Off the Page
A blog on Canadian writing, reading, and everything in between
Canada's erudite, well-read indie booksellers have, this month, provided their choices for the best books of 2016.
The possibilities of picture books are endless, appealing to readers of all ages, and the best are by requirement read o …
A conversation with Governor General's Award Winners Jon-Erik Lappano and Kellen Hatanaka. Jon-Erik and Kellen won this …
We continue our conversation with this year’s English-language Governor General’s award winners with our chat with L …
Books that encourage young readers to relate to and connect with others.
Next up in our special coverage of this year’s Governor General’s Awards is our chat with Colleen Murphy, winner of …
The holidays are coming, and we've got book recommendations for every kind of readers.
For the Armchair Explorer
Finding Franklin: The Untold Story of a 165-Year Search, by Russell A. Potter:
In 2014 media around the world buzzed with news that an archaeological team from Parks Canada had located and identified the wreck of HMS Erebus, the flagship of Sir John Franklin’s lost expedition to find the Northwest Passage. Finding Franklin outlines the larger story and the cast of detectives from every walk of life that led to the discovery, solving one of the Arctic’s greatest mysteries. In compelling prose, Russell Potter details his decades of work alongside key figures in the era of modern searches and elucidates how shared research and ideas have led to a fuller understanding of the Franklin crew’s final months. Illustrated with images and maps from the last two centuries, Finding Franklin recounts the more than fifty searches for traces of his ships and crew, and the dedicated, often obsessive, men and women who embarked on them. Potter discusses the crucial role that Inuit oral accounts, often cited but rarely understood, played in all of these searches, and continue to play to this day, and offers historical and cultural context to the contemporary deba …
It’s as seasonally inevitable as the need for warm gloves and the appearance of twinkling lights: every year, as December hits, readers are inundated with a flood of lists, each proclaiming The Best Books of the Year. It seems like everyone gets in on the game: journalists, writers, celebrities, newspapers, magazines... Everyone, it seems, except those folks who know the books best, the booksellers.
Sure, you might occasionally find a Best Of list featuring a token bookseller, but they are largely overlooked. Which, as I have mentioned before, is ridiculous. Who better to be able to winnow the thousands of books published each year down to a list (or a single pick) than those people who spend their lives literally surrounded by books?
Of course, a lot of booksellers do provide lists, for their customers. They may not appear in the newspaper or in a magazine, but across the country there are table displays and printed sheets, featured shelves and, you guessed it, shelf talkers.
Which is terrific. A good independent bookseller is worth their weight in gold, an invaluable resource when it comes to your next great read, or in finding the perfect gift.
But geography has a sad role to play. It would be nearly impossible to visit every bookseller in this country (though if I had a bucket list, that would surely be on it).
Thankfully, you have the booksellers of the Shelf Talker community to turn to, a country’s worth of erudite, well-read bibliophiles who have, this month, provided t …
The possibilities of picture books are endless, appealing to readers of all ages, and the best are by requirement read over and over again, which allows us to know them so well, by heart. This list celebrates the amazing work that Canadian authors and illustrators have got up to in 2016, and some of our favourite titles.
All hail King Baby! He greets his adoring public with giggles and wiggles and coos, posing for photos and allowing hugs and kisses. But this royal ruler also has many demands, and when his subjects can't quite keep up, King Baby takes matters into his own tiny hands.
A modern, funny, and (let's be honest) realistic take on life with a new baby, and the perfect gift for anyone with an adorable little ruler in their life.
A monk leads a simple life. He studies his books late into the evening and searches for truth in their pages. His cat, Pangur, leads a simple life, too, chasing prey in the darkness. As night turns to dawn, Pangur leads his compani …
As we wrap up our special coverage of the 2016 Governor General's Awards for Literature, we are pleased to be in conversation with noted young adult author Martine Leavitt. Martine is this year’s English-language Governor General’s Award winner for Young People’s Literature (Text) for her book Calvin.
“In Martine Leavitt’s Calvin,” writes the jury, “A boy newly diagnosed with schizophrenia makes a pilgrimage across a frozen Lake Erie. Told in spare, beautiful prose, this transcendent exploration of reality and truth is funny, frightening and affirming. Calvin is an astonishing achievement.”
Martine Leavitt is the author of ten novels for young readers. My Book of Life by Angel, which received five starred reviews, was a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize and winner of the CLA Young Adult Book of the Year. Other titles include Keturah and Lord Death, finalist for the National Book Award; Tom Finder, winner of the Mr. Christie's Book Award; and Heck Superhero, finalist for the Governor General’s Award. Her novels have been published in Japan, Korea, Denmark, Germany, Switzerland, Italy and the Netherlands. Martine teaches creative writing at Vermont College of Fine Arts.
THE CHAT WITH MARTINE LEAVITT
How was Calvin born?
The next chat with this year’s English-language Governor General’s Award winners is a conversation with Jon-Erik Lappano and Kellen Hatanaka. Jon-Erik and Kellen won this year’s award for Young People’s Literature (Illustrated Books) for their book Tokyo Digs a Garden.
“Tokyo Digs a Garden marries text and illustration in a richly ornamented dream landscape that simultaneously suggests a digital and an organic world,” states the jury. “Kellen Hatanaka’s illustrations are inventive and groundbreaking and the hypnotic text by Jon-Erik Lappano conveys its message in a darkly humourous and elegant manner. A book for any age.”
Jon-Erik Lappano is an environmental educator, storyteller, and creative producer with curiosity and love of all things wild. He lives in Guelph, Canada, with his young and growing family. This is his first book.
Kellen Hatanaka is a designer and illustrator who lives in Toronto, Canada, with his wife, Kiersten. He is also the author and illustrator of Work: An Occupational ABC and Drive: A Look at Roadside Opposites.