Off the Page

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

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Book Cover Why Birds Sing

Launchpad: WHY BIRDS SING, by Nina Berkhout

By Kerry Clare

"Berkhout writes with an uncommon compassion and an uncanny understanding of what it means to be human." —Amy Jones

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Book Cover The Old Woman

What Aging Looks Like: A Picture Book List, with Dogs!

By Joanne Schwartz

It’s so important for children to see positive images of aging. There are many wonderful books about children and thei …

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Giller Prize 2020 Special: The Chat with Souvankham Thammavongsa

Giller Prize 2020 Special: The Chat with Souvankham Thammavongsa

By Trevor Corkum

We continue our Giller coverage of The Chat in conversation with Souvankham Thammavongsa. She’s on this year’s short …

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Giller Prize 2020 Special: The Chat with Gil Adamson

Giller Prize 2020 Special: The Chat with Gil Adamson

By Trevor Corkum

Next on our special Giller coverage of The Chat, we speak with Gil Adamson. She’s a finalist for her second novel, Rid …

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Book Cover After Elias

Launchpad: AFTER ELIAS, by Eddy Boudel Tan

By Kerry Clare

"After Elias gifts the reader with gorgeous, economic prose and the pace of a thriller. I couldn't put it down." —Nata …

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Giller Prize 2020 Special: The Chat with David Bergen

Giller Prize 2020 Special: The Chat with David Bergen

By Trevor Corkum

We’re thrilled to begin this year’s special Scotiabank Giller Prize coverage in conversation with David Bergen. Davi …

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Book Review: The Boy Who Moved Christmas by Eric Walters & Nicole Wellwood

Book Review: The Boy Who Moved Christmas by Eric Walters & Nicole Wellwood

By Geoffrey Ruggero

The Boy Who Moved Christmas is a beautiful story of a community coming together to grant the wish of a young boy battlin …

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Book Cover Daughter of Black Lake

Be Transported with Historical Fiction

By Cathy Marie Buchanan

A recommended reading list by Cathy Marie Buchanan, whose new novel is Daughter of Black Lake.

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Book Cover How to Lose Everything

Launchpad: HOW TO LOSE EVERYTHING, by Christa Couture

By Kerry Clare

"This might be the wisest, most delightful sad story that you've ever read in your life."

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The Chat with Jack Wang

The Chat with Jack Wang

By Trevor Corkum

This week on The Chat we’re speaking with writer Jack Wang, whose debut short story collection, We Two Alone, was rece …

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Kittens in the City

Book Cover Little Yellow House

This month we're looking at books about community and fostering connection, and Carissa Halton's Little Yellow House is a perfect title to start with. In this collection of candid and thoughtful essays inspired by life in Edmonton's inner-city Alberta Avenue neighbourhood, Halton writes about her friends and neighbours, the community institutions that support them, the challenges of city life, home ownership, raising kids, and the tensions of gentrification. It's an illuminating and hopeful book that asks readers to think again about what makes places liveable, and also provides a wonderful glimpse of Jane Jacobs' proverbial sidewalk ballet.

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The first set of kittens Bill ever took in was brought to his attention by a desperate mewing from the blackened garage that slumped behind his six-suite rooming house. The kittens followed Bill to the front of his home where he set them up comfortably under the wooden stairs.

These three kittens were the product of a union between two abandoned cats as they waited patiently for the return of their owners. Bill had noticed the cats’ human family packing up the moving truck and the next day drove away with everything they owned except for their four feline pets lounging on the front porch. They weren’t the only ones aba …

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Happy Parents, Happy Kids: Ann Douglas on Building Your Online Village

Our focus on community continues with this excerpt from parenting expert Ann Douglas's exciting new book, Happy Parents, Happy Kids (and there's an incredible idea, right?). From the book's chapter on the necessity of connecting with community ("finding your village"), Douglas shares tips and advice for parents about the challenges and rewards of online support. 

Happy Parents, Happy Kids is out on February 19.

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There are times when parenting can feel particularly lonely and isolating, like on days when you're caring round-the-clock for a sick child or are temporarily stuck indoors in the wake of an ice storm. These are times when you badly need support and when that support can feel impossibly far away—unless, of course, you are able to find community online.

 

THE UPSIDE

Online support is the modern equivalent of the 1970s mom­ to-mom phone call, during which stay-at-home moms found themselves holding on to the telephone receiver for dear life. In many ways, online support is better than that old-school land­ line connection, instantly connecting you to the entire world of mothers, or at least those who choose to congregate online. For one thing, there's the 24/7 nature of that support. As Janette, the mother of three young children, explains, "With social m …

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Your 2019 Guide to Summer Literary Festivals

It has finally arrived, and you KNOW what we're talking about. SUMMER! Six perfect letters when laid out like that.

It's time to lay blankets on the grass or to haul out camp chairs and to sit under tents to listen to readings and panels and celebrations of books. It's Literary Festival Season, and good things are happening across the country. 

Read on to discover what literary festivals are happening near you.

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The Wordplay Festival is back July 3 in River John, NS, at Mabel Murple’s Book Shoppe & Dreamery, featuring Jessica Scott Kerrin, Arthur Slade, singer-songwriter Anna Plaskett. It's all hosted by amazing emcee Sheree Fitch. 

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Festival fun continues on July 6 in River John, NS: Read By the Sea 2019 includes authors Elizabeth Hay, Kevin Major, Mayann Francis, Allan Cooper, and Colin Campbell. 

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The Elephant Mountain Literary Festiva …

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Building Community and Fostering Micro-Neighbourliness

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!

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I recently attended a fascinating conference that focused on strengthening neighbourhoods and building community. The workshops brought together many voices, all passionate about the places where they live. There were many opportunities to learn from one another about how to galvanize change in everyone’s own neighbourhood. Storytelling was at the heart of all the sessions, and what struck me the most was the importance of seemingly small individual acts that everyone can do.

Classrooms are also communities where every student is a member and can make a difference. Take a leisurely stroll through these outstanding picture books and non-fiction titles that introduce and celebrate diverse neighbourhoods, and be inspired by stories that show the magic that happens when individuals work together to create positive change and a welcoming community.

Civic Engagement

In Me, Toma and the Concrete Garden written by Andrew Larsen and illustrated by Anne Villeneuve, two little boys play an impromptu tossing game with what appears to be worthless balls of dirt and unexpectedly transform a drab grey, empty lot into …

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A Grateful, Pay-it-Forward Diverse Booklist

December 3 is International Day of Disabled Persons, and we're proud to be marking this day with a recommended reading list by one of CanLit's foremost disability activists, Dorothy Ellen Palmer, whose latest book is the memoir Falling For Myself. An underlying message of this powerful, fierce, and often funny book is the importance of solidarity, allyship, and community, which Palmer celebrates properly here in the collection of authors and books that she's assembled.

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One of the things that continually feeds me as a reader is the work of other authors I respect, those who continue to share, collaborate, and produce fabulous, thought-provoking diverse books, often will little thanks. With this list I want to thank and boost the books I loved recently published by those authors who kindly took time from their working days to write a blurb for my memoir, Falling for Myself. They reflect the best of the craft and community of CanLit.

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All Inclusive, by Farzana Doctor

About the book: A story about one all-inclusive resort, the ghost of an unknown fat …

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