Off the Page

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

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Book Cover The Union of Smokers

Launchpad: The Union of Smokers, by Paddy Scott

By Kerry Clare

"An entirely new kind of story told by a gutter-mouthed, chain-smoking twelve year old, who announces in the opening par …

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COVID–19 Teacher Diary: An Achievable, Accessible #ActivityOfTheDay

COVID–19 Teacher Diary: An Achievable, Accessible #ActivityOfTheDay

By Jennifer Byrne

The times we find ourselves in right now are uncertain and unprecedented.  But what always sticks with me is this saying …

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Book Cover Junebat

Launchpad: Junebat, by John Elizabeth Stinzi

By Kerry Clare

"To the poetics of the queer everyday Stintzi adds their ‘Junebat,’ a multitudinous concept of such explanatory powe …

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Book Cover Stay Where I can See You

Stay Where I Can See You: The List

By Katrina Onstad

"I had this idea for a book about a mother and daughter at that moment where they split apart..."

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Introducing the 49th Teachers COVID–19 Crisis Teacher Diary

Introducing the 49th Teachers COVID–19 Crisis Teacher Diary

By Allison Hall

Welcome to the 49th Teachers COVID–19 Teacher Diary, a new blog series that takes a look at how teachers are coping wi …

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Book Cover A Forest in the City

Seeing the Forest AND the Trees

By Andrea Curtis

When self isolation and physical distancing has got your family cooped up, the next best thing might just be reading pic …

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The Chat with Amanda Leduc

The Chat with Amanda Leduc

By Trevor Corkum

Disfigured: On Fairy Tales, Disability, and Making Space (Coach House) is a brilliant and startling book of essays by Am …

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Book Cover Dead mom Walking

Five Queer Memoirs to Keep You Going

By Rachel Matlow

When you’re done watching Tiger King and taking a break from playing Animal Crossing, here are five queer memoirs to k …

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Earth Hour: Books & Activities to Spark Discussion and Environmental Action

Earth Hour: Books & Activities to Spark Discussion and Environmental Action

By Allison Hall

On Saturday March 28th millions of people around the globe will turn off their lights and spend an hour without the use …

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Book Cover Sputnik's Children

The Books I Want to Read Again

By Kerry Clare

Rereading is comfort, and indulgence. It's a voyage back to the familiar, but one that's still rich with discovery, and …

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Launchpad: The Union of Smokers, by Paddy Scott

This spring we've made it our mission (even more than usual) to celebrate new releases in the wake of cancelled launch parties, book festivals, and reading series. With 49th Shelf Launchpad, we're holding virtual launch parties here on our platform complete with witty banter, great insight, and short and snappy readings to give you a taste of the books on offer. You can request these books from your local library, get them as e-books or audio books, order them from your local indie bookseller if they're delivering, buy them direct from the publisher or from online retailers.

Today we're featuring Paddy Scott, whose debut novel is The Union of Smokers, described as "an entirely new kind of story told by a gutter-mouthed, chain-smoking twelve year old, who announces in the opening paragraph that he’s going to die today."

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Book Cover The Union of Smokers

The Elevator Pitch. Tell us about your book in a sentence.

The Union of Smokers is a day in the life and a life in the final day of narrator Kaspar Pine, a young man who takes it upon himself to use his last hours on earth to educat …

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COVID–19 Teacher Diary: An Achievable, Accessible #ActivityOfTheDay

diarybanner_650w

Welcome to the second post in our 49th Teachers COVID–19 Teacher Diary, a new blog series that takes a look at how teachers are coping with the pandemic. What does daily life look like for teachers right now? What’s working in the new world of online classrooms, and what’s not? What can parents do at home with their kids? How can educators, parents, and students all cope with overwhelm, communicate more effectively, and support one another?

Sign up to get new Teacher Diary posts in your inbox as they’re published.

If you’re an Ontario educator and would like to contribute to this series, please send us an email.

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Written by York Region District School Board Teacher-Librarian Jennifer Byrne

The times we find ourselves in right now are uncertain and unprecedented. But what always sticks with me is this saying from Fred Rogers: “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, 'Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.' To this day, especially in times of ‘disaster’, I remember my mother’s words and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers—so many caring people in this world."

It is clear that for the disaster the world is experiencing right now, the frontli …

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Launchpad: Junebat, by John Elizabeth Stinzi

Launchpad Logo

This spring we've made it our mission (even more than usual) to celebrate new releases in the wake of cancelled launch parties, book festivals, and reading series. With 49th Shelf Launchpad, we're holding virtual launch parties here on our platform complete with witty banter, great insight, and short and snappy readings to give you a taste of the books on offer. You can request these books from your local library, get them as e-books or audio books, order them from your local indie bookseller if they're delivering, buy them direct from the publisher or from online retailers.

First up is John Elizabeth Stinzi, whose poetry has been awarded the 2019 RBC Bronwen Wallace Award for Emerging Writers and the Long Poem Prize from the Malahat Review. Their debut poety collection is Junebat, of which Billy Ray Belcourt has written, "To the poetics of the queer everyday Stintzi adds their ‘Junebat,’ a multitudinous concept of such explanatory power I’m certain it’ll endure in the collective memory of Canadian writing."

*****

The Elevator Pitch. Tell us a …

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Stay Where I Can See You: The List

Book Cover Stay Where I Can See You

I had this idea for a book about a mother and daughter at that moment where they split apart: the emotional separation that must precede the physical one when a child leaves home. I knew the characters right away—17-year-old Maddie, burning to grow up, and her mom, Gwen, devoted yet unknowable—but I needed a world, and a drama, in which to place them. I heard about someone I knew winning a small amount in a lottery, and it shocked me somehow: Why them? What now? I decided that a win like that would be a good place to put my fictional family: a gain to contrast the loss. Stay Where I Can See You became a book about secrets, and the ebb and flow of fortune, and how those fortunes collide and coexist in a city.

I don’t look at books that are too similar to mine when I’m writing but this is a list of kindred stories that I’ve read over the years that circle similar themes, and probably worked their way into my brain and slid onto the page in ways I’ll never fully understand.

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What We All Long For, by Dionne Brand

Brand deploys her poet’s pen t …

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Introducing the 49th Teachers COVID–19 Crisis Teacher Diary

diarybanner_650w

Welcome to the 49th Teachers COVID–19 Teacher Diary, a new blog series that takes a look at how teachers are coping with the pandemic. What does daily life look like for teachers right now? What’s working in the new world of online classrooms, and what’s not? What can parents do at home with their kids? How can educators, parents, and students all cope with overwhelm, communicate more effectively, and support one another?

Sign up to get new Teacher Diary posts in your inbox as they’re published.

Thank you for reading. If you’re an Ontario educator and would like to contribute to this series, please send us an email.

***

Written on March 28, 2020, by Peel District School Board Teacher-Librarian Allison Hall

It’s day fourteen of my family’s self isolation and I’m struggling to maintain a schedule and a little bit of normalcy. I have a never ending list of ‘I shoulds’—I should clean the house, I should paint the cupboards, I should update my library website with home activities for students—but I can’t find the motivation needed to complete any of these tasks.

I spent the week of March Break in a state of shock and panic. There were knots in my stomach and chest that wouldn’t loosen. I convinced myself that I was physically unwell. I woke up ea …

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