Off the Page

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

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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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Book Cover Night Watch

Seeking Certainty in Uncertain Worlds

By Gillian Wigmore

A fascinating recommended reading list by the author of new book Night Watch.

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In Conversation: Kate Inglis discusses her novel The Dread Crew: Pirates of the Backwoods

Kate Inglis, author of The Dread Crew

Kate Inglis is an author and photographer living along the Nova Scotian coast, where she was born. In November 2009 her first novel was published—The Dread Crew: Pirates of the Backwoods, a book January Magazine calls "a spirited tale, gorgeously rendered." The Dread Crew has been nominated for a Hackmatack Award in Nova Scotia and a Red Cedar Award in British Columbia, and is now in its third printing. The sequel is on its way. Visit Kate at, and follow her on Twitter at @sweetsalty.

Julie Wilson: I'm a slow reader, in part because when I get caught up in structure that amuses me—in particular, something so well-crafted you can feel the author's joy—I have to sit with it for awhile. In the case of The Dread Crew: Pirates of the Backwoods, I actually got stuck on the dedication!

For my three boys—one is all energy and marvel and curiosity, one is pure, sheer joy and wanderlust, and one lives high up in a blue sky, in a roofless, skeepskin-draped room with kind minstrels and acrobats that let him stay up late and eat chocolate by starlight. All three are hooligans and inventors, and the sons of a man with the steadfastness of a thousand quilters.

How much of your family lives and breathes throughout The Dread Crew? What elements of your ho …

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Negotiating a Black Vernacular in Children’s Literature

Book Cover Up Home

Talking History focuses on a wide range of topics in Canadian history, and it consists of articles by Canada's foremost historians and history experts. Our contributors use the power of narrative to bring the past to life and to show how it is not just relevant, but essential to our understanding of Canada and the world today. "Talking History" is a series made possible through a special funding grant from the Department of Canadian Heritage.

Shauntay Grant is a writer and storyteller from Nova Scotia, and served as Halifax's Poet Laureate from 2009-2011. 


nanny made blueburry duff
today afta’ schoo’

had a bigole bag a burry’s
leftova from las summa
frozen cole

she ga’e me two great big dumplin’s
an’ enough sauce to cova’ de bowl

she didn’ haf none doe 

say she need to watch ha sugah’s
e’er since christmas
when she caught diabetics
offa mum's lemin loaf

About a dozen grade 6 students at Nelson Whynder Elementary School in North Preston sit in small clusters: working groups of three or four, huddled around square tables, dissecting a sample from my newest collection of poems.

"You wouldn’ say last, we would say las—without pronouncing T," a girl tells me. She sounds each letter with clear certainty.


"I don’ sink so," a boy pipes up in …

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Carol Bruneau: Change Your Take on Nova Scotia Lit

A Bird on Every Tree is Carol Bruneau's latest book, a short story collection whose starred review in Quill & Quire concludes as follows: "This is no mere exercise in voice: this is a reflection of a writer utterly in touch with her stories—not only what they are, but how they are, overlooking nothing in her craft. Bruneau is a master."

Here, Bruneau shares a list of books by other Nova Scotia authors that serve to complicate common perceptions of that province. 


Exploring Nova Scotian identity, the stories in my new collection, A Bird on Every Tree, reflect the wanderer’s spirit in most of us, regardless of where we originate. Maritime literature often gets cast as tales of insular, hard-done-by characters living the life down some dirt road, at best, salt-of-the-earth timid folk who don’t stray from home, or, at worst, mean-spirited hicks with a hate-on for things “from away.” Both stereotypes bear a smidge of truth.

But the bigger, truer flipside is that Nova Scotia is and always has been a province of adventurers, people who like living on the edge. From the Mi’kmaq who first navigated Mi’kmaqi’s rivers and coastal waters, the exiled and returning Acadians, the Black Loyalists fleeing slavery in the US, the waves of European settlers who ca …

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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!


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, e …

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Launchpad: Good Mothers Don't, by Laura Best

Today we're launching Good Mothers Don't, by Laura Best, which Christy Ann Conlin calls, "An unlikely page turner replete with hushed surprises, unexpected crescendos, endless love and boundless vitality."


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

It’s a literary novel set in both 1960 and 1975 Nova Scotia about one woman’s journey through mental illness and the ripple effects of her illness on those around her.

Describe your ideal reader.

Enjoys character driven stories, a glass of wine at the end of the day, walks along the beach and dark chocolate—maybe an occasional Mars bar.

What authors/books is your work in conversation with?

Alistair MacLeod, Kathleen Winter, Syr Ruus, Christy-Ann Conlin, Ami McKay, Donna Morrissey and Carol Bruneau.

What is something interesting you learned about your book/yourself/ your subject during the process of creating and publishing your book?

I was surprised by my ability to feel compassion for a character whose actions totally contradicted my preconceived ideas of what makes a good mother.

What do you hope readers will gain from reading your book?

My hope is that readers will gain a better understanding of people suffering from mental illness, that they will not just see the illness but the person behind that …

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