Off the Page

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

Latest Blog Posts
Book Cover The Union of Smokers

Launchpad: The Union of Smokers, by Paddy Scott

By Kerry Clare

"An entirely new kind of story told by a gutter-mouthed, chain-smoking twelve year old, who announces in the opening par …

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COVID–19 Teacher Diary: An Achievable, Accessible #ActivityOfTheDay

COVID–19 Teacher Diary: An Achievable, Accessible #ActivityOfTheDay

By Jennifer Byrne

The times we find ourselves in right now are uncertain and unprecedented.  But what always sticks with me is this saying …

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Book Cover Junebat

Launchpad: Junebat, by John Elizabeth Stinzi

By Kerry Clare

"To the poetics of the queer everyday Stintzi adds their ‘Junebat,’ a multitudinous concept of such explanatory powe …

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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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Books We're Waiting For: Spring 2013 Preview for Kids and Teens

Book Cover Oy Feh So

The Silent Summer of Kyle McGinley is a new teen novel by celebrated author Jan Andrews, the story of a young man caught in the foster care system who with a new placement finally glimpses the possibilities of change. Saskatchewan writer Robert Currie's latest is the YA novel Living with the Hawk, a tale of a family torn apart by experiences that read like news headlines. Rachelle Delaney's new novel is The Metro Dogs of Moscow, the follow-up to the much acclaimed The Ship of Lost Souls. Cary Fagan is back with two books, the picture book Oy, Feh, So?, illustrated by Gary Clement, about siblings who push the limits of their imposing relatives' Sunday visits, and also the novel Danny Who Fell in a Hole about a boy who finds himself stranded at the bottom of a giant construction hole.

Book Cover Where Do you Look?

Alma Fullerton's Community Soup is her second picture book, and the first she has illustrated, about a group of Kenyan school-children working together to harvest the vegetables they have grown. Children's literacy advocate Joyce Grant releases her first picture book, Gabb …

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Notes From a Children's Librarian: Funny Books for Young Readers

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

*****

A ten-year-old’s question: “Where are the funny books?” made me think. In a sea of junior novels, what are the telltale signs? A jacket quote? A comical cover illustration? A title with whimsy? Beyond that, how does an author make writing humorous?

Each of these books has its own form of “funny.”

Alice, I Think, written by Susan Juby, is a perfect example of comedic voice, and it's written in diary form. Alice, a 15-year-old home-schooled isolate, is finally attending high school. But her retro fashion sense makes her a bully magnet. The reader cringes at her Italian housedress, nurse shoes, accessorized by a Fred Flintstone lunch box. Besides a few beatings (one done by the bully, another done to the bully, by Alice’s mother) not much happens in this book. There’s the druggie cousin Frank who comes to live with them. And the co-dependent boyfriend whom her parents (and the reader) know is a loser. But we have to wait while Alice makes her own decisions. When she finally meets a boy (a male version of Alice) there’s an amusing sex scene suitable for ages 12 and up.

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Most Anticipated: Fall 2014 Kids' Books

Canadian children's literature is avowedly world-class, and the selection this season is up to the usual standard. Our Fall Preview offers hours and hours of bedtime reading for lit-lovers of all ages. And don't miss the rest of our Fall Previews: Fiction, Non-Fiction and Poetry.

Picture Books

Book Cover Winter Moon Song

With Good Morning, Canada (September), Andrea Lynn Beck follows up her celebrated Goodnight, Canada, as children across the country welcome a brand new day. You probably know and love Helaine Becker and Werner Zimmerman's A Porcupine in a Pine Tree, so get ready for their latest, Dashing Through the Snow: A Canadian Jingle Bells (October), which begins with Sasquatch upsetting Santa's sleigh and everyone getting the wrong presents. Sangeeta Bhadra's debut is Sam's Pet Temper (September), an amusing story about a boy who eventually learns to control his troublesome "pet," illustrated by Marian Arbona. In Winter Moon Song (August), award-winning writer Martha Brooks tells her own version of the "Rabbit in the Moon" story, which is shared by many cultures, her tender tale complemented by Leticia Ruifernández's illustrations. 

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E. Paul Zehr: Why We Need Superheroes

Superheroes are not just an idle preoccupation, or even the jurisdiction of the young, as E. Paul Zehr has discovered during his career using superheroes as a basis of science education. His new book for young readers, Project Superhero, is a perfect back-to-school tale blending fiction and non-fiction to connect classroom learning to the real world, and explore the amazing lives of superheroes—including those who live among us. In this essay, Zehr explores what superhero stories mean to readers of all ages, and why their tales are so important.  

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In my popular-science writing I use superheroes as foils for communicating science. Since writing Becoming Batman (2008) and Inventing Iron Man (2011), I have done a huge number of interviews, talks, and presentations in venues spanning the ginormous spectacle of the San Diego International Comic-Con, the Academy of Motion Pictures, Arts and Sciences in Beverly Hills, TEDx, scientific conferences, school assemblies, and classroom visits.

I’ve learned from all those conversations that superheroes are super-popular at any age and for any group.

By far, the majority of my school visits have been to middle schools and grades 6 to 8. Which is why, a little while ago, I started to think about writing a book specifically …

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Most Anticipated: 2015 Kids' Books Spring Preview

January is a fine time for looking ahead, and for scoping out the scene on the forthcoming reading year. Spoiler: it's going to be a good one. Throughout the month, we'll be sharing titles of books you're going to be falling in love with, beginning with kids' books.

On your marks; get set; GO!!!

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Picture Books

Giraffe Meets Bird

Hooray for us! We've got a new picture book from Caroline Adderson, Eat, Leo! Eat! (April), illustrated by Josée Bisaillon, about a clever Nonna who convinces her grandson to eat his lunch using the power of story (and the power of pasta). In Ready, Set, Kindergarten (February), by Paula Ayer and Danielle Arbour, a young girl readies herself for the big adventure that is school. Award-winners Carolyn Beck and Francois Thisdale team up for That Squeak (May), the story of a young boy grieving the death of a friend. In Giraffe Meets Bird (May), Rebecca Bender shares the origin story of the animal friends whose adventures have been captured in her two previous acclaimed books. 

Book Cover King of Keji

Brandee Bublé (younger sister of the singing Michael) releases her f …

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