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

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Book Cover Big Reader

A Taster: Spring 2021 Nonfiction Preview

By 49th Shelf Staff

Life stories, family, baseball, and retreat. These highlight the nonfiction we're most looking forward to this spring. 

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ICYMI: Don't Miss These Beauties

ICYMI: Don't Miss These Beauties

By Kiley Turner

The pandemic has wreaked havoc on our attention spans, making it possible to miss really great fiction. These books caug …

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Book Cover Small Courage

Small Courage: Parenting Memoirs

By Jane Byers

A recommended reading list by Jane Byers, whose new queer parenting memoir is out now.

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The Chat with Kimiko Tobimatsu

The Chat with Kimiko Tobimatsu

By Trevor Corkum

Author Kimiko Tobimatsu and illustrator Keet Geniza have teamed up to create Kimiko Does Cancer, a timely graphic memoir …

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Book Cover Best Canadian Poetry 2020

A Record of Literary History: Best Canadian Poetry 2020

By Marilyn Dumont

An excerpt from Marilyn Dumont's introduction to BEST CANADIAN POETRY 2020.

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Book Cover Book of Donair

The Donair: Canada's Official Food?

By Lindsay Wickstrom

Excerpt from BOOK OF DONAIR explores how a bitter rivalry between Halifax and Edmonton helped propel the donair to be de …

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Book Cover My Ocean is Blue

Notes From a Children's Librarian: Questions, Questions

By Julie Booker

Great picture books that engage with questions and encourage readers to think about answers.

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Book Cover Gutter Child

Most Anticipated: Our 2021 Spring Fiction Preview

By 49thShelf Staff

Exciting debuts, and new releases by Christy Ann Conlin, Pasha Malla, Eva Stachniak, Jael Richardson, and more.

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Book Cover Better Luck Next Time

Patriarchy Lies: Women Are Funny

By Kate Hilton

A funny woman reading list by the author of new novel Better Luck Next Time.

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 The Chat with Eve Lazarus

The Chat with Eve Lazarus

By Trevor Corkum

Eve Lazarus has drawn back the curtain on some of Vancouver’s secret places. Vancouver Exposed: Searching for the City …

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Look Up! Amazing Books About Animals and Habitats

It can be easy, in our increasingly online hours, to lose sight of the majesty of our natural world and its animals and habitats. The following books, accompanied by hints of what lies within their covers, are testament to what we are missing—and as any kid would tell you, it's astonishing.

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Did You Know?

  • A Northern Pocket Gopher can dig an amazing half a metre of tunnel through compacted clay soil in just 15 minutes.
  • North American Beavers, along with humans, are the only mammals whose impact on their environment is so massive that it can be clearly seen with the naked eye from outer space.
  • There really are Narwhals – the single-tusked mammals that likely inspired the unicorn legend – living in the waters surrounding Greenland.

The Natural History of Canadian Mammals, by Donna Naughton, is the most comprehensive and authoritative book on Canadian mammals ever published. Winner of four international book awards (shortlisted for two others), this book received rave reviews from the National Post, Canadian Geographic, and Canada’s History, among others.

From the National Post: "Enjoy this book for the intellectual marvel that it is ... A Natural History of Canadian Mammals tells this country’s story in lively ways that are unexpectedly wonderful …

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Plant Some Seeds With These New Gardening Books

For most of us in Canada—West Coast aside, with its gorgeous early spring—the weather is still probably a little touch-and-go, and while the sprouts are growing hardily indoors, it's not quite time to transfer them yet to their outdoor beds. But it's going to happen any day now! And to further you along in your garden inspiration, we're happy to recommend a whole host of new books on the subject. 

See also Merilyn Simonds' list from a few years back, The Literary Garden. Because the connections between books and gardens are many. 

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For the New Homeowner

Your First Garden: A Landscape Primer for New Homeowners, by Judith Adam

About the book: In this book, accomplished garden writer Judith Adam targets new homeowners in sterile, still-to-be-landscaped suburbs. Creating an attractive setting for a brand-new house is a high priority and hard to resist, as all improvements will add to the property's dollar value as well as the enjoyment of the new home. 

With a light hand Adam outlines the basic steps toward transforming an empty yard into a welcoming, appealing space, beginning with identifying a personal garden style and assessing the pros and cons of a site, then choosing, planting and maintaining plants. 

Your First Garden is a primer on the basic elements of la …

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

On Saturday March 28th millions of people around the globe will turn off their lights and spend an hour without the use of electricity to mark Earth Hour. The movement, in previous years, has helped spark initiatives like tree planting and the banning of single use plastics in different countries. It’s important to talk about Earth Hour so young people understand the reasons behind the initiative and encourage their families to participate. There are many areas of the curriculum that involve environmental issues and stewardship. The environment is a natural springboard to explore different models of learning such as inquiry, design thinking, and project based learning. Here are a few titles and activities for kids from grades K-8 that fit with a discussion of Earth Hour and what we can do to help protect our planet.

Inspired by true events, In the Treehouse by Andrew Larsen, illustrated by Dušan Petričić is the story of a boy who plans and builds a treehouse with his dad and older brother. After a while his big brother doesn’t want to play anymore, he’d rather hang out with his friends. Until one night when the power goes out. The boy sees his neighbours actually come out of their houses and socialize. His brother joins him in the treehouse and they read …

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Launchpad: A Forest in the City, by Andrea Curtis

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.

Today it's Earth Day, and we're launching A Forest in the City, by Andrea Curtis and Pierre Pratt, a book which "imagines a city draped in green."

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

It’s a lushly illustrated kids’ nonfiction picture book that looks at the many benefits trees bring to cities and the challenges they face growing in a harsh urban environment.  

Describe your ideal reader.

Lives in a city and loves to dig in the soil, and roll in the gra …

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Launchpad: Sea Otters, by Isabelle Groc

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 and great insight 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 launching Sea Otters: A Survival Story, by Isabelle Groc, which no less than Dame Judi Dench calls "an important story, one that gives us hope...Young people will be encouraged to see that positive change can happen, and that we can all do something to help preserve our planet."

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Book Cover SEa Otters a Survival Story

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

Sea Otters: A Survival Story, illustrated with my photographs, looks at the history, biology, behaviour and uncertain future of sea otters, their journey from …

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