Off the Page

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

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Book Cover Cedar and Salt

3 Great Recipes from the 2020 Taste Canada Awards Shortlist

By Kerry Clare

Foodies, take note! Great recipes from celebrated cookbooks.

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Book Cover On Nostalgia

Launchpad: On Nostalgia, by David Berry

By Kerry Clare

"Berry’s subject is a wide-ranging one, but he pulls off the impressive feat of covering plenty of ground in a concise …

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Literatures, Communities and Learnings

Literatures, Communities, and Learning

By Kerry Clare

9 conversations with Indigenous writers about the relationship between Indigenous literatures and learning, and how thei …

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The Chat with Faye Guenther

The Chat with Faye Guenther

By Trevor Corkum

Swimmers in Winter (Invisible Publishing) is Faye Guenther’s debut collection of short fiction. These six stories expl …

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Book Cover Little Secrets

Summer Reading Starts Here

By Kerry Clare

Summer is not cancelled, and summer reading isn't either. We've got thrillers, epics, drama, historical fiction, and so …

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Cover Summer Feet

Picture Book Sneak Peek: Summer Feet, by Sheree Fitch and Carolyn Fisher

By Kerry Clare

Summer starts HERE with this glorious celebration of childhood...and filthy feet.

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Book Cover Mr. Frank

Notes from a Children's Librarian: Texts on Textiles

By Julie Booker

Exploring the art of sewing? Here are some tales to comfort and inspire.

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COVID–19 Teacher Diary: Pondering the “What If” with Shari Green & Caroline Pignat

COVID–19 Teacher Diary: Pondering the “What If” with Shari Green & Caroline Pignat

By Erika MacNeil

During this time of self-isolation and social distancing, books can sometimes be our only companions as the days stretch …

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Book Cover Good Mothers Don't

Launchpad: Good Mothers Don't, by Laura Best

By Kerry Clare

"An unlikely page turner replete with hushed surprises, unexpected crescendos, endless love and boundless vitality."

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Book Cover #NotYourPrincess

Exploring Indigenous History

By Kerry Clare

June is Indigenous History Month, a great opportunity to celebrate some of our favourite books over the years, along wit …

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Summer Covers, Had Me a Blast

All right, it's True Confessions time: I'm a sucker for books whose covers scream, "Summer!" 

My all-time favourite summer cover is Alice Petersen's short story collection, All the Voices Cry, and when the book came out in 2012, I cooked up reason after reason to feature that gorgeous cover on the 49th Shelf main page. Because I loved that cover—the lake, horizon, the just-perceptible haze. I loved that leap, with arms and legs outstretched—a moment in midair. This is summer: ephemeral, soaring, perfect. 

 

Some of this year's best summer covers take a similar approach, and the results are just as pleasing, such as the bestselling graphic novel, This One Summer, by Jillian Tamaki and Mariko Tamaki:

 

 

Mating for Life, by Marissa Stapley, features raft-leaps as well, perhaps fitting for this novel about mothers, daughters, and sisters and the chances we take in our lives. 

 

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Marissa Stapley's Perfect Dock-Side Reads

Book Cover Mating for Life

Looking for your big summer read? Then look no further than Marissa Stapley's Mating for Life, an absorbing novel of tangled family ties, with a Joni Mitchell soundtrack and a perfect cottage setting. It's a novel in which characters get up to their own summer reads, characters perching on the ends of their docks, paperbacks in hand. It's a ritual that Stapley knows something about, as she tells us here, sharing her own favourite setting for summer reading and some books that would make for great reading there.

*****

Every July we rent a cottage in Muskoka. It’s a place my husband and I have been visiting since before we were married, and it’s the place I modeled the cottage in Mating for Life after. There are many ideal reading spots here, but my favourite is the end of the dock. (I sometimes imagine I’ll look up and over at the dock next door and my character Laurence will be sitting there, reading Junky, by William Burroughs.)

I know there are many other beautiful places in the world, but none touch me quite the way this property does. It feels accessible, like I belong in it, like I don’t have to leave it to go home because I already am home. Also, being Canadian, I understand how important it is to savour these moments of warmth under the sun. Too soon, …

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Notes from a Children's Librarian: Summer Reads Most Feral

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

*****

Ever wonder how a baboon thinks about his fellow baboons? Or how a cat views the Israeli-Palestinian conflict? Or how a seeing-eye dog-in-training tunes into people's feelings? This summer list lets the reader explore animal nature.

Book Cover Baboon

Right from the start, Baboon, by David Jones, grabs hold of the reader and doesn't let go. The book opens with Gerry in a plane crash in the African veldt, along with his biologist parents who have come to study baboon behaviour. Gerry awakens to find himself injured; even worse, he discovers the hairy arm he's lying on is his own—he’s become a baboon. Gerry watches from afar as his parents leave by ambulance with his (still alive) body before he scampers off to survive. He gets the hang of scavenging for food, struggles to eat naked mole rats, and withstands constant bullying by baboons higher up the pecking order. His human mind allows him to fend off a leopard attack, but the more he moves up in status, encountering poachers and participating in a gazelle kill, he begins losing his ability to count, read and write. He's increasingly forced to rely on smell, rather than reason. These are uncommon themes in junior fiction: the r …

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Summer Holiday #ReadLocal Special: Read Where You Are

A few years ago, 49th Shelf blew up the Internet with our amazing #ReadLocal map, a map that allows users to pin books to geographic locations. Avid Canadian readers leapt at the chance to connect their favourite reads with the actual settings where these stories take place, which was a lot of fun at the time but also a feature with lasting value. The appeal of reading where you are is not just simply a one-season affair. And now when you plan your summer vacation, you can plan place-appropriate reads along with your itinerary. Here are some of the highlights, from coast to coast. 

*****

If your summer vacation destination is Vancouver Island, check out The Woefield Poultry Collective, by Susan Juby.

About the book: Woefield Farm is a sprawling thirty acres of scrub land,complete with dilapidated buildings and one half-sheared,lonely sheep named Bertie. It’s "run"—in the loosest possible sense of the word—by Prudence Burns, an energetic,well-intentioned twenty-something New Yorker full of back-to-the-land ideals, but without an iota of related skills or experience. Prudence, who inherited the farm from her uncle, soon discovers that the bank is about to foreclose on Woefield Farm, which means that Prudence has to turn things around, fast. But fear not! She’l …

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Notes from a Children's Librarian: Graphic Novels for Summer

Book Cover The Silver Six

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

**

An orphan-spy-gang-sci-fi thriller. A fantasy novel as allegory. A series of funny First Nations stories. A poetic portrait of death. A guide to making movies. Each delivers its own take on the graphic form and makes for easy reading during these summer months.

Being an orphan is a crime in The Silver Six, by Al Lieberman and Darren Rawlings, and 12-year-old Phoebe's parents have died in a shuttle explosion. She survives in a futuristic urban society, where natural parks are movie sets and her domestic robot, Max, plays pre-recorded voices of her mom and dad when the landlord comes a-knocking. Phoebe's also on the run from bad-guy, Mr. Craven, who's after a secret file of her parents'. Phoebe gets nabbed by the Child Welfare Services where she meets five other orphans whose parents' deaths are suspiciously similar to Phoebe's. Together they form the Silver Six and head out of their artificially controlled world to solve the mystery. (Grades 3 to 6)

Book Cover Gottika

In t …

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