Off the Page
A blog on Canadian writing, reading, and everything in between
What better way to draw kids in to literature than through exciting plot-driven graphic novels?
Books for little kids and big ones, and everyone in between. We run the academic gamut of back to school titles.
New books with buzz worth sharing: titles by Jon Chan Simpson, Austin Clarke, Jamie Sharpe, and Monica Kulling and Marie …
A delicious recipe from A Taste of Haida Gwaii, a new cookbook by Susan Musgrave.
A heartfelt thank you to passionate booksellers, and as usual, a stellar roundup of recos!
For over a century, suffragists fought to acquire rights to expand fairness and justice. They were imperfect but we shou …
"Women can’t help but out-master men when it comes to harrowing, genuine stories about how families are made."…
Canadian children's literature has never been so good.
On how Freeman came to write her memoir, its enthusiastic reception by readers, and how copies were kept in a basement a …
Give your Canadian summer a mediterranean twist with this recipe for roasted tomatoes from Emily Richards' Per La Famigl …
Our Children's Librarian columnist, Julie Booker, brings us a new view from the stacks every month.
No matter the age, there are readers who shy away from pages filled with text. What better way to draw them in to literature than through exciting plot-driven graphic novels? These titles are able to engage uncertain readers from grades three to seven.
Beginning with grade three+, Big City Otto: Elephants Never Forget, by Bill Slavin, is the first book in a series about Otto the Elephant on a quest to find his estranged monkey pal, George. With his parrot friend, Crackers, Otto's adventure begins with him shrink-wrapped as baggage on a plane to America, ending up at the zoo, where a locked up cayman connects him with some shady characters “on the outside” (including a croc with a French accent and a hiphop gangster who uses Otto's peanut allergy to his benefit; a few big sneezes and the gangsters are busted out of the zoo.) The speech bubbles have minimal text and many ironic one-liners like: "This is America. You can't go around looking oversized (and) special."
Whether you're a preschooler, an elementary school student, heading off to a school for the arts, feeling exam pressure already, ready to tackle college or university or the world beyond it, and especially if you're a teacher, we've got a back to school title for you.
A+ for Big Ben, by Sara Ellis and Kim LaFave
About the book: His sister is a big kid in grade five. His brother is a big kid in grade three. Ben is a little kid in preschool. He can’t swim; he can’t use chopsticks; he can’t even see out of the car window. If only he could bring home a real report card like the older kids do, then Ben would be happy. But there are no report cards in preschool. Sometimes older siblings remember what it was like to be little, however, and Ben’s brother and sister are about to present Ben with his very own report card, grading him on all the activities that little brothers do best.
Award-winning author and illustrator Sarah Ellis and Kim La Fave team up to produce a book that is a triumph for little siblings everywhere. The engaging text, lively illustrations, and board book format are perfect for eager readers with little hands, big hearts, and bigger dreams.
Why it's worth tucking into your backpack: You don't have to go to school to know it's back to school. …
"On Our Radar" is a monthly 49th Shelf series featuring books with buzz worth sharing. We bring you links to features and reviews about great new books in a multitude of genres from all around the Internet.
Chinkstar, by Jon Chan Simpson
Reviewed by Carleigh Baker in Globe Books:
"Chinkstar is a fresh and totally badass exploration of history, language and cultural truthiness—straight outta Red Deer. Jon Chan Simpson battles the tropes of Chinese-Canadian culture, tongue firmly in cheek. And what better place for an epic battle than Simpson’s central Alberta hometown? Our home defines us, as does our history. But what if the stories our parents and grandparents pass on are coloured by shame? In Chinkstar, Simpson addresses what he sees as an element of victimization in Chinese-Canadian immigrant history. With wit and wisdom, he creates a braided narrative of past and present, with characters who are blazing a trail toward the future."
'Membering, by Austin Clarke
Reviewed by Steven W. Beattie in Quill & Quire:
"Reading Cl …
You know how there are people who talk about reading cookbooks in bed, just for the pleasure of the reading? Susan Musgrave's A Taste of Haida Gwaii is precisely the kind of cookbook they're talking about. For example, the chief appeal of the following recipe for Dulce de Leche Buttermilk Ice Cream is not actually the inevitable delicious, but lines like, "When things end up burnt in my kitchen there isn’t usually a happy ending. My burnt messes never end up starring in a Winning Desserts of the World cookbook. They go over the cliff onto the riverbank where the ravens and eagles do daily fly-by’s hoping for a fiasco in my kitchen."
But yes, enjoy the ice cream too. Technically (by which we mean seasonally, and not by the school calendar) there still remain weeks and weeks of summer.
I have combined Smitten Kitchen’s Buttermilk Ice Cream and Dulce de Leche Ice Cream recipes to come up with a recipe that is the best of both worlds.
1 cup (250 mL) heavy cream
3/4 cup (190 mL) dulce de leche (purchased, or homemade, see Aside)
6 large egg yolks
1 cup (250 mL) buttermilk
1 tbsp (15 mL) vanilla or one whole vanilla bean, scraped and simmered w …
Normally in this space, I try to write something a little clever by way of an introduction to the current round of recommendations from our panel of independent booksellers. (I say “try”—cleverness isn’t something that one can rely on, as my fourth-grade teacher often told me, usually before sending me out into the hallway to think about what I had done.) This month, though, I’m going to go with something a little different: sincerity. Sincerity and gratitude.
I spent more than two decades—the greater part of my adult life—as a bookseller. I know their concerns, the pressures upon them, the constant flurry and flux they face as the industry shifts and heaves around them.
And as a writer, I want to say, simply, thank you.
What independent booksellers do isn’t easy. They face frequently overwhelming odds and strains, long days, and recurring doubts. It isn’t an easy life. And yet, every day, they find time to read. The booksellers I know read incessantly; the backrooms and sales floors of every independent bookstore I’ve ever been to are a hum of “Have you read this?” and “What did you think of that?” No matter the financial pressures and the ongoing stresses, booksellers find time to immerse themselves in books new and old, to read deeply and passionately.
They are also, it has to be said, some of the most critical readers you are ever liable to meet: if they feel strongly enough about a book to recommend it, you know it’s a good one. They won’t dis …