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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Esi Edugyan on Dreaming of Elsewhere

Writing about belonging is not a simple task. In her new book, Dreaming of Elsewhere: Observations on Home, Esi Edugyan chooses to intertwine fact and fiction, objective and subjective in an effort to find out if one can belong to more than one place, if home is just a place or if it can be an idea, a person, a memory, or a dream. How “home” changes, how it changes us, and how every farewell carries the promise of a return. Readers of Canadian literature, armchair travellers, and all citizens of the global village will enjoy her explorations and reflections, as we follow her from Ghana to Germany, from Toronto to Budapest, from Paris to New York.

We are pleased to grant you a sneak preview of this new book by the winner of the 2011 Scotiabank Giller Prize.

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Book Cover Dreaming of Elsewhere

"Not-belonging is so often rooted in difference that we forget, sometimes, that it can be rooted in similarities as well. I remember being in a large plaza of shops in Accra before our journey north to Kumasi. In the dusty, unpaved lot I saw, against the far stalls, two tall pale figures. They were blonde. Sewn into their backpacks were two tiny red maple leaves.“Look,” I said to my brother, and pointed.

After just three days in Ghana, a glimpse of white skin—so much a part of my home landscape, a p …

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Notes from a Children's Librarian: Books on Home

Our Children's Librarian columnist, Julie Booker, brings us a new view from the stacks every month.

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In 1997, when Hong Kong was transferred from Britain back to the People’s Republic of China, the school where I worked had an influx of Chinese families determined to make Canada their home. One five-year-old boy arrived on October 31st, to a parade of ghosts and monsters. He spent the day, refusing to move, tears streaming down his face, occasionally emitting a howl heard round the school. How could this possibly be his new home?

Robert Munsch's book, From Far Away (age 4–7), also written by Saoussan Askar and illustrated by Michael Martchenko, deals with a similar situation, except the protagonist has the added layer of immigrating from war-torn Beirut. It’s told in the form of a letter to a Reading Buddy. This is the beauty of Munsch. His stories come out of real kids' lives.

Whether transitioning to a new location or determining to stay in one place, the desire for stability is common to all these picture books about home.

The Boy in the Att …

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Great Companions

As fascinating as books themselves (and oh, are books ever fascinating) are the connections between books, the curious ways in which books inform and echo each other, creating strange synergies completely outside of their authors' purview. In celebration of these connections, we've made great pairings of recent Canadian books of note, creating ideal literary companions. 

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All About Abodes

Home, by Carson Ellis, and A View from the Porch, by Avi Friedman 

Carson Ellis's smash-hit picture book explores the meaning of home as it considers all kinds of homes—a ship, a shoe, a home on the moon?—and shares the same preoccupations as Avi Friedman's new collection of essays. 

About Home: 

Influential artist Carson Ellis makes her solo picture-book debut with a whimsical tribute to the many possibilities of home.

Home might be a house in the country, an apartment in the city, or even a shoe. Home may be on the road or the sea, in the realm of myth, or in the artist’s own studio. A meditation on the concept of home and a visual treat that invites many return visits, this loving look at the places where people live marks the picture-book debut of Carson Ellis, acclaimed illustrator of the Wildwood series and artist for the indie band the Decemberists.

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Win 1 of 5 Copies of Your First Home: A Buyer's Kit by Kimberley Marr. #realestate #homebuyers #givecdn

Kimberely Marr, author of Your First Home

Kimberley Marr, CAAP, ABR, is a RE/MAX real estate broker with over 23 years' experience. Throughout her career she has assisted many buyers and sellers in fulfilling their real estate goals and dreams. Marr has developed and taught real estate buyers' programs for the last 17 years with a focus on first-time home buyers. She has made television appearances and has been a speaker at national and international real estate, mortgage financing, and industry related conferences. Your First Home: A Buyer's Kit is her first book. Visit her online at www.kimegerton.com.

Julie Wilson: In your experience, what would say is the #1 misconception about buying your first home?

Kimberley Marr: There is a misconception that a large down payment (i.e. 20-30 percent of the purchase price) is required, which may not be the case for buyers that qualify for a high-ratio type of mortgage. Mortgages usually fall into one of two categories—conventional or high-ratio financing. Sometimes a buyer, based on lender underwriting criteria qualifies for a mortgage, may not have a large enough down payment to be considered a conventional type of mortgage (i.e., 20 per cent or more of the purchase or appraised price whichever is lower, for a down payment). However, the buyer may still be able t …

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Stay Where I Can See You: The List

Book Cover Stay Where I Can See You

I had this idea for a book about a mother and daughter at that moment where they split apart: the emotional separation that must precede the physical one when a child leaves home. I knew the characters right away—17-year-old Maddie, burning to grow up, and her mom, Gwen, devoted yet unknowable—but I needed a world, and a drama, in which to place them. I heard about someone I knew winning a small amount in a lottery, and it shocked me somehow: Why them? What now? I decided that a win like that would be a good place to put my fictional family: a gain to contrast the loss. Stay Where I Can See You became a book about secrets, and the ebb and flow of fortune, and how those fortunes collide and coexist in a city.

I don’t look at books that are too similar to mine when I’m writing but this is a list of kindred stories that I’ve read over the years that circle similar themes, and probably worked their way into my brain and slid onto the page in ways I’ll never fully understand.

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What We All Long For, by Dionne Brand

Brand deploys her poet’s pen t …

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