Off the Page

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

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Book Cover Out of Old Ontario Kitchens

Books for the Holidays

By [Kerry Clare]

Cookbooks, art books, books on gardening, and flowers: gorgeous books make great gifts. 

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The Chat with Alex Leslie

The Chat with Alex Leslie

By [Trevor Corkum]

We All Need to Eat is a spectacular collection, full of powerful stories that centre around Soma, a queer woman on the W …

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The Chat with Governor General's Award Winner Jillian Tamaki

The Chat with Governor General's Award Winner Jillian Tamaki

By [Trevor Corkum]

Jillian Tamaki is the winner of this year’s English-language Governor General’s Award for Literature for Young Peopl …

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Book Cover Homes

2018 Books of the Year: Nonfiction

By [Kerry Clare]

Stories from home and abroad, books about the past, the present, and the future, and something for every kind of reader …

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Book Cover Owls are Good at Keeping Secrets

From A to Zed: Sara O'Leary on Canadian Alphabet Books

By [Kerry Clare]

A recommended reading list by author of new book, Owls are Good At Keeping Secrets

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Book Cover In Search of the Perfect Singing Flamingo

2018 Books of the Year: Fiction

By [Kerry Clare]

"It is no exaggeration to state that 2018 was an outstanding year in Canadian books..." 

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The Chat with Phyllis Aronoff and Howard Scott

The Chat with Phyllis Aronoff and Howard Scott

By [Trevor Corkum]

The 2018 Governor General’s Award for Translation was awarded to the team of Phyllis Aronoff and Howard Scott for Desc …

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The Chat with Governor General's Award Winner Darrel J. McLeod

The Chat with Governor General's Award Winner Darrel J. McLeod

By [Trevor Corkum]

Today we're pleased to share this interview with Darrel J. McLeod, who won this year’s Governor General’s Award for …

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The Chat with Governor General's Award Winner Jonathan Auxier

The Chat with Governor General's Award Winner Jonathan Auxier

By [Trevor Corkum]

Ever wonder about the life of a young Victorian chimney sweep? Jonathan Auxier is winner of this year’s Governor Gener …

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The Chat with Governor General's Award Winner Jordan Tannahill

The Chat with Governor General's Award Winner Jordan Tannahill

By [Trevor Corkum]

Jordan Tannahill is no stranger to the Governor General’s Awards. Botticelli in the Fire & Sunday in Sodom marks his s …

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The Critical Mind by Ray Robertson

The one thing in the world, of value, is the active soul. —Ralph Waldo Emerson

Book Cover Why Not

Edmund Wilson was the son of a Princeton and Columbia-educated lawyer, a man whose tools of trade his son described as “learning, logic, and dramatic imagination and eloquence,” the very same tools Wilson would employ over the course of fifty years of elucidating, advocating, and exposing the books and ideas (good, bad, and inconsequential) of his time. A literature-as-subject-of-study autodidact, I – among many others – owe a great debt to Wilson for not only consistently steering me in the right aesthetic direction, but also for helping to develop my own critical sensibility. Give a person a good book, he’ll have something to read for a week; teach a person how to critically separate the wheat from the chaff, and you provide him with the skills to read well for the rest of his life. Note: read – not study. The most valuable result of the finely tuned critical mind turned toward the world of books is assisting the common reader in reading – and therefore living – better. “Reading,” Bacon reminds us, “maketh a full man.”

Virginia Woolf liked this idea enough to entitle a collection of essays The Common Reader, quoting with approval Dr. Johnson: “I rejoice to c …

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Virtual Voyages: A Reading List by Charlotte Gill

Charlotte Gill

My favourite definition of creative nonfiction comes from Canadian journalist Deborah Campbell, who quotes the late Ryszard Kapuscinski, an undeniable master of the form: “Sometimes, in describing what I do, I resort to the Latin phrase silva rerum: the forest of things. That’s my subject: the forest of things, as I've seen it, living and travelling in it.” There’s a bit of silva rerum in all these books on this list, which is by no means an exhaustive collection. Some are travel books, and some explorations stick close to home. But all these stories took me on journeys. When I closed the covers I felt as if I’d been transported.

Book Cover The Golden Spruce

1. The Golden Spruce, John Vaillant: Perhaps it took a native New Englander to see the magical, mythic potential of a true story set in Haida Gwaii. The book takes place in the temperate rainforest, and it’s a mystery on the surface. Vaillant introduces us to Grant Hadwin, the crazy ex-logger who felled an ancient albino spruce and then disappeared from the face of the earth, seemingly without a trace. Underneath the …

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Owling: Guest Post by Kristen den Hartog

Book Cover Owl Moon

In our house, my husband, my seven-year-old daughter N and I are flying through the Harry Potter series, now nearly finished the sixth book, and reading each day at breakfast and again after dinner. The colourful characters (red-eyed Lord Voldemort, massive Hagrid in his hair suit) and the thrilling plotlines have us reading more than ever, so that books sometimes interfere with piano practice and dish-doing and hair-washing and bedtime.

One more page! Pleeeease, just one more page!

But long before we went Potty, stories—whether “from your mouth,” as N calls them, or from a book—played a prominent role in our family life. N’s dad is a wonderful storyteller, and often recounts his “Lost in the Woods” tale, about the year he was five and wandered into the forest with his little brother and was unable to find his way home. N’s eyes go wide as he tells of crossing an icy creek with his brother on his back; of braving the bitter wind and trudging through the bush, with its winter-night sounds of animals scurrying and owls hooting.

This homemade story often leads them to Owl Moon, Jane Yolen’s picture book about a father-daughter adventure. “It was late one winter night, long past my bedtime, when Pa and I went owling. There was no wind. The trees stood …

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"A triumph of imagination..."

Cover Plain Kate

The winners of the 2011 Canadian Children's Book Awards were announced on Tuesday October 4 at a gala event in Toronto. Erin Bow took the TD Canadian Children's Literature Award for Plain Kate, a novel about a girl whose wood-carving skills mark her as a witch, and which the judges proclaimed "a triumph of imagination."

Book Cover I Know Here

The Marilyn Baillie Picture Book Award went to I Know Here by Laurel Crozer and Matt James, (and which was one of the books that Andrew Larsen read on his summer vacation). Of I Know Here, the judges noted: "The centre of this child’s universe is a trailer camp in the northern wilderness, rendered in all its details with brilliant harmony between Croza’s affecting, naturalistic words and James's evocative, childlike paintings."

Case Closed? Nine Mysteries Unlocked by Modern Science was winner of the Norma Fleck Award for Ca …

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Malcolm Mills on the youth appeal of his YA novel Beyond the Shickshock Mountains

Thank you to Asteroid Publishing for submitting this interview with Malcolm Mills, author of the young adult novel Beyond the Shickshock Mountains: A Canadian Talon Saga.

malcolm-mills-author-photo

Asteroid Publishing: Told in three parts, your historical novel occurs in the late 18th century, during the Seven Years War between France and Britain and focuses mainly on the lands that would become Canada. Why do you think this period will be of interest to young adults?

Malcolm Mills: War years produce change and young adults have traditionally been interested in change. Conflict and the resolution of conflict pique natural curiosity. Young and old are also interested in their great, great grandfather having been a hero or a mountain man. Curiosity is inherent especially about family. Just ask Ancestor.com.

The politics of Canada is unique and multilingual. The melding of four major social structures—for let’s not forget the aboriginal population and the American Loyalists—gave birth to what our youth are today, a harmonious blend of democratic buds blossoming from the roots of a well grounded, multi-grafted rootstock. Young Canadians who have had little to date to inspire them into examining their vivid and vibrant past may be inspired to do so now and where better to begin then the era th …

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