Off the Page

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

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The Chat with Tanya Talaga

The Chat with Tanya Talaga

By [Trevor Corkum]

Today we are in conversation with Tanya Talaga. Her hard-hitting and important Seven Fallen Feathers tells the story of …

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Book Cover A Bird on Every Tree

Top Fiction of 2017

By [Kerry Clare]

With our Top Fiction of 2017, the 49thShelf.com team looks back on the highlights and the books we were most excited to …

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Book Cover As a Dog Thinketh

Books for the Holidays

By [Kerry Clare]

The holidays are coming, but we've got you covered with amazing book suggestions for all the types on your list.

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Shelf Talkers: Ideas for Christmas 2017!

Shelf Talkers: Ideas for Christmas 2017!

By [Rob Wiersema]

From brunch ideas to books for kids and teens, Canada's indie booksellers have you covered.

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Book Cover On Mockingbird Hills

Mary Theresa Kelly: Madcap Women in the Wild

By [Kerry Clare]

Wilderness stories, especially fire lookouts, have traditionally been dominating by male writers, but there are accounts …

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The Chat with Governor General's Award Winners David Alexander Robertson & Julie Flett

The Chat with Governor General's Award Winners David Alexander Robertson & Julie Flett

By [Trevor Corkum]

In the final installment in in our Governor General Award special edition of The Chat, we speak to David Alexander Rober …

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The Chat with 2017 Governor General's Award Winner (for Translation) Oana Avasilichioaei

The Chat with 2017 Governor General's Award Winner (for Translation) Oana Avasilichioaei

By [Trevor Corkum]

Today we’re in conversation with Oana Avasilichioaei, translator of Bertrand Laverdure’s novel Lectodôme. Her Engli …

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Book Cover Ira Crumb

Fabulous, Funny Picture Books: A List by Naseem Hrab

By [Kerry Clare]

"An exceptional horse, a dead rabbit and a big hat walk into a bookstore...."

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The Chat with 2017 Governor General's Award winner Cherie Dimaline

The Chat with 2017 Governor General's Award winner Cherie Dimaline

By [Trevor Corkum]

Cherie Dimaline’s The Marrow Thieves is this year’s English-language Governor General’s Award winner for Young Peo …

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Video: @BookMadam's Hands On Holiday Book Recommendations #GiveCDN #HolidayGift

Rememberer by YORODEO (Invisible Publishing).

Rememberer by YORODEO (Invisible Publishing).

This time of year, maybe it's the anticipation of mangling every gift-wrapped item, but I get excited about a hands on holiday. Perhaps it's because we carry more, cook more, put up more—put up with more—that I get a little giggly at the idea of myself as an elf in Santa's workshop—busy, busy, busy. True, in my vision, it's also a reality show in which the elf who finishes the most toys with grace and charm is crowned the winner. But, I digress.

Hands on, doesn't have to equal mad frenzy. Or a circular saw. Me? I like to colour. I like to sit down with a child—cue imaginary friend—and let rip. It's the perfect zen activity for someone who doesn't consider herself an artist. In Lynda Barry's book Picture This, she asks why it is that we don't consider colouring an art form when to sing another's work is still song. Is it all about the act of creation? Or is it about the impulse to use something other than words and language to express ourselves? And that a template is outlined for us has little to do with how we fill that space.

So, this holiday, when I have some time to myself, I'm going to take a colouring book to my favourite cafe, order myself th …

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Dear Canadian Bookshelf Part 3: The Point of Reading #GiveCDN

GiveCDN logo

This holiday season, we're making it easy for you Give Canadian. For the next few weeks, we'll be helping our readers match their most special someones with the perfect Canadian Book. If you would like some expert advice, email your holiday book shopping quandary to hello@canadianbookshelf.com, and we'll do our best to get you sorted.

Dear Canadian Bookshelf,

My best friend has lost her faith in narrative. For a while, she subsisted on nonfiction alone, and then she found out about Greg Mortenson and his Three Cups of Tea, and now she doesn't believe in anything anymore. She said she just doesn't understand the point of reading books in a world that's so troubled, and that we're just all diverting our attention from what's really going on.

But this Christmas, I want to bring her back into the fold. Could you recommend some books that will remind her that reading is a way like no other to come to know the world?

Thank you,

Miranda T., Moncton NB

****

Dear Miranda,

Book Cover Adventures in Solitute

You couldn't have picked a better time to try to convince a non-believer, because right now is a …

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From Sketch to Finish: Cassie McDaniel on illustrating Beto's Burrito

Beto's Burrito Details

Coming up with an illustration is often an intuitive process, but there are moments in a story that are crucial for the art and words to be in sync. Sometimes the words are fast and playful and the artwork can mirror that feeling with bright colors and busy-ness. Other times, you want your reader to pause and think about what's being said and felt.

Beto's Burrito, which is a story about a young boy waking up to delicious smells in the kitchen, has one such moment of pause when Beto's father is trying to leave for work.

"His father calls from the kitchen. “I have to go to work now, m’ijo. Your mother made burritos.” Burritos! Now Beto remembers how wonderful his mother’s burritos taste. He jumps out of bed and gets dressed. He runs to the kitchen and hugs his father tight. His father laughs, and then he pushes Beto back gently by his shoulders so he can see his eyes."

The love theme is integral to this story. As the illustrator, I wanted the reader to feel Beto's excitement and energy, but I also wanted them to stop and feel the way Beto's father feels about his son. It is important that the reader pauses to look into Beto's eyes, just as his father does.

This illustration was so important to get right that I actually ended up scrapping my first painting and st …

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A reviewer walks into writers’ block (as in cellblock): Guest Post by Bob Armstrong

Book Cover Dadolescence

We’ve all seen crime shows in which a detective accused of misconduct is facing prison time and somebody, maybe a prosecutor looking to make a deal or a felon awaiting some payback, points out that life is rough behind bars for a cop.

As I was awaiting the publication of my first novel, Dadolescence (Turnstone Press), those scenes played in my mind.

I’ve been reviewing books and plays off and on for nearly 30 years and I haven’t always been gentle or even fair. What could I expect when I was finally escorted into the general population?

My conscience still speaks to me about nasty reviews I wrote in the 1980s, when I mistakenly assumed that the reviewer’s job was come up with clever ways of pointing out faults. As a university student writing for a campus newspaper, I once described a play, written by a playwright in his 20s and performed by amateurs, as “the Platonic form of bad playwriting.”

Surely dropping the phrase “Platonic form” in a review days after learning about Plato would stand as the Platonic form of sophomoric pretension.

I also began, around that same time, writing short book reviews for the Calgary Herald, when that newspaper still had a books section under the editorship of Ken McGoogan. I wrote a few favourable reviews of novels by th …

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Dear Canadian Bookshelf Part 2: "He only ever reads books about the war." #GiveCDN

GiveCDN logo

This holiday season, we're making it easy for you Give Canadian. For the next few weeks, we'll be helping our readers match their most special someones with the perfect Canadian Book. If you would like some expert advice, email your holiday book shopping quandary to hello@canadianbookshelf.com, and we'll do our best to get you sorted.

Book Cover Victory Through Harmony

Dear Canadian Bookshelf,

Can you suggest a Canadian book that I can buy for my dad this year? He only ever reads books about the war.

Derek M, Brandon MB

***

Dear Derek,

Oh, "the war." If there really only were just one, but then think of all the books that would never be. You're lucky in that your dad's narrow field of interest is not so narrow after all. If you do a search for "the war" at Canadian Bookshelf, the results are in the hundreds. But we've narrowed them down for you to highlight some interesting selections your dad will love.

Book Cover Sunray
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