Off the Page

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

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Book Cover Stay Where I can See You

Stay Where I Can See You: The List

By Katrina Onstad

"I had this idea for a book about a mother and daughter at that moment where they split apart..."

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Introducing the 49th Teachers COVID–19 Crisis Teacher Diary

Introducing the 49th Teachers COVID–19 Crisis Teacher Diary

By Allison Hall

Welcome to the 49th Teachers COVID–19 Teacher Diary, a new blog series that takes a look at how teachers are coping wi …

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Book Cover A Forest in the City

Seeing the Forest AND the Trees

By Andrea Curtis

When self isolation and physical distancing has got your family cooped up, the next best thing might just be reading pic …

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The Chat with Amanda Leduc

The Chat with Amanda Leduc

By Trevor Corkum

Disfigured: On Fairy Tales, Disability, and Making Space (Coach House) is a brilliant and startling book of essays by Am …

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Book Cover Dead mom Walking

Five Queer Memoirs to Keep You Going

By Rachel Matlow

When you’re done watching Tiger King and taking a break from playing Animal Crossing, here are five queer memoirs to k …

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

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

By Allison Hall

On Saturday March 28th millions of people around the globe will turn off their lights and spend an hour without the use …

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Book Cover Sputnik's Children

The Books I Want to Read Again

By Kerry Clare

Rereading is comfort, and indulgence. It's a voyage back to the familiar, but one that's still rich with discovery, and …

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Neon BOOKS sign

How Do We Read When Words Fail Us?

By Kerry Clare

On the value of books and reading in a dangerous time.

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Book Cover Lost in the Backyard

Notes from a Children's Librarian: Catchy Beginnings

By Julie Booker

Great books with great starts.

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Books to Keep Young People Learning During Covid-19

Books to Keep Young People Learning During Covid-19

By Kiley Turner

There's never been a better time to highlight some great posts from our resident children's librarian, Julie Booker.

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Newfangled Styles for Newfangled Lives: Guest Post by Tanya Lloyd Kyi

Tanya Lloyd Kyi lives in Vancouver with her husband and children. Her most recent book, 50 Underwear Questions (Fall 2011), takes an amusing look at the role underwear has played through the ages. The Blue Jean Book (2005) is the story of denim’s rise from its origins with hardscrabble miners and cowboys to its popularity among laborers, rebels, and the incurably hip. An updated version, including comic-style illustrations, has been published in 2011 under the name The Lowdown on Denim.

I’m a pop culture idiot. When my husband quotes old TV shows, I stare at him blankly. When my friends play “name that tune,” I lose every time. My knowledge of brand names is pitiful and fashion labels are a lost cause.

It’s not my fault (or so I tell myself). We didn’t have cable until halfway through elementary school. Our truck had an eight-track player. There wasn’t a mall or movie theatre within an hour’s drive. When my cousin visited from Vancouver and brought a Weird Al Yankovic cassette, it was like she’d arrived from another planet. (A cool planet.)

I’m not exaggerating. My town was so remote, we were wearing 1980s hairstyles well into the 90s. I’d prove it, but my grad photos spontaneously combusted, due to excess Ice Mist.

So, when my publisher sugg …

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What I Read on my Summer Vacation: Guest Post by Andrew Larsen

Andrew Larsen (in a hat!)

As a stay at home dad, it’s never easy to carve out time to write. Summer presents a whole new set of challenges. This past summer I was able to do some writing in the very early morning, before the rest of the house was awake. On the whole, however, my kids’ summer vacation meant that I had to take a vacation from writing. So, instead, I read. What a treat! I so seldom get a chance to read. And with the beginning of the new school year I resolve to read even more. Meanwhile, here are some of my recently read favourites:

Chapter Books

Banjo of Destiny by Cary Fagan:

Quirky and delightful, Cary Fagan’s Banjo of Destiny tells the story Jeremiah Birnbaum. Jeremiah is the unconventional child of wealthy parents who appears to have it all. In fact, it all counts for nothing. The greatest thing he has is his passion to learn to play the banjo. Overcoming numerous hurdles, to say nothing of his foolish parents, Jeremiah follows his heart and discovers that he is capable of creating much more than just good music.

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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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Andrea Curtis on the International Lunch Box and Learning to Write for Kids

Book Cover What's for Lunch?

It was a day like any other day in a kitchen like any other. Groggy and overwhelmed, coffee and time-deprived, my husband and I were rushing around, squeezing between fridge and sink, trying desperately to find something healthy and palatable to send for lunch in our two young boys’ school bags. The whole process was tinged with a niggling dread and a hint of irritation, knowing that the lunch we were packing would likely be returned partly eaten at the end of the day—slimy cucumbers and cold tomato pasta that would make my stomach churn.

There has to be a better way, we told each other—though we’d hashed out the possibilities many times before. But even in the depths of school lunch despair, I had to wonder, if middle class people like us were struggling to get their kids a nutritious and tasty meal that they will actually eat, what about people here at home or the rest of the world whose challenges are so much more extreme? How do people living in poverty in Canada or India, Kenya, Afghanistan or Brazil manage to keep their kids healthy and fed?

What's for Lunch Japan

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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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