Off the Page

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

Latest Blog Posts
Book Cover Instructor

9 Canadian Writers Who Run with the Night

By Beth Follett

A recommended reading list by the founder and publisher of Pedlar Press, whose new novel is Instructor.

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Book Cover Trip of the Dead

Apocalypses, Quests, and Survival

By Angela Misri

A great list of books for middle-grade readers by author of new novel Trip of the Dead.

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The Chat with Eva Crocker

The Chat with Eva Crocker

By Trevor Corkum

This week we’re in conversation with author Eva Crocker. Her debut novel, All I Ask, (House of Anansi Press) was publi …

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Book Cover A Town Called Solace

Mary Lawson: A Sense of Place

By Mary Lawson

"I don’t know if it’s a Canadian thing, or if people the world over are similarly drawn to the landscape they know w …

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Book Cover: Elvis Me and the Lemonade Summer

Most Anticipated: Our Books for Young Readers Preview

By 49thShelf Staff

Looking forward to some of the books for young readers (and readers of all ages) that we're going to be falling in love …

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I Read Canadian Day is back!

I Read Canadian Day is back!

By Geoffrey Ruggero

It’s back! After a very successful first year where authors, students, educators, librarians, parents and many other C …

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Book Cover The Adventures of Miss Petitfour

Notes From a Children's Librarian: Scrumptious Stories

By Julie Booker

DELICIOUS books about food and eating.

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Book Cover Firefly

The Kids: Are They Alright?

By Philippa Dowding

What is it like for a child who lives with a parent or who knows an adult struggling with a crisis of mental health, add …

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Where It All Happened: A List of Propulsive Settings

Where It All Happened: A List of Propulsive Settings

By Kiley Turner

Anyone who's read Emma Donoghue's The Pull of the Stars knows just how much the confines of that understaffed maternity …

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Book Cover Night Watch

Seeking Certainty in Uncertain Worlds

By Gillian Wigmore

A fascinating recommended reading list by the author of new book Night Watch.

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Ann Douglas: A Short History of Parental Guilt

Book Cover Parenting Through the Storm

"Talking History" is a biweekly series made possible through a special funding grant from the Department of Canadian Heritage. The series focuses on a wide range of topics in Canadian history, exploring the notion of history as a compelling form of storytelling of interest to large audiences. These articles by Canada's foremost historians and history experts use the power of narrative to bring the past to life, drawing connections between then and now to show how these stories are not just relevant, but essential to our understanding of Canada and the world today.

Ann Douglas is the author of a number of bestselling books about pregnancy and parenting (including The Mother of All Pregnancy Books and The Mother of All Baby Books) and a magazine writer who specializes in writing about parenting and health. This month, HarperCollins publishes her new book, Parenting Through the Storm: Handling the Highs, the Lows, and Everything In-Between, a guide to parenting a child who is struggling with a mental, neurodevelopmental, or behavioural challenge.

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If you’ve got kids, you’ve got guilt—parental guilt, that is. It doesn’t matter what you’re doing, you’re doing it wrong—or at least that’s how it can feel.

But here’s a bit of good news for the guilt-ra …

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The Edges of Identity

Fawn Parker—whose most recent publication is the novel Set-Point, which “takes us to the very edge of identity, virtual and lived,” according to poet Kateri Lanthier—recommends eight books dealing with issues of identity, sexuality, and mental health. 

Heroine, by Gail Scott 

A Montreal woman masturbates in her bathtub, musing on her involvement with the '70s leftist movement, a polyamorous romance with a man always just out of reach, and her own personal identity cast against other women, other artists. Gail Scott blends poetic prose, stream of consciousness and “new narrative” (term coined by Soup magazine) to bring the reader right into the room with her protagonist. The line blurs between tense, story, character, and body. 

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Sodom Road Exit, by Amber Dawn

Starla Mia Martin moves back home to what feels like a ghost town (C …

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Eight Books that Help Support Mental Wellness in Students

Twice a month, we invite an educator to share their perspective on essential books for your classroom. To apply to become a contributor, please send us an email!

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I’ve always been a worrier. In elementary school, I was afraid of speaking in class, and dreaded being called upon, even if I knew the answers. Well-meaning grownups would often say, “Don’t worry. There’s nothing to be afraid of. You just need to think positive.” I appreciated their reassurances, but you can’t get rid of anxiety with breezy bromides.

You can help ease fears by opening the door to a conversation, and here are some books that I wish I had growing up—both for myself and for the adults in my life. The following authentic and non-didactic picture books, middle grade, and teen fiction titles show realistic, nuanced characters who work on navigating their fears. These are books in which kids can feel seen and understood, and realize that they aren’t alone. Educators can make a profoundly positive difference in the life of a child, and these engaging stories also offer prescient insight into mental wellness supports. 

Healing power of art

9781771473385_interior_coverbookpage-v2-modal

On the night before the first day of school, Molly Akita can’t sleep because it feels like there’s a pack of rabble-rousing dogs running wil …

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Launchpad: Good Mothers Don't, by Laura Best

Today we're launching Good Mothers Don't, by Laura Best, which Christy Ann Conlin calls, "An unlikely page turner replete with hushed surprises, unexpected crescendos, endless love and boundless vitality."

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The Elevator Pitch. Tell us about your book in a sentence.

It’s a literary novel set in both 1960 and 1975 Nova Scotia about one woman’s journey through mental illness and the ripple effects of her illness on those around her.

Describe your ideal reader.

Enjoys character driven stories, a glass of wine at the end of the day, walks along the beach and dark chocolate—maybe an occasional Mars bar.

What authors/books is your work in conversation with?

Alistair MacLeod, Kathleen Winter, Syr Ruus, Christy-Ann Conlin, Ami McKay, Donna Morrissey and Carol Bruneau.

What is something interesting you learned about your book/yourself/ your subject during the process of creating and publishing your book?

I was surprised by my ability to feel compassion for a character whose actions totally contradicted my preconceived ideas of what makes a good mother.

What do you hope readers will gain from reading your book?

My hope is that readers will gain a better understanding of people suffering from mental illness, that they will not just see the illness but the person behind that …

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The Kids: Are They Alright?

Firefly is up for giveaway right now along with three other fab books in the DCB Middle Grade Bundle—Trip of the Dead, by Angela Misri; Birdspell, by Valerie Sherrard; Elvis, Me, and the Lemonade Stand Summer, by Leslie Gentile. Enter for your chance to win!

What is it like for a child who lives with a parent or who knows an adult struggling with a crisis of mental health, addiction, or homelessness?

Canadian children’s authors have written many moving, thoughtful books about kids coping with parents or adults in crisis. While writing my latest book Firefly, I read a lot of them (mostly pretty choked up).  

I couldn’t include them all, but here is a list of some of my favourite titles from recent years.

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Aunt Pearl, by Monica Kulling, Illustrated by Irene Luxbacher

Dan, Marta and their mother try to help their Aunt Pearl, who is homeless, by giving her a home. But Aunt Pearl is different. She collects garbage and lives in a messy, jumbled way, and yet she shows the children that recycled items can have a purpose, that we can help each other in way …

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