Off the Page

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

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Book Cover Kid Sterling

Kid Sterling: Books on Jazz and Justice

By Christine Welldon

Christine Welldon introduces her debut novel, Kid Sterling, and she marks its release with a list of inspiring books tha …

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book cover eat salt/gaze at the ocean

Most Anticipated: Our 2020 Fall Poetry Preview

By 49th Shelf Staff

Our Fall Preview continues with poetry, an intriguing selection of debuts, collected works, and excellent new releases.

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Shelf Talkers: Books for Summer 2020

Shelf Talkers: Books for Summer 2020

By Robert J Wiersema

Here are our booksellers’ picks for your endless summer days. And if you exhaust this list, remember, more recommendat …

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The Chat with Madhur Anand

The Chat with Madhur Anand

By Trevor Corkum

Our first conversation this month is with writer Madhur Anand, whose brilliant experimental memoir This Red Line Goes St …

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Awesome August Giveaway

Awesome August Giveaway

By Kiley Turner

We hope you've had some wonderful summer escapes by now – we all deserve some magic this season! Today, we're highligh …

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Book Cover Blue Sky Kingdom

Let's Get Out of This Town: Literary Travel

By Kerry Clare

Journey through place and time with this collection of new and forthcoming travel books, spotlighting some of the best t …

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Book Cover Bird's Eye View

Ann Eriksson Launches BIRD'S EYE VIEW

By Kerry Care

"Anyone, young or old, who wants to learn more about the birds that live in their neighbourhood or on the other side of …

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The Chat with John Elizabeth Stintzi

The Chat with John Elizabeth Stintzi

By Trevor Corkum

Writer John Elizabeth Stinzi has the distinction of publishing two fabulous debuts a week apart this past spring. On The …

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Robert Bateman

Notes from a Children's Librarian: Bird Books

By Julie Booker

A flock of tales to get young readers into birding.

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Book Cover Hope Matters

Most Anticipated: Our 2020 Fall Nonfiction Preview

By 49th Shelf Staff

We're looking forward to books about history, true crime, memoir, nature, music, dance, food, and so much more. There's …

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Video: @BookMadam's Hands On Holiday Book Recommendations #GiveCDN #HolidayGift

Rememberer by YORODEO (Invisible Publishing).

Rememberer by YORODEO (Invisible Publishing).

This time of year, maybe it's the anticipation of mangling every gift-wrapped item, but I get excited about a hands on holiday. Perhaps it's because we carry more, cook more, put up more—put up with more—that I get a little giggly at the idea of myself as an elf in Santa's workshop—busy, busy, busy. True, in my vision, it's also a reality show in which the elf who finishes the most toys with grace and charm is crowned the winner. But, I digress.

Hands on, doesn't have to equal mad frenzy. Or a circular saw. Me? I like to colour. I like to sit down with a child—cue imaginary friend—and let rip. It's the perfect zen activity for someone who doesn't consider herself an artist. In Lynda Barry's book Picture This, she asks why it is that we don't consider colouring an art form when to sing another's work is still song. Is it all about the act of creation? Or is it about the impulse to use something other than words and language to express ourselves? And that a template is outlined for us has little to do with how we fill that space.

So, this holiday, when I have some time to myself, I'm going to take a colouring book to my favourite cafe, order myself the largest hot chocolate on the menu and bust out my crayo …

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When Anne Carson meets Charles Schultz: Kyo Maclear on picture books for grown-ups

Book Cover Virginia Wolf

I looked at the bookshelf in my study this morning and found Anne Carson sitting alongside Charles Schultz. I have no idea what they were doing there together, but I would like to think they were having a fruitful conversation. (They both like to draw. They are both observant and funny.)

There are picture books of all kinds on my “grown-up” shelf. Some I pilfered from my children. Some I bought for myself. Some are a little beyond me but I figure I’ll grow into them.

Book Cover Stray Love

Lately unaccompanied prose feels bereft to me. Perhaps it’s all the time I have spent in the company of my young sons, who believe a book without pictures is a travesty. (Why not just make a book without a binding, or page numbers?)

In the belief that grownups need pictures too, I’ve assembled a selection of adult-friendly visual reads.

Pear Tree Pomes by Roy Kiyooka: Call me naïve but I really believe that print books will continue to flourish for the next millennium. They will survive on the basis of their physical and tactile beauty. How can a book that touches you back ever be …

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For Young Readers: Most Anticipated Books of Fall 2012

Toads on Toast is the latest picture book by the award-winning Linda Bailey (her many works including the Stanley books and Goodnight Sweet Pig), illustrated by Colin Jack. Genevieve Cote, whose honours include the 2007 Governor General's Award for illustration, releases Mr. King's Things, the story of a materialistic cat who has to change his ways. Andrea Curtis's What's For Lunch?, with photographs by Yvonne Duivenvoorden, is a non-fiction book about school lunches around the world. The Shade and the Sorceress launches "The Last Days of Tian Di", a trilogy by Catherine Egan, about a young girl who discovers she's connected to a line of great sorceresses, but is incapable of magic herself. My Name is Parvanna is the sequel to Deborah Ellis's The Breadwinner.

Mr Zinger’s Hat is a new picture book by Cary Fagan, illustrated by Dusan Petricic, about a boy who learns to build a story. Sheree Fitch's marvelous collection of nonsense poems Toes in My Nose has been reissued, reimagined with new illustrations by Sydney Smith. Marie-Louise Gay's Stella stor …

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"Easy as pie. NOT!" Sharon McKay on Transforming Her Novel into a Graphic Novel

Book Cover War Brothers

Transforming War Brothers from a novel into a graphic novel was easy as pie and it only took a week! NOT! Here’s what really happened:

Comic book writer J. Torris (Bigfoot Boy, Jinx) gave a copy of War Brothers (the novel) to artist Daniel Lafrance. Dan was inspired enough to make a few sketches. He then drew ten pages of sequential art to include in a proposal. Holding my breath, I showed them to Rick Wilks, Director of Annick Press. Here’s where I say, “and the rest is history.” But wait!

I had a huge learning curve ahead of me. Dan had to carry me like a sack of potatoes. Yes, the words in the book are mine, but it was Dan who figured out how to transform them into a meaningful and powerful graphic form.

Initially, I was worried about the level of violence in the story. Make no mistake, there is NO gratuitous or unjustified violence in this book. It’s all real and happening right now. It’s not possible to write about child soldiers without showing the brutality, and reminding the reader that these children are both perpetrators and victims.

Page from War Brothers

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Notes from a Children's Librarian 940s: History in Graphic Form

Our children's librarian columnist Julie Booker brings us the latest in book banter.

One of the most powerful tools a librarian has in her arsenal is book banter, particularly with Junior kids. To be able to recommend and discuss the latest Kevin Sylvester or Gordon Korman is what places him/her in the hub of the community. But gone are the days of the shush-ing librarian, nose stuck in a book behind the circulation counter, reading for countless hours. One short-cut solution for the librarian who wishes to remain in the know: graphic novels. I devoured the following three in one night and learned a bit of history in the process.

Book Cover Two Generals

The opening pages of Scott Chantler’s beautifully designed World War II novel Two Generals feel like the establishing shots of an epic movie, the kind that tell you you’re in the hands of an expert filmmaker. And, like a great director, Chantler brilliantly plays with the element of time, using foreshadowing as well as temporal jump cuts at the end which reveal the author’s reason for writing the book. The novel’s colour palette is black, white and army green, uncharacteristically depicting much of the waiting that happens in war. Blood red is used strategically to denote death creeping in. Two Generals has rounded corners and a bu …

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