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!

read more >
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 …

read more >
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 …

read more >
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 …

read more >
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 …

read more >
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, …

read more >
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 …

read more >
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 …

read more >
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 …

read more >
The Chat with GG's Literature Award Winner Anne Carson

The Chat with GG's Literature Award Winner Anne Carson

By Trevor Corkum

“Norma Jeane Baker of Troy leverages a millennia-old story of beauty and war to animate a history of the male gaze and …

read more >

Notes from a Children's Librarian: Mystery Novels for Young Readers

Every month, our resident children's librarian, Julie Booker, brings us great stories from the stacks. May is Mystery Month at 49th Shelf, and Julie's picks are in the spirit. 

*****

John Spray grew up on Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys. He became the President of the Mantis Investigation Agency and, in 2011, established the John Spray Mystery Award for novels for ages 8 to 16. (The award is administered by the Canadian Children's Book Centre). Four of the following five titles were winners or nominees, and the other is remarkable in its own right.

The Lynching of Louie Sam, by Elizabeth Stewart, is a compelling story, based on true events—the only recorded lynching in Canada. The book opens in 1884, in Washington Territory, with 15-year-old George Gillies finding the local store owner murdered. The facts point to Louie Sam, a native boy a year younger than George. Sam is arrested and taken to Canada for a hearing but a posse of men (disguised in their wives’ petticoats) ride to BC to snatch him. George’s father is among them and George follows on horseback to witness the hanging. Things get complicated when George discovers Louie Sam may be innocent. George wrestles with his conscience while watching the adults cover up for political reasons. The Gillies family is …

Continue reading >

Notes from a Children's Librarian: Great, Great Books About Grandparents

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

*****

The unique exchange between grandchild and grandparent stays true throughout these stories, some of which deal with big themes, such as Alzheimer's, widowhood, remarriage and loss.

Book Cover My Two Grandmothers

In My Two Grandmothers, by Diane Carmel Leger, illustrated by Jean-Luc Trudel, Memere Hermance is as different from Nannie Henrietta as a bee from a hen. Two distinct portraits are constructed: an Acadian, stylish store owner vs. a Scottish, protective, practical grandma. What makes them angry? Where do they take their grandchildren on adventures? Even their dogs are polar opposites. This delightful tale demonstrates character to the age 6+ crowd. It's punctuated with French sayings and Scottish slang with translations at the back. 

Fox Song by Joseph Bruchac, illustrated by Canadian Paul Morin, is a beautiful story about loss. Jamie wakes in the morning, but doesn't open her eyes. Instead, she basks in the memory of her Abenaki grandma. Jamie remembers all Great Great Gra …

Continue reading >

YOSS Guide for Novices

yoss

Even before a passionate group of writers and readers declared 2011 the Year of the Short Story (YOSS), Canadian short stories had been enjoying some time back in the spotlight. Sarah Selecky’s This Cake is for the Party and Alexander MacLeod’s Light Lifting were both much celebrated and made the Giller Prize shortlist last year, and Katrina Best’s Bird Eat Bird won Best First Book for the Canada/Caribbean Section of the Commonwealth Writers Prize. Online initiatives like Joyland and Found Press are giving short stories new life online.

9781897231944_cover_coverbookpage

9781897178942_cover_coverbookpage

And now the YOSS itself has delivered some remarkable new short story collections, all of this an absolute boon for those readers devoted to the form, and has surely also brought about a few converts. But there remain those readers upon whom all the celebration is lost, those who’ve tried and fail …

Continue reading >

In Conversation With: Julie Booker on photography and how to frame a story. (cc: @houseofanansi)

Julie-Booker-author-of-Up-Up-Up

I recently met up with Julie Booker, author of the short story collection Up, Up, Up (House of Anansi). After an hour of talking, we realized we'd stumbled upon an interesting topic, how to match the right storytelling tools to the right story. In particular, I was interested in Julie's travel photography. We decided to pick up the chat here, and what begins as a conversation about photography becomes a pleasantly-meandering exploration into how we gather our stories, place ourselves within them, and ultimately decide what to keep and what (and how) to share the rest.

-----

Julie Wilson: A few months ago, I learned that you're an accomplished photographer. When I first saw your photos, I said to your husband, Denis De Klerck (Mansfield Press), "I didn't know Julie's a photographer." He replied, "I don't know that she thinks of herself as one." I thought it was interesting, that artistic talent is not necessarily akin to artistic pursuit. Or, possibly, it's a matter of using the right tools for the right story. So, let's begin there. Is photography a way to document your travels or a frame in which to tell the stories of your travels?

Julie Booker: I began travelling alone in my 20s because I wanted to bust out of my small, safe life. I started with a few summers bac …

Continue reading >

Julie Booker's Oh Canada Picture Book List

Not only is Julie Booker an author (Up Up Up) and the mother of twins, but she is also a teacher-librarian for primary grades. Her picture book list is perfect Canada Day fare.

Drumheller Dinosaur Dance by Robert Heidbreder: Imagine a group of kids, cross-legged at your feet, all eyes on the book in your hand. With the first "Boomity-boom, Rattley-clack, Thumpity-thump, Whickety-whack," you know you've got them. That's why this is on the list. Not only does it introduce the Badlands, it begs for actions to accompany the chorus.

Jelly Belly by Dennis Lee: Dennis Lee is probably best known for Alligator Pie, but having used this book for twenty years in my teaching, the poems are well worn synaptic pathways in my brain. And the illustrations are inseparable from the poems. A few favourites that play with Canadian content: Bundle Buggy Boogie and Torontosaurus Rex (found on a menu in the illustration for The Dinosaur Dinner.)

Continue reading >

The Randomizer

Load New Book >
X
Contacting facebook
Please wait...