!

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Tagged Out: 4/4 **** “Highly Recommended”

cm-review-tagged-out-screen-captureTagged Out has received a coveted 4/4 star review from CM (Canadian Review of Materials) journal and a “Highly Recommended” rating.

Well-written and full of relevant kid friendly information, Tagged Out, is an excellent read… Grant reflects the attitudes and behaviours of today’s young teens and made each of her characters real. Middle school kids will really enjoy reading this novel.

Thank you to CM and reviewer Elaine Fuhr. Read the whole review here.

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Great review of Tagged Out on 49th Shelf

With strong characters and lots of action, the deeper themes of Tagged Out ensure that even readers who aren’t familiar with baseball, or don’t consider themselves sports fans, will find many things to think about.

Thank you, 49th Shelf, for including Tagged Out in your wonderful list of summer reads!

And thanks to The National Reading Campaign’s Roseanne Gauthier for such a wonderful review. She really “gets” what I was trying to do with Tagged Out — it’s a really well written summary of the book and discussion of what else is going on in there. So great.

Here’s the National Reading Campaign’s review of Tagged Out.

And here’s the 49th Shelf list.

Capture 49th shelf August 2016 Tagged Out radar compilation by Kerry Clare



If you don’t know 49th Shelf, you should check it out — I refer to it as kind of a “Canadian Goodreads,” (which I, in turn, call “Facebook for books”).


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Resource Links calls Tagged Out “another home run for Lorimer!”

This is the first review of Tagged Out, and I couldn’t be happier about it.

I was encouraged and delighted by this positive, thorough and well-written review from Resource Links magazine. In my opinion, Patricia Jermey very accurately captures what I was trying to do with Tagged Out, and the motivation of the characters. Not only is it a wonderful review, but it’s a really great synopsis of the book. Thank you, Resource Links!

Resource Links logo

GRANT, Joyce Tagged Out (Sports Stories) James Lorimer & Co., 2016. 121p. Gr. 4-8. 978-1-4594-1075-6. Pbk. $9.95

Nash Calvecchio is not the usual teen protagonist: he is not the smartest, or the most popular, or the most talented athlete. His hard-edged persona has been formed in reaction to the very critical grandfather who has raised him. Baseball and his teammates are the most important things in his life.

When a new kid, Jock, joins the team, he threatens Nash in three ways: he is a better fielder than Nash, he quickly becomes friends with the other players, and he is openly gay. When he goes out of his way to give Nash baseball advice, Nash at first reacts badly. But after he realizes Jock really means to help, Nash works with him for extra practice.

When three bullies from an opposing team corner them late at night, Nash realizes he has to stick up for his friend. Once again, Lorimer Sports Series uses a popular team sport as a vehicle for effective social commentary. Jock is comfortable in his sexuality, although he confesses to Nash that he has never been sexually active.

This is a challenging topic for the target audience, age 10 to 13. Another home run for Lorimer Sports!

Thematic Links: LGBTQ Teens; Baseball; Teamwork; Friendship

-By Patricia Jermey

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49th Shelf’s “Most Anticipated” list (yay!)

Are you familiar with the Canadian readers’ website 49th Shelf? If not, head over there and register because it’s a smart, thoughtful portal for great books.

And with that in mind, ahem, it is with absolutely no modesty whatsoever that we point out that once again, they’ve shown excellent taste… and added Gabby: Wonder Girl to their “Most Anticipated Books” list for Fall 2015.

Well, 49th Shelf, all we can say is thank-you, and…




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Review of “Drama Queen” by Midwest Book Review

The Midwest Book Review published a wonderful review of Gabby: Drama Queen on its “Picturebook Shelf,” here.

Wait, wait… look at what they said:

“a delightful story filled with quirky colorful illustrations… a fantastic, fun learning resource for language, story writing, art, cooperative board games, and much more.”

You know, I love the midwest.

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Gabby: Drama Queen reviewed by “Readerly”

National Reading CampaignHere is a recent review of Gabby: Drama Queen, by “Readerly,” the blog of the National Reading Campaign.


By Gillian O’Reilly

When Gabby and her friend, Roy, decide to put on a play in the back yard, she grabs her special storybook of useful letters and throws it on the grass. Out bounce letters to help them build a S-T-A-G-E. Roy wants to be a swordfish and fashions a fine costume. Determined that the play should take place in a royal court, Gabby isn’t enthusiastic about his idea until he gathers enough letters to make her a C-R-O-W-N. From there, they continue to use the alphabet for set construction and present their brief –but grandiosely titled– play, “The Perils of Queen Gabriella,” for their neighbour, Mrs. Oldham. One last assemblage of letters results in tea and crumpets for all.

A book like this could seem didactic, but Gabby Drama Queen is definitely not. Author, Joyce Grant, has written a playful story that is a really fine read aloud and, in the process, an enjoyable way to learn a little phonics.

There are also activities at the back of the book, such as a challenge to find the bird on every page, a lesson in how to draw Roy, a board game of blended consonants, and an explanation of the medicine wheel on Roy’s t-shirt.

Illustrator, Jan Dolby, fills the pages with lively colour, goofy action, and tumbling letters in a textured digital collage. Gabby’s wild red braids, springing out at various angles, often reflect her emotions. The crazily coloured bird hides among the chaos of the back yard game. A nice touch is the cheerfully exuberant Roy with his black hair and medicine wheel shirt; it is good to see a First Nations character incorporated seamlessly into a story. (And older readers will not be surprised to learn that Mrs. Oldham with her glasses and crazy hair was inspired by the comedian Phyllis Diller.)

This is the second Gabby book from the team of Grant and Dolby. Here’s hoping we can we look forward to more fun from enthusiastic Gabby and her special storybook of useful letters.

Gillian O’Reilly is the editor of Canadian Children’s Book News and a children’s book author. This review was reprinted with permission. View it on Readerly.


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