Off the Page

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

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Book Cover MY Family Tree and Me

Notes From a Children's Librarian: Heritage and Identity

By [Kerry Clare]

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

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How do family an …

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Logo Bookstore Day

Celebrating Canadian Independent Bookstores

By [Kerry Clare]

Canadian Independent Bookstore Day is happening April 28—a day for Canadians to get out into the community and celebra …

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Book Cover Between Breaths

Books for Earth Day

By [Kerry Clare]

Fantastic books for readers of all ages and across genres, about nature, ecology, and conservation. 

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The Chat With Jessica Westhead

The Chat With Jessica Westhead

By [Trevor Corkum]

Jessica Westhead has an uncanny ability to combine humour and despair in her writing. In her latest collection, Things N …

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Book Cover The Honey Farm

A slow, creeping madness...

By [Kerry Clare]

It seems that Canadian literature is rife with stories of isolated characters and their slow creeping madnesses. And yes …

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Book Cover Yes or Nope

16 Seriously Funny Poets

By [Kerry Clare]

A totally scientific list of the funniest poets in all of Canada.

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Book Cover Surfaces

Eric Schmaltz: Reading at the Intersection of Text and Image

By [Kerry Clare]

"These books highlight the intersection of text and image to create compelling explorations of linguistic meaning-making …

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The Recommend: April 2018

The Recommend: April 2018

By [Kiley Turner]

This month we're pleased to present the picks of Shawna Lemay (The Flower Can Always Be Changing), Andrew Battershill (M …

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Book Cover the Return of Kid Cooper

Reimagining the Old West

By [Kerry Clare]

A recommended reading list by Brad Smith, who (according to Dennis Lehane) is "a writer to watch, a comet on the horizon …

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The Chat With Kevin Chong

The Chat With Kevin Chong

By [Trevor Corkum]

A modern-day story of infectious disease and rising social inequality, The Plague is Kevin Chong’s take on Camus’ cl …

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Notes From a Children's Librarian: Heritage and Identity

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

*****

How do family and community traditions change over time? This Grade 2 unit on heritage and identity can be addressed using great picture books. The first three are useful for teaching timelines. 

My Family Tree and Me, by Dusan Petricic, traces a boy's genealogy through period “photos” (Petricic's beautiful illustrations) of members of his family. "Without my great-grandfather and great-grandmother, I would never have had Pops, my grandfather; who met his match in Nana, my grandmother." The first half of the story traces his father's side and the second half, his mother's, and the book is designed so it can be read in either order. One side of the family has red hair, so it's easier for the reader to figure out the familial connection.

Finding Winnie: The True Story of the World's Most Famous Bear, by Lindsay Mattick, illustrated by Sophie Blackall, is a superb story-within-a-story presenting the history of iconic literary creation Winnie the Pooh. I …

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Celebrating Canadian Independent Bookstores

Canadian Independent Bookstore Day is happening this Saturday April 28, the first year of this national event, which was born out of Authors for Indies grassroots initiative. It's a day for Canadians to get out into the community and celebrate the unique intersection of art, culture, business and opportunity that bookstores provide. Check out the list of participating bookstores and their scheduled events—and for more inspiration, read on for lots of indie bookstore love by Canadian book enthusiasts. 

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McNally Robinson, Saskatoon and McNally Jackson, Manhattan, by Suzanne Alyssa Andrew 

Whenever I’m in Saskatoon I love to stop in at McNally Robinson. It’s one of those bookstores where you can browse a vast, well-curated collection in an unhurried way. Their selection of books by Canadian authors, and those from Western Canada in particular, is extensive and engaging, and I always make new discoveries. Enjoying a coffee in the Prairie Ink restaurant inside the store is, of course, a vital part of the experience. Its sister store, McNally Jackson i …

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Books for Earth Day

A round-up of fantastic books for readers of all ages and across genres, about nature, ecology, and conservation. 

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Between Breaths, by Robert Chafe

About the book: Jon Lien was once a respected researcher and a risk-taker, swimming into dangerous waters to save whales and the fishing gear they were trapped in. But now Jon’s confined to land, living his last years in a wheelchair with brain damage after an accident and illness.

The man who rescued over 500 whales around the world stretches his mind in memories of release and salvation. His powerful story swims backward through time, as he goes from worrying his wife and frustrating his friend, to being a reckless starter and adventurer, to lecturing university classes, to his very first encounter with a whale.

Robert Chafe crafts a raw portrayal of the true story of Dr. Jon Lien, Newfoundland’s “Whale Man,” into a tale of perseverance, control, and compassion.

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Landscape into Eco Art: Articulations of Nature Since the '60s, by Mark Cheetham

About the book: Dedicated to an articulation of the earth f …

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The Chat With Jessica Westhead

JWesthead-Authorphoto-WEB-res
TREVOR CORKUM cropped

Jessica Westhead has an uncanny ability to combine humour and despair in her writing. In her latest collection, Things Not to Do, we meet folks at the end of their rope who still manage to unearth wry and gorgeous moments in their day-to-day lives.

The Toronto Star agrees, stating, “Westhead brings empathy and humour to everyday absurdities with believable and recognizable characters.” Steven Beattie, writing for the Globe and Mail, says her writing “is infused with a generosity that is infectious: It draws a reader in and demands an emotional accounting.”

It’s a pleasure to speak to Jessica about her new work.

Jessica Westhead’s fiction has been shortlisted for the CBC Literary Awards, selected for the Journey Prize anthology, and nominated for a National Magazine Award. She is the author of the novel Pulpy & Midge and the critically acclaimed short story collection And Also Sharks, which was a Globe and Mail Top 100 Book and a finalist for the Danuta Gleed Short Fiction Prize.

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THE CHAT WITH JESSICA WESTHEAD

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A slow, creeping madness...

The Honey Farm is Harriet Alida Lye's debut novel, billed as "Vintage Margaret Atwood meets Patricia Highsmith" and "a slyly seductive debut set on an eerily beautiful farm teeming with secrets." In this recommended reading list, she shares books that have informed her work and/or make fine companions to The Honey Farm.

It seems that Canadian literature is rife with stories of isolated characters and their slow creeping madnesses. And yes, some of them do end up engaging in intimate relations with bears...

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All My Puny Sorrows, by Miriam Toews

One of my all-time favourite books that I push onto everyone. The writing is conversational, hilarious, deeply moving; the characters are so vivid I still think of them often. Miriam Toews handles the seriousness of her subject matter with grace and love, and through the curious, fumbling, lovable narrator she is able to explore the many ways in which mental health affects a whole family. The love between the two sisters is so beautifully rendered, and the tragedy of how one wants to die and the other wants her to …

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