Off the Page

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

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Book Cover Legacy of Trees

Launchpad: Legacy of Trees, by Nina Shoroplova

By Kerry Clare

"A fascinating answer to why we should care about trees in the first place." —Wayne Grady

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COVID–19 Teacher Diary: Eric Walters' New Book Explores the "Now Normal"

COVID–19 Teacher Diary: Eric Walters' New Book Explores the "Now Normal"

By Geoffrey Ruggero

Written, published and released during a pandemic: Eric Walters defies traditional publishing norms to create a book for …

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Book Cover The Abortion Caravan

The Abortion Caravan: A Ragtag Army of the Willing

By Karin Wells

The Abortion Caravan, intent on bearding prime minister Pierre Trudeau in his den and removing abortion from the Crimina …

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COVID–19 Teacher Diary: A New Way to Celebrate the Forest of Reading

COVID–19 Teacher Diary: A New Way to Celebrate the Forest of Reading

By Jennifer Byrne

Forest of Reading is Canada’s largest recreational reading program, celebrating Canadian books and authors. In the eye …

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Covers of books celebrated this spring by regional awards

Big Fiction

By Kerry Clare

Fall book season is exciting with its televised ceremonies and fancy galas, but spring is just as interesting, with regi …

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Book Cover Sister Dear

10 Unapologetically Twisted Reads

By Hannah Mary McKinnon

Ten crime reads to help you discover why authors in Canada have their own hashtag (#ReadTheNorth), and deserve a place o …

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Book Cover Murmurations

Launchpad: Murmurations, by Annick MacAskill

By Kerry Clare

Populating her poems with birdsong and murmurings of the natural world, MacAskill highlights how poets and lovers share …

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COVID–19 Teacher Diary: Time to Slow Down, with Deborah Ellis & Richard Scrimger

COVID–19 Teacher Diary: Time to Slow Down, with Deborah Ellis & Richard Scrimger

By Erika MacNeil

This is the second pair in a series of interviews with a host of Forest of Reading authors interviewed by Erika MacNeil, …

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Book Cover One Earth

Launchpad: One Earth: People of Color Protecting Our Planet, by Anuradha Rao

By Kerry Clare

This is a book to be celebrated and shared!” —Elizabeth May

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Book Cover In Veritas

Launchpad: In Veritas, by C.J. Lavigne

By Kerry Clare

“The perfect mix of incandescent writing and enthralling storytelling. C.J. Lavigne has given us something we can beli …

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Pop Culture, the Literary Gateway: Guest Post by Crissy Calhoun

Crissy Calhoun is the author of Love You to Death: The Unofficial Companion to the Vampire Diaries series (season 2's guide comes out in September) as well as books on Gossip Girl and one in the works on Pretty Little Liars with the genius Jen Knoch. By day, under the moniker Crissy Boylan, she works at as managing editor at ECW Press, and she generally confuses people by having two last names.

I found myself at San Diego Comic-Con last week, officially there for ECW Press to have a look around and see if we would fit in as an exhibitor. Unofficially, however, I was there to gawk at costumes, attend a few panels, and generally try not to be overwhelmed by the sheer number of attendees (125,000) or the absurdly handsome faces usually seen exclusively on my TV set. Though ECW has a strong history of publishing Canadian writing (and work on Canadian writing, which is how the company got its start), we also have a thriving pop culture list with a ton of titles on TV shows. I happily work on that list in my capacity as managing editor, and I moonlight as an author of companion guides, most recently on the second season of The Vampire Diaries.

If you’re unfamiliar with the genesis of The Vampire Diaries— which airs on MuchMusic here in Canada — it was born of Allo …

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Author Profile: Sierra McLean, Ten-Year-Old Grand Prize Winner of theToronto Roald Dahl Day Story Contest

roald-dahl-day-logo

To celebrate the 50th anniversary of Roald Dahl’s classic novel, James & The Giant Peach, Small Print Toronto invited young authors between 9-12 years old to compose a short story based on the scenario: "What would happen if James discovered the Giant Peach in today’s Toronto?" The panel of judges included Kelley Armstrong, Susan Kernohan, Adrienne Kress, Lesley Livingston, Mark Medley, Evan Munday, Kevin Sylvester, Vikki Vansickle and Janet Somerville. A Toronto Roald Dahl Day celebration took place on October 23rd at The Gladstone Hotel, where Sierra McLean was announced as the grand prize winner. To read her winning entry “James Goes To The R.O.M.”, please visit the online home for YA author and blogger Kat Kruger.

I had the privilege to chat with Sierra about her writing practices and the life of this burgeoning young author.

Julie Wilson: Sierra, congratulations on winning the Toronto Roald Dahl Day Story Contest! How did you come up with your idea for "James Goes to the R.O.M."?

Sierra McLean: I didn't really come up with it until I had written most of the story. In fact, that's what I do with most stories that I write. I come up with a basic idea, and then add to it as I go along. I find it a brilliant way to do things!

Before I write a story, I alwa …

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Bullies Beware: Kids and YA Books for Bullying Awareness Week

tagged : kids, bullying, YA

This week in Canada is Bullying Awareness Week, an important week in our culture given the sometimes scary environments our kids are dealing with today. The potential consequences of peer-to-peer cruelty were made horrifically clear this fall when BC teen Amanda Todd ended her life due to relentless offline and online bullying, but of course bullying is an age-old problem and goes on every day in Canada. The charitable organization BullyingCanada.ca reports that "one out of 4 kids are bullied, one out of 5 kids are the bully, and 282,000 high school kids are attacked each month nationally."

cyperbullying

Bullying affects people of all ages but the most vulnerable group for bullying is often said to be kids aged 10 to 14, so we decided to post two Canadian fiction lists with this demographic in mind. The first contains books aimed at elementary-school-aged kids coming to terms with bullying for the first time, and the second comprises novels for pre-teens and teens who may encounter it in their middle- and high-schools. The majority of the titles listed here are award winners or nominees.

In addition to fiction, there are also important Canadian non-fiction books aimed at kids and teens, for example:

Bullying: Deal With It Before Push Comes to Shove, by Elaine Slavens
as well as …

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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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5 Tips for Writing for Kids and Teens

tagged : kids, YA, how to

writing for children and young adults

With all the kids running around the neighborhood in summertime, the mind can easily wander to thoughts of writing for little ones ... or bigger ones in the tween and teen age groups with their fascinating blend of vulnerability and strong sense of what is right and wrong in the world. But writing for children and young adults is anything but child's play. As Marion Crook, author of Writing for Children and Young Adults, explains below, the writer aiming for these audiences needs a keen understanding of the psychology and reading levels of different age groups.

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I have written for kids and teens and written for adults. The basic components of the story are much the same: appealing characters, interesting settings, and gripping plots. But while adult readers come in age groups with genre-specific interests, the distinctions are less sharp than for kids and teens. The following are some guidelines I find helpful for considering how to approach a book aimed at younger audiences.

1. Understand and Respect the Age of Your Reader

The successful writer of kids' or YA titles respects her audience's reading ability. Certainly some readers in an age group are more accomplished than others, but you need to be clear about the imaginary reader you are writing for and make su …

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