Off the Page

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

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Book Cover Hope Matters

Hope Matters: Turning Toward Solutions and Away From Doom

By Elin Kelsey

The tired old narrative of doom and gloom can no longer capture the changing global dynamics of life on planet Earth. Th …

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Book Cover Instructor

9 Canadian Writers Who Run with the Night

By Beth Follett

A recommended reading list by the founder and publisher of Pedlar Press, whose new novel is Instructor.

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Book Cover Trip of the Dead

Apocalypses, Quests, and Survival

By Angela Misri

A great list of books for middle-grade readers by author of new novel Trip of the Dead.

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The Chat with Eva Crocker

The Chat with Eva Crocker

By Trevor Corkum

This week we’re in conversation with author Eva Crocker. Her debut novel, All I Ask, (House of Anansi Press) was publi …

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Book Cover A Town Called Solace

Mary Lawson: A Sense of Place

By Mary Lawson

"I don’t know if it’s a Canadian thing, or if people the world over are similarly drawn to the landscape they know w …

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Book Cover: Elvis Me and the Lemonade Summer

Most Anticipated: Our Books for Young Readers Preview

By 49thShelf Staff

Looking forward to some of the books for young readers (and readers of all ages) that we're going to be falling in love …

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I Read Canadian Day is back!

I Read Canadian Day is back!

By Geoffrey Ruggero

It’s back! After a very successful first year where authors, students, educators, librarians, parents and many other C …

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Book Cover The Adventures of Miss Petitfour

Notes From a Children's Librarian: Scrumptious Stories

By Julie Booker

DELICIOUS books about food and eating.

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Book Cover Firefly

The Kids: Are They Alright?

By Philippa Dowding

What is it like for a child who lives with a parent or who knows an adult struggling with a crisis of mental health, add …

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Where It All Happened: A List of Propulsive Settings

Where It All Happened: A List of Propulsive Settings

By Kiley Turner

Anyone who's read Emma Donoghue's The Pull of the Stars knows just how much the confines of that understaffed maternity …

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Notes from a Children's Librarian: Books on Cooperation

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

*****

What is cooperation? In these recommended titles, it's illustrated by a single character igniting a coordinated effort or a symbiotic relationship in nature. And what happens when competition is chosen over collaboration? These picture books make good springboards for discussion on cooperation and the complexities involved when people work together.

Alma Fullerton and Brian Deines’ In a Cloud of Dust is set in Tanzania, where children often walk a long way to school. One day a pickup truck arrives with the sign "Bicycle Library." There are enough bikes for everyone except Anna, who spends the day encouraging friends with their shaky bike skills. Mohammad offers her a ride on the back of his bike and then lets Anna take it the rest of the way home. "Pick you up in the morning!" she yells.

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In Bone Button Borscht, by Aubrey Davis, illustrated by Dusan Petricic, a beggar awakens a community so poor that folks have closed their doors to neighbours. The …

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13 Picture Books to Fall in Love With This Spring

These gorgeous books will warm your heart, and whoever you're reading them to will like them just as much as you do. 

*****

Under the Umbrella, by Catherine Buquet, Marion Arbona, and Erin Woods 

About the book: The weather has never been worse. The man with the stormy heart is soaked and he's going to be late! His mood is as black as the sky. Outside a nearby patisserie, a little boy stands under the shelter of its awning, gazing at the beautiful treats on display. When the wind snatches the man's umbrella and drops it at the child's feet, can this hasty curmudgeon slow down long enough for an unlikely friendship to blossom?

Catherine Buquet's touching debut in lyrical rhyme, accompanied by Marion Arbona's bold and stylish illustrations, celebrates intergenerational friendship and the magic of sharing. It also reminds children and adults alike that bright moments can be found on even the gloomiest of days.

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A Horse Named Steve, by Kelly Collier

About the book: “Steve is a fine horse,” begins Kelly Collier's clever picture book. “But he thinks he cou …

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Notes from a Children's Librarian: Canadian Heritage and Identity

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

*****

These books support the Grade 6 Social Studies topic of Heritage and Canadian identity. They spotlight communities in Canada, past and present, and the contributions of various ethnic and religious groups to Canadian identity. Interwoven are the concepts of cause/consequence and continuity/change.

Great Lakes and Rugged Ground: Imagining Ontario, by Sarah N. Harvey and Leslie Buffam, illustrated by Kasia Charro, is a must-have. It depicts a changing landscape, in 14 panoramic scenes and 14 playful haikus, encapsulating heritage moments in Ontario. Beginning with the Haudenosaunee in the mid-1500s, this non-fiction picture book shows Europeans meeting First Nations, the Loyalists’ arrival, Laura Secord, the War of 1812, and the influx of Irish workers on the canal system, and in lumber mills. Other topics include the railway, the mining industry, the Group of Seven, women’s role during WWII, and the formation of the Toronto Maple Leafs. There’s also a scavenger hunt at the back for readers to find details in the illustrations.

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Notes from a Children's Librarian: Books on Flight

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

*****

Take off! These books about flight complement the Grade 6 Science & Technology unit.

The first of the nonfiction titles us Generating Wind Power, by Niki Walker. A pleasure to read and well laid out with photos and text boxes, it covers the gamut: the definition of energy, how wind is harnessed, why wind is a viable alternative to fossil fuel, how wind turbines work, wind farms, the history of harnessing wind (windmills), its drawbacks, and the future of wind power. Includes a timeline and glossary.

In The Wright Brothers: A Flying Start, by Elizabeth MacLeod, well-chosen historical details beautifully animate the Wright Brothers’ story; their close relationship, lack of high school education, money-making schemes growing up. One such business included bicycle repair, resulting in a redesign of the bicycle of the time—small back wheel/large front wheel. (Their same-size tires meant a much easier ride). The reader learns the science of flight th …

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Most Anticipated: Our Fall 2018 Books for Young Readers Preview

And Books for Young Readers is the final instalment of our Fall Preview. Whew! It's all shaping up to be an amazing literary season. Happy reading, everybody. 

***** 

Picture Books 

The Imperfect Garden (September), by Melissa Assay and April dela Noche Milne, celebrates naturally grown food in all its imperfection. Cale Atkinson’s Sir Simon: Super Scarer (September) is a haunted house story with a twist—perfect for Halloween. Timed for the 200th anniversary of Frankenstein’s publication, Linda Bailey tells the story of its author in Mary Who Wrote Frankenstein (August), illustrated by Julia Sarda. Sloth at the Zoom (August), by Helaine Becker and Orbie, is the story of a sloth trying to make friends in a fast-paced world. Award-winning author-illustrator Rebecca Bender pushes Giraffe and Bird to new heights of courage, ingenuity, and humour in Giraffe and Bird Together Again (November). And Florence and Leon (September), by Simon Boulerice and Delphie Cote-Lacroix, nominated for the 2016 Governor General's Award for Children's Illustration (French), now appears in English translation by Sophie B. Watson.  

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