Off the Page

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

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The Chat with Richard Van Camp

The Chat with Richard Van Camp

By Trevor Corkum

Author Richard Van Camp is a celebrated and beloved storyteller who has worked across many genres. His latest offering, …

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Book Cover In Praise of Retreat

Why We All Need Breathing Space

By Kirsteen MacLeod

"Retreat is an adventure, and it involves uncertainty. Whether we go to the quiet woods to rest or make art, walk a pilg …

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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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Larissa Andrusyshn on "Discovery Channel" poetry and her Kobzar Literary Award-nominated Mammoth.

Larissa Andrusyshn, author of Mammoth (DC Books).

The $25,000 Kobzar Literary Award, announced last week, recognizes “outstanding contributions to Canadian literary arts through an author’s presentation of a Canadian Ukrainian theme,” and is open to fiction, non-fiction, poetry and YA literature. Larissa Andrusyshn was a finalist for her poetry collection Mammoth (DC Books), described as "Discover Channel" poetry.

From the publisher: Witness to the process and fact of her father’s death, Andrusyshyn proceeds to find him again through a series of innovative poems that move seamlessly from the Museum to the Petri dish, the fairground to the cloning lab. Mammoth approaches the incomprehensibility of death from the perspective of Blake’s "Auguries of Innocence" and consequently develops its own mode of post-Darwinian elegy, wherein death is examined without bathos, through the paleontologist’s magnifying glass and the geneticist’s microscope.

About the author: Larissa Andrusyshyn recently completed a Master’s degree in creative writing at Concordia University where she represented the Stingers on the women’s rugby team. She was shortlisted for Arc magazine’s poem of the year in 2009 and 2011. Her work has appeared in Versal, Headlight, CV2 and Rogue Stimulus (Mansfield Press). Larissa coordinates c …

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Canadian Spacewalkers: Messing Up Your Mind

Book Cover Canadian Spacewalkers

Throughout National Science and Technology Week (October 17–26), we're celebrating new Canadian books on science and technology. Today's pick is Canadian Spacewalkers, in which celebrated science journalist Bob McDonald compiles perspectives of the three Canadians who have walked in space (astronauts Chris Hadfield, Steve MacLean, and Dave Williams). The book includes an extensive interview transcription—a one-on-one with spacewalkers who tell tales of training underwater in the world's largest swimming pool; recount how they learned to use power tools in zero gravity while wearing bulky gloves; and describe the moment when they opened the hatch and stepped outside.

In this excerpt, McDonald shares his own experience with simulated spacewalking, and speaks with Steven MacLean about the feeling of being head over heels. 


One of the great joys of being a science journalist is getting to play with big toys. Over the years I’ve managed to get myself into many different types of torture devices—I mean training equipment—used on pilots and astronauts. Often a simple phone call asking if I can do a story on the subject gives me a ride in an aerobatic airplane, a zero-g flight or a chance to experience a wide assortment of very clever machinery designed to s …

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Notes from a Children's Librarian: Spring Books

Book Cover Roslyn Rutabaga

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


Dirt, butterflies, flora, and native stories make this spring book list.

In Roslyn Rutabaga and the Biggest Hole on the Earth, by Marie-Louise Gay, Roslyn wants to dig a hole to the South Pole to meet a penguin or two. Instead she encounters a worm, a mole, and a dog, upset with her for digging up his bone-cupboard. (Roslyn thinks she's found a triceratops' toe-bone.) All the creatures Roslyn meets try to dissuade her from her quest, except her father who joins her with a picnic lunch. Gay's humour and understanding of young readers is perfectly rendered through dialogue and playful illustrations. Age 3+

Bye, Bye, Butterflies!, by Andrew Larsen, has just the right amount of text for the age 4+ crowd. Besides being a story about how to hatch monarchs, it's about a father and son being quiet enough to witness a special moment. Endearing big-eyed characters are illustrated by Jacqueline Hudon-Verrelli with a splendid full-circle ending by Larsen. Includ …

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Why Recreate the Woolly Mammoth?


Jurassic Park meets The Sixth Extinction in Rise of the Necrofauna, a provocative look at de-extinction from acclaimed documentarist and science writer Britt Wray. We're pleased to share Chapter Four from the book: "Why recreate the woolly mammoth?", which poses the question of whether such an event would be fascinating science or conservation catastrophe.

Thanks to Greystone Books for the permission.



It Would Be Cool!

People are often willing to pay for something that they think is cool: a flashy convertible, a table at a Michelin-starred restaurant, an overnight stay at an exclusive hotel. But what does it mean when the cool thing is a sentient being? What unexpected forms of commodification might that create? Who profits from making its coolness available? And what happens if it goes out of style?

When considering de-extinction’s potential applications, conservation consultant Kent Redford and colleagues write, “The work will attract funding, inform science, help develop techniques useful in other fields, and provide an example of synthetic organisms that have public appeal.” But that already raises an ethical issue: Should we be promoting the public appeal of synthetic organisms when we could be working harder …

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Notes from a Children's Librarian: On Structures

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


Structures! Here are some great fiction and nonfiction titles to launch the Grade 3 science unit.

The picture book, Home, by Carson Ellis, is a great discussion-starter about different types of houses, as well as materials used to build them. This creative and humorous book showcases some fantastical structures, interspersed with questions: Who in the world lives here? And why? There’s a Japanese businessman’s sparse, cuboid home, a highly decorative Nordic god’s, a shoe (as in, ‘There was an old woman who lived in a…’), a tour bus, as well as homes belonging to a Kenyan blacksmith, and a “moonian.”


Going Up! Elisha Otis’s Trip to the Top, a picture book by Monica Kulling, illustrated by David Parkins, will inspire young inventors. As a Vermont farm boy in 1818, Otis was intrigued by the ropes and pulleys hoisting hay up to the barn loft. As a grownup, he invented a platform to lift heavy machinery parts. He then moved onto elevatin …

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