Off the Page

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

Latest Blog Posts
Book Cover the Changeling of Fenlen Forest

Misfits, Marvelous Worlds and Magical Creatures in YA Fantasy

By Katherine Magyarody

Adventures don’t just happen to princesses and Chosen Ones…they also happen to lone wanderers and misfits.

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Book Cover I Keep the Land Alive

Reading Beyond Earth Day

By Kerry Clare

Happy Earth Day! These books celebrate nature and the wonders of the world around us, underlining why it matters so much …

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Books to Spark Inquiry and Design Thinking

Books to Spark Inquiry and Design Thinking

By Allison Hall

Design thinking can take students to many different end results: a tangible product or invention, a virtual design, or a …

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Book Cover Smells Like Stars

The Space Between

By Kerry Clare

Books that challenge binary and complicate matters in the most interesting and useful ways.  

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The Chat with Téa Mutonji

The Chat with Téa Mutonji

By Trevor Corkum

Vivek Shraya launched her imprint VS. Books with Arsenal Pulp to highlight bold work by new and emerging Indigenous or B …

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Book Cover These Are Not the Potatoes

26 Books to Celebrate for Poetry Month

By 49th Shelf Staff

Featuring highlights from amazing new poetry being published this spring. 

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Book Cover War / Torn

War/Torn Identities

By Hasan Namir

A recommended reading list from the author of the new poetry collection, War / Torn

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Book Cover The Centre of the Universe

How an Email to an Astrophysicist Changed My (Book’s) Life

By Ria Voros

YA Author Ria Voros explains how two literary worlds collided—and tells the amazing story of what happened next. 

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Book Cover The Case of Windy Lake

Farley Mowat, Comics, SciFi and Manitoba

By Michael Hutchinson

A recommended reading list by Michael Hutchinson, whose Mighty Muskrats middle grade series launches with The Case of Wi …

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Choose Kindness! Kids Books that Explore This Crucial Value

Choose Kindness! Kids Books that Explore This Crucial Value

By Sarah Campbell

As parents, teachers, librarians, family, and friends, we want to raise children who know how to be kind. Reading allevi …

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26 Books to Celebrate for Poetry Month

Halfway through Poetry Month, we're taking stock—have you made space in your life for poetry yet? If you have, are you still looking for more? Peruse our list of 26 new poetry titles out this spring to find a title or two that piques your interest. 

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Fresh Pack of Smokes, by Cassandra Blanchard

About the book: Dissecting herself and the life she once knew living a transient life that included time spent in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside as a bonafide drug addict, Blanchard writes plainly about violence, drug use and sex work in Fresh Pack of Smokes, offering insight into an often overlooked or misunderstood world.

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Hymnswitch, by Ali Blythe

About the book: Four years ago, Ali Blythe arrived with Twoism, a remarkable debut collection, every line shimmering with life and shivering with erotically charged glimpses of completeness. Now in Hymnswitch, Blythe takes up the themes of identity and the body once again, this time casting an eye backwards and forwards, visiting places of recovery and wrestling with the transition into one's own skin. Readers will f …

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War/Torn Identities

Hasan Namir was born in Iraq in 1987. He is the award-winning author of God in Pink, which won the Lambda Literary Award for Best Gay Fiction and was chosen as one of the Top 100 Books of 2015 by The Globe and Mail. His latest book is the poetry collection War / Torn, which is also the theme of this recommended reading list. 

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These books deal with war/torn identities in which the protagonist or the narrator of the poetic voice struggles to reconcile a sense of self. These books inspired me as their characters went through journeys of self-discovery and at times struggled to find their inner voices. This list is a mix of fiction, poetry and short stories all with hyphenated characters and voices that are deeply moving. And what I mean by hyphenated is that the characters all struggle with conflicting characteristics, identities and surroundings. 

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Bad Endings, by Carleigh Baker 

Carleigh’s story collection isn’t necessarily plot-heavy, but more character-driven and portraying realistic experiences. The stories’ endings are sometimes intentionally …

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How an Email to an Astrophysicist Changed My (Book’s) Life

Literary worlds collided when YA novelist Ria Voros, whose latest is The Centre of the Universe, connected with astrophysicist Dr. Elizabeth Tasker. 

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She writes about exoplanet research. I write about adolescent humans. This month, astrophysicist Dr. Elizabeth Tasker and I are embarking on a multi-city book tour in Canada in support of both our books. Hers, The Planet Factory, is nonfiction, and mine is a young adult novel called The Centre of the Universe. It turns out our areas of interest have some overlap, and maybe not in the ways you’d imagine.

Our connection goes back to January 2018, when I was working on the final draft of my novel. I’d written a male astrophysicist character for my astronomy-obsessed protagonist to look up to, but he didn’t feel quite right. I decided the astrophysicist needed to be a woman. And then I decided—because, why not?—that this character should be real. The known universe has a reasonable number of space scientists these days, and surely one of them would agree to be written into my story?

Book Cover the Planet Factory

At my local book …

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Farley Mowat, Comics, SciFi and Manitoba

Book Cover the Case of Windy Lake

Michael Hutchinson launches his middle grade Mighty Muskrats Mystery series with The Case of Windy Lake, the story of four inseparable cousins growing up on the Windy Lake First Nation. When a visiting archeologist goes missing, the cousins decide to solve the mystery of his disappearance... In this recommended reading list, Hutchinson shares other titles that have inspired him as a writer—and as a reader too. 

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Never Cry Wolf, by Farley Mowat

My Dad may have read a little too much Farley Mowat and was always someone who wanted to get off the grid. We didn’t get to watch TV much and it was always just fuzzy CBC when we did. We read a lot! Farley Mowat’s books were a family favorite and books such as Lost in the Barrens and Curse of the Viking Grave were some of the first books I read. They also introduced me to the idea of books being the foundation for television or movies. I really enjoyed the book Never Cry Wolf and the movie that followed.

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It Happened in Canada, by Gordon Johnston

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Choose Kindness! Kids Books that Explore This Crucial Value

Twice a month, we invite an educator to share their perspective on essential books for your classroom. To apply to become a contributor, please send us an email!

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As parents, teachers, librarians, family, and friends, we want to raise children who know how to be kind. Reading alleviates the dangers spurred by ignorance and encourages kindness and empathy. Children need to learn what makes us different to celebrate what makes us special. Let’s teach our primary and junior readers to take care of each other and to value and love themselves. Here's a list of books to help!
 

A World of Kindness, from the editors and illustrators of Pajama Press, is dedicated to Fred Rogers and Ernie Coombs, “whose long-running television shows gave us inspiring examples of gentleness and kindness.” So it is the best book to start with. For the smallest of readers, it asks one very simple question: Are you kind? Each page has another one-line question about kindness alongside a gorgeous illustration by many beloved illustrators. Some of the art is original to this book and some is taken from books already published by Pajama Press. The end pages are filled with clearly written words such as “compassion,” “empathy,” and “consideration.” These words may be new for s …

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