Off the Page

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

Latest Blog Posts
Book Cover Salma the Syrian Chef

Notes from a Children’s Librarian: Satisfying Endings

By Julie Booker

How do you create a sense of satisfaction in a story’s finale? The following books pull it off!

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49thShelf Summer Reads

Introducing the 49th Shelf Summer Books List: Part 2

By Kerry Clare

Our summer reads extravaganza continues with PART 2 of our Summer Books List, and once again, each and every title is up …

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Inclusive Learning, Diverse Books: Introducing Top Grade 2021

Inclusive Learning, Diverse Books: Introducing Top Grade 2021

By Spencer Miller

Welcome to the Association for Canadian publisher’s Top Grade: CanLit for the Classroom, a blog and preview video seri …

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Book Cover bread and water

Most Anticipated: Our Fall 2021 Nonfiction Preview

By 49thShelf Staff

New books about everything, including food, beauty, art, travel, singing, healing, grieving, shopping, aging, and so muc …

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Book Cover Unlocking

CanLit Yearning

By Amy LeBlanc

"At the heart of my novella and in each book on this CanLit list is a sense of desire or a yearning (for belonging, iden …

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The Chat with Rev. Dr. Cheri DiNovo

The Chat with Rev. Dr. Cheri DiNovo

By Trevor Corkum

This week we’re in conversation with political trailblazer Rev. Dr. Cheri DiNovo, whose memoir, The Queer Evangelist, …

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Book Cover The Prairie Chicken Dance Tour

Most Anticipated: Our 2021 Fall Fiction Preview

By 49th Shelf Staff

With new books by Miriam Toews, Dawn Dumont, Douglas Coupland, Marie-Renee Lavoie, Omar El Akkad, Zoe Whittall, Trudy Mo …

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Book Cover The Quiet is Loud

Speculative Fiction: Vast and Thrilling

By Samantha Garner

"As a reader and a lightly superstitious human, I can’t deny the pull of the unusual, the not-quite-real. I love books …

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Book Cover Travels in Cuba

Writing with Four Hands

By Marie-Louise Gay and David Homel

"That’s what the Travels series is all about: sending a resourceful, observant, unafraid (well, sometimes a little afr …

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Most Anticipated: Our Fall 2016 Non-Fiction Preview

History, sports, memoir, cookbooks, history, global affairs, feminism, parenting, television, politics...and so much more. With the stellar non-fiction selections out this fall, Canadian writers are continuing to write the world. 


Book Cover The Dad Dialogues

The rise of think-tanks in Canada and the role they occupy on the country’s political landscape are explored in Northern Lights (November), by Donald Abelson. Writers examine virginity as a cultural construct in Virgin Envy: The Cultural (In)Significance of the Hymen (October), edited Jonathan A. Allan, Cristina Santos, and Adriana Spahr. Andrew Baulcomb chronicles the recent goings-on of the music scene in Hamilton, ON, in Evenings and Weekends (September). Alyson Bobbitt and Sarah Bell share their most beloved pastry recipes in Bobbette and Belle: Recipes from the Celebrated Pastry Shop (October). And The Dad Dialogues (October), by George Bowering and Charles Demers, is an intergenerational look at fatherhood—and the universe!

A Disappearance in Damascus

Charles Bronfman shares his fascinating life story in Distilled: A Memoir of Family, Sea …

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Most Anticipated: Our Fall 2016 Books for Young Readers Preview

There's still plenty of summer left, but we're looking forward to the excellent new books that are coming our way this fall. This time we're focusing on books for young readers (and also for readers whose hearts are young).


Picture Books

Book Cover King Baby

Victoria Allenby and Tara Anderson follow up their award-winning Nat the Cat Can Sleep Like That with Rhino Rumpus (September); expect more rhyming couplet fun. Cale Atkinson (who illustrated Vikki VanSickle's If I Had a Gryphon in the spring) releases Maxwell the Monkey Barber (August), about a jungle barber who can handle all the wild animals' coiffures, but then must comfort the poor elephant who is sad because he doesn't have hair at all. Kate Beaton tops The Princess and the Pony with King Baby (September). Rebecca Bender (of Giraffe and Bird fame) releases How Do You Feel? (November), about feeling, textures, and delightful animal creatures. And Stompin’ Tom Connors has his classic song put into print with The Hockey Song (October), with pictures by Gary Clement.

Book Cover In the Red Canoe

Paul Covello's Canada ABC (September) follow …

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Picture Books You've Got To Read This Fall

Book Cover Maxwell the Monkey Barber

Back to school is the best time to hit the books—the picture books, that is. Plus the nominations for the Canadian Children's Book Centre Awards are coming up soon, and so yes, we've got kids' books on the brain this month. Today we're pleased to bring you all the picture books you've absolutely got to read. 


Maxwell the Monkey Barber, by Cale Atkinson

About the book: Maxwell the monkey operates a barbershop, where he offers everything from a trim to a chop. He excels at helping his fellow animals look shipshape and feel their best, no matter how unruly their locks. Whatever the coiffure quandary, Maxwell is your monkey. He tames Baboon’s curls, styles Lion’s mane, and trims Bear’s beard, exclaiming each time: “Your hair’s the best I’ve seen today!” 

All’s well until Elephant comes in, feeling sad because he has no hair. Can Maxwell help? Of course! After some careful thinking, he devises a solution to help even Elephant feel his best.

Why we're taking notice: We loved Atkinson's illustrations for If I Had a Gryphon last spring. This new title looks like a lot of fun. 


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Canadian Litfests for Fall 2016

With the arrival of September, Canadian litfest season goes full-throttle. Here are all the details on what's going down at festivals across the country.


The Eden Mills Festival runs September 16–18 in Eden Mills, ON, (near Guelph), and the schedule is always as excellent as the village is pretty. Featured authors include Kamal Al-Solaylee, Cherie Dimaline, Alissa York, Cordelia Strube, Soraya Peerbaye, George Elliott Clarke, Helen Humphreys, Katherine Govier, Maureen Jennings, Lisa Moore, Jael Richardson, and others. 


The Telling Tale Festival in Rockton, ON, (near Hamilton) is a terrific day out for families, with featured authors, storytellers, and illustrators for young readers including Scott Chantler, Jon-Erik Lappano, Andrew Larsen, Lindsay Mattick, Ruth Ohi, Kenneth Oppel, Barbara Reid, Bill Slavin, Kevin Sylvester, Jeremy Tankard, Vikki VanSickle, and many more. 

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