Off the Page

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

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book cover footlights

2020 Poetry Delights

By Pearl Pirie

A list by the author of new collection footlights. These books turn and explore, question and listen.

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The Chat with Zsuzsi Gartner

The Chat with Zsuzsi Gartner

By Trevor Corkum

Zsuzsi Gartner’s debut novel, The Beguiling (Hamish Hamilton), is a stunner. It was a finalist for this year’s Write …

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Book Cover Loss Lake

Launchpad: LOSS LAKE, by Amber Cowie

By Kerry Clare

"Sentence by gorgeous sentence, Cowie reveals an intricately woven, powerful plot, unveiling the depths of the character …

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Hope Matters

25 Reasons to be Hopeful

By Kerry Clare

The following books are infused with hope—that what we do and who we are really matters, that second chances are possi …

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Book Cover Spend It

Notes From a Children's Librarian: Money Money Money

By Julie Booker

Financial literacy is part of the new math curriculum for grades 4-6. But why not start even sooner, as young as kinderg …

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Book Cover You Are Eating an Orange. You Are Naked.

Launchpad: YOU ARE EATING AN ORANGE. YOU ARE NAKED. by Sheung-King

By Kerry Clare

"This novel ...gives the cold shoulder to the dominant gaze and its demands to control the Asian body, carving out a thr …

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Book Cover The Way Home

Books for University Press Week

By Clare Hitchens

“Raise UP” is a particularly apt theme in a time when information moves at faster speeds than ever before across a m …

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Shelf Talkers: Indie Booksellers Get Us Through the End of the Year

Shelf Talkers: Indie Booksellers Get Us Through the End of the Year

By Robert J. Wiersema

To mark the passing of the year, we’ve gathered the independent booksellers of the Shelf Talkers fellowship – the st …

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Book Cover Four Umbrellas

Launchpad: FOUR UMBRELLAS, by June Hutton and Tony Wanless

By Kerry Clare

"Our goal from the outset was to write a book in which the person with Alzheimer’s has a place on the page, too."

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Book Cover The Crooked Thing

Stories that Excavate the Underworld

By Mary MacDonald

A recommended reading list by the author of new story collection The Crooked Thing.

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Shelf Talkers: Books for Christmas Eve Shoppers

With apologies to Clement Moore.

**

'Twas the week before Christmas and all 'cross the land

The booksellers were racing, stacks of books clutched in hand.

They doled out some Ravi, Rick Mercer, and Washington Black

And if they couldn’t find it, why, they checked in the back.

They raced up the aisles, they dodged the kids’ wails,

They thrived on the bustle, they rang up the sales.

They walked and they walked, and their blisters brought a tear

Until they heard a faint voice, one they often did hear:

“You’re an indie bookseller, the best of the best.

You work before dawn, you work without rest.

You’ve read all the books, you could pass any test,

Now, could please tell me, which one was the best?”

The booksellers paused, the booksellers stilled

It was an impossible question, one that pricked like a quill.

Who could say what was best, who could even compare,

Not just apple and orange, but mango and pear!

Put two books together, and how do they rank

When one is a novel, the other history frank?

“Impossible,” they said, “that’s not how books work

To say one is the best would make me feel like a jerk.”

“All right,” said the voice, loaded with care,

“Which book is your favourite, that you want to share?”

“Ah,” said the booksellers, “this I can do,

Just give me a coffee, and a moment to stew.”

And the booksellers weighed in, with their picks of the year

It was a list most compelling, and rich with good cheer.

The voice tried to thank them, but they waved it away,

Turning back …

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Notes from a Children's Librarian: Bird Books

Book Cover That Chickadee Feeling

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

*****

Once when I was young, on a family hike through the ravine, I spotted a man in the bushes with his arms out, a flurry of grey and white, black-capped birds fluttering round him. He put his finger to his lips as we approached. We stopped dead in our tracks, watching the chickadees swoop from nearby branches to peck at seed in the crown of his hat and upturned palms.

I remembered this magical moment when I read That Chickadee Feeling, by Frank Glew, illustrated by the Marna Twins. It begins with a kid who’s really, really bored, so their mom invites them on an outing with some seed and advice to be patient. When a bird lands on the child’s hand, the kid experiences “that chickadee feeling.” It’s the same feeling that comes from riding a bike for the first time, or winning a race (or encountering the Chickadee man in the forest). This tale challenges the reader to find a way out of boredom, with birding as a definite option.

*

Over the Rooftop …

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