Off the Page

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

Latest Blog Posts
Book Cover What the Kite Saw

What the Kite Saw: Stories of Children and Crisis

By Anne Laurel Carter

"Children have their own unique ways of facing a crisis. Yes, they need protecting, but they are also resilient. They ha …

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Shelf Talkers: Spring 2021

Shelf Talkers: Spring 2021

By Robert J. Wiersema

One of the best pieces of news in an otherwise dark year was the word that, despite the growth of online giants during t …

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Book Cover The Shadow Life

My Drifter Reading List

By Jen Sookfong Lee

A poetry list by the author of new book The Shadow List.

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Book Cover Fuse

Persian-Canadian Writers You've Got to Read

By Hollay Ghadery

So, where were all the Persian Canadian writers? It turns out, here all along, but not as represented as one might hope; …

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Tough Like Mum: An Essential Picture Book for Kids *and* Adults

Tough Like Mum: An Essential Picture Book for Kids *and* Adults

By Geoffrey Ruggero

Picture books are often written with young children as their intended audience. In Tough Like Mum, Lana Button provides …

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Book Cover We Jane

Aimee Wall on The Great Canadian Abortion Novel

By Kerry Clare

"I didn’t want the plot to turn on an abortion or the decision to have one. Any conflict or tension is rooted elsewher …

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Book Cover Because the Sun

Poetry That's Going to Grab You

By 49thShelf Staff

Great books to read before for National Poetry Month is out.

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The Chat with Christopher DiRaddo

The Chat with Christopher DiRaddo

By Trevor Corkum

Christopher DiRaddo’s sophomore novel, The Family Way, is a dynamic and rich exploration of queer family, parenthood, …

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Book Cover No More Plastic

Fighting for the Planet: Inspiring Books for Earth Day

By Kerry Clare

An eclectic list of inspiring books about fighting to protect the planet.

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Book Cover Hour of the Crab

Other Beings, Other Minds

By Patricia Robertson

A recommended reading list by author of the new book Hour of the Crab.

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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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