Sapphire the Great and the Meaning of Life

(Author) (Illustrator)

Product Details

$16.95  $15.76
Pajama Press
Publish Date
6.4 X 0.6 X 7.9 inches | 0.6 pounds
BISAC Categories:

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About the Author

Beverley Brenna is known for her warm, funny family stories that capture the essence of childhood and champion diversity. Her awards include an international Dolly Gray Award, a Printz Honor Book Award, and a shortlisting for the 2013 Governor General's Award. Wild Orchid, the title book in a trilogy about a young woman on the Autism Spectrum, is currently listed on CBC's "100 Young Adult Books That Make You Proud To Be Canadian". Bev is a professor in Curriculum Studies at the College of Education, University of Saskatchewan, where she teaches English Language Arts subject matter to preservice and inservice teachers. Much of Bev's writing seeks to fill in gaps in the field of available books, and she considers voices rarely heard in children's literature. Bev's many years as a classroom and special education teacher offer her a clear picture of school landscapes, children, and childhood, and the years she spent at home co-parenting three sons continue to inspire new characters and themes.
A folk artist and award-winning illustrator who trained at the Ontario College of Art and Design, Tara Anderson is known for her lively and humorous illustrations of animals. Her picture books include That Stripy Cat, Rhino Rumpus, and the award-winning Nat the Cat Can Sleep Like That. Tara's illustrations also grace the novels Harvey Comes Home, Harvey Holds His Own, and Sapphire the Great and the Meaning of Life. Tara shares a farmhouse in Tweed, Ontario, with her husband, her young daughter, and several cats.


Praise for Sapphire the Great and the Meaning of Life

2019 RedRover "Recommended Books with Humane Themes: Domestic Animals" Reading List selection

"Alternating narrators Jeannie and her pet hamster exude an endearing impetuousness in this novel about family and finding one's true self....Brenna expands on themes of identity and acceptance by introducing Anna, Jeannie's mother's transgender friend, and Robin, the man who is Harvey's new partner....Fetching portraits of Sapphire by Anderson open each chapter."--Publishers Weekly

"This slice-of-life Canadian import is more than just another 'I want to get a pet' tale....Sapphire and Jeannie narrate alternating chapters, and neither is completely aware of all that is going on around them. Sapphire, especially, reports dialogue and action she does not fully understand, adding an additional layer to this tale of understanding difference."--Kirkus Reviews

"Sapphire the Great is full of zest....Throughout the novel, the theme of gender-nonconformity is present without being explicitly broken down or didactic....Brenna's novel also directly challenges young readers to think beyond cisgender norms. These original stories would be very helpful classroom resources to provide an entry point for anti-bias and inclusive language and to open up important conversations on gender, self-identity, and inclusivity."--Quill & Quire

"Rating: 5...[Sapphire the Great and the Meaning of Life] teaches acceptance of differences and of being who you are. These themes are presented in an age-appropriate and sensitive way....The book grabbed me right away and had me laughing at the end of the very first chapter."--Youth Services Book Review

"Ever attuned to evolving social dynamics, Brenna presents a family in which the father has left to be with his male companion, and his mystified two children and angry wife are given comfort and cheer by a very large, mannish woman named Anna Conda....Brenna understands a child's need for warm limits and presents a modern family trying to work its way to safety, comfort, and mutual respect."--Saskatoon StarPhoenix

"Sapphire the Great and the Meaning of Life is far greater than a story about a girl getting a pet hamster. It's about struggling to find your place....Beverley Brenna's text is enhanced with the adorable illustrations by Tara Anderson which head each of the forty-two chapters....A perfect early reader for kids who love animals, Sapphire the Great and the Meaning of Life is actually more about giving significance to managing our own stories."--CanLit for LittleCanadians

"Brenna hit a homerun with [Sapphire the Great and the Meaning of Life]! It grabs you...and pulls you in on the very first page and doesn't let go of your heartstrings until the last page."--HW Book Reviews

"Dealing with themes of divorce, homosexuality, and transgender adults, this book takes a gentle approach to some big issues....Beverley Brenna is known for creating diverse characters and this book is no exception. Illustrator Tara Anderson adds some cute hamster sketches to round out the book. It could be a welcome read for a student who is struggling to understand gay and transgender issues with an adult in their life."--Kiss the Book Jr.

"This book exposes children to a variety of family types, and opens the door to discussion in a positive way of these differences. A great addition to any library."--Canadian Bookworm

"For such a small book, there is whole lot going on...There is a lot of things I liked about the book, including Sapphire, who learns about what is important in life and shares that knowledge with the reader. I like Anna and how she teaches the children about kindness and friendship and I like that Jeannie is not caught up in what should be or shouldn't be, but rather she accepts people who they are."--Book Time