Off the Page

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

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Book Cover Hope Matters

Hope Matters: Turning Toward Solutions and Away From Doom

By Elin Kelsey

The tired old narrative of doom and gloom can no longer capture the changing global dynamics of life on planet Earth. Th …

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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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Rona Maynard on Mental Illness and the REAL Talking Cure

Book Cover My Mother's Daughter

Talking History focuses on a wide range of topics in Canadian history, and it consists of articles by Canada's foremost historians and history experts. Our contributors use the power of narrative to bring the past to life and to show how it is not just relevant, but essential to our understanding of Canada and the world today. "Talking History" is a series made possible through a special funding grant from the Department of Canadian Heritage.

Rona Maynard has been a champion for mental health since 1997. When a suicide call turned up on her voicemail at Chatelaine, where she was Editor, she knew she had found her mission. The magazine’s award-winning health journalism reflected Rona's conviction that an illness of the mind deserves equal time with an illness of the body.


Early in my tenure as Editor of Chatelaine, I let my readers in on a secret. I had suffered from depression that took hold of me in childhood and did not let go until my mid-30s. In its grip, I hid behind a mask of competence—meeting every deadline as a busy freelance writer and making fettuccine from scratch because my family deserved the best. No one saw me spend entire days crying.  At my lowest low, I realized that I couldn’t keep up my charade. Terrified of being exposed as a fraud, …

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The Chat: Trevor Corkum Interviews Michael Christie



This month on The Chat we’re back with an interview with award-winning author Michael Christie, whose book If I Fall, If I Die created well-deserved buzz on both sides of the border when it was released in 2015.

If I Fall, If I Die tells the story of Will, a young boy living with his agoraphobic mother in Thunder Bay. As the novel opens, Will ventures forth outside his home for the first time. Through an artistic outsider, Will is introduced to the world of skateboarding and gradually pulled outside the confines of his small world.

The Star calls the novel “A sort of Alice in Wonderland in reverse, where a kid from a place where fantasy reigns clambers out of his rabbit hole and emerges, awestruck, into the real world.”

If I Fall, If I Die was longlisted for the Scotiabank Giller Prize and was selected as a New York Times Editors' Choice. Michael's previous collection of short stories, The Beggar's Garden, was longlisted for the Scotiabank Giller Prize, was a finalist for the Writers' Trust Prize for Fiction, and won the Vancouver Book Award. H …

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Notes From a Children's Librarian: Books on Health and Wellness

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


The Health curriculum in the Junior Division focuses on self-awareness—understanding personal strengths, recognizing sources of stress, making decisions, and evaluating choices—as students acquire knowledge and skills related to healthy living. Sometimes picture books can be overlooked for Juniors as a way to open up discussion of these vital concepts—but in this list, we take advantage of them. 


Whimsy’s Heavy Things, by Julie Kraulis, with its beautiful dream-like illustrations, is the story of Whimsy and all that weighs her down. The heavy things look like black balls (the size of bowling balls). She tries sweeping them under the carpet, ignoring them, sinking them, but they always come back, causing even greater problems. Finally, she thinks of breaking them into smaller pieces—i.e. into marbles with her friend—thus, making her heavy things lighter.


Book Cover Max's Treasure

Max’s Treasure, by Michelle Persyko, photography by Jessica Newman, illustrated by …

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The Chat with Brian Francis

Francis_Brian high res colour Credit Samuel Engelking

Today, we’re in conversation with Brian Francis, author of the acclaimed YA novel—and Governor General’s Award-nominated—Break in Case of Emergency.

Centred around the story of a girl named Toby, the novel has been praised for opening up important conversations about teen mental health. According to the Globe and Mail, “Francis beautifully explores issues around mental health and suicide in a story that packs a powerful punch and stays with you long after you close the book."

Brian Francis is the author of two previous novels. His most recent, Natural Order, was selected by the Toronto Star, Kobo, and The Georgia Straight as a Best Book of the Year. His first novel, Fruit, was a CBC Canada Reads finalist and was selected as one of and 49th Shelf’s “100 Canadian Books to Read in a Lifetime.” He lives in Toronto.


Trevor Corkum: Break in Case of Emergency takes us back to 1992, and tells the story of Toby, a teenaged girl who has just learned that the father she has never met is coming to visit. Not only that, but her father …

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The Chat with Eufemia Fantetti

Eufemia Fantetti B&W PRINT

Today's chat is with Eufemia Fantetti, author of the brand new memoir My Father, Fortune-tellers, & Me, out now with Mother Tongue Publishing. It shares the story of the author’s experience growing up with a mother with severe mental health issues, and charts her lifelong relationship with her mother and father, both first generation Italian-Canadians.

Author Terri Favro calls the work “Utterly original and riveting, this book will tear your heart out.” You can check out the trailer here.

Eufemia Fantetti, a graduate of SFU’s Writer’s Studio and the University of Guelph’s Creative Writing master’s program, is a three-time winner of Accenti Magazine’s annual writing competition. Her work appears in Event Magazine, The New Quarterly and the Globe and Mail and is listed as notable by the Best American Essays Series. Fantetti is also an award-winning playwright and former stand-up comic. She teaches writing at Humber College and edits for the Humber Literary Review. Her debut book, A Recipe for Disaster & Other Unlikely Tales of Love, runner-up for the 2013 Danuta Gleed Literary Award and winner of the 2014 F.G. Bressani Literary Prize for short fiction, is also available from Mother Tongue Publishing.


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