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Off the Page

A blog on Canadian writing, reading, and everything in between

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Book Cover The Elevator Ghost

CanLit Is Terrifying

[October 30, 2014] | By [Kerry Clare]

Fear not! (Or at least, fear less.) Here is your guide to a most Canadian bookish Halloween.

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Book Cover Mr Frank

Notes From a Children's Librarian: Books About Disguises

[October 28, 2014] | By [Kerry Clare]

October is the superb month for books about disguise, because of Halloween, of course, and because of how the whole outd …

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Book Cover Tomes of Terror

Books and Ghosts: Tomes of Terror

[October 27, 2014] | By [Kerry Clare]

Books and ghosts: how could we not feature Mark Leslie's new book, Tomes of Terror: Haunted Bookstores and Libraries, on …

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Book Cover Tommy Douglas Extraordinary Canadians

Charlotte Gray: On Medicare, and the Paradox of Tommy Douglas

[October 24, 2014] | By [Kerry Clare]

Tommy Douglas, the longtime premier of Saskatchewan, was the father of medicare. Born almost exactly 110 years ago (Oct …

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Book Cover Spic and Span

Efficiency Expert: Lillian Gilbreth, Larger-Than-Life

[October 23, 2014] | By [Kerry Clare]

Mother of 11 children, Lillian Gilbreth was also a psychologist, a leading efficiency expert, industrial engineer, an au …

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Books About Amazing Pets

Books About Amazing Pets

[October 22, 2014] | By [Kiley Turner]

For some reason there are more books about dogs than cats. Conspiracy?

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Canadian Spacewalkers

Canadian Spacewalkers: Messing Up Your Mind

[October 21, 2014] | By [Kerry Clare]

In this excerpt from Canadian Spacewalkers, Bob McDonald shares his own experience with simulated spacewalking, and spea …

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Book Cover Bold Scientists

Bold Scientists: Science, and Wonder and Awe

[October 18, 2014] | By [Kerry Clare]

Nature enslaved no longer elicits wonder. Yet Bacon calls wonder 'the seed of knowledge.' Without seed, what can we expe …

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The Interruption: Sean Cranbury Chats With Carrie Snyder

The Interruption: Sean Cranbury Chats With Carrie Snyder

[October 17, 2014] | By [Sean Cranbury]

Sean Cranbury chats with Carrie Snyder, whose novel, Girl Runner, has just been shortlisted for the 2014 Rogers Trust Fi …

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Book Cover Mr Frank

Great Companions

[October 16, 2014] | By [Kerry Clare]

We've made some great pairings of recent Canadian books of note, creating ideal cross-genre literary companions. 

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CanLit Is Terrifying

Book Cover Book of Tongues

Fear not! (Or at least, fear less.) Because here is your guide to a most Canadian bookish Halloween, serving to guide you through the spooky day ahead, and provide great suggestions for appropriate seasonal reading. 

CanLit Zombie expert, Corey Redekop, can hook you up with a good read via The Canadian Weirdscape, made up of selections of the nation's most outlandish, strange, and mind-boggling fiction.

Book Cover The Thirteen

Check out The Fright List for some terrifying titles, including books by award-winning horror masters, Andrew Pyper, and Susie Maloney. 

How to Kill a Vampire

Are you in the unfortunate position of the monsters in your life being not-so fictional? To that end, you might appreciate our excerpt from Liisa Ladouceur's How to Kill a Vampire, part culture guide and all practical guide. Find out how useful your handy crucifix or holy water really will be once you're face-to- …

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Notes From a Children's Librarian: Books About Disguises

Book Cover Coyote's New Suit

Our Children's Librarian columnist, Julie Booker, brings us a new view from the stacks every month.

*****

October is the superb month for books about disguise, because of Halloween, of course, and because of how the whole outdoors is dressing up in glorious colour.

Coyote's New Suit, by Thomas King, illustrated by Johnny Wales, reads like an oral tale with Raven as trickster and gullible Coyote as victim. Raven overhears Coyote boasting about his fine suit, and tells him it’s not as nice as Bear's fur, which Bear has taken off to swim. So Coyote steals it. Raven then tells naked Bear where to get new clothes—human attire hung up outside houses, free for the taking. Bear chooses a floral tank top and gold pedal pushers.

Coyote, meanwhile, stumbles around in his too-heavy bear suit at the supermarket and bingo until he gets bored with it. Coyote heads back to the pond, where the plot repeats with other forest animals until Coyote comes home with a chipmunk suit and no more room in his closet. "Why don't you have a yard sale?" Raven says, which leads to a hilarious showdown between animals (in human clothing) and humans (in animal skins). This one could be for K-4, inspiring some trickster tales from the older kids.

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Books and Ghosts: Tomes of Terror

Book Cover Tomes of Terror

Books and ghosts: how could we not feature Mark Leslie's new book, Tomes of Terror: Haunted Bookstores and Libraries, on 49th Shelf during the week leading up to Halloween? It's a collection of true tales about spooky places rife with books and ghosts, and even some less spooky places where you'd least expect a ghostly encounter—like a Smithbooks located in a suburban shopping mall. We're pleased to share that story with you here, as well as another about a library reportedly haunted by a young woman whose face has been glimpsed peering out from the tower window. 

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Goosebumps at Smithbooks

Smithbooks, Sherway Gardens

Etobicoke, Ontario

The ghostly residents of many beloved bookstore locations that are now closed continue to haunt the hearts and minds of both patrons and staff members. These spirits are all the more memorable if, like any good customer, they display a penchant for a particular author’s books.

I was intrigued to chat with an old bookseller colleague about an experience that she had when she worked at a bookstore than has been closed now for about 14 years. Even though Shannon left the store back in 1998, she kept with her a fond and deep love for the bookstore, her fellow staff members, and the customers of the Smithbooks at Sherway Gardens.

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Charlotte Gray: On Medicare, and the Paradox of Tommy Douglas

Book Cover Tommy Douglas

"Talking History" is a new biweekly series made possible through a special funding grant from the Department of Canadian Heritage. The series focuses on a wide range of topics in Canadian history, exploring the notion of history as a compelling form of storytelling of interest to large audiences. These articles by Canada's foremost historians and history experts use the power of narrative to bring the past to life, drawing connections between then and now to show how these stories are not just relevant, but essential to our understanding of Canada and the world today. 

Book Cover Charlotte Gray

This week, we're pleased to present Charlotte Gray, one of Canada’s pre-eminent biographers and historians, who has won many awards for her work, including the prestigious Pierre Berton Award for a body of historical writing, the Edna Staebler Award for Creative Non-Fiction, the Ottawa Book Award, and the CAA Birks Family Foundation Award for Biography. Over nine books, she has brought our past to life. Gray is a Member of the Order of Canada and was a panelist on the 2013 edition of CBC …

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Efficiency Expert: Lillian Gilbreth, Larger-Than-Life

Book Cover Spic and Span

Throughout National Science and Technology Week (October 17–26), we're celebrating new Canadian books on science and technology. Today we're talking to celebrated children's author Monica Kulling about her latest non-fiction picture book in the "Great Ideas" Series, Spic-And-Span! Lillian Gilbreth's Wonder Kitchen, illustrated by David Parkins. 

Lillian Gilbreth might be familiar to you as the mother of the family that inspired the Cheaper by the Dozen book and films, and sequels too. But in addition to being the mother of 11 children, Gilbreth was also a psychologist, a leading efficiency expert, industrial engineer, an author, a professor, and an inventor. Her inventions included the electric mixer, and the compartments you use every day in the door of your fridge

Monica Kulling explains why she was so captured by Gilbreth as a character, and what it was like to render her life in just a few pages. 

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49th Shelf: Lillian Gilbreth’s life was so remarkable—you’d scarcely believe it if it were fiction. What parts of her experience were most immediately compelling to you?

Monica Kulling: Lillian Gilbreth was absolutely larger than life. I think what impressed me most was her ability to remain calm and centered in the midst of so many demands on her time, both …

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