Off the Page

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

Latest Blog Posts
Book Cover A Russian Sister

Sibling Connections

By Caroline Adderson

Stories about romantic love and sexual passion abound (there’s plenty of that A Russian Sister too!), but the particul …

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Image Book Auction to Support Prisoners

The Book Auction to Support Prisoners

By 49th Shelf Staff

"This year has marked a sea change in how we perceive racism and our justice system, and we hope this event will further …

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Book Cover The Barren Grounds

Launchpad: THE BARREN GROUNDS, by David A. Robertson

By Kerry Clare

"David A. Robertson has written such a fine, beautiful novel. He manages to combine hard truths about our history with a …

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Book Cover TreeTalk

TreeTalk-ing or, "How I Became a Serial Poetry Monogamist"

By Ariel Gordon

"I knew I wanted to do more than just sit in a booth, eating chicken and waffles, and writing. It had to do something th …

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Book Cover The Orange Shirt Story

Books for Orange Shirt Day

By Julie Booker

Books to connect younger readers with the tragic legacy of Canada's residential schools.

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The Chat with Emily Urquhart

The Chat with Emily Urquhart

By Trevor Corkum

In The Age of Creativity (House of Anansi Press), Emily Urquhart challenges us to reconsider our thinking around artisti …

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Book Cover Noopiming

Launchpad: NOOPIMING, by Leanne Betasamosake Simpson

By Kerry Clare

"This is bold storytelling drawing upon a rich history to present a possible future. Simpson is generously gifting reade …

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Book Cover Brighten the Corner Where You ARe

Fiction We Can't Wait to Read This Fall

By Kerry Clare

29 books that should be on your radar.

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Super September Giveaway!

Super September Giveaway!

By Kiley Turner

Did we call it this because of the alliteration? Maybe, but more because the books up for grabs here are SO GOOD. Enter …

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Book Cover Crosshairs

Launchpad: CROSSHAIRS, by Catherine Hernandez

By Kerry Clare

"Crosshairs asks us what we will do to resist and build a better future when faced with such momentous and dangerous tim …

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Kidsbooks' Owner Phyllis Simon on Matching Children Up With the Right Books

Visiting a good children’s bookstore, especially but not only when you have kids of your own, is an instant mood booster and occasion for awe. A combination of impressive stock, ingenious store layout including play/explore areas for kids, and friendly, knowledgeable staff can make such a bookstore a favourite family destination for years—a local and cultural institution.

Vancouver is lucky enough to have Kidsbooks, which former librarian Phyllis Simon opened in 1983 in Kitsilano, and which now includes three locations, an online storefront, and a co-partner, Kelly McKinnon.

storecouch

Kidsbooks' lounge area (Kitsilano location)

Kidsbooks is famous for its incredible, elaborate window displays (people still talk about their “Hogwarts” storefront façade that celebrated the release of the fourth HP book) and insightful staff experts who specialize in tracking down exactly the right book for a particular child. This discovery and selection service is an amazingly important service when you consider how one book—or a suite of books—can turn a child onto reading forever, and conversely, how not finding the right reading materials can convince them that they’d rather sleep in an outhouse than curl up with a book.

Canadian Bookshelf asked Kidsbooks’ Phyllis Simon a li …

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The Canadian Children's Book Centre

CCBC Logo

The Canadian Children's Book Centre caters to an enormous demographic:"If you love children's books, you've come to the right place!" announces the tagline on their website. The non-profit organization has been long beloved for establishing connections between teachers and librarians, authors and illustrators, and publishers, and providing these groups with valuable resources.They're the force behind TD Canadian Children's Book Week, and several notable children's book awards. Lesser-known, however, is the support CCBC offers parents and other caregivers in connecting children with books and literacy activities that will awaken them to the joys of reading.

According to the CCBC, "The recipe for creating a life-long reader is wonderfully simple." That recipe involves the following four steps for parents: "Read-- Make books and reading a part of your children’s lives right from the start. And set aside regular time to read to your children from infancy to adolescence. Lead the Way-- Make regular visits to your local library and bookstore to help your children find the best books available. And Set an Example-- When children see adults enjoying a good book, they get a very important message – you never outgrow books!"

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Joanne Schwartz and Danny Christopher on The Legend of the Fog, their Inuit picture book with Qaunaq Mikkigak.

The Legend of the Fog (Inhabit Media).

About The Legend of the Fog, from Inhabit Media: In this traditional Inuit story, a simple walk on the tundra becomes a life-or-death journey for a young man. When he comes across a giant who wants to take him home and cook him for dinner, the young man's quick thinking saves him from being devoured by the giant and his family, and in the process, releases the first fog into the world. Written by Cape Dorset elder Qaunaq Mikkigak and Marilyn Baillie Picture Book Award–nominated author Joanne Schwartz, this action-packed picture book brings a centuries-old traditional tale to life.

Writer Joanne Schwartz is a children's librarian at the Toronto Public Library and has a special interest in picture books. She is the author of Our Corner Grocery Store , illustrated by Laura Beingessner, and City Numbers and City Alphabet, with photos by Matt Beam. She lives with her two daughters in Toronto.

Julie Wilson: The Legend of the Fog is one of the most gorgeous, haunting books I've read in a long time. And it isn't the first time you've collaborated with another creator for a book. What draws you to these partnerships?

Joanne Schwartz: In my two previous books, City Alphabet and City Numbers, published by Groundwood Books, I collaborated with writer/photographer Matt Beam. I …

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Picture Books Featuring Children of Colour

During Black History Month, we've been looking back at the history of African-Canadians, but it's also just as important to look forward. We asked author and children's librarian Joanne Schwartz to create a list of picture books set in Canada featuring African-Canadian children characters and other children of colour so that young Canadian readers from all kinds of backgrounds can see the myriad ways in which books are a mirror of their lives and of the world.

Up Home by Shauntay Grant, illus. Susan Tooke

About the book: A positive, heartwarming portrayal of North Preston past and present. This touching poem from spoken-word artist, poet and CBC Radio personality Shauntay Grant portrays the Nova Scotian community of Preston. Short, staccato lines, musicality and the use of real, spoken language, and Susan Tooke's breathtaking illustrations using real models from the community, combine in a sensory experience that is sure to wow readers of all ages. Grant's memories of growing up reflect a magical place where landscape, food, history and, most of all, people come together in a community filled with love and beauty. A powerful story with positive images of one of Nova Scotia's most important black communities.

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Katherine Govier: On Mother Goose and Reading With Mum

Half For You and Half For Me

What is the magic and what is the meaning of the nursery rhymes that stay in our heads for a lifetime? The answers are here in Katherine Govier's new book, Half For You and Half For Me, whose enchanting introduction appears below.

Some rhymes describe historical events and some are just plain nonsense. Some of the oldest rhymes were never intended for the nursery, but for the street—where they came to life as popular judgments on events of the day. In Half For You and Half For Me, the author breaks the codes of these nursery rhymes in accessible, amusing explanations. She also adds some classic Canadiana, including a poem by star children's poet Dennis Lee.

*****

95 years ago, when my mother was born, her parents bought a beautiful book: The Jessie Willcox Smith Mother Goose. They read it to her while she sat on their knees. When she was old enough for crayons and scissors, she expressed her affection all over the pages. She kept it until she grew up and became a mother. I have a picture of Mum reading to me; I am about two, and I am entranced. I remember how she laughed. I loved the fact that words on a page could make her laugh.

30 years passed and I had two children of my own. When we visited their grandparents, the Mother Goose came out, and we read together. …

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