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

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Book Cover the Stone Rainbow

Most Anticipated: 2019 Books for Young Readers Preview

By 49th Shelf Staff

The literary forecast looks amazing. 

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Sparking Conversation in the Classroom: The Big Dig by Lisa Harrington

Sparking Conversation in the Classroom: The Big Dig by Lisa Harrington

By Geoffrey Ruggero

The Big Dig by Lisa Harrington is the perfect book to spark meaningful discussions on a variety of topics. Teachers are …

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The Chat with Kelly S. Thompson

The Chat with Kelly S. Thompson

By Trevor Corkum

Kelly S. Thompson served as a captain in the Canadian Armed Forces and writes about her experiences as a female soldier …

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Book Cover What is Long Past Occurs in Full Light

"Woods," from WHAT IS LONG PAST OCCURS IN FULL LIGHT

By Marilyn Bowering

“Bowering is one of our essential poets...."

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Book Cover Moles

Wild Books About the Natural World

By Rachel Poliquin

Seriously fun non-fiction for middle-grade readers.

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Books for Summer Adventures

Books for Summer Adventures

By Sarah Campbell

Summer is a time for adventures! When you’re a kid anything can be magical when school is out — whether it’s campi …

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Book Cover One Piece of String

Notes from a Children's Librarian: Drawing the Line

By Julie Booker

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

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Book Cover Float and Scurry

Most Anticipated: 2019 Fall Poetry Preview

By 49th Shelf Staff

The poetry releases that are going to be making waves this autumn.

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The Chat with Derek Mascarenhas

The Chat with Derek Mascarenhas

By Trevor Corkum

Derek Mascarenhas' debut collection of short fiction, Coconut Dreams (Book*hug), explores the lives of Aiden and Ally Pi …

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Book Cover Crow

A Whisper to a Scream: Books with Compelling Narrative Voices

By Amy Spurway

"It is not just what is being said, but how."

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Most Anticipated: 2019 Books for Young Readers Preview

Our 2019 Fall Preview concludes with this incredible array of books for young readers (which are really still books for everybody). Doesn't the literary forecast look amazing?!?!

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Picture books

Award-winning illustrator Alfonso Ruano’s art depicts the depth of feeling that friends experience in My Friend (October), a story about how difficult it is to come from somewhere else and what a difference friendship can make, by acclaimed author and translator Elisa Amado. Cale Atkinson's Unicorns 101 (September) is everything you ever wanted to know about the science behind unicorns: biology, history, diet, habitat, and more! Pumpkin Orange, Pumpkin Round (September), by Rosanna Battigelli and Tara Anderson, is a rhyming Halloween romp with a family of cozy cats. Readers say goodnight to children all over the world in Andrea Beck's companion to Goodnight, Canada!, this time with Goodnight World (September). Come Back to Earth, Esther! (September) is the authorial debut of Josée Bisaillon, the Marilyn Baillie Award-winning illustrator of The Snow Knows; it follows a young girl with dreams as big as the universe. And A Pocket of Time: The Poetic Childhood of Elizabeth Bishop (November), with words by Elizabeth Bishop and Rita Wilson and art by Emma FitzGerald, is a gen …

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Sparking Conversation in the Classroom: The Big Dig by Lisa Harrington

Twice a month, we invite an educator to share their perspective on essential books for your classroom. To apply to become a contributor, please send us an email!

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Reviewing The Big Dig

The Big Dig by Lisa Harrington is the perfect young adult novel to spark meaningful discussions on a variety of topics. Teachers are familiar with the difficulties that students face when they have to move and change schools. This story can help ease the transition as readers can relate to the main character, who is faced with the challenge of making new friends and adapting to a new community. Each of the three main characters is unique in their own way. Although their personalities would seem to naturally clash, they accept each other’s differences and forge a very strong friendship.

It’s 1977, and shortly after dealing with the loss of her mother, Lucy is sent by her father to live with her Great-Aunt Josie for the summer. There, she meets two friends, Colin and Kit, and they create everlasting friendships. Together, they attempt to help Lucy uncover the truth she is seeking.

Harrington does a fantastic job of bringing the reader into Lucy’s head. As the reader follows fourteen year-old Lucy to Nova Scotia for summer break, the author makes you feel as if you are with her, eve …

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The Chat with Kelly S. Thompson

Kelly S. Thompson served as a captain in the Canadian Armed Forces and writes about her experiences as a female soldier in her compelling debut memoir, Girls Need Not Apply: Field Notes from the Forces (McClelland & Stewart).

Lauren McKeon, author of F-Bomb: Dispatches from the War on Feminism, writes, “In Girls Need Not Apply, Kelly S. Thompson presents us with a masterclass in resilience. With equal parts strength and vulnerability, Thompson navigates what it means to find belonging—and success—in a hyper-masculinized culture that was never built for women. A must-read for those of us who make it our daily habit to smash through age-old, sexist barriers.”

After several years of service, Kelly S. Thompson retired from the Canadian Armed Forces after an injury. She has an honours BA in Professional Writing from York University, an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of British Columbia, and is a PhD. candidate in Literary and Critical Studies at the University of Gloucestershire. Her work has appeared in MacleansChatelaine, and Maisonneuve, as well as in various anthologies.

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"Woods," from WHAT IS LONG PAST OCCURS IN FULL LIGHT

“Bowering is one of our essential poets. Despite her unflinching acknowledgement of the horrors humans visit on themselves and others, her vision is grounded in the subtle integrity of love. Her brilliant imagistic gift is always offered in service to the mystery of insight, the other invisible worlds gathered close in this one.” —Jan Zwicky 

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Woods 

Woods, you are very sly, picking those moments when you are quiet and off guard to reveal yourselves to us, folding us into your calm, accepting us to the sway, the rhythm of your space, space interwoven with the calm that rests forever in you….

—Emily Carr

 

Everywhere I looked, even on dark days,

sun eluded the trees and became the open palms 

of skunk cabbages (Lysichiton americanus), 

their yellow spathes soft and wet in the sponging air. 

I turned off the road, and the caravan wheels sank

in the marsh of the track. Nobody came this way,

but once—see the apple trees and the cut marks?—

a family planned to make a home in the forest banks.

 

I did not know that trees come quietly, 

their roots advance so slowly

I would not sense their approach

until their mouths opened high up,

within birds’ nests.

 

I lay down on the moss,

and listened to all they had to say—

because nothing could ever extinguish

the art of this gree …

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Wild Books About the Natural World

By August, your children may be more engaged with the natural world than ever after six weeks of digging in the mud, jumping off big rocks, plucking baby tomatoes from the vine in the garden, and climbing trees. So it's never been a better time for this fantastic list of awesome middle-grade nonfiction from Rachel Poliquin, whose new book is Moles

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With her Supersonic Snout Fingers and Blood of the Gods, Rosalie the Mole is the star of the second instalment in my Superpower Field Guide Series. Yes, Rosalie is a squinty-eyed mole, but don’t underestimate this unlikely hero. One part silly, two parts science, and jam-packed with full-colour illustrations by Nicholas John Frith, Moles will introduce middle-grade readers to their new favourite subterranean superhero. 

I love clever nonfiction that entertains kids while it teaches. And I love that the genre is undergoing a quiet but explosive revolution—particularly in the realm of nature books. Smart and funny authors and superb illustrators are transforming unexpected subjects like supernovas, head lice, and bacteria into serious fun. Here’s a list of highly entertaining and visually stunning nonfiction books sure to make middle-grade readers love the natural world around them.    

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